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SxSW 2016 Interview: I AM THE BLUES director Daniel Cross

by Jason Whyte

"The last of the original Mississippi blues devils performing alone and acoustic on their front porch steps and loud and electric in the Juke Joints of the Chitlin' Circuit. Travel through the deep south with the King of the Chitlin' Circuit, Bobby Rush, as he jams with legendary friends, most of them well in their 80s and the founding roots of rock n roll." Director Daniel Cross on I AM THE BLUES which screens at the 2016 South By Southwest Film Festival.

I am thrilled to hear your movie is showing at SxSW! Are you planning to attend your screenings?

Yes, I will be in attendance with the films' star Bobby Rush "King of the Chitlin' Circuit" and Grammy Award recording artist.

Talk to me a bit about how you got your start in the industry and your previous work!

As a founder of EYESTEELFILM we have made many theatrical documentary films over the years. Including RIP: A REMIX MANIFESTO and TAQWACORE: THE BIRTH OF PUNK ISLAM, both films screened at SXSW.

So how did this movie come together from your perspective?

Dr Ike from the Ponderosa Stomp in New Orleans took me on a road trip throughout the Delta and the Bayous meeting these legendary blues musicians mainly in their 80s, without management and still performing and touring.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you?

Moonshine, music and BBQ.

What was your biggest challenge with making this movie, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you, where you knew you had something special?

When we hosted a Crawfish Boil for the Excello Studio Band, the musicians that played with Slim Harpo, Lightning Slim etc. Musicians like Lazy Lester, Henry Gray, Warren Storm, Lil Buck Sinegal, Carol Fran and Barbara Lynn all together for the first time in a long time. Now that was hot! And the food was good!

I am about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie; what camera did you use to shoot, your relationship to the director of photography and how the movie was photographed.

We used a BOLEX and a Canon C-300. The film is Verite in style and so the shooting was very free flowing and natural. The idea was to get them at ease and having fun, letting the music and the stories flow. John Price is a world class cinematographer.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

Presenting the film with Bobby Rush and letting him jam with the audience.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?

It will be coming to Hot Docs for the Canadian Premiere!

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

At the BLUE FRONT JUKE JOINT in Bentonia Mississippi. It is Ground Zero where this film began and ended with Jimmy "Duck" Holmes.

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?

They better love what they are doing.

And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?

It would be 5 BROKEN CAMERAS!

Be sure to follow I AM THE BLUES by visiting!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview in our interview series for our site. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2016 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 11-19. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte,
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

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originally posted: 03/07/16 17:06:06
last updated: 03/09/16 12:02:59
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