Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights, Fruitvale Station) is mentoring a group of talented young filmmakers through the 2014 Sprite Films program. The acclaimed actor -- who will soon begin shooting Fantastic Four -- met with six finalists last week during CinemaCon in Las Vegas to discuss their original short films and share industry insights.
Sprite Films challenges college filmmakers to develop 50-second scripts, then selects a shortlist of finalists to create short films from script-to-screen. The public can view and vote on the six finalist films at Sprite.com/films through May 15. Movie fans will select the Fan Favorite Award winner, who will receive a $5,000 donation to his or her university’s film department and a trip to AFI FEST 2014, the American Film Institute’s (AFI) film festival. A group of film industry experts, including Jordan, will crown the Green Ribbon Panel winner, who will work on a Sprite brand project. The Green Ribbon Panel winner’s film will run in select theaters nationwide in August.
We caught up with Jordan during CinemaCon to learn more about the program and the pointers he passed along to the filmmakers:
You just met with the finalists. What advice did you give them?
They key piece of advice I gave them was to collaborate. Communication between the director, cast and crew is so important. I’ve worked with a lot of first-time directors, and my experience was so much better because we were able to collaborate and figure things out together. I also advised them to set aside their egos. You’ll go so much further without one. You need to able to agree to disagree with the people you’re working with. Working with people you like and want to work with is also very important. Be ambitious, don’t think small. Shoot for the stars. And do the work… don’t shortchange yourself. You have to put the time in because there are so many people all over the world doing exactly what you want to do. What will set you apart is the work you put in.
Why are programs like Sprite Films important?
It provides live, on-the-job experience. This program gives filmmakers the opportunity to work and learn, which is the best education. It also gives them a budget and challenges them to set and pursue goals. Sprite is setting the bar for them and helping guide them through the early part of their careers. They’re the new faces of filmmaking -- they are the future -- so it’s important to equip them with the tools they need. Sprite is doing that through this program.
Who have been your mentors, and what have you learned from them?
It all started with my parents, who instilled in me a strong work ethic and kept me grounded. As I started to work, Forest Whitaker was definitely somebody who gave me some sound advice on acting when I got the chance to work with him on Fruitvale (Station). And Matthew McConaughey gave me good advice on choosing roles. There was a time when I was nervous about a project and wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. He asked me where my nervousness was coming from. Was it a healthy fear? Because if so, that’s a good thing. You’re supposed to be a little scared. But if it’s a negative fear, if you’re not surrounding yourself with things that will help you win, then maybe it’s something you may not want to do. He gave me questions I needed to ask myself. I’ve had good people around me who have really helped me out along the way. Now, for me to be involved and give back a little is very important to me. Because you’ve got to give back to this community. You can’t just keep taking from it.