Deron Albright, M.F.A.
Areas Taught: Music, Theatre and Film
Expertise: Independent Film Production, African Cinema, Narrative Film Aesthetics, Politics and Ideology
Critiquing and Creating Independent Cinema
Screenwriter/director Deron Albright, M.F.A., associate professor of film, takes issue with the typical independent movie fare out of Africa that paints a homogenous continent. Usually, it’s some tragic tale with only a few glimmers of hope. “African cinema often trades on the condescending first-world assumption that one wouldn’t be happy in a world less than our own, and even worse, that our ‘help’ is necessary to give hope and happiness to Africa,” he says. “I found that troubling.”
So Albright wrote and directed an entirely different kind of movie that challenges the status quo and expands the scope of the niche to show the varied possibilities. The Destiny of Lesser Animals, his first feature film, debuted in 2011 at several A-list festivals to strong reviews. It’s a detective mystery about a middle-class policeman who must choose between his dreams of a future in America and the not-so-dismal reality of life in his modern-day homeland of Ghana.
“It’s not what they expect from that niche,” Albright says of the public as well as critics. “It’s certainly ground-breaking in Ghana without a question. It’s a potential game changer. Audiences love it.” He was a Fulbright Senior Fellow to Ghana, where he made the movie on a self-funded budget.
His goal, he says, is to use “narrative … to speak to bigger truths.” In addition to the Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia film festivals, among others, Destiny had a world premiere at the prestigious Museum of Modern Art and Lincoln Center Film Society’s New Directors/New Films in New York. The Hollywood Reporter noted the movie was an “accomplished debut feature … with a distinct sense of place.”
Albright also has directed other original productions, including the short The Legend of Black Tom, which looks at bare-knuckle boxing, and he is working on a film about Las Vegas.
He can speak to trends in the independent film industry, such as the impact of 3-D and the shift toward digital distribution, and was quoted about motion-capture filmmaking in The Seattle Times and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. He has an interest in narrative politics and the ideology of film form, particularly in relation to how it relates to under-represented communities. Albright has also written reviews for the University Film and Video Association.