Merawi Gerima

Merawi Gerima

Merawi Gerima

Serial Pictures

What was your first professionally directed work and when was it?
My first professionally directed work was an episode of Cherish the Day, the TV show by Ava DuVernay. She distributed my independent feature film, Residue, via her distribution company ARRAY, and that led to her hiring me to direct a couple of TV shows in 2021.

How did you get into directing?
My parents are pioneers in Black independent film. They emerged out of what is now being called the LA Rebellion film movement which was essentially a critical mass of Black and Brown filmmakers who banded together to survive the racism of the film industry. Under such conditions, they excelled at generating high production value with microscopic budgets, since that was the only way to tell their stories and that is still true today unfortunately. I got into directing in order to continue the family craft and to hopefully help bring resources to their current projects.

What is your most recent project?
We just completed a music video for the singer Madison McFerrin. She is an incredible vocalist and producer, and also the daughter of legendary jazz vocalist Bobby McFerrin and sister of musician Taylor McFerrin. The music video, called “Run” is essentially a short film borne out of her discovery that one of her Great Grandmothers escaped from slavery 150 years ago.

What is the best part of being a director?
My favorite thing about directing is the aspect of having to crack the “code” that each new project brings. Every story is a puzzle, usually with a single, driving idea hidden within all its components. Once you solve the riddle and figure out what that one idea is, you gain the ability to confidently direct every element to the execution of that single idea. Trying to crack that code with extremely limited time is part of the thrill of directing.

What is the worst part of being a director?
Trying to crack that aforementioned code with extremely limited time.

Tell us about your background (i.e., where did you grow up? Past jobs?)
I’m from Washington, DC. I waited tables through undergrad. After graduating with a degree in graphic design, I pivoted to I.T. I worked as a Network Engineer in a hospital for a couple years before going to film school in Los Angeles.