Quincy G. Ledbetter
Filmmaker - Musician - Photographer
Top 3 Films of all time:
Oh man, this is really difficult to answer because I have so many favorite films, but no matter how often my list of top films changes these three always seem to find their way on there:
High & Low (dir. Akira Kurosawa, 1963)
Moonlight (dir. Barry Jenkins, 2016)
Lost in Translation (dir. Sofia Coppola, 2003)
How did you first get into filmmaking?
I started co-writing and acting in comedy shorts with a couple of friends my freshman year in college. Back then it was a LOT harder to make films, so it was just something we did to make ourselves laugh.
During that time I was just a music producer, "making beats" for people in the D.C. Metro area. In 2004 I decided to become an artist and needed headshots, so I began the search for photographers. I quickly realized that it cost less money to buy a professional camera than it did to hire a good photographer for one photoshoot, so I bought a camera instead.
After posting the photos I took of myself local artists, actors, and comedians starting offering me money to take their photos. I was broke, so I obliged and realized that I had a very deep love for capturing images.
"I couldn't afford going to film school, so I watched countless videos on YouTube and read every book on filmmaking that I could get my hands on."
A couple years later, after I had moved to New York, and really focused on teaching myself how to write, direct, shoot, edit, and even do color correction. I couldn't afford going to film school, so I watched COUNTLESS videos on YouTube and read every book on filmmaking that I could get my hands on; all the while I was constantly writing things and shooting them on my own, which I still do to this very day.
What is your favorite on-set story?
On a recent shoot, I was rehearsing an interrogation scene with my actors. In the scene all of the actors were supposed to be seated, but one take got so intense that one of the leads got out of her seat and got into the other actor's face. They immediately abandoned their lines and improvised based on this new energy.
It was so amazing. I rewrote the scene on the spot and some version of that improvisation is what ended up in the short.
Any time an actor comes to the set or their character with ideas and feels free enough to explore that, it REALLY amps me up. It's my favorite part of the process to see characters that have only lived in my head and on the page come to life before my eyes.
What piece of equipment can you not live without on set?
I would have to say the camera. Be it an iPhone or an Arri, nothing on a film set gets done if that camera isn't locked, loaded, and ready to fire!
The heart of the Film Pin Society is community and camaraderie. Can you talk a little about that?
I have paid for almost all of my passion projects out of pocket with crews that aren't much larger than me and my wife/producer. Those projects come out great and I'm proud of [most of] them; but my absolute BEST work was made because of collaboration.
Building a community of collaborators and trusted advisors is what takes projects to the next level. Even from a marketing standpoint, you need people/communities to elevate the energy behind what you've created.
Most of the opportunities I've been able to take advantage of came to me because I had developed a reputation within a COMMUNITY of filmmakers as someone worth working with.
You can make cool stuff on your own, but without community and camaraderie, you won't go very far with it.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give to someone looking into going into your field?
When I started working in video/film full time I didn't have a community or network to pull from. I was working as a Manager in Independence Compliance for a huge financial firm (which is as boring as it sounds), but I was DOING THE WORK. After working 10-11 hour days during the week I would go home, get my camera, and shoot. I would write and consume videos/books about filmmaking on my lunch breaks and during my commute. On weekends, I didn't go to parties; I went on shoots. Even when I would hang out with friends, I would shoot us hanging out and edit the videos into tiny experimental narratives.
I did so much work that I had a catalogue that was so good I couldn't be denied an opportunity.
...so do the work.
Lastly, DO NOT STOP.
The only people I know who do not achieve what they want in life are the ones who quit. Quite literally, everyone I have known who wanted to achieve a seemingly unattainable goal has gotten it only because they don't give up on themselves even after they get kicked down.
...so do the work and don't stop.
What pin from our collection speaks to you and why?
The 35mm Lens Pin speaks to me the most because I direct based on my intuition (which has been refined through persistent and ongoing study of filmmaking). Everything I capture is through the lens of how I view life.
So, from a literal and figurative standpoint, the lens is the foundation of everything I do.
What should we turn into a pin next?
A line producer saying there's no more money...kidding. It would be GREAT to see a Super 8 or a 16mm film camera pin!
Where can we learn more about you?