RESPECT. Interview: Author and Independent Film Director Derek Vitatoe

Image Credit – Derek Vitatoe

Derek Vitatoe is an author and an independent film director out of Indianapolis, Indiana. Vitatoe authored several books: With These Hands, Pink Slip Panic: Are You on the Chopping Block? and Deacon’s Circle. In addition, he has also directed, produced, and wrote projects like Fidelity and Anathema. Vitatoe and his team are gearing up to shop their project at some of the film festivals looking to secure a distribution deal.

Vitatoe recent spoke with RESPECT. about how he came up with the content for Anathema and why this is the right time to release the film. He also discussed his passion to one day turn his books into plays or films in the future.

RESPECT.: When did you decide you wanted to get into the market of film making?

I started my career writing fictional stories and published a couple of books called “With These Hands” and “Deacon’s Circle.” Individuals that read my books offered me some great feedback and said that I gave very good dialogue and I should consider writing scripts.  After receiving the feedback, I began researching the craft of script writing and even took some classes and then proceeded to write my first script. It was about five years ago when I decided to really take the craft seriously and told myself that I was going to be a film maker.  I just used my experience as an author and that is how I created the story of Anathema.

RESPECT.: Can you tell us how you came up with the concept for “Anathema”?

Anathema originated from a previous script that I wrote in the past called ”Batty Bowy” and it is a story about how the locals brutally and Violently treat gays and lesbians on the island of Jamaica. After I conducted some research my wife and I decided to travel to Jamaica, where we learned that most Jamaicans have a strong prejudice against Homosexuality. So, I decided to create a story to bring awareness and shine a light on the treatment of gays and lesbians in the community. In hopes of bringing change into the country of Jamaica and around the world.

RESPECT.: Why do you feel this the best time to release the film?  

I felt this was the right time to release this film because of the events that are happening around the world with racial tension.  This past year the same sex marriage laws were implemented and the controversy surrounding that has followed the ruling. So, being able to highlight some of the events that have happened this past year and currently has prompted me to release “Anathema.”

RESPECT.: You have also written books such as With These Hands and Deacon’s Circle. Do plan on turning them into films or even a play?

I do plan on turning those two projects into films or plays in the future. I will have to write the scripts for both, but for now, they are available for purchase on Amazon or any other platform you use to purchase books.

RESPECT.: Being that you are a content creator yourself what are your thoughts on some of the latest chess moves that Netflix had made in the recent weeks?

I think it is very interesting when you look at the landscape and how innovation leads to success. Just look at the last ten years, how Borders Books did not evolve, but Barnes and Nobles found a way to adapt to today’s society. There are many companies Blockbusters being one of that did not see the vision to expand when they have presented the opportunity. Netflix will continue to evolve and be innovative in the entertainment business and I see them being a major power house in the film and television industry.  There has been a lot of independent film makers who that have chosen to partner with platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Venmo to release their projects. All you can do is applaud the efforts of these innovative thinkers creating these platforms for independent film curators.

RESPECT.: How did you come up with the name “Harmony and Diversity Productions” for your production company?

I am an eighth-star director in my profession and I am always looking to promoting diversity. I have implemented the fact that people come from different backgrounds into my organization.  Individuals must be able to work together to accomplish our goals.  My goal is to release films and content that truly have value and makes a difference.

RESPECT.: What is your thought process regarding interns or hiring employees?

That is something that I am open for and one of my biggest commitment is giving back. If an individual is willing to put in the work and “That means work hard.” You must be willing to understand the vision of me and the production company. If those requirements are met I am willing to give back in any way possible even if that means bring on an intern.

RESPECT.: Have thought about partnering with a streaming service like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu in the future?

Absolutely! We will have to see what happens with Anathema. We are currently submitting it to film festivals and hopefully, we can come out with grand prize winnings from some the major events.

RESPECT.: What type of music are you listening to nowadays?

I have been listening to a lot of R&B: Whitney Houston, Keith Sweat, Johnny Gill, and New Edition.

RESPECT.: When you are seeking cast members for your projects what are you looking for?

I am looking for those individuals to bring energy, know your lines and not feel entitled. If you’re an actor or actress that is hungry and shows that you have done your homework. I would like you to be a part of my projects.

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About Landon Buford

Washington State Graduate Past Interviews include Grammy Award Winner Kenny G, David Banner, WNBA President Lisa Borders, Whats Trendings CEO Shira Lazar, Ice Cube, NBC's Chicago PD LaRoyce Hawkins, Family Matters Darius McCrary, En Vogues Maxine Jones, Team USA Track & Field Member Norris Frederick, James Kyson, WNBA Great Lauren Jackson, and more.