Jeymes Samuel’s fingers have no budget

Get a sneak peak of our cover story with Jeymes Samuel, where he sits down with HUNGER to chat 'The Book of Clarence' and finding that sweet spot where music and film come together as one. 
  • PhotographerRankin
  • InterviewerRankin

Meeting Jeymes Samuel is a bit like buying a new notebook or a new camera. It’s like the endless possibilities when you open the first page or look through the lens for the first time. That golden smell of opportunity. It’s a buzz – like a remedy to the negative or a catalyst for potential. If the 44-year-old Londoner wasn’t one of the world’s biggest film directors, he would probably make an incredible motivational speaker.

Rankin: I’ve heard a lot about the music that you play on your sets.

Jeymes Samuel: I always say that I turn the set into my personality, because the director is the captain of the set and everyone looks toward them. If the director is a prick then no one’s going to have a great time on set. The film we make is for the audience, but the making of the film is for us. When you finish a film, it’s just a visual diary of what you’ve gone through to get there, so you have to make that experience dope for yourself and everyone else. I don’t care whether you’re in catering or whether you’re in health and safety – when you get to set, you’ve got to step it up.

I have my sound department Tannoy the whole set – from the interiors to the exteriors – and when I drive to set, my Bluetooth is connected. I call it my on-set sound system. As soon as it catches, they know the director has arrived. If we’re doing the turn around between scenes and we’ve got five or six minutes, that’s two songs – two bangers. I won’t play music that doesn’t match the feel of the scene, though. You want to keep the actors in character.

R: Sometimes the people on set need a boost, right?

JS: Yeah, like, I was shooting Benedict Cumberbatch on a crucifix and that day was hot. But the following day we were shooting LaKeith Stanfield on the cross and it was freezing cold. The extras and artists in the background were freezing, but not when I played something uptempo. That got them all moving. If you view the set as a nightclub, or an all-dayer, it’s the perfect place to DJ. People go on my Instagram and think it’s only like that sometimes, but it’s every single minute of every single day. I need music. I need to be jamming.

This excerpt was taken from HUNGER Issue 31: The Dreamers. Full story is available in stores worldwide now. 

  • ProducerKay Riley
  • RetouchingTrue Black Studio