A Career Without Fear: An Interview with Tilane Jones of ARRAY NOW
Tilane Jones holds many titles, each one more impressive as the list goes on. Director’s Assistant of the 2014’s blockbuster, Selma. Producer of Academy Award nominated documentary 13th. Executive director of ARRAY Now… and many say Ava Duvernay’s right hand. We spoke to Jones about ARRAY Now, how she feels about diverse media, and forging your own path.
The following is a summarized excerpt of a conversation between Jones and TLL founder, Kim Hoyos.
On Her Life
Can you speak a little about your career?
I wasn’t always in the film industry. I moved from real estate to the film industry in when the market started to change. I had been working with loans and in need of a new job. At the time Ava (DuVernay) was still working in PR with her company The DuVernay Agency doing promotion of huge films like DreamGirls, Invictus, and more. A friend of mine knew I was looking for work and put me in touch with Ava for an office- coordinator position that was available. I met her as she was editing her first documentary, This Is The Life, and as she realized she needed distribution so it started to expand.
Was it scary or in any way difficult to shift industries completely?
No, I wouldn’t say that because I look to things with faith. I approach uncertainty and work with opportunities. And I felt a lot of the work I was doing before translated well to what I do now. Day to day I work with people, contracts, and paperwork. The barebone skills are the same. In my personal life, I’m a huge fan of music and the arts so it was a natural progression to bring those things into my professional life. I’m still learning as time goes on but I feel like life is meant for that.
It’s nice to know that no matter where you are in the industry, there’s always space to not know where you’re going and figure it out.
Completely. Life is full of transitions whether you are 18 or 80- life will always be changing. I think it’s about moving forward and following what you are passionate in because that’s something that cannot be learned.
How did ARRAY grow into what it is today?
ARRAY NOW (formerly known as AFFRM, founded in 2010) is an independent community based film distribution and resource collective made of arts advocacy groups and volunteers. The move from AFFRM (African American Film Festival Releasing Movement) to ARRAY ocurred in 2016. That switch was a transition from the distribution of African american and films about the african diaspora to the amplification of all POC and women. With Ava’s need for distribution we formed a place that could be that for others as well. There was no one really distributing the kind of work she was making or the stories we found others trying to tell, so we became that outlet.
How can a filmmaker go about getting their film distributed via ARRAY?
Reach out to us via our website! We essentially look for filmmakers who have a distinct voice and need outlets to spread their feature length work (regardless of genre). Our team helps with the distribution and marketing of these films and we’ll even accept first time filmmakers. We look to create legacies for these filmmakers so to help them with their current projects and to continue to let them grow.
Do you think filmmakers have a responsibility to be political?
Every filmmaker will have their own avenue and style of creating, but it’s more about authenticity and telling a story that you believe in.
ARRAY is an organization built to celebrate and support creators on their identity identity- do you think identity should always play a role in creating art?
I think that filmmakers should see their identity as an advantage. In my own life, especially in this industry- I cannot ignore than I am a woman and a woman of color. That perspective adds to the story and makes me have a different perspective in whatever room I’m in. When filmmakers embrace their identities, their art grows and has more depth.
Anything to add?
Submit to ARRAY. We look over all submissions and take into consideration every piece. We’re not looking for perfection, we’re looking for stories. There’s always a space for your work and your voice matters. It’s important to create work that is authentic and shows your life and what you know. No one can tell your story.