Behind The Sene: Season 1 Episode 1
LA-based director Pete Chatmon of Insecure, Black-ish, Grown-ish, and Single Parents sits down with us to share about how he approaches style and work. Pete first became a Sene customer through our Los Angeles store.
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If you don’t know Pete Chatmon, chances are you’ve seen one of his shows. Pete is one of the directors for hit series Insecure, Black-ish, Grown-ish, Single Parents, and Atypical. Pete’s directorial debut was Premium, a romantic drama that starred Zoe Saldana and one of his early works was The 761st, an incredible documentary about the 761st Tank Battalion “Black Panthers”.
While Pete has settled in Los Angeles, he hails from New York City and is an alumnus of NYU’s Tisch School of Arts. From the moment we sat down with him, it was clear Pete still has that New York hustle, working hard to continually craft his work. He’s got that glint in his eye, a little bit of the East Coast mentality, and he believes it gives him his edge as he continues to grow in his career.
Why did you want to become a storyteller?
The thing that made me want to become a storyteller was Spike Lee’s 1989 movie Do the Right Thing. There’s a moment in that movie where the character gets his Jordans scuffed, and I was like “That’s my life right there”. As small as it might seem, that moment in the movie affirmed my life experiences when it was put on the big screen through a particular lens. I didn’t know I’d be a filmmaker then, but looking back, I can trace it back to that specific realization.
Where do you most of your creative work?
It’s important to me to have some sense of solitude and focus, so that can be at the kitchen table or balcony or office. Then I like to make sure to read in as many different environments to see how it’ll change the experience for me.
I focus on different things depending on the environment and time of day. So if I read a script in the morning, I may have a higher level of focus on it because I haven’t been polluted by emails or instagram. Then I like to read at a coffee shop because there’s something about being immersed in people that enables me to pick up something in Act III, for example, because I didn’t pick up on it at dinner the previous night.
You mentioned you like working in Larchmont Village. Tell me more about that.
I like working in Larchmont because it gives me that New York vibe, if only for three blocks. I can do all the things I need to do - I can go to the cleaners, Bardonna cafe, write and do work all in one area.
It’s a great central location for meetings as well. You have your hat shop, your sneaker shop, and you don’t worry about getting hit crossing the street. It’s walkable from my place to have a good lunch or dinner.
What’s your morning routine?
Option A is me on a show. I’m waking up to go either go prep for that show or shoot that show. In a few days from now, I’ll go and shoot my third episode of Black-ish. With a 7AM call time, I’ll wake up around 5, get ready, re-read the script, get my mind around what I’ll be shooting that day. I like to get there an hour early so that I can walk the set and get a little bit of “me” time before everyone shows up and starts to ask questions about the day’s shoot. I want that momentary solitude before diving into the huge collaborative process of making television.
Option B is when I’m not on a show. I’ll be in the midst of meetings trying to get more shows or pitching shows to cable networks. It’s waking up and really being strategic for how I allot the time. I’m pretty regimented: I have coffee, go to the gym, dedicate the first hour/two hours to responding to email, and then use the next chunk of time to focus on a pitch or script. There’s a lot of TV watching for research sometimes since you have to know any shows you’re trying to get hired for backwards and forwards.
How do you dress on set?
I always think about what I’ll wear the night before. I don’t want to wake up and think about that at 5AM. I like to wake up and move cleanly into the day. When working in TV, I have a flow of how I move through the week.
The first couple of days on any show, I try to look a little nicer. So I might wear pants instead of jeans. Boots instead of sneakers. Button up shirt instead of a hoodie. I want to let folks know that this is a professional environment and that I’m a creative, but I care about the presentation; you get a little more respect when you present yourself in a particular way.
As we get further and further into the shoot, and I get more and more casual. On that final day of shooting, I may be in sweatpants and sneakers and a hoodie because I’ve earned it.
How has your sense of style changed over time?
My sense of style has simplified. I remember growing up and always wearing baggy clothing and I thought would always wear baggy clothing. Over time, I wore huge labels on my clothing or bright colors, but I found that I’ve now gone classic.
Now I like blue, white, green, earth tones, and black. I like things that can go high and low. You have the ability to wear quality jeans with sneakers or dress shoes or boots, or with a button up shirt or hoodie.
I’m a big fan of taking quality pieces and mixing and matching them with how I feel on that particular day and making them serve a different kind of style purpose.