An Interview With The Director Of Homeless Sam & Sally
What drew you to the cinematic language?
When I was around the age of 5 in Chicago, Illinois I begin to start an obsession with glow-in-the-dark toys. I would wait until it was completely dark and then I will pull out all of my toy dinosaurs, action figures, cars, and insects while simultaneously waiting for everyone in the house to fall asleep. I would play with them all night on my cold wooden floor. I was so fascinated by the fluorescent green effects colors that omitted from my toys. Thus, engraving in my head, my first favorite color in the world “neon green”.
Around age 8 in Berrien Springs, Michigan my father purchased a Nintendo for my siblings and I. I was so blown away by the graphics and playing with the video game character Mario and shooting ducks with that gun joystick. Wow, those were the days!
A few years later my 2-year-old brother Carl died in a house fire and my family and I were forced to move to Benton Harbor, Michigan due to the fact that we didn’t have any place to go. Our home was destroyed so my parents found a shelter for us to stay at. It was so devastating to my family and I. Years after my baby brother’s death my father had became extremely abusive. Eventually, my mother, my siblings, and I ran away from my biological father to start a new life.
Around 2002 I created my own film at Benton Harbor High School (Benton Harbor, Michigan). My film was relating to communication skills and it allowed my fellow classmates to learn how to deal with conflicts in the real world. My teacher at the time was so impressed that he played my movie over and over again to the entire faculty and student body. From there I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the entertainment / interactive media field.
Many moons later I graduated from Benton Harbor High School with high honors and tons of scholarships such as The Gates Millennium Scholarship, Horatio Alger Association Scholarship, Burger King Scholarship, National A.C.E. Award Winner 2005, etc. I got the scholarships and high honors by writing about my past pain/hardships and busting my butt in my studies at BHHS. I even graduated in the top 10 of my class with a 3.8 GPA.
In 2010 I graduated from the Art Institute of California - Los Angeles with high honors (also with a 3.0 GPA) and along with receiving my Bachelor of Science in Game Art & Design. This was truly the motivation that I needed to push me into the world of cinematic language.
I have so many stories to share with the world and it would be a disservice to myself and the world for me to not share them. When you are working with the cinematic language you are able to express your message to the masses in a digital/theatric medium.
“I want to continue to propel my energy in a world of theatrics.” - Tyrone Evans Clark
Which directors inspired your work?
Seth MacFarlane, Tyler Perry, Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, and Spike Lee are all legendary directors and writers who inspire me the most. Seth always has a wacky comical way of seeing the world from a different perspective. Some of his biggest controversial characters are from his successful cartoon series hits the “Family Guy”. I have always been a sucker for cartoons and I respect characters that are unpredictable. Life is truly like a box of chocolates, you just never know what you’re going to get. Tyler brings a lot of spiritual elements into his Films/TV shows, especially the Madea franchise. He will tell you something serious and then after he will add a little bit of comedy just to spice it up a little bit and to keep you interested. Everyone loves to laugh. I know I do! Spike is one of the bosses of Hollywood and I wouldn’t be surprised that he inspired Mr. Perry as much as he inspired me from one of his biggest films “Jungle Fever” (1991). All of the stories behind the characters was so wild and funky and the idea of being attractive to the opposite ethnicity group. I personally feel this movie really gave spectators a warm welcome into the universe of Mr. Lee. Opposites truly attract!
Mr. Tarantino has made so many big classics/masterpieces such as “Pulp Fiction” (1994), “Kill Bill: Volume 1” (2003), “Jackie Brown” (1997), etc. He is one of my biggest inspirations because we both enjoy showing the darkness of the world in our features and tv shows. One of my favorites films is “Jackie Brown” because Pam Grier (Jackie Brown) was smuggling so much money. I always wanted to be able to smuggle so much damn money in real life, but can’t because I don’t want to go to jail. In films, you can do the craziest/stupidest thing and will not get in trouble for it. You are God in your twisted world of cinematic art.
James is one of the fellows who I consider the king of fantasy / science-fiction because of his epic film “Avatar” (2009). Everything in the movie from the alien-cat-form-looking Avatar characters to the 3-D environments. I enjoy the idea of 3-D mix with live-action and on top of that, he uses a lot of glowing fluorescent colors in his movie. Again I do love neon green, the color that glows in the dark. This is truly a spoiler alert, but in the “Homeless Sam & Sally - The Movie” there is a blue fantasy scene where “Sam” (One of the main characters) comes face-to-face with one of his imaginative "Creature Thing" nemesis. Oh so scary, yikes!
