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On the Set with Jeymes Samuel and “The Book of Clarence”: A Bold Visionary’s Quest to Reshape Cinematic Representation

A Singular Cinematic Experience

In the heart of Beverly Hills, amidst the grandeur of the Four Seasons hotel, writer-director Jeymes Samuel exudes an infectious enthusiasm as he delves into his latest cinematic creation, “The Book of Clarence.” With an unwavering belief in the film’s groundbreaking nature, Samuel proclaims, “It’s wicked! In 135 years of moving images, we’ve never seen anything like it.” His conviction, however, is far from off-putting; it’s captivating, drawing the listener into his world of boundless creativity.

A Unique Charisma and Unbridled Passion

Samuel’s charm is undeniable, disarming any hint of narcissistic tendencies that might accompany such bold statements. His passion for filmmaking is unbridled, overriding any semblance of ego. His rapid-fire speech, peppered with spontaneous song lyrics and impressions, reflects the agility of his mind and his deep love for the art form.

Bridging the Worlds of Music and Cinema

Samuel’s magnetic personality has opened doors to collaborations with some of the most enigmatic figures in the entertainment industry. He counts Jay Electronica among his close friends, and his creative partnership with Jay-Z spans nearly 15 years. His talent for blending music and cinema is evident in his work, creating a unique cinematic language that captivates audiences.

From Westerns to Biblical Epics: Expanding Representation

Samuel’s directorial debut, “The Harder They Fall,” released in 2021, broke new ground by centering Black characters in a Western story, a genre traditionally devoid of their presence. Now, with “The Book of Clarence,” he ventures into another underrepresented genre: the Biblical epic. Set in A.D. 33 Jerusalem, the film follows Clarence, a hustler with grand aspirations, as he navigates a world of apostles and Roman authorities.

LaKeith Stanfield’s Expansive Role and the Canvas for Blackness

LaKeith Stanfield takes on the titular role of Clarence, delivering a performance that showcases the full range of his talent. The character’s journey provides a platform for the exploration of complex themes and emotions, while also serving as a stunning canvas for the representation of Blackness on screen.

Defying Expectations and Embracing Controversy

Samuel acknowledges the inherent risk in creating a religious film intended for a mass audience, especially one that might provoke reactions from those quick to judge. However, he remains steadfast in his belief that “The Book of Clarence” is a cinematic event best experienced on the big screen.

A Bold Statement on Representation and Cinematic Innovation

With “The Book of Clarence,” Jeymes Samuel makes a bold statement about representation and cinematic innovation. He challenges conventional wisdom, pushing the boundaries of storytelling and challenging audiences to embrace new perspectives. His unwavering conviction and infectious enthusiasm make him a visionary filmmaker poised to reshape the landscape of cinema.