King Richard

IFH 558: Directing the Oscar® Nominated King Richard with Reinaldo Marcus Green


Reinaldo Marcus Green is a writer, director, and producer. He most recently directed the critically acclaimed Warner Brothers film King Richard starring Will Smith. The film is nominated for Best Picture at the Critics Choice Awards, was named one of the Top 10 Films of the Year by both AFI, the National Board of Review and an Academy Award® nomination for Best Picture.

Based on the true story that will inspire the world, Warner Bros. Pictures’ “King Richard follows the journey of Richard Williams, an undeterred father instrumental in raising two of the most extraordinarily gifted athletes of all time, who will end up changing the sport of tennis forever. Two-time Oscar nominee Will Smith (“Ali,” “The Pursuit of Happiness,” “Bad Boys for Life”) stars as Richard, under the direction of Reinaldo Marcus Green (“Monsters and Men”).

Driven by a clear vision of their future and using unconventional methods, Richard has a plan that will take Venus and Serena Williams from the streets of Compton, California to the global stage as legendary icons. The profoundly moving film shows the power of family, perseverance and unwavering belief as a means to achieve the impossible and impact the world.

Aunjanue Ellis (“If Beale Street Could Talk,” TV’s “Quantico”) plays the girls’ mom, Oracene “Brandi” Williams, Saniyya Sidney (“Hidden Figures,” “Fences”) stars as Venus Williams, Demi Singleton (TV’s “Godfather of Harlem”) stars as Serena Williams, with Tony Goldwyn (the “Divergent” series, TV’s “Scandal”) as coach Paul Cohen and Jon Bernthal (upcoming “The Many Saints of Newark,” “Ford v Ferrari”) as coach Rick Macci.

The ensemble also includes Andy Bean (“IT Chapter Two”), Kevin Dunn (the “Transformers” films, HBO’s “Veep”) and Craig Tate (“Greyhound”).

Green directed “King Richard” from a screenplay written by Zach Baylin. The producers were Tim White and Trevor White under their Star Thrower Entertainment banner, and Will Smith under his Westbrook banner.
Isha Price, Serena Williams, Venus Williams, James Lassiter, Jada Pinkett Smith, Adam Merims, Lynn Harris, Allan Mandelbaum, Jon Mone and Peter Dodd served as the executive producers.

The behind-the-scenes creative team includes Oscar-winning director of photography Robert Elswit (“There Will Be Blood”), production designers Wynn Thomas (“Da 5 Bloods,” “Hidden Figures”) and William Arnold (“The Hate U Give”), Oscar-nominated editor Pamela Martin (“The Fighter”), and two-time Oscar-nominated costume designer Sharen Davis (“Dreamgirls,” “Ray”).

His first feature, Monsters and Men had its world premiere at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival. The film received a Special Jury Prize for Outstanding First Feature. Reinaldo directed the first three episodes of the Netflix series, Top Boy, executive produced by Drake and SpringHill Entertainment.

His sophomore feature Joe Bell, starring Mark Wahlberg, premiered at TIFF 2020 and was distributed by Amazon and Roadside Attractions. He is currently in post-production on the upcoming HBO Limited Series We Own This City. Reinaldo directed all of the episodes of the series, written and executive produced by David Simon and George Pelecanos. Following, Reinaldo is attached to write and direct the upcoming Bob Marley biopic at Paramount.

Enjoy my conversation with Reinaldo Marcus Green.

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Alex Ferrari 0:00
I like to welcome to the show Reinaldo Marcus Green, how're you doing Reinaldo?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 0:16
Good! Thank you for having me man!

Alex Ferrari 0:18
Thank you for coming on the show, brother. I really do appreciate it. Man, I absolutely love King Richard, I sewed over the holidays with my family. And, you know, I'm I'm definitely not King Richard with my daughters, thank God. But the man had his man had a vision. And we'll get into it a little bit. But first man, how did you get started in this insanity that is the film industry?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 0:43
Oh, you know, I have a brother Rashaad Ernesto Green, that, you know, he first became an actor and you know, started, you know, doing the whole traveling the world doing theater, and I was following him. And then he decided to go to NYU graduate film school. And I remember seeing him start as a young director and I was working, you know, as a teacher, and then went to Wall Street for a few years, while my brother was becoming this burgeoning filmmaker, and, you know, sort of entering sharing stories from from and look, I had no interest at the time, I just had a brother that was doing it, and was becoming successful doing it. We were really close. And I thought, you know, what if what if we did it together? What if we became the green brother somehow I don't really even know what that means. But like, maybe I should apply to film school and I can learn to produce movies, you know, I could I could help my brother, make his films, you know, that was really the first you know, thought when I decided to go to film school. And that's exactly what I wanted to produce, I wanted to write and I applied to NYU, left my my desk job at AIG, to this crazy wild journey of filmmaking. And, of course, look, NYU is a writing directing program. So sure, though, I was producing as a as a focus, you know, you have to write in direct and some of my short films, you know, started to take off as a writer, director, and it opened up this opportunity for me to direct and what lineman, if, you know, to use a sports analogy, if you give a lineman the ball and he can throw it, like, who doesn't want to do that? That's pretty cool. I've been blocking my whole life, but I'm the big guy that can run like yeah,

