It was a way to combine my unique portraiture that I've created over the years with Elvis's extraordinary ability to let the people be themselves.
From the very beginning, The Black List was going to be collaboration between Elvis and me. It was a way to combine my unique portraiture that I've created over the years with Elvis's extraordinary ability to let the people be themselves. We chose to keep it very simple, not to have Elvis be seen, but to have it in the voice of the person so that the subject is talking directly to the audience.
I think probably the comfort level that you see in the subjects on camera comes from the fact that most of them were shot in Timothy's studio, which is this beautiful place - a restored rectory in the East Village - that's a reflection of who Timothy is as an artist and as a person. There's beautiful artwork everywhere, and a sense of warmth. It piques the curiosity of people who come in, because they want to know who this guy is whose place they've come to for this portrait shooting. We shot the portraits and the interviews in the same sitting, so that did a lot of the work for us.
This film is not a sentimentalized version of success. It's not the standard thing. It catches people off-guard. From the first interview, I think what the film says is that the African-American experience is much bigger and broader and much deeper and much more influential, still, than people give it credit for.