Behind our favorite movies, tv shows, documentaries and music videos, there’s a story. With so many moving pieces, creating a story that captures the attention of others takes both vision and discipline. The promising filmmaker, Tevin Tavares, is using his camera, passion and skills to bring his ideas to life.
How Did Tevin Tavares Get His Start?
The Bay Area tends to breed creatives who are catalysts in the world of entertainment, and native Tevin Tavares is proving that he’s ready to join that growing list. After watching a moving Nike commercial that highlighted the life and journey of Lebron James, the talented filmmaker got his first taste of compelling storytelling.
And from that moment on, Tavares was inspired to pursue a purpose-filled journey that would allow him to document his work for others to see.
Tavares’ first video that spread across different popular outlets was his original video that he produced and directed for Kendrick Lamar’s LUST. The short-film is a powerful depiction of the life of a black man and the stereotypes that are often associated with it.
Following the short film, Tavares began to build an impressive roster with additional short films for Nike, as well as directing Damian Lillard’s first music video for his single “Dre Grant”. Moreover, to top it off being featured in Forbes Magazine.
His work isn’t stopping there. The filmmaker sat down with me to share more about his story, what he’s learned and his future plans.
A Conversation with Tevin Tavares
BE: The Bay Area tends to breed folks who have outstanding work ethic and hustle. Being a Bay Area native, how do you think your roots shaped you? What are some things that you’ve learned?
Tavares: Being surrounded by so many different cultures provided me with an independent way of thinking. Growing up in such a strong African American community in the Bay Area teaches you how to fight for your passion. Being around a strong core of family and friends also goes hand in hand with that, and it’s reflected in my work. The Bay has give me consistent inspiration in everything I create, and I know people can see that visually in my art.
BE: When you’re creating, directing or producing a video, where do you normally tend to gather inspiration from? What starts your process?
Tavares: Everything I create draws from human emotion. I always think about characters and their portrayal. Why should you care for this character? What makes them interesting? What’s timely? What makes the character and their struggle relatable?
I want anyone who watches my work to walk away feeling something and thinking about how they might be like the character in some way or another. None of us handle everything perfectly, so in a way it allows us to put ourselves in the shoes of someone else and think about how we’d handle life under different circumstances.
BE: What’s it like to be independently paving your way in this industry? What are some things that you’ve learned and are continuing to learn along the way?
Tavares: The more work I do, I’m becoming less phased with the word ‘independent’. I look at everything now as more of a partnership. All of the work that I’ve been blessed to do has come with working with an agency or partnering with a brand, or a production company.
Everything in life has to do with relationships and ultimately being myself and staying true to that. I’m a firm believer in authenticity. If it doesn’t feel authentic, I don’t want it. A form of rawness has to be connected to it.
BE: I’ve learned that you’re a big fan of Ryan Coogler. When you think of his work, do you feel that rawness?
Tavares: Yes – Coogler has this extremely authentic, real life element that I’m drawn to and inspired by. I’m also inspired by Donald Glover, Hiro Murai, Dave Free and Kahlil Joseph. They all have a unique way of telling stories whether it be in a simple yet beautiful approach or a more artistic approach.
BE: How do you see yourself standing apart from others? What pieces of your work do you find to be unique and very much your own?
Tavares: I like to take a similar approach to some of the filmmakers and producers that I follow and inspire me.
I want to make my work up close and personal, but also artistic and abstract. The Dame Lillard “Dre Grant” video that I co-directed is a perfect example of my style. I love incorporating drone shots and portrait shots that capture the rawness of others, but also the beauty..
Something that I really came to focus on after working with Director X on Khalid’s “Right Back” music video was still photography. I look at stills as an opportunity to really showcase a moment. I want the shot to be beautiful and something that is able to be put in a museum, and when people walk by it, I want them to be overwhelmed with passion but also react and think to themselves “damn, that looks good!”
BE: Being a creative is a double edged sword sometimes in terms of always working to create something better than the last time. Do you ever feel pressure to continue to create outstanding work? What approaches do you normally take?
Tavares: The bar goes up every time. For six years, I haven’t slept without an idea running through my head. I’m always thinking about my current project or future project. I can put pressure on myself, but when I do, I try to keep my sanity by being around family and friends, working out and talking with God. I intentionally spend time making sure I get my mind right.
BE: After looking back at all of your success that you’ve had, as well as challenges, what’s some advice you would give to your younger self that is similar to what you’d give to your current self?
Tavares: Something I’d tell my younger self is know that God has always rewarded you for the work that you’ve put in. You’ve accomplished everything that you’ve wanted to.
BE: If there was a word to describe 2019, what would it be? What word comes to mind that you’d like to describe 2020?
Tavares: The word for 2019 would be persistence because even though I was told no, I was still able to win in the back half. The first five months of 2019 was definitely me pushing and pushing. But I pushed enough to break those walls down. My word for 2020 is discipline.
BE: Lastly, what are some projects we can expect from you in the near future? Anything in the works?
Tavares: I can’t say too much, but I recently partnered with a big brand for a major documentary that will be coming out in a few months. I’m excited and can’t wait for people to see it. I also just got done writing the screenplay for my first feature film, so I’m looking forward to moving into production with that.
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