Award Winning Director Noel Braham Talks Micheaux Film Festival & Best Advice Received From Jay-Z and Peter Jackson


Getty Noel Braham at the 46th Annual Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Pasadena Civic Center.

Meet award-winning director Noel Braham.

Originally from Miami, Florida, but grew up in a middle-class family based in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Georgia State University, where he majored in film and video production and speech communication. Focusing his time on studying the art of storytelling through film.

After graduating with his degree, Braham decided to relocate to New York City to work for NBC. However, not too long after arriving, he decided to leave the media giant to pursue a full-time career in film. His passion for comedy, science fiction, and drama led him to the creation of his first project, “The Side Chick.” It would later be nominated for seven awards by the LA Web Fest and won four awards.

The recognition came after the project was screened at Warner Brothers Studios, which, according to his IMDB page, is the first time in history a web series was publicly shown on a major studio lot.

He would later go on to create films such as “The Millennial” and “Star Wars Exile” which won best VFX and best choreography in the Disney/ Lucas Fan Film Awards. He also is the founder and co-director of the Micheaux Film Festival, which is a multi-cultural film festival, that provides a platform and showcases diverse storytelling of filmmakers and artists from all backgrounds and walks of life.

Landon Buford:  You directed, wrote, and produced the short film “WatchTower.” Can you share with us what inspired the idea in the first place?

Absolutely! While working on my second piece, “The Millennial” which follows an amateur boxer, who reflects on the trial and tribulations from his past with his fiancé and their relationship. I had a production assistant, who worked on my set, despite the production budget being limited.

My production assistant was such a pleasure to work with and by the end of the shoot, I wanted to give him a ride home. He was initially reluctant, but I insisted on dropping him off at his house. Before we pulled out the parking lot, he shared with me that he was homeless. The ironic part is that he lived in a tent community that was two blocks away from my old apartment complex.

Even more, ironically, I decided to downsize my living arrangements to help self-fund the film “The Millennial.” I was renting a $500 bed in a roach-infested hostel to compensate my crew, and to get us through post-production. The situation inspired me to shine more light on the homeless epidemic in Los Angeles, and that is how “Watchtower” came about.

Landon Buford: When can we expect this to make its debut this year?

It’s currently on my website, but I am looking for a major outlet to pick it up and distribute it. The project was nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards. I was nominated for Outstanding Directing Special Class, and it was also nominated for Outstanding Special Class Short Format Daytime Program.

Landon Buford: Who are some of the directors that you study in your free time?

Matty Rich, he directed a project called  ‘Straight out of Brooklyn,’ and was 18 or 19 years old at the time. He was able to get into the Sundance Film Festival. Another person is Ernest Dickerson, who directed Juice and was Spike Lee’s Director of Photography. He also worked on a variety of shows such as Burn Notice, Dexter, and Law & Order.

Landon Buford: You have been seen in several visuals with Oscar Award Winner Jamie Foxx. Is there a project that we can expect from the two of you?

Not at this present moment. I know Foxx through a mutual contact, who invited me over to his house.  He is a down to earth cat.

Landon Buford: How do you think you have grown since your first project, “The Side Chick” to now?

Oh man tremendously, it’s crazy when I started working on “The Side Chick,” which was a new media series that follows a guy that is desperately in love with a girl who could care less about him because she only cares about her own personal gain. Instead of the girl playing the role, which is something we have seen so many times.  It was more interesting to see the guy play the side chick. When you direct, write and produce obviously it can be a complicated process because there are so many details that you have to consistently be aware of. I have been able to fine-tune those details I didn’t consider in the past.

Landon Buford: When you first found out that your project “Star Wars Exile” would be judged by “Rogue One” Director Gareth Edwards. What was going through your mind at the time?

I thought it was incredible, he is an established director that has been able to make considerable contributions to the film community. And for him to take the opportunity to look at my hard work, the teams’ hard work, and what we have been able to do. That is something that is truly an honor.

Landon Buford: You are a content creator and aware of the struggle that it brings in order to build your brand. What was the best advice that you received from a mentor of yours, and who was it?

I am not going to say he is a mentor, but I had a conversation with Peter Jackson one time.  It took him an entire year to shoot and direct his first film, and he would only shoot on the weekends because the budget was limited.

He told me to get out there and make it happen, and when I was filming “The Millennial,” I made it happen by downgrading my living situation to complete the project. A question that I get a lot is, how are you funding your projects? It comes down to two things, saving and sacrificing. That is something that people don’t fundamentally always want to do. Jackson’s advice was to get out there and make it happen by any means, and it clearly resonated.

I also remember a time when I approached Jay Z and Beyoncé boldly at a P Diddy party and proclaimed him and I would work together one day. I never specified how, and walked away, a bit star-struck that I was bold enough to step to him and Beyoncé. He literally pulled me back into the conversation and gave some of the best advice – He preached to me about the importance of intentionality and stepping to people with specified and direct intent when fostering business relationships.

Landon Buford: What is some advice that you would like to pass down to aspiring creatives out there?

If you been given a vision of who you can become, you need to remain focused and believe in your journey. No one becomes successful unintentionally; it is an intentional act to accomplish. You have to distance yourself from anything that will distract you from achieving your goals.

Landon Buford: What do you look for in possible interns?

Here is what I would say, I have been watching a lot of National Geographic as of late, and I have been studying lions. Lions have a pack mentality, and the pack and pride stick together. They ride together, and when it is time to eat, they hunt together, and they have a by any means mentality. So, I look for someone who has a hungry, aggressive, go-getter mentality and ensures that they put the pack and the team first.

Landon Buford: Can you talk to us about the Micheaux Film Fest?

It is a multicultural festival that showcases and celebrates diverse representation both in front of and behind the camera, by providing an outlet for independent filmmakers to showcase their work in state-of-the-art facilities. Aptly named after Oscar Micheaux, a filmmaker and pioneer in the 1920s, who, as an African American male, wrote, directed, produced, and distributed over 44 feature films in his lifetime. Micheaux defied racial and economic barriers, while also operating outside of the conventional Hollywood system of commercial financing.

My co-director (Courtney Branch) and I are going into our second year, we are aiming to create an even more immersive landscape for our filmmakers. The community will be offering a more profound integrated experience, with a digital networking cafe. The digital cafe will operate as a resource for connecting artists and attendees in real-time throughout the festival. Festival attendees and filmmakers will have the opportunity to communicate with each other, schedule meetings, and share information, tips, and notes via the platform. We are still for sponsors if anyone is interested. We are also excited to partner again with Lyndontree Studios ran by Lyndon Berresford, in Townsville, Australia.

You can submit to the Micheaux Film Fest and check out