Alex Ferrari 2:25
I gotta tell you, anytime alignment gets the ball, it is the best entertainment you can watch.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 2:31
I was I was the guard on the pulling guard, and you give me the ball, I'm taking it, I'm picked six, I'll do anything to get the ball

Alex Ferrari 2:40
Dude when you see when you see them stumble, it when you see them stumbling down the

Reinaldo Marcus Green 2:46
Knee just waddling down, shaking my belly and just loving, it just ended up being big and brutal. And so like, I felt like a lineman who got the opportunity to get behind and somehow through the ball and connected and, and that's how it started. For me, I really, it started with a with a with a hair luck, and then realizing like, Okay, if I really work at this thing, if I work at this, and I really pursue it, you know, I might, there might be a path. And that's the path I decided to take.

Alex Ferrari 3:18
So then you were actually in you were at in Wall Street working on Wall Street during the financial crisis at AIG. So literally, that's I'm sure there's a script somewhere that you have not put out yet.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 3:32
Like, literally, like, so I worked in diversity and inclusion. Right. Okay. So that right? AIG brings down like the entire system, but what do they do? They cut the Diversity Department. Like as if it was our fault somehow, that, you know, the CDCs went sour, you can't break. But somehow I got very, you know, look, I was I was savvy, and I was just, you know, just trying to survive, really. And I found another role within, you know, AIG, they changed the name of the company to choice at the time. Anyway, I found some solace, you know, through some connections I made to find some work. And then he of course, the stock came back share then came back and I remain there and but then what I realized was like, Look, they could pull the rug at any time. Right? Yeah. And, and what I was doing felt, when that happened, when I realized that diversity was the first thing that they were going to cut, or one of the first things that they were going to cut, it made me realize, like, okay, like, what, my skills are better used somewhere else, right? Even though this is it's more window dressing than it is believing in the mission. And it was probably the best thing that could have happened because it made me realize at a young age, like okay, I have a lot more to give. I don't feel quite as passionate about this thing that I was giving everything to And I want to put it somewhere else.

Alex Ferrari 5:04
And then you. And then you decided to go into the lucrative business of being an independent filmmaker.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 5:11
Yeah, the $330,000 of debt.

Alex Ferrari 5:16
That hurts.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 5:17
Not the wisest thing on paper. But in my mind

Alex Ferrari 5:21
It worked out. Let's just be saying it's worked out okay for you so far. You did i You're doing all right, you know, but all right. But but but when you walked in, but you wouldn't when you walked into that path, there was no signs going. You're going to be working with Mark Mark Wahlberg. You're going to be working with John Rogen, today watch you're going to be working with Will Smith, there was no like, no one whispered that in here and like, just keep going, it's gonna be alright, you were just like, I'm rolling the dice.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 5:46
I'm rolling the dice. And you know, I rolled the dice because I had a brother that proved that he can do it. He was being successful. He paved the path like there's no path to me becoming a filmmaker without him being a lead blocker and I had someone that did the hard road did the work and was was making it was was developing for HBO had made his first movie which went to Sundance, he did everything right. And this is what no contacts no nepotism, right? No. Industry like literally put his head down and did the work. And I saw that there was a path. Okay, if he can do it, you know, his baby. Brett look Peyton's already doing it, Eli, look, Eli is coming right behind you. And we're gonna win some championships you. And that was the mindset, like, let me just let me get my foot in the door. And let me try to navigate, you know, and look, I'm the baby brother, right. So, of course, it's easier for me to see what worked and didn't work. And I can collapse that time a little bit like, okay, it took four years for you to do that. I'm going to do it in two, just because you saw the mistakes. You know, it, you know, I have a lot to be grateful for, for having had a brother who had experienced the film festival circuit, had had gone through the process of ups and downs, and maybe realize like, Okay, if you stay together, you find the right crew, you have good ideas that there is a path towards success. And who would have thought mark and will and all those other things? We're going to be part of that. But But yeah, you put your head down.

