Exclusive Interview with Director Mike Binder for ‘Black or White’

– by Gig Patta

Racial tensions are running high in America.

The story of “Black or White” is a family drama that looks at two different grandparents vying for custody and love of the same bi-racial granddaughter. Eventually, everyone will realize that love will have no color.

The film stars Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer, Gillian Jacobs, Jennifer Ehle, Anthony Mackie and Bill Burr. It is written and directed by Mike Binder.

Latino-Review had an exclusive phone interview last week with the director Mike Binder. We talked about the premise of the movie, racial issues and the self-financing of the film.

“Black or White” is currently available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download today.

Read the interview transcript below.

Latino-Review: Tell on how you got Kevin Costner to jump on board this project for “Black or White.” How did that ending up working out?

Mike Binder: We’re friends. We made another movie together a few years back called, “The Upside of Anger.” I’ve sent him other scripts to see if any of them he liked and wanted to make. I thought he would be great for the role [in Black or White]. So we went from there.

Latino-Review: I did recall that Kevin a year ago doing press runs for his other films. He kept talking about this movie “Black or White,” in which he helped financed it and no major studio was jumping on board. That’s some dedication for Kevin on his part for your story.

Mike Binder: Yeah, it was incredible. He loved it. He wanted to do it and ended up producing in the end. He was pretty cool.

Latino-Review: So Kevin loved it so much that he put his own money into your project?

Mike Binder: He did. Yeah.

Latino-Review: Why weren’t other studios jumping on board?

Mike Binder: I really don’t know. It’s probably because of the tough audiences. They thought that audiences may not want to see a movie characters revolving the whole racial aspects. It may turn people off.

There’s a certain audience that will love the movie. People do need to see it and they will love it. Some critics may be unkind to it with a white guy as the main character. However, audiences on whether they are black or white will love the movie.

Latino-Review: Why did you want to tackle the issue of stereotypes and race?

Mike Binder: It’s just a story I wanted to tell. I don’t look at any subject as too precious. It’s just telling an even-handed story. I think it’s an interesting story, because people are just so different and at the same time we’re not at all [that different]. We’re all much more alike than we think we are.

It was a challenging story to tell. I’m proud of it.

Latino-Review: Your story is much more relevant today due to recent news events, right?

Mike Binder: The problem with recent news events is that this country is obsessed with race. What’s going on today and flared up recently—had been going on for years. It wasn’t that this [movie] was just so timely. None of this stuff went on when we shot the movie. The closest thing was with the [George] Zimmerman thing when we were shooting it. It’s a pretty safe bet when the movie came out people will be talking about race [along with the recent news].

Latino-Review: Tell me about working with the little girl, Jillian Estell.

Mike Binder: That’s always the challenge especially for a major role like this. We were lucky that we found someone who was great. We saw a lot of girls throughout the country. Jillian really won that role. There were a lot of different layers. When she came in and met me and Kevin—she really won our hearts and the role. She was great.

Latino-Review: What was the most difficult thing you had to do on this project? It seems like you had a lot of challenges.

Mike Binder: Truthfully, the best thing to do on a project like this is to get out of the way and let the actors work. There are a lot of people who have opinions—they all wanted to have a say in the film. The challenge is to let these people come up with their own thoughts.

Latino-Review: It’s been a long time since you’ve directed a film since a few years ago with “Reign Over Me.” Why such a long gap?

Mike Binder: It wasn’t that long ago. I want to say that it was five years in between “Reign Over Me” and then the decision to shoot “Black or White.” It was hard to get all the financials together. It’s always hard to get these independent films made so it will take a while. We had one actor who wanted to be paid more than the finances so that became an issue. There were a few stops and starts. Time goes by pretty quickly. [Laughter]

Latino-Review: So do you have more upcoming projects in the pipeline for yourself?

Mike Binder: Yeah, I’m making movie that will start production in September called, “1958.”

Latino-Review: What’s that movie about?

Mike Binder: It’s set in 1958. It’s a story about the loss of innocence in a small town in Michigan.

Latino-Review: That’ll be interesting. Thanks for this conversation.

Mike Binder: Thanks for doing this.

“Black or White” is currently available on Blu-ray, DVD and digital download today.

Source: Latino-Review


Interviews, Film, LRM Exclusives Black or White, Mike Binder