Ty Hodges has one of those faces that you will swear you have seen before… you know, that finger snapping moment you get when you know someone looks just so familiar? Fact is, you probably have seen him, acting either on television or film since his career in Hollywood began over 15 years ago.
Also an accomplished writer, director and producer, Hodges made a splash with his 2006 independent film Miles From Home. The story revolves around a young man attempting to survive a series of tragedies and questionable choices, and co-stars Meagan Good, Tasha Smith and Cory Hardrict.
Hodges followed suit with the good-girl-gone-bad movie Video Girl, also starring Meagan Good, which premiered on BET in late 2011. He is currently celebrating a new distribution situation for You, Me & the Circus, which Ty directed, co-wrote, co-produced and co-starred in. The relationship-driven story weaves real life drama into a fantasy musical, and will be available On Demand this Summer.
UrbLife.com spoke with Ty Hodges about his work behind the scenes, and how his incredible focus is bringing him closer to his goal of reaching cinema lovers around the world. Read on…
Tell us a little about a day in your life, and about your process for creating.
Ty Hodges: The process of me being a creative producer and coming up with an idea is something that I’m passionate about, and once that develops, I approach to taking that concept to the page, and it develops to a television script or film script. After that, most of the time if I’m writing it, I plan on directing and producing it.
I have the project and then I go out and make the pieces of the puzzle fit, find the actors and the funds. The life of a producer, there are a lot of different kinds of producers. I’m there from the beginning to the end.
How do you take yourself from real life influence to the fantasy aspect of a story?
TH: I think I have that element in my films because I grew up on stage, and I grew up in the arts. You know growing up doing plays, I may be 12, but I’m dressing up like an old man or playing an animal. Playing all of these things as a kid, your imagination is just expanded. I try to relate as a human being no matter what subculture I’m focusing on. It’s having the outlet to bring that mystical world.
At the end of the day, everyone is creative in that having an active imagination, they just don’t know where to put it at. For me, it’s kind of fun to bring that edge to films, rather than to have a big concept. It doesn’t have to be like some crazy story to infuse the unknown. Especially in my films, I love dealing with the spiritual realms and what we’re not seeing.
When writing your characters, do you use real people that you know as the models?
TH: Yeah, with Miles From Home I actually interviewed teenage prostitutes about how the streets worked for them, to try to understand their world. On You, Me & the Circus, my co-writer kind of had a similar experience, so everything we were writing was reflecting on his experiences so that we could shoot the experience of being in a circus.
I’m inspired every day with so much around me. The most positive things are to hear from a stranger, and if it inspires me deeply, then I kind of revolve it around that. I think with everything you have to do your own research for it to come from an honest place. There are creations all around us, it’s just unique how we find it and how it comes to us.
I’m not trying to be intrusive on people’s lives, I don’t want to do biopics on them, yet that may be something that I want to do in the future. I can create where I was basically, directly inspired by a character or a person.
What are the steps that you take to avoid being stereotyped in Hollywood?
TH: I’m not so much against being an urban filmmaker, more so than just being stamped urban. I’m thankful to be West Indian in my roots, because I like to expand beyond color and having a family to move to the United State of America to start a better life. That’s always going to run in my veins, so I’m always going to want more than just being a Black man in America. I’m always going to step out and be fearless with my voice.
I think for me, I’m not trying to do anything but be me and be honest in my creativity. I don’t ever want to be limited when it comes to labeling my work. I never try to cast my movies with an idea of what the race is, I just try to tell you a story. Black, Chinese, White, Spanish, we’re all human beings and that’s what I care about. We’re all human beings.
Do I see that there is a void in our community with cinema? Of course I do, and I want to contribute to that, but at the same time I want those stories so that we all can have a voice. That’s what really gets me off and has me excited about being a filmmaker, I want to expand beyond our race and just have a voice.
If I do that and do it unapologetically, then I’m always going to do that, and I don’t think that pigeon-holes me into a certain type of filmmaker. I don’t think that’s in my deck of cards. I’m still into experimental art. I just like to be free and honest. I want it to be where everyone doesn’t have to be put in a box.
What’s the best advice you give people who want to follow your footsteps?
TH: I just say be fearless, be true to yourself, and always have integrity. Anyone that wants to step into this business, they inspire me, because it’s such a business about patience and discipline. I’m just grateful and inspired to be in a business amongst all of these creative beings.
So someone wanting to come up in it should take a good like inside themselves. Never have to ask what your passion is. You just have to be patient with it and get all of the pieces in order to produce and get it out there. I would tell people younger than me that I’m still learning, and what I know now is to have faith, be fearless, be honest, but have integrity too.
What can people expect in the next year or so from you?
TH: I have a new movie that I’m working on; different than my other movies. Even going through the writing process I’ve learned so much. I realized that if I wanted my films to have more exposure, then I need bigger concepts. I’m getting into television, it’s a learning process for me. I hope things that I do inspire people to speak on what’s going on in the world. We’re all going through the same thing, it’s just [about] if we’re bold enough to walk in it.
Miles From Home trailer
You, Me & the Circus trailer
Find out more about Ty Hodges on his official site TyHodges.com