Alex Ferrari 7:23
And it's and that's why it's so important. I think that we see ourselves represented in mass media, because you were lucky enough to have a brother who saw you know, but before spike before Robert Townsend, there weren't a lot of you know, before van Peebles, there weren't a lot of African American directors to look into me. I'm a Latino. If it wasn't for Robert Rodriguez, I wouldn't even a thought that it was even possible. You know, and when I saw Robert do it, and I was just in high schools, like, wait a minute, maybe I there's a path for me in this. They've just wasn't anybody out there. So it's so important to see someone else if you wouldn't have had a brother. Baby, this is not a conversation we're having today.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 8:07
Right! Absolutely not a conversation. I don't even there's that for there's no doubt. I'm probably back in education. I'm probably a superintendent of a school district in Newark, or Oakland. And, and that was the path I wanted to work with children. I wanted to, you know, rebuild school systems. My mother was a, you know, a Puerto Rican from South Bronx, who? Newark for, you know, for 30 years. So, you know, my dad was an attorney, you know, that was the path.

Alex Ferrari 8:37
I thought there was boricua, I thought that some boricua there, man, I thought

Reinaldo Marcus Green 8:40
We are not Puerto Rican for sure. We grew up with a black father, we grew up in a single parent household, my mom was always in our lives, but she certainly like we lived with that. And he was, he was the anchor, he was the home here. You know, he was everything for us. And, and my mom wanted that she really wanted us to grow up with a father too many too many black men, Latino men didn't have fathers in their lives. And my mom, it was important for her right to to make sure and so like, I credit my mom for that decision, because it's hard for a mother to say, You know what, I think it's, it's better for your lives. You know, to have your father right now, you know, and that's a big decision. And, you know, look, we're fortunate for it. You know, my mom is in our lives and, and thankfully so but but yeah, Pop's was really there holding it down, man.

Alex Ferrari 9:33
I feel Yeah. 100% Man, I was raised by single mother and I feel you man. I feel you know, without question. Now, what was the biggest lesson you think you pulled out of NYU? Besides, maybe I spent too much on student loans.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 9:50
Biggest lesson you know, I think look, if I were if I were going to give any student advice, it's you really have to To stay to your true north, there's going to be a lot of people telling you don't do this, don't do that. Don't do this, don't do that. It's too ambitious, it's to this, it's to that. And you have to look, you have to listen to those things, but ignore them at the same time. Because if I had listened to every professor or my students, I wouldn't have made the short films that I made, you know, I would not have taken the path that I took. And it's not that you don't value what they're saying. They're, they're telling you because they're trying to look out for you. They're scared. Well, yeah. And it's, it's one of those things where you just have to push through if you know that you're capable of doing it. There's nothing wrong with failing. There's nothing wrong with failing, especially in films school

Alex Ferrari 10:46
You have to you have to fail, you have to fail.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 10:49
You have to and you and I made seven short films, a lot of them are on hard drives. So you feel like no one knows what those are. There's some some rough homework assignments. But you know what it was, it was part of the growth of finding your voice. You know, I think when you're in school, you're in some ways, you're doing a lot of mimicking, that's what we do, right? We watch filmmakers, and you're just, you're just copying until it becomes yours. And then you realize, like, okay, there's only so much copying you can do, you know, and look, that's where every sketch comes from. That's where every art comes from. It truly is, like, we're always stealing. That's what we're doing constantly. But at some point, you have to rest on your own ability to actually be able to form a vision. And that just takes time it takes it's failing a bunch to to find that voice.

Alex Ferrari 11:39
And that's the thing. It's about fun. I mean, I always tell filmmakers, like you've got the thing that you have going for you is there's only one of you. And that is the juice that juice that you have that creative juice that you bring to the table. No one can steal that from you. Like I could try to be David Fincher. I could try to be Christopher Nolan. And you know, we might get real close. But there's never going to be another David Fincher in the way he does it. So you can't that's and that's what a lot of filmmakers make that mistake. They mimic so much too. Like I'm gonna make a Tarantino film, Jesus, how many movies in the 90s were rip offs to pulp fiction that were horrible, like because no one can ever mimic Tarantino.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 12:16
And that's, and that's in look, it takes? It just takes time to find it. Because it's not. If you haven't done it, how do you know what your voice you know, it's just tricky. Until you realize like, Oh, that was me. Like, my perspective. I'm half black. I'm half Puerto Rican. Like my first film, I got a Latino character by like, I just tried to stay very true to the voices that I grew up with and knew I knew that community, I knew what those homes look like, I knew what that world looked like. And I knew the kinds of films that I wanted to make, like anybody else, maybe they do a cutaway of the garbage on the street. Like, I don't care. That's not I'm not I'm not interested in poverty. I'm interested in telling a different part of our stories that haven't been told before. I'm in I'm interested in showcasing us in a way that we haven't been lens before. You know, I'm interested in showing us as heroes, as giants. I'm interested in our unsung stories. So I'm trying and I tried very much like, I don't want to see us in orange jumpsuits. I've seen too many of those stories before. You know, I could have started my story anywhere coming out of prison. Look, how many stories do week we come out of prison?

