Entrepreneur and Creative Profile: Film Director Alan Brooks
Born and raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Alan M. Brooks is a 2011 graduate of Claflin University where he obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Mass Communications degree. It was after the completion of his senior project entitled “Struggles”, that he knew that film was what he wanted to pursue for the rest of his life. Before graduating, Alan entered his film into the Claflin University Great Work by Blacks student competition, where he was awarded for his work.
After graduation, Alan wanted to further his knowledge in film and television so he applied to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where he would go on to obtain a Master of Fine Arts in Film and Television degree in the spring of 2015. During his matriculation at SCAD, Alan entered the 100 Words Film Festival where his film “Peer Pressure” won the award for Best Student Film. Additionally, in 2016 his film “Wounded” starring the late Tommy Ford from the hit show “Martin” won the Audience Choice Award at the South Carolina Underground Film Festival and received rave reviews. Alan has had the opportunity to hone essential skills while at the Savannah College of Art and Design and has also picked up on some acting skills. He said in an interview, “I feel that a director should know how it feels to be on the other side of the camera.” He went on to say, “I want to do it all, from the creative process to the business process of filmmaking.”
Since graduating from SCAD, Alan continues to create compelling content in hopes that his films would impact audiences worldwide. Alan has gone on to direct over 20 short films, 2 feature length films, over 10 music videos for artist such as (JD McCrary from Disney’s “The Lion King”, Silento’, Joshua Rogers from BET’s “Sunday’s Best”, and Tray Chaney from HBO’s “The Wire”/Bounce TV’s “Saints and Sinners”) to name a few. Alan has also directed 5 commercials; one in which is a Chick-fil-A commercial where he was awarded a Telly Award in Directing, and received an Honorable Mention in the Southeast EMMY’S “Excellence in My Market Awards.” In 2019 Alan’s short film “The Portrait” was selected to premiere on Magic Johnson’s National Television Network ASPIRE TV during their Urban Indie Block; and his short film “Wrong House” was selected to premiere on Sean “P. Diddy” Combs” National Television Network REVOLT TV during a special 2 hour Hip Hop Halloween episode of Short & Fresh. One of Alan’s goals is to become a member of the DGA while continuing to tell universal stories to the masses.
Tell us how you got started in your field?
I got my start as a Film Director during my senior year of undergrad at the prestigious HBCU Claflin University. I was a Mass Communications major with a concentration in Television Production. My professor asked each student in the class, what do we want to do for our senior project, and I was the only student to say that I wanted to do a movie. I remember everyone in the class laughing at me because of my response, but I did it anyway. I shot my senior project on a mini dv tape, directed it, cast the film, and edited it all by myself. (Keep in mind that this Mass Communication program didn’t teach us how to make movies or write movie scripts, but focused more on news television production. That’s why everyone laughed at me.) That same film that everyone laughed at me got me into film school. Attending and graduating from The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), with an MFA in Film and Television was the best decision I could have ever made. I learned so much about the foundation of film, television, and directing as a whole; and I feel that SCAD really helped groom me for this industry. Graduating from film school really jumpstarted my career, after submitting many of my short films and entering them in the festival circuit. I even won Best Student film at the 100 Words Film Festival for my film, “Peer Pressure.” I continued to freelance as an independent director, and I constantly aim to become better every day.
Talk to us about the initial startup stages of your career?
The initial startup of my career was very challenging because after graduating from film school, I had to move back home and landed a job working as a cashier at Chick-fil-A. I was so embarrassed because I had this fancy degree, but could not put it to use. I kept my spirits up and continued to research anything related to film every day. One day the franchise owner of Chick-fil-A found out I graduated from film school and asked, if I had a link to my work. Trust and believe I had a business card in my pocket. Fast forward, a few months later I was granted the opportunity to Direct a Chick-Fil-A commercial in which I won a Telly Award in Directing, and received an Honorable Mention in the Southeast Emmy Excellence in My Market Awards. After being hired to direct the commercial, I made my production company AMB Productions official and transitioned to Atlanta, GA. Since arriving in the Hollywood of the South, I have directed numerous films, commercial, and music videos. Some of the artist include, JD McCrary (“Lion King,” “Little”), Silento, Tray Chaney, Joshua Rogers (BET “Sunday’s Best”), and Jason Nelson to name a few. It wasn’t easy, but I was determined to NEVER GIVE UP!
What is the most rewarding part for you about what you do?
The most rewarding part about being a film director is the impact that my work has on audiences. Recently, I received a DM on Instagram from someone I didn’t know, and when I opened the message, it was a video attached of a woman full of tears. Her giving her testimonial after viewing my new film “Mr. & Mrs. Ellis” really touched my heart. This woman was so full and appreciative that I tackled a story that is centered around the dark issues of molestation and the effects of staying silent. Seeing and hearing how my film touched her in such an emotional way; really reminded me of how important it is to continue to use my voice and to stay true to the stories I want to tell. If my films impact at least one person, then I did my job and that is the greatest reward.
What has been one of the biggest lessons about overcoming obstacles and failure that you have learned throughout your business journey?
The biggest lessons that I’ve learned is that failure makes you better. I know it’s easier said than done, but failure is a part of the process and it pushes out GREAT things in each of us. I remember I submitted one of my films to over 20 film festivals, and I only got into 1 festival. I was so hurt because I thought I wasn’t a good enough director; but I later learned that rejections open doors in us that push out greatness, character, fortitude, and creativity. I may have been selected in one festival, but the response of audience members from that one festival was validating enough; reminding that I’m on the right track and making an impact. That experience has helped me overall in my business journey.
Tell us about upcoming projects you are working on?
We just finished post-production for a Calvin Klein commercial I directed, developing scripts for an upcoming feature film, booked to direct a few music videos for national chart-topping artist, and gearing up for Season 2 of my show, “Director’s Corner: with Alan M. Brooks.”
Leave us with some words of advice you can offer to aspiring and current entrepreneurs?
I would tell aspiring and current entrepreneurs to make sure that you have a team around you that not only respects you, but understands your vision, doesn’t mind serving, who doesn’t want to secretly take your spot, and who displays the qualities of a true ride- or-die.