December 6, 2023



Cord Jefferson Credits Aziz Ansari with Inspiring Him to Direct American Fiction During Master of None Production

Cord Jefferson Credits Aziz Ansari with Inspiring Him to Direct American Fiction During Master of None Production

Cord Jefferson’s path to directing wasn’t a straightforward one. It began with a chance conversation during his time on the Netflix show Master of None. Aziz Ansari, a key figure on the show, casually asked Jefferson if he had ever considered directing. Initially, Jefferson was hesitant, citing his lack of formal education in film and his unfamiliarity with the technicalities of filmmaking as major barriers.

This exchange, however, planted a crucial seed in Jefferson’s mind. Ansari shared his own non-traditional journey into filmmaking, emphasizing the importance of having a clear vision and surrounding oneself with technical experts. This advice resonated with Jefferson and eventually led him to direct his first film, American Fiction, adapted from the novel Erasure.

Jefferson’s journey and the making of American Fiction were highlighted in an episode of the Variety Awards Circuit Podcast. This episode not only focused on Jefferson’s directorial debut and the film’s success at the TIFF Audience Award but also covered broader industry topics, including the impact of the SAG-AFTRA strike on major awards events like the Oscars and the Emmy Awards.

The idea of adapting Erasure into a film struck Jefferson during the 2020 pandemic. He was inspired by a review of “Interior Chinatown” by Charles Yu, which compared its satirical tone to “Erasure.” Jefferson quickly read the novel and envisioned actor Jeffrey Wright, known for his dynamic roles and Emmy and Tony awards, as the perfect lead.

Despite the risks of attaching to an actor before the script’s completion, Jefferson was committed to casting Wright. They first met on a beach in Malibu, where they discussed the project extensively. Wright’s involvement gave the project a significant boost.

Finding funding for the movie was a significant challenge. Jefferson met with various producers and production companies, but it was finally Rian Johnson and Ram Bergman’s T Street Productions that agreed to finance the film. This support was a watershed moment for Jefferson, who had previously encountered numerous obstacles in getting his projects off the ground, marking a significant milestone in his career as a filmmaker. Source

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