Alex Ferrari 13:29
Mm hmm. You're right.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 13:31
Let's start it right after let's just start it right after I don't need to see him in the jumpsuit. We get it get we get it I and I think that's that's that's the difference. It's like okay, it's just finding those little things that make you uniquely you. And if you look at the body of work, people will say oh, okay, wasn't just one time or by accident that he's been doing this all along. Right. It's the language

Alex Ferrari 13:54
Yeah, exactly. And like I always tell people like you know, Mark Scorsese would have made a very interesting jaws. And Steven Spielberg might have been a made a very interesting Goodfellas, but it's not gonna be it because that's not that that's not their lane. That's not their juice. That's not what they you know, gets you know, can you imagine a Martin Scorsese presents E.T Like, how is that? you know, the aliens died?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 14:16

Alex Ferrari 14:17
Someone is good at them. I would watch that. I would love to see. I would like to see Tarantino's E.T

Reinaldo Marcus Green 14:27
Would be like Gremlins on on, you know,

Alex Ferrari 14:29
That's as close as you're gonna get to Tarantino's E.T is watching Gremlins 2 not Gremlins one. Gremlins two which is insane of a movie. It's insanity of a movie and all that thing got made. Now you got your first film is your first film got into Sundance, right?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 14:45
Yeah, so we you know we were fortunate to get to Sundance with

Alex Ferrari 14:49
What was that experience man? What was that experience like as a as a filmmaker growing up in the 90s and, and you come on like

Reinaldo Marcus Green 14:55
I want to say I enjoyed it, but it was like the most painful week I ever had because, you know, I'll never forget, look, I had, you know, I made the movie and getting into Sundance was an absolute dream. You know, I had been there with a short film and should get there with a feature. I felt like, you know, I felt like I really had done I had done it. In my mind. I remember the the reception to the film, in my mind, I saw people standing, I saw people crying. I remember people coming up to me after the film saying it moved me so much. So I was on this high, like, wow, we did it, people love it. And then the first review of the movie came. And I thought, my, I thought my life was over. Well, I guess I should not have gone to you because I'm never gonna be able to pay this off. Literally, that's the only thing that went through my mind. You know, the review was like, he should essentially stop making movies. And, you know, like, like to stop now and save us all save the Earth from this part. And I was like, it felt personal. Oh, yeah. I felt attacked, I felt. And look, look, it was the most humbling thing that could have happened. Because, you know, up until that point, I had only made short films, it had only been praise. It had only been pat on the back. Good job, son. It had only been good. And, and in life, things just aren't that way, you're gonna lose, you're gonna face adversity, things are gonna be tough. And like, it was just like, punch in the stomach. And I remember like, I think Atrus was like DJing, the after party. He was like, and he was like, one of my favorite and I look I had my backpack on and I was just soaking like, like a, like a, like a, like a baby beat. And it was just, it was a horrible eight hours. It was like it was the it was the worst eight hours of my life. And and look, thankfully, you know, the net, every other report after that was positive. And then we sold the movie. I mean, it was literally like the complete opposite then we wanted an outstanding award a Jury Prize for the movie. So like, it was like the, like a 360 Turn around emotionally that week. But to say I enjoyed it was like, you know,

Alex Ferrari 17:17
But you know, look, that's the thing, man. Because I mean early on, even in my career, like like my first short film, Dude, I got so much praise dude. Like, yeah, it's like The Matrix meets Fight Club and like David Fincher reborn, and I'm like, what is it like, and your ego starts to grow, it starts to grow. And then I had I had, I had like, 60 reviews, just like, Dude, it's the second coming out just a second coming. And then I had Roger Ebert review it a short film, Roger Ebert, the great late great graduate reviews, it gives me a positive review. From that point on the haterade was massive everybody came after me. And it was just like this humbling experience if you're like, oh, so I think George Clooney said that the best because I never believe all when they're saying you're really great don't believe it when they say that's really bad don't believe it just

Reinaldo Marcus Green 18:07
100% and it says that it was the best thing that happened I asked you know, you know your distribution companies they put you on you get links to all the reviews I asked to be taken off the distro lists, I'm not on social media. It changed my life in the best way I just I wanted to make I just wanted to focus on making good films and films that I feel complete about films that I feel that I did everything in my power to do justice to them to the subject matters or to the to the people or the communities that I was reflecting and that's it look don't get me wrong it's really great when you get the the shirt shirt and I find out you know, I find out you know, or they told me don't look at you know, just don't look at that one you know, but it's been great it's been great because it truly is now just about the work and not about you know who wrote who said what and who said this If you believe what in what you did and there's going to be good there's going to be bad. There's not 100% of people are going to love your stuff