I know I suppose to talk about directors but these well-known screenwriters/producers Lena Waithe and Shonda Rhimes are incredible too. Lena really touches my heart/spirit when she released “Queen & Slim” the movie in 2019. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but in this film, it really expands on the idea and shows light on police brutality and the horrific things people of color go through on a regular while being pulled over by the police. I enjoyed this movie because it was daring and she wasn’t afraid to show the world what really goes on sometimes with these cops, especially at a time right now such as a Black Lives Matter movement and trying to bring justice for Breonna Taylor. No justice… No peace! Black Lives Matter is not just a hashtag. It is about ending police brutality and bringing equality into the world for everyone. Miss Waithe touched on this sensitive topic really well. Good job!
Shonda is one of the queens of television for her “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” franchises. Most of her stories consist of showing the lives of all types of people including the LGBTQA+ Community. She is not afraid to break through stereotypes. For example, in “Scandal” Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) is a powerful woman who fixes things for everyone and this also includes the White House. For roles such as this one people would think it would be for a male actor, but in this case, she made this powerful character a woman. So — so cool. I have the utmost respect for this creative individual.
I have way more than these people on my list as far as the ones who inspire me every day. I am always inspired and I pay respect to every creative God who came before me.
“Respect is earned and these creative folks earned it.” - Tyrone Evans Clark
How did you come up with the idea to shoot Homeless Sam & Sally?
I came up with the idea for this film “Homeless Sam & Sally - The Movie” from me spending partially my life in and off the streets while battling with the homeless world. I wasn’t always homeless, but I felt it was time for me to disclose these personal details about my traumatic experience. During my adolescence I was going through so much such as peer pressure, working an after-school job, and just trying to fit in with my peers. At the time my classmates and people who I worked with at my job Meijer (Benton Harbor, MI) didn’t know what I was going through. People would make fun of me and call me slow and tease me for being different. As years went on throughout my life I start to build up a defense mechanism against the BS. In a nutshell, I pretty much start taking responsibility for myself because nobody else will. I’m not a victim anymore. I am a victor. I am victorious! “Homeless Sam & Sally” truly allows me to share my story with the masses in a creative digital way. Plus I wanted to add some comedy to it. I don’t want people to be so sad watching it and life is so short, sometimes it’s better to just laugh. Laughter is always good for the soul.
What were some of the challenges of making the film?
One of the main challenges I found was trying to keep up with the time and due dates for each scene. Time really passes by while shooting on-set. On top of that, some actors are more expensive than others. You can’t keep people so long on-site because the more you keep them the more money you have to spend and it adds up, especially as an Indie Filmmaker. Also, continuity is another big one. Making sure that every scene looks the same a few days later before we retake it again. I also had to provide costumes and along with meals and breaks for the entire production team. I even had to edit my production pipeline a few times due to weather conditions and meeting deadlines on specific dates.
Sometimes you can have an entire plan and it can change in a blink of an eye. For example, sometimes people can’t make it to set. I can’t rent a location on the date needed.
Overall there are tons of challenges but at the end of the day, it is so worth it. Filmmaking is a cascade of rules and a cinematic language that allows you to express yourself.
How did you find the cast and the crew?
I’ve done tons of casting calls on social media platforms. I also put up a few ads up on some big online applications along with a bunch of phone calls. It’s always a good thing to network and exchange phone numbers on-site with other actors and people who work in the entertainment industry. It was a piece a cake selecting the main cast members “Sam” and “Sally”. I decided to play the role of “Sam” because nobody else can play me better than me. I have massive experience in living in and off the street as a homeless man and I capture the essence of “Sam” a.k.a my younger version past self to the screen really well. I decided to cast the actress Margaret Newborn for the role of “Sally”. Margaret is funny with the taste of sassiness. She knows how to bring the comedy all the time even when the cameras are not rolling. Plus she captured the energy as a mother. This really made things easier for me financially and it helped a lot with my time management for this production.
The rest of the cast was selected on there excellent merit backgrounds and being able to bring the characters to life.
I’m just so honored to be able to work with such a powerful cast and allowing the creative juices to flow in and off the screen.
“Homeless Sam & Sally - The Movie is truly a digital cinematic masterpiece!”
What is it like to act and direct the film at the same time?
It is super incredible to act and direct a film at the same time because I get to play with both sides of the cinematic world. This experience really helped me understand what I truly want to bring to the “Homeless Sam & Sally” film. For example, it’s like being a student and being a teacher at the same time. I was able to get my hands dirty and even gain more compassion for my actors while they were working their little hearts out for me and for this feature. I was on-set with them, but at the same time, I was directing it. It felt so natural for me. I knew exactly what was going to happen before for every shot/scene. I was in control and I enjoy the power.
