Shaun M. Mathis, the first place winner of the 2020 PVIFF JARO Short Film Competition for his film ColorBlind, spoke with JARO’s Tomeka Winborne to chat about the inspiration behind his Award-winning short film, the process of creation, and upcoming projects.
Mathis was motivated to learn the art of filmmaking while working on his third book. Each page would come alive in his mind as a potential scene, and this prompted him to delve into screenwriting, which is a major contrast to writing books.
ColorBlind was fueled by a 2016 police killing of an unarmed Black man local to him in Georgia. Initially wanting to seek revenge in destructive ways, a close friend of Mathis offered advice that led to the creation of the short film. “If you want to do something, do it in your art,” he said. Thus, a script was born.
The 20-minute drama centers on Mark, a white police officer who is plagued by guilt and remorse after he mistakenly kills an unarmed Black teenage boy. In recent years, there have been a copious amount of films portraying the deep injustice of Black people murdered by the American police force, but Mathis’s ColorBlind explores this disheartening yet highly pertinent subject with an unnerving twist that takes an already agonizing situation multiple steps further.
Although we are rightfully furious about the ongoing killings of Black people at the hands of police, what is most distinctive about ColorBlind is Mathis’s ability to approach a tragic situation from a place of understanding by humanizing the officer in the film, who was filled with a genuine sense of unbearable remorse. In its most important takeaway, Mathis urges viewers to remember this truth: “We’re all connected, and we’re closer than what we think we are. Nobody is immune to having a racial tragedy happening to them.”
Currently, Mathis is working on a documentary called My Black Poly Life, which centers on Black polyamorous couples throughout the United States. A forthcoming project includes Unicorns, a feature film about four ex military Black females who visit a cabin to fight off a racist family that targets Black women.
Mathis also won the second place prize for the 2017 PVIFF JARO Short Film Competition as the director of BLKMGC. Stay up to date with Mathis’s future endeavors by following him on Instagram and visiting www.laconicproductions.com. Learn more about the making of ColorBlind on JARO Podcast. Read more about ColorBlind in JARO’s review.