Alex Ferrari 19:08
So no I had George Lucas on the set and he had a t shirt that had a bad review of Star Wars audit. It was like amazing and anytime you feel bad after a bad review just type in bad review Shawshank Redemption and you read it and you'll just laugh at like some idiot writing a bad review about Shawshank Redemption or bad review Godfather like it's just like

Reinaldo Marcus Green 19:30
You know it is what it is you know and and look you need those people to yeah and always something in it to be learned from and I think look I take all the good with the bad you know you hopefully more good than bad but but certainly take it all. soak it all in. You can learn from every experience. No film is perfect. We just you know I'm very proud of that and look Monsters and Men completely open the door. For a lot of you know a lot of a lot of even being able to be in the room for King Richard so

Alex Ferrari 20:02
Right, exactly which lesson so bring me let's bring into your character. How did you get involved with King Richard?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 20:09
So when I first read the script, I hadn't even I hadn't even shot Good job belt at the time. And so I remember when I read it, I thought it was such a great script. Zach Baylin, who wrote it, I thought it was a great script. But apparently at the time, the they didn't have the rights of the family rights. And so my agency was like, Look, we're not we you know, we're not support we're not supporting this because the family is not on board yet. And so, you know, I said, look, okay, cool. Let me know if the family comes on board. I got the opportunity to direct mark in a, in a film written by, you know, like Larry McMurtry, the great Larry McMurtry and Diana Santa, produced by, you know, Jake Gyllenhaal and Cary Fukunaga said, I got to jump on this. And then of course, the day I'm flying to go make that movie, I got a call say, Hey, are you available for King? Like, even to meet on King Richard? And I was like, no, look, just let me know if anything changes schedule wise. And you know, just just, you know, I'm gonna go shoot this movie and let me know. And sure enough, sure enough, I don't know, they went through the director cycle or whatever they did. And they pushed. And I was just coming out of finishing my movie at a shooting the movie, I was in the final week of shooting and I landed a landed a meeting a virtual meeting with with Warner Brothers. And I pitched a pitch on that on King Richard from there. And that meeting, one of the producers of the project, I flew out to LA on Mark's plane, so that was cool, you know, for the weekend, met the producer. And then a week later I finished the shoot flew straight to LA and then I met with will and that was the final step in the process. was was really meeting well.

Alex Ferrari 21:56
I got to ask him actually, I cuz I've been in the I've been in those rooms with those kind of that caliber of star in the world met and what was it like walking in a meeting? Will Smith mad like you grew up you must have grown up with well, obviously, you must have seen him, as you

Reinaldo Marcus Green 22:12
It wasn't the scariest for me. It was the two other dudes that were with him

Alex Ferrari 22:18
As they should be, as they should be, as they should.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 22:21
So if it were just like Will and I maybe it would have just been fine, you know, but I was like, two dudes here that are like not smiling. And they're sitting like on, you know, like literally right next to Will. And they're not saying anything. So their body guards like what? You know, one was James Lasseter, who is Will's producing partner, or longtime business guy. You know, James is great, but like he's scary, like, you know, you know, he doesn't say much. He just kind of listening. And so, you know, part of me was like cleaning the room a little bit like, Who do I talk to? But then I was like, You know what, I can't worry about these two dudes over here. I'm gonna just focus on Will and see if we have a connection. The other guy was Caleb Pinkett Smith who's Jadah's. Brother. And and look, they were they were great. But it was really about well, it was really about will wills his own man will have his own thoughts in the in that meeting, Cory Booker shows up and like knocks on the door. Like I guess he was campaigning at the time. He must have been looking for a big check. But it was cool. And he literally like did a FaceTime for my mom because she taught Newark. So he got on FaceTime my mother. So here I am with my mom. Will Smith Cory Booker, in my meeting with Will it was just like, what's gonna happen?

