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"One of the Guys" directed by LaChelle Chrysanne

Updated: Oct 17, 2023

Featured in Issue 15 LaChelle Chrysanne is a highly skilled artist with a diverse portfolio encompassing film, music, and various other media forms. With extensive experience as a freelance producer, she has successfully spearheaded creative campaigns for esteemed brands such as HBO Max, Mercedes-Benz, Planned Parenthood, Facebook, and L'Oreal. Her debut short film, "One of The Guys," was recognized and awarded the prestigious Blacktag and Johnnie Walker's First Strides grant. LaChelle Chrysanne's work is characterized by bold concepts that shed light on overlooked narratives and evoke thought-provoking themes. She skillfully blends authentic storytelling, aesthetics, and music, infusing her projects with a distinctive mix of comedy and drama. Recently, LaChelle Chrysanne premiered her compelling short film, "One of The Guys," at the prestigious Micheaux Film Festival in Los Angeles. Drawing from Chrysanne's personal experiences in the indie music scene and her platonic friendships with the opposite sex, this thought-provoking film delves into the concealed aspects of toxic masculinity, emphasizing the significance of establishing and respecting personal boundaries. "One of The Guys" intricately weaves a captivating narrative, shedding light on the subtle and subconscious operation of toxic masculinity. Through its exploration of the repercussions of a lack of self-awareness and social awareness, the film demonstrates the limited understanding of personal boundaries. Chrysanne's exceptional work sparks essential conversations about consent, complicity, and the creation of safe spaces for individuals of all genders. By challenging societal norms and delving into the intricate dynamics within male-dominated environments, "One of The Guys" encourages viewers to reflect on their own interactions. The Micheaux Film Festival, renowned for its celebration of diverse storytelling, provides the perfect platform for the premiere of "One of The Guys." Chrysanne expresses profound gratitude for the support from Johnnie Walker and Blacktag's Creator Fund, alongside additional backing from Kenya Barris. These contributions have allowed her to share this impactful narrative with a wide audience. Chrysanne hopes her film will inspire dialogue, empathy, and a deeper understanding of the importance of creating safe spaces for one another. Through its exploration of the multi-faceted nature of toxic masculinity, "One of The Guys" serves as a catalyst for change, urging individuals to question societal expectations and foster healthier, more respectful relationships. Join LaChelle Chrysanne on this emotional journey and become part of the ongoing conversation about cultivating safe and inclusive environments.

Photographer Yekaterina Gyadu

How would you describe your artistic style?

It’s fluid and grounded. It’s fluid because I give myself the space to express my thoughts and ideas in a myriad of ways, whether through writing, directing, designing, or making music. It’s grounded because my core intention is always to speak to the heart and tell the truth. Whether I’m writing a personal narrative or creating a character, there is a sense of relatability in my work that lends itself to expanding the perspective of my audience.

What inspires you to create art?

Simply being a human in this world. Art has always been a way to understand myself and the world around me better.

What is your creative process like?

It depends on what I’m making, but as I mentioned, it is very fluid. Sometimes it is simply walking down the street and having an idea pop into my mind. Other times it is extensive journaling about a character I’m dreaming up. I try to stay open to those jolts of creativity that come at random which requires a level of flexibility, so it will never be the same for each project.

Which cinematic period do you find most inspiring?

As a child of the 90s, I must say there was a renaissance in Black film/tv that was really special, and I’m not sure will ever be duplicated. I consider that era the beginning of seeing a more authentic representation of Black people on the screen. Our experiences, our humor, and how we relate to one another are so specific, and that era did a great job of doing that without filtering it through the white gaze, which is how I like to approach my work.

What film or television show has influenced your artistry?

The films of John Singleton, Spike Lee, Kathleen Collins, and F. Gary Gray are big influences when it comes to depicting Black life on the screen. I love how Mike Nichols directs actors (specifically “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and “Closer”). I’m also a fan of films like “Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind,” “Melancholia,” “A Requiem for a Dream,” and “The Truman Show.”

Tell us about your last binge-watch...Have you recently watched something that's a must-see?

I haven’t binge-watched anything in a while but recently watched In The Mood For Love for the first time, such a stunning film.

Which character from the world of cinema or television do you relate to the most? And, importantly, what is it about this character that truly speaks to you?

Paige from Unprisoned on Hulu was a very relatable character to watch. It was the first time I’d seen a story about a Black woman from Minneapolis, like me. What’s most relatable about her is her journey of healing herself and the mistakes she makes along with the way by being a bit overly therapized and not as self-aware as she could be. It’s a very important commentary on how we make peace with our traumas while giving grace to people who inflicted trauma upon us.

In your opinion, how do you think the film industry influences society?

Film influences the conversations that we have. I think now, more than ever, people are very outspoken about the content they’re consuming. There was a period of time when the average consumer would watch films without attempting to extract meaning from them, but now, everything is a conversation piece, and that can be a good or bad thing. The positive is that it allows filmmakers to make work that will deepen our conversations about the themes in their films. The negative is that people will pick apart something that wasn’t intended to yield nuanced conversations about people and our world, so the entertainment value diminishes. There is a fine line between engaging with work critically and knowing when a film’s primary goal is levity.

Who's in your thespian Hall of Fame?

Denzel Washington and Angela Basset are mom and dad.

Take us back to your first project, how did that moment prepare you for where you're currently in your career?

Getting started is always the scariest first step. You have all these thoughts about what happens if you can’t execute your vision exactly how it is in your mind or if no one engages with it. What I’ve learned over the years is that you have just to take the leap and know that mistakes are inevitable. Any artist who is serious about their work will look at the final result and find something that could’ve been done better; that’s the nature of being the artist. Embracing the inevitability of mistakes and knowing that each project is an opportunity to grow and fine-tune your crafts makes it much less daunting.

