Essential: Works is an interview format that Directors Library regularly hosts with film and video Directors. We ask directors to name three key and influential works under the film, campaign and music video categories. The series aims to broaden horizons of reference and acknowledge works from the back catalogue.
For our twelfth instalment, we got in touch with Shaun James Grant →
You can check out Shaun’s latest music video below and other work on the link.
Her Grace – Maverick Sabre (2018 – Director’s Cut)
Directed by Shaun James Grant →
Below are Shaun’s picks and what he had to say:
Essential: Films – Shaun James Grant
I love film, course I do, I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t. So picking three essentials is tough. In order to narrow down the huge shortlist I needed to figure out why I’m selecting them. In the end I went for the ones that just made me want to make films, albeit for differing reasons.
1. 12 Angry Men (1957)
Directed by Sidney Lumet →
I was always the kid that thought pre 60’s black and white cinema was boring, I believed what it could offer me in the way of entertainment was minimal. I was naive and stupid, and boy I was wrong. This simple, yet powerful classic that I plucked off the college library shelf taught me that. It does a great job of exploring it’s themes of racially motived presumptuousness which is still so prevalent today. A timeless film that taught me the necessity of a strong engaging story.
2. Léon: The Professional (1994)
Directed by Luc Besson →
I was no older than 11 when I first discovered this movie. I had a bad habit of switching on my TV when I couldn’t sleep as a kid, I’d have it on super low so my parents couldn’t hear. I just remember being so close to the TV because it pulled me in. A real classic.
3. City of God (2002)
Another college library shelf life changer. This was the one that really gave clarity to the art of what it is to direct. It was so rugged and raw, I felt like I was truly immersed into a world that was so alien from mine but so real.
4. This is England (2006)
Directed by Shane Meadows →
OK, I’m going to cheat and add another. Shane Meadows is one of my all time heros. I could have easily chucked in Room for Romeo Brass, or Dead Man’s Shoes over this but I think this is the one that truly spoke to me the most. One of the best scenes is at the end watching Combo going through a world of emotion before succumbing to anger. It’s a constant reference of the multifaceted complexities we have as humans, truly one of the best moments of character cinema I think of.
Essential: Music Videos – Shaun James Grant
I have a huge respect for the conceptual directors however I’m definitely drawn to human relatability with depth, therefore I’m going to keep it recent(ish) and go for three that I feel encompass that heavily.
1. River – Leon Bridges (2016)
Directed by Miles Jay →
A powerful, poignant piece. One of my favourite songs coupled with one of my favourite videos of all times. Miles has a great ability to slow things down and let everything poetically come together.
2. Queens – The Blaze (2018)
Directed by The Blaze →
I could have picked this or Territory, they both evoke that deep sense of community and human connection. Can’t wait to keep following The Blaze’s journey.
3. Black Man in a White World – Michael Kiwanuka (2016)
Directed by Hiro Murai →
Hiro is my hero, everything he touches is just gold but this I think resonates with me the most.
Essential: Commercials – Shaun James Grant
1. Accrington Stanley – Milk Marketing (1989)
“Akrington Stanley, who are they?” Walked around school saying this for weeks. I still don’t like milk though.
2. Freestyle – Nike (2001)
Directed by Paul Hunter →
I balled a lot as a teenager, this was everything when it dropped.
3. Impossible is Nothing – Adidas (2004)
Directed by Lance Acord →
Still gives me shivers watching this today. In terms of aspirational, motivational commercials, this was it for me.