Alex Ferrari 23:38
What's this is my life. And you flew over on Mark Wahlberg's plane on top of it all.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 23:44
Which was pretty, which was pretty epic. You know? Look, I know who would have the world is crazy like that. But look, I think if I step out of it, I realized like, Okay, I actually I did go to school. I did. I did all the steps. Yeah, you're supposed to do. So although it feels so insane. It actually like oh, okay, like, all these things are possible. When you're in the NFL, so to speak, when you're playing at a certain level. It doesn't matter. rookies are playing with veterans. Like that's how teams are built. That's how championships are built. And when I got in that room, that's what it felt like it felt like, okay, Tom Brady, is leaving New England to go to Tampa Bay, and he's looking to win a championship like that's what I felt in that room. And here I am, like, oh, okay, I have a player that really wants to do this. And now I have to assemble a cast around him. I have to. I saw it as a bit like I saw it very clearly. I saw his intention for wanting to be a part of this movie was not like, Oh, I'm doing 10 other things. And this is just one. Keep clear. The slate for King Richard and I felt that in that meeting, I felt like it was a genuine connection to the material. And I felt like he was a dude from Philly, who saw another dude from New York who was like, Yeah, we know what this is. We understood how someone like, like Richard Williams could be misunderstood for being an outspoken black man. He understood how a black mother could go overlooked, you know, for the work, and the all the things that she was doing. I think innately we understood that story, because we grew we, it was part of our own journeys. Sure, sure, sure. And, you know, well, being a father himself, I think, obviously added a completely another dimension to his relationship with his daughters. His relationship with Willow, I think was able to just completely help shape that father daughter relationship, I don't think there's anything like it. Um, you know, so I think we'll had his own engine when it came to that. And I think he just, he pulled a lot from his own relationship with his own father, you know, wills dad was military and militant. But clearly, you know, what was able to draw a lot from personal experience and Richard's memoir, to to form what we what we did and then collectively, finding the right look, the right balance of prosthetics, the right balance of dialect, you know, so that we can so we can build, you know, our version of what Richard was going to be in the film.

Alex Ferrari 26:25
So, you know, as directors, there's always that day, if not every day, but generally, there's always that one day that the whole worlds come crashing down around you. You lose in the sun, you know, actor breaks his leg camera lens falls like something happens. What was that day for you? And how did you overcome it?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 26:44
Oh, I'll tell you. It's the kitchen scene in the movie.

Alex Ferrari 26:47
Oh, yeah. I remember.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 26:48
You know, and

Alex Ferrari 26:50
In Orlando, and in Orlando, the Orlando kitchen scene?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 26:54
Yeah. The Orlando kitchens. Yeah. And so, you know, what has ended up being one of the most talked about scenes in the movie was certainly one of the most challenging scenes to create. It was a it was a challenging day, because we had to shoot the exterior of the house early in the morning, we were supposed to shoot the kitchen scene in the first half of the day. And the second half of the day, was the scene with Serena and Will, which was not originally intended to be in the location that you see in the film, it was written to be in the house. So all of that was supposed to happen in the house that day. So clearly, I screwed that up. I screwed up that scene. I left no time for that scene. But I think what was the best thing that happened is that we, you know, really the night before, I think that scene was just always the trickiest on paper, all the ideas were there. All of the ideas for the scene were there, the dialogue was there in certain form. But how you get to it, the blocking the movement, you know, the staging, the motivation, how you kind of come to was an indoor outdoor, you know, how to, it was coming off of one scene into another scene, the fluidity of it, how how the argument builds, was just always a real challenge when you're right, like, the writer wrote it in, it didn't write it into space, he wrote it in his room, you know, in a coffee shop, I don't know where it's at. And of course, when you get the space, the challenge is now how do you make that scene come to life? That's part of the directing of it. It's like, okay, I have all these ideas, but it's, it doesn't work for this space. And now we have to find it, we have to create a moment. And I think the actors were game. Luckily for me, we shot most of the film in chronological order. So they knew their characters by this point in the movie. And then it was really just finding out the levels. Okay, like, what is underlining what's the most important part of this scene is that no matter what happens, no matter what said here, that you guys love each other, that your daughters are first that despite your disagreements, but despite the history here, that you guys will find a forge a path forward, because those kids are the most important things in your lives. And so you know, look, it just, it just took the whole day to find it. It had to do it. Yeah, you we were not supposed to shoot in the kitchen. Actually, it was the only place in the house that wasn't designed. Wasn't period correct, but it didn't matter. That's where the actors went. This is what felt the most natural we didn't even have props set for the kitchen. Why had to pull from, you know, the the Crafty truck to get peanut butter sandwiches for ingenue. You know, the only thing in the fridge was orange juice. I mean, Will's just looking for glasses. He's just like finding something. You know what was in the cabinets?

Alex Ferrari 29:51
I gotta, I gotta stop you for a second. I think this is such a great lesson is that everyone thinks that you like you're working on a Will Smith, HBO Warner Brothers project Millions of dollars. Everything is like perfectly set up. No things go wrong on these goes. It's just the nature of the process no matter if you've got $500 million, if you got $5 The nature of the process is going to be this. And I love that you're able to say like, I was just going to craft you guys and grab some stuff like, Yeah,

