The Department of Media, Journalism and Film Communications (MJFC) received a free screening of Venus as a Boy on Sept. 30. Attendees also engaged in conversation with the director, writer and lead actor, Ty Hodges, after watching the film.
Venus as a Boy is the first film by Lost Ones Co., a film production and distribution company owned by Hodges and partner Gian Franco, and it was officially premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on June 14, 2021. It depicts an artist who is struggling to identify his purpose in life as he feels lost in the world he’s in and unmoved by the box art dealers are placing him in as a Black male painter.
Venus as a Boy is a French film, where the director had full creative control and used varying cinematographic techniques, such as flashing lights and flickering cameras, in scenes to aid in telling a story that was indicative of the Hodegs’ emotions.
A creative element added to the storytelling to highlight the battle of self is the shadow work present in the film. Shadow work is the psychoanalytical process of exploring the various sides of one’s self, particularly those often hidden in the shadows. Throughout the film, as the main character faces different obstacles, there are clips of him in the desert, symbolising his lost mind and different forms of him: child-like and innocent and dark and vicious.
Writing, directing, producing and starring in this film was Hodges own form of shadow work, and he described it as being therapeutic after reaching a discouraging point in his career when his series, Famous, was laid off by Fox in 2016.
“Imagine being an athlete, and you get hurt, and you can’t play basketball anymore? That’s kind of how I felt in my career,” Hodges recalled.
Out of his frustration, boredom and desire to try something new, Hodges purchased a guitar and began composing the music that audiences will hear throughout Venus as a Boy. It was from there that Hodges began writing for the film. According to the team that was present at the event, it took about two years to make the film.
The film’s ability to reflect humanity, human interaction, stillness and emotion was admirable to students, such as senior television and film major, Jade Dedrick.
Dedrick said, “I also admired that the film showcased how healing, self discovery and love (of one’s self and other) is not linear. There will always be ups and downs, but all that is ok as long as you keep moving forward.”
Though some have categorized this film as a drama and romance, Hodges proclaimed that it is all about self-love, and his ultimate goal was to show a Black man healing on screen.
According to his business partner and the film’s producer and executive producer, Franco, Venus as a Boy is “a self-love story masquerading as a love story.”
This pre-screening was coordinated by Professor Jami Ramberan, the assistant chair of MJFC in partnership with the Department of Marketing who hosted the screening in the School of Business auditorium. According to Professor Ramberan, it is important for her to introduce MJFC students to independent (indie) filmmakers, such as Hodges.
She said, “We continue to bring indie filmmakers like Ty to campus to empower students to tell diverse stories that push the boundaries of mainstream media. These artists often have limited resources, but despite this, are able to successfully produce a film and distribute it. We want to show our students that they can do the same, express themselves using whatever tools are at their disposal and give young filmmakers agency over their art.”
According to Franco, this will not be the last of intimate conversations between their cast, crew and audiences, as they are currently planning an HBCU tour.
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