Directing for Change with Zon D’Amour
Beneath the Southern California sun, rapper Lavell Streets watches as the woman he loves get married to another man. He stares ahead as words tumble from his lips, his lyrics a rhythm of bittersweet emotion. Just feet away, Zon D’Amour watches it all unfold.
“Cut!” She calls.
The bride-to-be turns for instruction and Lavell Streets cuts his rhymes short. The wedding is, in fact, a music video for the up-and-coming rapper’s new song, and Zon is the woman directing it. The “guests” are all cast members, invited to perform via Hobnob.
This is one of the first films that Zon has directed, but her career as a storyteller is far from fledgling. At just sixteen years old, she decided that she wanted to produce music videos and commercials and even went on to study film at Howard University. Later, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in production and started freelancing as an entertainment journalist in order to make ends meet. It turned out that she had a knack for writing and that freelance gig turned into a full-time career.
She launched an entertainment magazine called DirectedByDAmour (previously AimerAmour), and interviewed notable names such as Spike Lee, Kevin Hart, Kerry Washington, Melissa McCarthy, Leslie Jones, and Kate McKinnon.
But it’s not just the people she interviews that makes Zon’s talent for storytelling so appealing. It’s her ability to discover more than what’s on the surface level.
“Typically, I ask people less about their music, TV, or film projects, and more about their failures, faith, resilience, and/or the best advice they’ve received. As a journalist, I think my niche is getting people to reflect on humbling times in their lives and to share their stories in a way that will inspire and empower others.”
This talent is especially important as Zon works toward her goal of helping to change the perceptions of people of color in the media. It’s also why she’s so drawn to directing music videos and commercials rather than full-length feature films.
“You can have the most prolific film in the world,” she explains, “but has it been viewed two BILLION times like Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’ music video or one BILLION times like Drake’s ‘Hotline Bling’ music video? Probably not. And those aren’t just views from the United States. People are watching from all throughout the world and are creating their perceptions about who African American men and women are.”
This ability comes in handy as Zon begins her career as a director. She is very selective of the jobs she takes on, including this Lavell Street music video. Avoiding the negative rap clichés of clubs, cars, and women, she chose a song that had a real story; something deep that people could grasp onto.
Moving from behind the pen to behind the camera, Zon is ready to finally make a difference with her passion. Inspired by Ava DuVernay, she uses her experience as a journalist/publicist to better her work. All of those years interviewing, writing, and hosting events taught her how to deftly juggle every angle, venue, audience and performer.
That, along with Hobnob’s easy text to reply feature, make this transition into her true passion, film, a natural next step.
“For this project, I literally had to produce a wedding list that just so happened to be filmed,” she exclaims, “So I had to invite lots of guests! Instead of sending a mass group text or sending multiple individual texts, Hobnob allowed me to streamline the process of inviting my friends and family to be extras on the set of my music video.”
This lets Zon forget the small stuff and worry about important things (like making sure the bride gives a subtle look toward Lavell Streets as his words drop). It also allows her to keep track of all of the amazing memories she gets to make while doing this project she loves.
“I like the fact that Hobnob encourages people to upload photos to one centralized place. Funny story, on the set of my video, people were really feeling themselves, all dressed up in their wedding attire. The guys looked especially dapper in their suits, and everyone was taking pictures or videos for Snapchat and Instagram. I spend the next day watching people’s stories and messaging them like, ‘can you send me this picture?!” I had to take screenshots. And I’m sure there were other great pics now floating in the black hole Snapchat. I had a behind-the-scenes photographer/videographer, but I think directors really want those raw, candid images. Hobnob is a great way to ensure everyone has access to those memories.”
Zon is also planning to use the app to invite her friends to a screening of her latest video. She’s excited to get everyone together to share the work she loves so much. We can’t wait to watch as she changes the world with her film, telling the stories we all need to hear.
Photos by Edmund Arevalo
Cinematography by Chris Allen George