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Darius Dawson: When Inspiration Struck


Inspiration sparks creative ideas and to most people, it can sometimes feel elusive to find when needed the most. Inspiration is also different for everyone and can range from immersing in moonlit nature to dancing drop beats in a sweaty crowd. But, sometimes the best inspiration is seeing what inspires other people and this is what this series is all about.

Darius Dawson – Writer, director and former cinematographer

Meet writer, director and former cinematographer Darius Dawson, one of our instructors for the Directing: Visual Storytelling course. Darius attended NYU Tisch School of the Arts and the AFI Conservatory for cinematography and directing respectively. His AFI thesis film, A Rodeo Film, won the 2019 DGA Student Grand Prize Award, the Golden Tadpole at the 2020 Camerimage Cinematography Festival, was selected as one of five films to take part in HBO’s Short Film Competition in Miami and is currently available on HBOMax. Most recently he directed the second unit on the feature film, The Greatest Beer Run Ever, starring Zac Efron and Russell Crowe, available on Apple TV. 


The Film that Inspired Darius’ Filmmaking Career

Darius shared with us the moment that inspiration struck, A Rodeo Film, the film that has started my career is a love triangle set in the world of Black cowboys. A lot of people didn’t know that Black cowboys were a thing. Of course, this is something I’ve observed and have been observing for some time now. There’s so much history there. “Cowboy” used to be a derogatory term for a Black rancher. The original American cowboy is the Black cowboy. It all started with pictures of a man that looked like me competing in the Bill Pickett Invitational Rodeo, the only all Black touring rodeo in the US. From there it’s grown to a love affair.”


Writing = Whole Mind, Body, Spirit

As a multi-hyphenate, Darius started as a cinematographer and director and evolved into a writer. He shared his writing routine with us. “Writing is a whole mind-body-spirit thing for me. My days are fairly structured. I’m up at 6-6:30am every day, I work out for about 1.5-2 hours, then I meditate and then all of my meetings typically start. Once I’ve taken care of meetings or any teaching that I might have to do that day, I try to get some tea, light some candles. (Apparently I’m really into candles, just learned this about myself.) Then maybe I get another meditation in. When I’m writing, I try not to have any distractions. I’ll put on some soft music and try to type for a certain amount of time. I like to use my space as well. So I’ll pace and talk scenes out to myself, maybe get another meditation in if my mind is feeling busy, whatever I have to do to get into and stay in the space. I try to type for myself at least an hour every day. Luckily, I’m at a point where some of the things I’m typing for myself are also for other people (production companies/producers), but no matter what, I save time every work day to work on something for me.”



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