REELWORLD'S 2020 AWARD OF EXCELLENCE RECIPIENT
CLEMENT VIRGO

The Award of Excellence honours Canadian industry leaders whose creative excellence over decades has impacted the representation of Canada's diversity positively nationally and internationally.  We are proud to announce our 2020 Award of Excellence Recipient is Clement Virgo.  Join us in congratulating Clement on his Award at our Awards Presentation October 19th, 4:30PM. Tune in for our One-on-One industry panel with Clement on October 16th at 3:00 PM. 

Clement Virgo is one of Canada’s foremost directors. TV directing credits include Empire, The Wire, The L Word, American Crime, and the OWN series Greenleaf, where he also served as Executive Producer with Oprah Winfrey. He is currently developing BLOOM with Callie Khouri through the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground Productions. In 2015, Virgo directed and co-wrote a miniseries adaptation of Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes. It won 12 Canadian Screen Awards, was nominated for two U.S. Critics Choice Television Awards and four 2015 NAACP Image Awards. Virgo’s feature films include the boxing drama Poor Boy’s Game and the provocative Lie With Me. His films have premiered at top tier festivals including Cannes, Berlinale and TIFF. Virgo’s debut film, Rude premiered at Cannes in 1995. It was recently featured in Locarno’s Blacklight Retrospective, showcasing international Black cinema of the 20th century.

"DO NOT WAIT FOR PERMISSION TO MAKE YOUR OWN STORY."
-Clement Virgo
Read our exclusive interview with Clement below:

"It is my honour to be the recipient of the 2020 Reelworld Award of Excellence. For twenty years, Reelworld has been a pioneer of creating inclusion and access for Black, Indigenous, and Canadian people of colour in the screen-based industries. As an organization, Reelworld understands the value of supporting these racialized groups and the critical mandate to focus only on Canadian talent. As a young filmmaker, Reelworld was a vital supporter of my work and will be for the next generations of screen-based artists."

Q: What drives and inspires you?

What drives me is to be the best version of myself personally, creatively and otherwise. I am inspired by people who are courageous and who look to push beyond their limitations and encourage others.

Q: Has the increase in technology in the industry affected your creative process?

The technology has not affected my process, technology for me is just a tool. The creative process is essentially the same. Technology has made it easier, faster and cheaper to make films, and created more democracy in the industry. But in terms of my creative process, it’s still trying to come up with an idea and to realize it to the fullest of my ability. 

Q: What frustrates you about our industry?

The amount of time it takes to execute an idea from conception to completion. Sometimes it takes only a short time, but other times it can take years to fully realize an idea. That can be frustrating.

Q: If you were starting your career right now, what steps would you take? What programs do you see as most valuable for new filmmakers?

I would focus on learning the craft of filmmaking. I would watch as many movies, watch as many television shows and read as many scripts that I could, and try to evaluate them to see why they work. Now it is easier and cheaper to make films. When I started, I had to shoot on film, which is expensive. It’s a bit of a cliché, but now you can shoot a film on a phone. There are an abundance of ways to make your first film, and a number of programs that give you that opportunity. But I would always start with the craft, studying the history of cinema, looking at the masters and trying to dissect and figure out why those films work.

Q: What advice would you like emerging talent to have?

It takes more than talent. It takes a lot of perseverance and work. The space between what the conception of the idea and the finished product is work. To survive in this industry, you have to be resilient, study the craft and persevere through those obstacles.

Q: What is the best advice anyone has given you?

If you want to be a director learn how to write. Writing your own story is the fastest way to getting your project made. If you want to write, spend everyday writing and reading scripts. Do not wait for permission to make your own story.

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