Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity on a daily basis. For the next 29 days, you will be able to celebrate wonderful human beings, like, director of We are George Floyd, Julian Marshall with us.
Julian Marshall first found his love for filmmaking growing up skateboarding in Washington DC. His work stems from an affinity for art/design, athletics, emerging technology, and political activism.
While studying Film at Rhode Island School of Design, Julian honed his craft working for Shepard Fairey at Obey Giant, Shilo NYC, and Wes Anderson on Moonrise Kingdom.
His time at RISD culminated in directing an award-winning narrative film, entitled Obey the Giant, about the early life of Shepard Fairey and the origin of his Obey Giant street art campaign.
Since he has built a career developing feature films and directing commercials for a wide variety of clients including Google, Under Armour, Amazon, Intel, Spectrum, Red Bull, HP, Citibank, BMW, Verizon, Bayer, BET, PwC, ClearMotion, TNT, Tidal, and The Robin Hood Foundation
What’s your origin story?
I started out shooting skate videos at age 9 in Washington D.C. and discovered very quickly that my biggest problem in life would become making time for things that aren’t filmmaking, haha.
How did you get into film?
I started a production company in 2009 and began directing commercials.
Who were your mentors?
Shepard Fairey, Andre Stringer, and Wes Anderson
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
My fondest achievement is my RISD thesis film, Obey The Giant. It became a bit of a community project in Providence and was a hell of a learning experience.
How about your biggest disappointment?
The times that feature projects have fallen apart in the 11th hour.
How has having the superpower of your Blackness helped you?
To be black in America is to be aware of self in all situations. It makes it easier to be an objective observer of life.
How did last year’s BLM movements affect you personally?
The George Floyd protests in NYC are a moment that I will always carry with me. It was such an emotional turning point in modern history. That energy leading into the election has given us another chance to fix our country, which we nearly lost over the last 4 years.
What can the industry do better to promote true inclusion?
Invest in and mentor diverse talent to increase the talent pool.
What drives you to create?
Every project starts as a personal exploration with the hopes that, if it makes me feel something and change in some way, that it might do the same for others.