EVERYONE HAS THAT ONE FILM THAT MAKES THEM REALIZE THERE'S MORE TO CINEMA THAN MOVIES THAT BEGIN WITH, "FROM DIRECTOR MICHAEL BAY...." JOHN SINGLETON'S BOYZ N THE HOOD WAS MINE. HE SINGLE-HANDEDLY SHOWED ME THAT GREAT STORIES CAN BE TOLD ON FILM. HE SHOWED ME THAT YOU DON'T ALWAYS HAVE TO HAVE A HAPPY ENDING. AND HE'S CONTINUED TO DO THAT FOR THE LAST 15 YEARS. NOW HE'S PUT ON THE HAT OF PRODUCER, HELPING FELLOW WRITER/DIRECTOR CRAIG BREWER TURN THE BRILLIANT HUSTLE & FLOW FROM SCRIPT TO BIG-SCREEN HIT. AND I LUCKED INTO AN EXTREMELY BRIEF CHAT WITH THE BRILLIANT AND BUSY MR. SINGLETON.
Vinnie Baggadonuts: (answering phone) tastes like chicken.
John Singleton: (laughs) Whatís the name of the magazine?
VB: tastes like chicken.
JS: Okay. (laughs) Where you from, man?
JS: Milwaukee. Cool.
VB: Thanks for doing this.
JS: Okay. Cool.
VB: I loved Hustle & Flow. What made you want to be involved with it?
JS: It was a great script! It was a cool script, and I knew it had the potential to be a hit movie.
VB: Because you write and direct some of your films, and Craig Brewer writes and directs his, were you happy with how he translated the script to screen?
JS: Yeah, yeah. His stuff is beyond what we had envisioned. Itís cool.
VB: I know you financed it, but did you have a creative hand in the film?
JS: Oh, yeah. (laughs) Of course!
VB: (laughs) Well, I donít really know what a producer does exactly.
JS: I helped to cast the movie, made sure the script was ready for production with the director... you know.
VB: Were you around for the filming, or was the first thing you saw of it a rough cut?
JS: (laughs) I was there every day, man. I was writing checks, and I was there creatively, too.
VB: From what I read, it got picked up really quickly and was purchased for a record amount. That had to have made you really happy.
JS: Oh, yeah. They were chasing us while we were in production.
JS: Yeah. Especially once we said we were going to do it on our own.
VB: Was casting the character of DJay difficult at all?
JS: No. We always knew we wanted Terrence Howard.
VB: Was he intimidated by the fact that he was supposed to be playing an endearing character, but in reality his character isnít endearing at all?
JS: Yeah. He really didnít want to play a pimp, but he came around to it. The hardest thing for him was being believable as a rapper.
VB: He seemed pretty believable.
JS: Yeah. Well, we had to take him in the studio and really beat him up; teach him how to rap, because he likes to sing. And weíre like, "No, Terrence. You gotta rap. You canít just talk it out. You gotta rap."
VB: This was the only lead role I can remember him in.
JS: Itís his first lead role.
VB: He was so amazing. I think he deserves an Oscar, if not the movie itself.
VB: Do you think thereís a chance for that?
JS: We will see. The story continues.
VB: Alright, well, I also read youíre producing Brewerís next film, Black Snake Moan.
VB: What is it about his scripts that you like so much?
JS: They have so much balls, you know? Itís just another thing thatís really going to surprise people.
VB: What about the fact that this film took place in Memphis, and it was just a very Southern film all-around?
JS: I love it.
VB: You seem to do a similar thing in your own work.
JS: Yeah. One of the things I like about Craig is, he has a certain cultural identity to what he does.
VB: Is producing somebody elseís work something youíd like to keep doing?
JS: Yeah. I really would.
VB: Do you get a lot of proposals from people for it, or is it something you seek out?
JS: Yeah, a lot of people do. But nine times out of ten their stuff is wack.
VB: So, whatís next for you? You have Four Brothers coming out, and I saw you might be working on Luke Cage?
JS: Well, weíll see what happens with Luke Cage.
VB: Thatíd be a pretty interesting project.
VB: Last thing I want to know, going from this to Four Brothers, is whatís next? Is there anything else in the works?
JS: Oh, thereís definitely stuff in the works, but I donít like to talk about it in advance. I like to keep it a surprise.