YESTERDAY MARKED 20 years since Theodore Witcher, aged 26 at the time, wrote and directed romantic classic, Love Jones.
He was a rookie writer and director when he wrote the definitive love story, which starred Nia Long and Larenz Tate, in the first of what producers hoped would be a series of revisionist films about the modern young African American experience.
Set in contemporary Chicago, the story follows the mercurial relationship between a twentysomething poet-novelist (Tate) and a Gordon Parks-influenced photographer as they fall in and out of love, following insightful yet misleading advice about their liaisons in the process.
Theodore, who is also a tenor saxophonist and jazz aficionado, knew he had to make films after seeing Steven Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” at age 11.
“The scene where Indiana Jones shoots the saber-wielding swordsman instead of fighting him is the moment that really got me,” he says. “That scene was a total throwaway, but everyone in the audience erupted into the loudest laughter. It was brilliant. I remember being interested in how something so simple could galvanize an audience. I thought, ‘How did they do that?’ ”
After resisting weeks of begging that they finance his newfound obsession, Witcher’s parents relented and purchased equipment for young Theodore when they realised this wasn’t just a passing interest.
On writing a black love story, in the midst of releases Boyz N The Hood and Menace II Society, Theodore once said: “I wanted to do something that was closer to my dating experience — there was a lot of game playing. Also, I was a part of a similar world in Chicago in the early ’90s and thought it was an interesting backdrop on which to paint this young romantic story.”