Today we’d like to introduce you to Tony Reames.
Hi Tony, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I got started as it seems a lot of filmmakers do, making 16mm films with my dad when I was a kid. We used to rent a camera and buy the film and make a short for my birthday party with my friends. From there, my love of films evolved from Star Wars to Night of the Comet to my dad’s favorite movies Plan 9 from Outer Space and Motel Hell. I do recall the moment where I said to myself, I have to work in film. I was sitting in the theater watching Jurassic Park for the first time and thinking, I love dinosaurs but I think I love movies about dinosaurs even more.
In college 1992-1993, my roommates took me to see a screening of a movie that made moviemaking tangible to people like me with no money, “El Mariachi” by Robert Rodriguez. Seeing that movie on the big screen made for $7000 was a shot to the arm of the adrenaline I needed.
After college, I moved to Atlanta (before the film industry did) and was working in new media on the internet when my best friend Tymm showed me this little film made for $8000 called “The Other Side” by Gregg Bishop. This film had all of the same guts and action as El Mariachi and the story was crazy. So fast forward a couple of years and I hear Gregg is working on a V/H/S film filming in Atlanta, and I send him a message. Four days later, I am on set working on that film. It was an incredible experience for me, anytime I get to be on set with Gregg, George, Nils, Stephen, Dan and the crew it is like film camp. I have been blessed to work with and around so many talented people, and every time I do, I try and soak up the experience.
I have created dozens and dozens of short films, music videos, and documentaries, but now I am directing my first feature, “spookt.”. We began filming in September in Greenville, PA. It is a story set in my hometown about a child gone missing in a haunted house. Again I am making it with all my friends and it stars Haley Leary (Walking Dead, Tennessee), Christen Sharice (Jacqueline and Jilly, Your Worst Nightmare), Erin Brown (Dead by Midnight, Masters of Horror) and Keith Brooks (Tomorrow War, Stranger Things).
We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I do not believe any journey worth taking is smooth. There have been struggles, heartaches, and momentous failures along the way. Filmmaking is a pressure cooker, it squeezes everything into a tiny container at a very high pressure, with unrealistic expectations, very little money, and says do the impossible. I have worked on a lot of projects in a lot of different settings, but the thing that resonates the most with me is kindness, grace, and a good team will always win out.
Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
There are a couple of projects I have worked on that really stand out for me. I directed Phife from A Tribe Called Quest in his last video before he passed away. Nutshell Pt.2 with Redman and Busta Rhymes. I worked very closely with DJ Rasta Root who produced the video as well as is executive producing Phife’s last album Forever. We filmed it over a week in NYC in 2016 and premiered it in 2021. I worked on that video for five years, and we poured our hearts and souls into it. It was the honor of a lifetime working with Phife and will go down as one of my proudest professional achievements.
I don’t feel like I bring anything extraordinary to the table, except the team I work with and my hustle. If you surround yourself with people smarter and better than you, it forces you to elevate your skill set. That is what I try and do. Always.
Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
I like to think I am a part of two communities, the horror community and the hip-hop community. Both are incredibly welcoming and very passionate, so I have never had a bad experience reaching out or talking to people. I think if you are humble and willing to do the work a lot of doors will open for you.
- Website: http://memorywedge.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tonyreames/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/TonyReames
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kItxNOFJSs
- Other: https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-features/phife-dawg-atcq-album-legacy-1163480/
Christopher Heady, Tymm Hoffman