This past week Splashtown really showed out on all fronts. Amidst the heavy amount of raining we’ve been experiencing for the passed 40 days and 40 nights, Houston’s Bar 5015 & Courvoisier played host to the red carpet screening of Pas Honteux, a new wave French Foreign Language film directed by legendary Houston contributor, Dr. Teeth.
John D. Tucker or “Dr. Teeth” as he’s more commonly known, is famous for his work as a music video director in Hip Hop. His most famous video- “Still Tippin” by Mike Jones ft Slim Thug & Paul Wall. Other works by Tucker include the videos for “Hip Hop Saved My Life” by Lupe Fiasco and “Rock Yo Hips” by Crime Mob. Teeth is also known for his work and contributions at BET which include a role as a producer for both the talk show “Teen Summit” and “Rap City”. He would later go on to co-create “Rap City Tha Basement”, being responsible for developing the idea for many viewers favorite segment of the show, “The Booth.”
Before the screening of the film, I got a chance to talk with Dr. Teeth & the film’s writer, Marcus J. Guillory as they made their way onto the red carpet.
How has the transition been when moving from a space like hip hop where our creativity seems to be labeled as very niche type of thing that can often limit the opportunities we’re presented?
It’s been hard, I took some interviews from some studios and they would always say “You Music Video guys can’t tell a story, but you can make it look good.” [When hearing this I couldn’t help but think about Hype Williams receiving similar remarks 20 years ago] But I felt as though I could tell a story, a great one too. So what I ended up doing was using the things that I had within my own resources. A great writer in Marcus Guillory, a great actor in Travis LaBranch and put all that together and created my own opportunity. Doors were opening for me that I wasn’t able to open before I did things for myself.
What do you think about when you look back on where you come from and how you started as a director or even just as a creative in general?
I have this saying that I have been saying for the past 20 years. “If you believe, they believe.” If you walk and believe, people tend to just fall in line with you so you just have to continue to move yourself forward. There are a lot of people who do music videos but for some reason in my belief, people just recognize my hard work. There are a lot of people better than me, but you might not know about them. I truly believe that for artists that are anointed to be a part of this work, have faith in your belief and your work and stand in that truth and things will work for you.
Honestly, very inspiring words of wisdom from a Legend. After speaking with Dr. Teeth on how the film’s production was able to come into existence, I spoke with the film’s screenwriter, Marcus Guillory, on how they went about developing the film audiences have describe as “Friday Meets New Wave French”.
How does a writer tackle the challenge of producing a foreign language film for an international audience but still appealing to a domestic market?
With this I basically wanted to take all the tropes that we recognize in our Black community and films just with a different twist. So the idea of language being a part of the plot comes from how we examine ourselves as black people based on how we talk. I’m from Houston, I was raised in South Park so I grew up talking like “Aye mane, say mane”. I went to some schools, moved around, learned some languages and before you know it you lose some of your accent. Then what happens is we start making presumptions on people based on how they talk. So I thought, what is something you might hear a Black person in America speak that’ll make everything completely different. We figured it’s not Spanish because its already such a big part of American culture so we thought about using French.
A lot of comparisons have been made calling the film a “French Friday”, can you shed some light on that?
Yeah pretty much without spoiling, just like in Friday with Craig, you have a character who you start out with in the beginning not really having too much respect or too many expectations for. Throughout the course of the film we see how they reacted and learn from certain events and then in the end he comes out a completely different person. This film’s protagonist has a similar transformation where in the beginning you have very low expectations for him based on how he interacts in his community and you see how those interactions change him.
My experience while watching Pas Honteux can be described as surreal. At the beginning of the film we’re introduced to what I can only describe as “the foulest, laziest, ‘bummiest’ person you could imagine. Henry takes the audience along with him on a wild monochromatic, familiar journey of introspection that black audiences, especially those in the south, can enjoy.