How do you approach the technicality of your work, both from yourself and others?

I do a lot of studying, and I ask a lot of questions. I read books, watch YouTube videos, and use the people in my community who are more skilled than me in certain areas as a resource. It’s really important for me to speak the language of my collaborators, even if I don’t specialize in their skill sets. For example, if I’m going over my shot list with my DP, I want to be able to talk about specific camera techniques, or if I’m talking to an actor, I and I'm proud that my first short film had an important message. Embracing criticism and negative feedback is essential. want to make sure not to results direct and I can only do that if I study the craft and ask a lot of questions. Are you a bit of an overthinker or do you like to let the art take the reins? It depends on which part of the process I’m in. In pre-production, I’m definitely overthinking everything. I’m studying the script obsessively, thinking through my options for lighting and camera framing, and coming up with backstories for characters so I can have those in my back pocket when directing actors. Once we’re on set, though, I have to let the art take the reins. I overthink the preparation to let the execution flow freely.

Are you a bit of an overthinker or do you like to let the art take the reins?

It depends on which part of the process I’m in. In pre-production, I’m definitely overthinking everything. I’m studying the script obsessively, thinking through my options for lighting and camera framing, and coming up with backstories for characters so I can have those in my back pocket when directing actors. Once we’re on set, though, I have to let the art take the reins. I overthink the preparation to let the execution flow freely.

What's the body of work you're most proud of?

My debut short film, “One of The Guys.” I had a very special experience making that film. The onset energy with the cast and crew was unparalleled, and Im proud that my first short film had an important message. Embracing criticism and negative feedback is an essential part of growth and improvement.

How do you handle criticism or negative feedback on your work?

Neutrality and having a healthy detachment from my work are really important. I used to be very sensitive about it because I wasn’t confident in what I was doing, but now I have the same reaction to praise as I do to criticism. I understand that truth and subjective opinions can exist in both, and I’ve learned to take what I need and leave the rest.

How do you feel the Internet and social media have impacted cinema?

Streaming changed the film industry forever. The increased accessibility it created is a bit of a double-edged sword, where it allowed space for more films to be created but turned into fewer cultural moments of experiencing a film in a theater. Social media impacted cinema because it gave everyone the opportunity to be a film critic. Unfortunately, if you use it frequently, you get exposed to people’s thoughts on a film before you even have a chance to view it and critique it yourself.

Finding the perfect harmony between your artistic style and the collaborating teams' preferences is an art in itself. How do you find the balance?

Understanding my voice and what I am in service of is very important. People collaborate with you for a specific reason, and being clear on everyone’s intentions helps to clarify your role and purpose within a specific space. This allows you to stay true to your voice while also honoring what it is about that voice your collaborators need from you.

Can you tell us about a particularly difficult project you’ve worked on, and what you learned from it?

Every project has its challenges, I think that is inevitable. There are some projects where you were on set for 18 hours or others where you’re dealing with egos, racial microaggressions, or sexism. I try not to fixate on what went wrong and do my best to set boundaries and redirect my energy when needed.

The most unforgettable line from a movie. What's that one quote that lives in your mind rent-free?

I say “$40?!” from Baby Boy at least three times a week, especially in this economy!

How do you handle rejection or not getting chosen for a project or opportunity?

I embrace rejection, it’s inevitable in this industry. Even the most established filmmakers get passed up for opportunities. I truly believe that what is meant for you will be yours. In some cases, I take rejection as a sign to go back to the drawing board, especially if I’m given a reason why I was rejected, but most of the time, I let it roll off my back. We all face those pesky creative blocks and moments of self-doubt from time to time.

How do you effectively navigate creative blocks and moments of self-doubt?

Creative blocks are a signal to take a break. I don’t try to force my way through them. Instead, I access tools that help re-ground me. Traveling, spending time with loved ones, going on walks, and spending time in nature all help to restore me and keep everything in context. Usually, after giving myself that time to break, I return to the work, re-energized and inspired. Managing the entrepreneurial aspects of being an artist is crucial for success.

How do you handle the business side of the industry?

Valuing my relationships is key. You never want to burn bridges, especially because this is not an industry you can survive in alone. I also have to ensure I never undersell myself because it makes a statement about what you perceive your value to be. I’m very selective and intentional about the projects I take on. It’s important to have discernment because if you don’t, you’ll end up in misaligned spaces, which can make you miserable.

With SAG-AFTRA and the WGA on strike in their labor dispute against AMPTP. We're curious to know your take on the current state of the entertainment industry?

The strikes needed to happen, I hope that at the end of them, the industry will be more sustainable for the artists who are truly the heart and soul of it. It also provides a good opportunity to level the playing field for indie filmmakers and inspire studios to focus on quality over quantity. The money is there. It just needs to be spent wisely and ethically.

What message would you like to send to AMPTP?

Though you view this industry as a business that only comes down to dollars and cents, it could not exist without the artistry of the writers and actors who have been unjustly put in the situation of having to fight to maintain their livelihood while you sit on top of more wealth than the majority of them will ever see. If you don’t feel it is your duty to respect and properly compensate the talent your business could not exist without, perhaps it’s time to find a new profession.

What do you envision for the future of cinema? And where you place yourself in the conversation?

It’s really hard to say right now. All I know is that I’m committed to telling stories in the most authentic and truthful way possible. I hope my work can reach audiences who are craving the content I’m making, and I hope it is a career path that can be sustainable.


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