Writer Wilkie Cornelius Draws on Personal Experience for His 1st Feature Film
Wilkie Cornelius’ first feature length project delves into the familiar territory of boy meets girl; boy loses girl, and the angst that goes along with that loss. Shot in Brooklyn, the New York filmmaker shows the audience the rich vibrancy of the neighborhood and one man’s story in his search for love. –tony binns
Would you say your film is an updated version of the 1997 sleeper hit, Love Jones?
Not at all. Now, Love Jones is one of my five favorite movies of all time and there are some similarities; both films are romantic dramas, and in both films the lead character is a writer, but my film is simply a story that is loosely based off of some experiences I went through and issues I faced in one particular relationship. As writers, we write about ourselves. That being said, I absolutely love and cherish Love Jones but I didn’t try to make my film like Love Jones. I think it’s just in a similar genre but I’m humbled and honored by any comparisons.
In speaking of films that influenced your craft, you mentioned you have five favorite movies, what are they?
The Godfather is the best film I’ve seen. It has everything —acting, cinematography, directing and complexity.
Cooley High is my overall favorite film because it was the first film that I saw that I had an emotional connection with.
Love Jones – I was around the same age as the characters in the film. When I went into the movie I was free-spirited and noncommittal and when I came out of Love Jones I wanted a girlfriend. It showed the value of a relationship.
Good Will Hunting – I was in a place where I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life — this was before I decided I wanted to write. I felt I was good at something but I didn’t know what, so when I saw the character played by Matt Damon, I really related to the character.
Life is Beautiful – The reason I like Life is Beautiful is because it is the perfect film and masterful the way they blended comedy and deep emotional drama.
Claudine is a runner-up, but [it] may have to knock one of those mentioned out of the top five. It’s also a perfect film and the social commentary is incredibly powerful.
What advice would you give other aspiring filmmakers?
I would tell them to tell the story you want to tell. Follow your dreams. It’s hard work, but passion will pull you along. Follow your passion, make a film, tell your story.
Single Hills runs Aug. 17 and 18, at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., as part of the Black Harvest Film Festival Aug. 3-30, 2012. For more information, visit www.siskelfilmcenter.org/blackharvest2012, or call 312-846-2600