Plus from my past experiences as an actor, it could be very stressful because you don’t know if you’re always bringing it to the screen. Now when I play with both worlds it really allows me to see both perspectives to the filmmaking field. I have total respect for all filmmakers. Again it is a lot of work but it’s worth it. You might break a few bones and gain a few bruises in the process, but at the end of the day, it is so worth it!
The main components that I love about being the director/actor is the fact that I can combine so many mediums together such as music, digital art, and theatrics into a cinematic masterpiece. On top of that, I am able to express myself and get my message to the masses. For example, in “Homeless Sam & Sally - The Movie” I was able to share my life during a time of battling with homelessness through my cinematic vision.
I was even was honored for my achievements for being an actor and director. So far the film “Homeless Sam & Sally - The Movie” that I produced, directed, acted in, written for has received numerous awards.
The awards that “Homeless Sam & Sally - The Movie” has won is the September 2020 Best Comedy of Toronto Film Magazine Fest (Toronto Film Magazine Winner), July 2020 Finalist of Independent Shorts Awards (Certificate of Achievement), August 2020 Semi-Finalist of IndieX Film Festival (Certificate of Achievement), August 2020 Honorable Mention: Best Comedy of Kosice International Monthly Film Festival (KIMFF), August 2020 Best Feature of Hollywood Blood Horror Festival, being nominated The Monkey Bread Tree Film Awards' Best Genre (Spring 2020), August 2020 Honorable Mention: Feature Film / Best Comedy of Prague International Film Festival (PIMFF), September 2020 Semi-Finalist of Indie Short Fest Award (Certificate of Achievement), August 2020 Best Feature Comedy of Cyrus International Monthly Festival of Toronto, and been selected by prestigious film festivals. I even received the Best Supporting Actor Award (August 2020) from Hollywood Blood Horror Festival.
I also just found out that I have been awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award ("Homeless Sam & Sally - The Movie") for Best Actor, Feature Film, and Cult Film / Underground Film / Exploitation Movie / Midnight Film / Para Cinema from the Cult Critic Movie Awards. I was Nominated at the Alternative Film Festival (AltFF) Best Actor and Best Writer for the Fall Award. Couch Film Festival honored me as the Winner for Best Director and Nominated me for Best Long Short Film. I'm also honored to be August 2020 Best Actor, Best Director, and Narrative Feature of Druk International Film Festival (DIFF). Homeless Sam & Sally - The Movie even made it into the Festigious Los Angeles - Monthly Film Competition as a Semi-Finalist.
Right now I am super pleased to be able to wear many hats for the film "Homeless Sam & Sally - The Movie". To be honest with you I like acting and directing equally the same, but directing is better because you have complete control over just about everything.
What is your next film project and what are you currently working on?
Some people don't know this but I'm also a songwriter, performer, and sound mixer. For my first film ("Homeless Sam & Sally - The Movie") I produced, sang, wrote, and performed the songs “Look Me in My Eyes”, “Gotta Get Some Tissue!”, “We Gotta Figure It Out” (Homeless Sam & Sally – The Movie / TV Series Theme Song), “Video Game”, “Hope”, “Inside of Me!” (Courtesy of Tyrone Evans Clark Inc.). The majority of these songs are heard in "Homeless Sam & Sally – The Movie"
Currently, I am working on some new music. I even have an official music video coming out soon for my single "Gotta Get Some Tissue!". It will be a cartoon animation mix with comedy and cool graphics.
"The Corona Hour!" is another project that I am currently working on now. It also has cartoon animation as well with good actors and amazing stories.
"The Corona Hour!" is a delicious documentary hosted by myself who shares stories about people living in the time of COVID-19.
I even have a few action science fiction, horror, fantasy, and young adult novels coming out soon. These books will be available on just about every platform such as Amazon Prime Books and Barnes & Noble. All of my books will have illustrations 100% made by me. I even plan to makes some of my characters into toys.
It is also a possibility that I might be adding some newer episodes to my podcast "CALL TYRONE!!!".
"CALL TYRONE!!!" is about me talking about my day-to-day life in Los Angeles; and along with random things that unexpectedly comes to his mind.
This podcast is available on just about every platform such as RadioPublic, Google Podcasts, Anchor, Podcast Addict, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, STITCHER, LISTEN NOTES, etc.