Behind the Lens: Craig Ross, Jr.
Craig Ross, Jr. has a genius optic for action, drama and thriller; he has been entertaining audiences with TV and film for nearly two decades. At a young age, he allotted time to his craft and has built it to last. Ross’ films (Motives, Ride or Die and Blue Hill Avenue) stand with some of the classics to date. There are no signs of stopping with TV One's latest film, Media and several upcoming productions. As the future approaches, be prepared for there is much more to experience.
NS!: You and your father moved from Boston to San Francisco, such a creative city and historical artsy vibe. Did the Bay Area give you a sense of that creativity or in retrospect, was it always somewhere in your subconscious mind?
CRJ: The Bay Area was great and it did add to my sense of creativity by allowing me to cultivate incredible memories and great relationships that I still have today. However, I always had in me a sense of creativity. I knew from a very early age that entertainment was going to be my business.
NS!: As it is said, NYU's film program is "the cream of the crop". You spent so many years in California, why did you choose NYU?
CRJ: Born and raised in Boston, I'm an East Coast boy at heart. I couldn't pass up the love of New York City and studying film from where one of my idols, Martin Scorsese, hails from.
NS!: After graduating from NYU, you traveled around the country, eventually landing in Los Angeles and opened a production company, Asiatic Associates (ASA). Why was it important to have your own production company, your brand, even years ago?
CRJ: It was important to have my own brand because I understood that to create the stories I wanted to create, I had to have the mechanism to do so. The business side is very real in entertainment and I found out early that it pays to be ready.
NS!: 2018 will be here before you know it. It will soon be 20 years that you have been in the business of producing, writing and directing. Doing what you love and being respected is such an honor. From your first film, Cappuccino to this very moment, what has changed in this industry and how have you changed as a film director?
CRJ: Wow, this industry has changed immensely in the last 20 years. The digital revolution hit and it hit hard. The onslaught of programming through digital distribution has not only brought us many more ways to view content, but movies and TV shows are now all in the same place and could be viewed on demand, they traded nuances. TV has become much more cinematic and movies have become even more episodic. This blurring of the lines has caused Hollywood to now produce only big budget blockbuster films that can be franchised. The smaller more niche films now have to be produced outside Hollywood. For me, the digital revolution has been a huge blessing. It has allowed me as a filmmaker to be able to create full movies at a fraction of the cost. I produced a full feature film called The Other, that I turned into a web series, and shot on an iPhone from money that I raised on Kickstarter. That film will premiere at LAWEBFEST this year. Creating film in this way was unheard of ten years ago.
NS!: People will always be entertained by visuals and what an empowering career to have! Your film and television productions, such as Blue Hill Avenue, Ride or Die, Motives, Numbers, Bones and NCIS for CBS and more, has long before now solidified you as a staggering filmmaker in Hollywood, the cream of the crop. How has your journey made you feel as Craig Ross, Jr. away from the LIGHTS, CAMERA, and ACTION?
CRJ: Oh thank you for that, that was kind of you to say. My journey has given me the feeling of satisfaction for being able to put things in the marketplace and thus in the universe that will last forever. That's the beauty of being a filmmaker — the things I create won't ever die. I studied Scorsese in film school, and it blows my mind that one day, many years from now, students could actually study my work.
(PIC) left to right: Stephen Bishop, Gary Dourdan, Penny Johnson Jerald, Brian White, Pooch Hall, Blue Kimble
NS!: February 25, 2017 was a big day and the media talked about your big film, MEDIA! The movie Media is executive produced by media magnate, Cathy Hughes and on her black-owned network, TV One. What does it mean to you to direct this film, working with an ensemble of great actors and telling a story that had the viewers on the edge of their seats from the first second to the last?
CRJ: It meant a lot to finally get to work with Cathy Hughes and TV One. Her story is so widespread and inspiring that when I got the call, I jumped at the chance to work with a living legend within our community.
NS!: Time keeps on slipping into the future and you are flying like an eagle. With a few fully developed screenplays, what's next for Craig Ross, Jr.?
CRJ: I've got movies and TV shows on my plate, some very cool stuff. I'm very excited about 2017. However, the best thing that will be produced this year is my daughter, Camryn, due in July.
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