TT the Artist Discusses Her Love Letter to Baltimore – SXSW Filmmaker In Focus

Just a few short weeks until the 2020 SXSW Film Festival! In order to make the most out of your experience, get to know the films in our lineup a little bit better with our Filmmaker In Focus series.

Check out our Q&A with director TT The Artist as she tells us about her film Dark City Beneath the Beat, which will World Premiere in 24 Beats Per Second.

“I would like the impact of the film to bring more opportunities and resources to these artists. I want to use my platform as a director to show that there is a lot of talent in Baltimore who deserve exposure and recognition for the outstanding community work and art that is coming out of the city.” – Director TT The Artist

In your own words, what does this film mean to you?

TT The Artist: Dark City Beneath The Beat is more than a documentary, it’s a collaboration that brought hundreds of Baltimore based creatives together to open a window for the world to see Baltimore’s vibrant arts community. I wanted to create a film that stepped away from traditional approaches to documentary storytelling. Most importantly, I feel that now is the time to share this untold story about a community of people creating something out of nothing with minimal resources. I am inspired and connected with each piece of this film in some way, from the all-original music soundtrack to the fashion, poetry, and dance. I wanted to show that Baltimore is more than trauma and violence. Beyond the ally shadows and walls of abandoned homes, there lies the heartbeat of the city through its homegrown sound Baltimore club music.

What motivated you to tell this story?

TT: In 2002, I was a Baltimore transplant and moved from Fort Lauderdale, Florida where I was born and raised. I was 18 years old when I got accepted to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art. During my freshman year of college, I was introduced to the sounds of Baltimore club music and dance. The roots of Baltimore club music reminded me of the music I grew up on in south Florida, so I felt an instant connection to the culture.

At that time, there were not many outlets documenting the culture in a way that showcased it outside of the streets. Over the course of twelve years and many failed attempts to create this film, I was a spectator and I wanted to share the stories of these hidden figures creating positive outlets for artists in Baltimore. In doing so, I became a part of the narrative and developed genuine, long-lasting relationships within the community. My motivation to creating this film was powered by the voices of a community that is overlooked and not heard. Through the music and visuals, I hope viewers will be inspired by the bold and raw talent coming out of Baltimore city.

What do you want the audience to take away?

TT: When people hear the word “Baltimore” there are often negative associations with the city’s reputation. Through music, art, fashion, dance, and personal narratives, I want viewers to be inspired by the artistic and raw voices of Baltimore city. I would like the impact of the film to bring more opportunities and resources to these artists. I want to use my platform as a director to show that there is a lot of talent in Baltimore who deserve exposure and recognition for the outstanding community work and art that is coming out of the city.

What were you doing when you found out you were coming to SXSW?

TT: I just finished working out when I got a “CALL ME” text from one of my producers. I wasn’t sure what the urgent request was about. When I heard the news, I shed tears because FINALLY, we could share this film with the world. This will be my directorial debut and I could not think of a better festival to have our world premiere screening at!

What made you choose SXSW to showcase your film to the world?

TT: Dark City Beneath The Beat is a hybrid style of filmmaking that intersects art, music, and film together. SXSW is an interactive, music, and film festival that felt like the ideal festival for my film. When I created this film, I envisioned it not only screening at film festivals, but traveling beyond the theatre walls into art galleries, museums, and unconventional spaces. This is more than a film, it’s a musical experience that will get you out of your seats or leave you tapping your feet!

Add Dark City Beneath The Beat to your SXSW Schedule. Stay tuned as we share more interviews with our SXSW 2020 filmmakers!

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Dive into 2019 Music Tracks

Dark City Beneath the Beat – Photo by Kirby Griffin

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