Reinaldo Marcus Green 30:20
I think that the two things I'm most proud of that scene on top of the performances, right willing ingenue are incredible in the scenes. But we, it's subtle, but we have a cutaway of the kids. And that was not scripted. You know, we have the kids listening. And it was a shot that we stole, but I think it allowed us to obviously work with different takes, it allowed us an opportunity to see that the kids were involved that were in the house that were engaged. And it was it was important, you know, something that we stole on the day, which I think was was was really, really helpful for us, you know, in terms of in terms of that. And then I think allowing the actors to be free in that space to use the kitchen, even though it wasn't designed. And I think in a more rigid scenario, you know, we have to be here. And I think allowing that fluidity to happen, allowing them to find it, allowing them to look, Patrick mahomes has an offensive play. And then what makes him dynamic is that when he's about to get sacked, he then MIT, he turns it into a 20 yard game. And that's what that play kind of felt like, Okay, we set them up with a good play call, but the play didn't quite go right. And the actors were able to adjust, make adjustments in real time and, and make a play. And that's kind of what it felt like. And together, we created what you see on the screen. The words were always there. Right. But how do we create those words? And I think it was it was a, you know, look, it was a collection of ideas that that made their way into that scene. Thankfully, the writer wrote the words for us to play with, and or a scene, the real mom. The story that that ingenue tells there is almost word for word from a conversation I had with that writer and I had with a real mom. And so we heard those words that it's verbatim out of her mouth. And for for ingenue to perform it the way the way that she did was remarkable will is fantastic in that film and that scene, and that's and it's a one two punch, they go straight from there, and then we'll go to the court and then hit you with another dagger. So yeah, it really sets up that scene on the court in a tremendous way. But yeah, that was the toughest scene for me for sure. In the whole film.

Alex Ferrari 32:36
Now, you've worked with some amazing actors in your in your career so far. I mean, Will is, you know, a legend and arguably one of the most famous people on the planet. And he's done so much in his career. Was there a lesson that you took away from working with an artist of that caliber?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 32:54
Oh, my God. Yeah, just the just the the sheer preparation, you know, it's it's not there's. Look, I think will has afforded himself the opportunity to work on what he wants to work on. Sure. When he wants to work on it. And that amount of power and leverage gives you time. If if, if the world slowed down a little bit for you. Imagine what you can accomplish. And I think that's what it felt like working on a film with will because everyone else is in two minute offense all the time. And he's not wills not in two minute offense, Will is in a is playing a different game. And every film I've ever made felt like I was in two minute offense the whole time. And it's a different strategy when you're in two minutes, which is good because when you are in two minutes, you have those skills, right? You can, you can get out of the pocket, you can scramble, you can make things happen, you can see the play very quickly. But when you have time to slow it down. When you have time to be methodical when you have time to be strategic. You can craft craft moments, and I think that's what the film allowed us to do. But by virtue of working with will, I was able to have time to craft, not just make a play, but to craft a play to design a play to design a moment of ingenue going across this country to put well in the tunnels versus having him sit in the stands for the whole game to allow, you know, to move the scene of you know, for will and scenario to be on the court as opposed to a bedroom. And I think had we not had the time. It wouldn't. I just wouldn't have been able to do those things and I think that's what you get with Will you get time that the world slows down just a little bit. And in order for you to make more informed decisions. And it's the luxury of time. Yeah, which we really have in this business or industry. And look, we're still running. But I was just running a lot. And it felt like, I could just see the field of play a lot better,

Alex Ferrari 35:16
Ya I know, I get I get you look, I've had that opportunity to do it when it's my money. And like, oh, it's like, I have three actors. And yeah, we'll shoot for 10 hours today. And maybe we'll go off and shoot 10 hours tomorrow. And there's nobody on top of us, because we're doing it at such a low budget, that we're just having fun and exploring and things like that. So I remember those. And then I remember having to shoot 96 pages in four days on a TV show. So I, I get, I get that and it took him but you need both skill sets, you definitely need that you need that two minute offense, if we're going to use the sports analogy, you need that two minute.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 35:46
Like, there's nobody you want more with, like, put me in touch with the homes with 13 seconds. You don't want me with the ball with 30 seconds, at the very least, I'm going to I'm going to make the pass, I want the ball. Sure with no time left on the clock. So people that don't want the ball they want to pass. Now I've always got to give me the ball. Look, if it falls on me, at least I'm gonna take the shot. And that's just always been my mentality. And look, it served me well, so far. I'm just gonna keep going with it.

