Director’s Chair Introduction: Gina Prince-Bythewood

by Tony Cogan · February 8, 2021 · Director's Chair · No Comments

Deadline: 6th March 2021

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Hello everyone, it’s time to announce who the featured director for February on Director’s Chair will be and this month I’ve decided to go for Gina Prince-Bythewood.

She got her start in the film and TV world after university working as a writer, mainly on the shows A Different World and South Central, alongside directing a few short films and a TV movie and acting as a consulting producer on Felicity for a while.

For her first theatrical film, she worked with the writing and directing lab at the Sundance Institute to develop Love and Basketball. The film was not a huge financial success but was a critical success, winning at the BET Awards, Black Reel Awards, Independent Spirit Awards and NAACP Image Awards, going on to have cult success.

After Love and Basketball she next directed The Secret Life of Bees. Having moderate success at the box office, the film was praised for the performance of Queen Latifah and ended up winning awards at the NAACP Awards and People’s Choice Awards.

Following The Secret Life of Bees though it was a few years before she directed another film with Beyond the Lights. She intended to make the film shortly after The Secret Life of Bees, but financing ended up being difficult due to her insistence on casting Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the lead. When the film was released it received, with Mbatha-Raw’s performance in particular being praised.

The next few years for Prince-Bythewood involved working on TV shows, including directing an episode of Cloak and Dagger and creating the show Shots Fired, and writing a few films, but her highest profile work at the time was doing the pre-production on Sony’s Silver and Black, as part of Sony’s plans for Spider-Man related films. Based on what I’ve heard, Prince-Bythewood was unhappy with the initial script leading to delays to the start of production. Sony eventually decided to make two separate films based on Silver Sable and Black Cat, still intending for Prince-Bythewood to be involved, before ultimately cancelling the project.

Whilst Silver and Black was never made, Prince-Bythewood was able to use the experience she gained on that project to direct The Old Guard for Netflix. Upon release, The Old Guard was praised for the action scenes, the lead performance from Charlize Theron, the depiction of LGBT characters and the vision Prince-Bythewood brought to the film, whilst Netflix have reported that 78 million households watched the film within its first 4 weeks.

At this stage it is unclear what Prince-Bythewood will do in the future. She’s signed a deal with Touchstone Television to produce work for them, she’s expressed interest in trying to get something related to Silver and Black moving at Sony again and a sequel to The Old Guard has been greenlit, but it is unknown what will eventually become of these.

As a reminder, the films of Gina Prince-Bythewood that you can cover are listed below.

  • Love and Basketball
  • The Secret Life of Bees
  • Beyond the Lights
  • The Old Guard

I look forward to reading whatever you send me.