Exclusive Interview | Sweet Mahogany Film Director Karlton T. Clay

Updated: Jul 24


Victory Productions Network independent film director, producer and script writer Karlton T. Clay is well known for his independent web series which have won many International and National Awards. Clay has been working in the independent film industry for several years – his first commercial release was in 2006. With many titles under his belt, including The Lyons Den , KARMA, BrothAhood, The MAINE Way, and the upcoming sequel to Sweet Mahogany.


Recently, Clay sold one of his award winning and most viewed web series “Sweet Mahogany”, to Maverick Movies. We caught up with Clay to talk about his new deal, film making, challenges he's experienced, production and more.


PRESSED: Congrats to you for inking a new movie deal with Maverick Movies for the web series "Sweet Mahogany".

 

KC: Thank you so much. This is indeed a tremendous blessing that has opened doors for us with a magnitude of new possibilities and opportunities.


PRESSED: Tell us how did the deal come about and what this means for Victory Production Network? 


KC: Well, we filmed two seasons of Sweet Mahogany, and I entered season 2 into the Miami Web Fest in 2019. Our series was personally selected by the executives of Maverick Movies to receive the distribution deal award. So basically, we had the opportunity to create 2 feature length films off of the two seasons of the show we already filmed. So season 1 is considered the first film and season 2 will be considered the sequel. We are hoping that after the success of the first two films, we will be offered an opportunity to finish the story with a third one. However, because of what has taken place, we have forged a great relationship with this great distribution entity. Sweet Mahogany 2 will be coming out next year. We have another webseries that will be distributed as a film - SistAhood, which also will be coming out in 2021. Plus, we have some new original content that will be released with them as well. 


PRESSED: What made you pursue film-making?


KC: Honestly, I never really had any urgent aspirations in pursuing the field of filmmaking. My love is television/series. I love creating characters and storylines that allow you to develop over a course of episodes/seasons. Creating different arcs that take a course of time to cultivate. The funny thing is for years I've had friends who would tell me that I should turn my web series into films - mind you I have written & produced 15 shows with a total of 377 episodes - but again, I didn't have an interest in doing that. However, this opportunity with Maverick came, which coincidentally happened during the time our YouTube page was terminated by YouTube. So that pushed me into considering taking my career in a different direction which includes now writing and producing films.


PRESSED: Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?


KC: No, I don't think that it is essential to go to a film institute per se to be a successful filmmaker, but I do think that you should always be open to learning. Just as with anything in life, things are constantly changing and evolving. I truly believe that experience is the best teacher as far as learning how things work as you occupy different sets; however, I think that taking classes and going to workshops can be very beneficial as well. I always like to use Denzel Washington as an example. I believe he did an interview saying that he still goes to acting workshops and sees an acting coach. Academy Award winning Denzel Washington. And I look at that like, if he's still going to classes, then I definitely need to be doing all I can do to learn and grow and develop in my chosen field to improve my craft. I've heard this before, and I take it to heart: If you ever get to a point where you feel like you no longer can learn anything from what you're doing, it's time to start doing something else.


PRESSED: If you had to summarize the "Sweet Mahogany" in one line what would it be?


KC: An unconventional, fun-filled ride of salaciousness that will leave you wanting more and wondering what will happen next.


PRESSED: What was the most challenging aspect of making this film?


KC: The most challenging part for me was how do I make this fresh. Most people have watched both seasons of the show so I was trying to figure out how I can make the film version have a different feel to it. I decided to change some of the music, and also, combining some scenes and taking out some scenes really helped make it something different. For me, I think we were able to successfully pull it off for the most part especially since the original intent was for this to just be a series; not a film. 


PRESSED: If you got the opportunity to remake a classic , which one would you go for?

KC: That's a tricky question because I take a big stance on not re-making classic films. I believe they are classic for a reason. It's like capturing lightning in a bottle, and it's not easy to do that again and again. However, if I had the opportunity to re-make a classic, it would be The Preacher's Wife starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, and Courtney B. Vance. I know that was a re-make, but to me THIS version is THE classic. I think that you could tie in different issues dealing with the church that are happening today and also tie in how faith and church plays a part in what's happening all around in America with the police and others murdering unarmed African-American men and women. How does the church deal with social injustice that's happening. Imagine the work that would put on a pastor and how he has to be there for his congregation and be proactive in the community and then picture the strain that would put on his wife and his family because of all of the time he is spending outside of the home. I think that would make for a good story plus the love story between Dudley and the Pastor's wife of course. 


PRESSED: In your opinion, what top 5 films are in your personal list?


KC: I have a weird list but here we go: Coming To America, Mean Girls, The Preacher's Wife, Johnson Family Vacation, Brown Sugar


To stream Sweet Mahogany: Amazon Prime: https://amzn.to/2RB78nY Vudu: https://bit.ly/2V2Fe6G Fandango NOW: https://bit.ly/3cd39WK




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