Alex Ferrari 36:14
Now, what advice would you have for a filmmaker man who wants to get into the business today?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 36:20
Uh, you know, there's got to be a reason for it. Right? Like, what is it that's driving you to do this thing. Um, you know, for me, it was I just wanted to tell stories, I didn't again, I didn't care whether I was the lineman, the running back receiver, or the quarterback to me, I just wanted to be part of telling stories. And you have a winning team, so to speak. That's That's it, I was motivated by sportsmanship motivated by being part of a team collaboration. Well, my position. And so I think anybody that's exploring the idea of becoming a filmmaker, you know, just be flexible and finding what position you're going to play. And then once you find that position, which could be wide receiver, put everything into that position, because ultimately, there's a certain level of skill that you need. And then you need the ability and belief that you can make it at that level. And that's it, it's finding your voice on that team, finding your voice in that space. And whether that's a writer or producer, or director, both. Of course, in the beginning, you're doing all of it, right, right, you're doing all three, I'm still doing all three, but truly, you're you're, the more you can focus, you're in terms of percentages, if I'm directing 80% of the time, versus 60, I'm going to be a much better director, if I'm if I'm only directing 30%, and the rest of my time is producing, you can see where the math is it's trying to invest in yourself in in those places. And look, as you know, as a person of color, our stories are not being told by us. And so we have to tell our own stories. So if we can write them, they they have a chance to be made you write them for us, right. So I would just say start with that start within start writing the stories that that haven't been told, from perspectives that we haven't seen them before. And trying to find that niche. If you were going to start any business, you would try to put your twist on that business, what makes it you what makes what's gonna make you profitable, you know,

Alex Ferrari 38:34
Like, if you can open up a cookie business, you're going to put pot in it, and then

Reinaldo Marcus Green 38:38
Whatever's gonna work for you the brand and that's all you're doing, building a little bit of a brand you're building your your resume, you're building your voice, all those things. So let's start small. Think Big, and the sky's the limit.

Alex Ferrari 38:54
What is the lesson that took you the longest to learn whether in the film business or in life?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 38:59
To say no, you know, I'm I'm genuinely like a wake up on the right side of the bed kind of person. I'm genuinely like a pretty nice dude. And I have a hard time saying no hard time, because I don't I have, you know, why not? Like I'm gonna do from the hood. Like, all I wanted was five seconds from for somebody just give me five minutes. Well, just give me five minutes. Let me talk to you. Like, that was me. I was on that hustle. So I understand that and so I always try to make time for people because I was that person. And so you know, but but it is it's hard when you stretch yourself then you can't say yes, all the time. I'm challenging. I know it becomes challenging and you know, you you have the best intentions but you end up making nobody happy, you know, um, and so I've been I've been learning to say no, a little bit more graciously, as as graciously as I can be about saying No but I think people appreciate no two people appreciate a hard no looking rather than wasting my time and telling me you could do it and you can't just say no, man. All right, fair enough. I just I've given myself the ability to say no. And it's it's it's afforded me more time to focus on the things that are most important.

Alex Ferrari 40:20
And last question, sir three of your favorite films of all time.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 40:23
Oh, I got weird films man like Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory. Yeah, my good. That's a good one. Strange films, you know, look, do the right thing is a staple. For me for sure. Boys in the Hood is a staple. For me, for sure. You know, um, you know, look, I don't know Godfather one Scarface? He The list goes on. It's so hard man. It is. It depends on my mood. I could watch Goodwill Hunting at any time. Sure. And as on any plane, it's not your fault. So I to me, I don't know there's moments in films you know there's moments in film there scenes in films. You know Rudy Rocky, you know there are just certain films that have left lasting impressions on on my life.

Alex Ferrari 41:13
Is there a guilty pleasure? Is there a guilty pleasure in film?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 41:16
A Guilty pleasure?

Alex Ferrari 41:17
Like if you would like your like

Reinaldo Marcus Green 41:19
Good Burger Yeah, I like

Alex Ferrari 41:20
Which one?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 41:21
Like good burger like I love that little movie. I'll watch Good Burger all day I love I love all those movies movies.

Alex Ferrari 41:35
Dude I saw I was talking to a filmmaker the other day I'm like, you know off air I'm like mid Jersey last dragon because dude, I love last dragon, showing up.

Reinaldo Marcus Green 41:47
I have no issues. I watch every survivalist show. I have to light a fire you're reading I know. I'm doing it from my my TV. We didn't we grew up like we weren't allowed to go outside. We weren't allowed to be in the wilderness. That was not us. So certainly certainly like love watching people in like crazy places

Alex Ferrari 42:13
That you will never

Reinaldo Marcus Green 42:17
Tent together. Nope. No, not. When my son bought a tent. I was like, Yeah, I don't know.

Alex Ferrari 42:23
Is there a YouTube?

Reinaldo Marcus Green 42:27
Is there like an app for this? Which I'm sure there is. But but but but yeah, no, I have plenty of guilty pleasures. I love all movies, all sizes, all shapes. You know, I think art can come from so many different ways. Man, I love comedies. I love to laugh I love. I love to just suspend my disbelief and go somewhere else. And that's what movies can do for you,

Alex Ferrari 42:52
Brother man. I appreciate you coming on the show man. Continued success. Man. I really am looking forward to seeing the other stories that you're going to tell in the future man. So I appreciate you being on the show. And thank you for making a great movie and I wish you nothing but continued success brother!

Reinaldo Marcus Green 43:06
And I appreciate you. Thank you very much!



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