I have followed Woody Allen since I was a boy, from his heyday as a standup comic to his emergence as one of America’s most original (and prolific) filmmakers, so he is very much a part of my life. At 86 he is as busy as ever. His latest film, Rifkin’s Festival (starring Wallace Shawn and Gina Gershon) opens today in theaters and on VOD. He has another film ready to shoot, a play about to be produced, and a new book of humorous essays called Zero Gravity, all dependent on pandemic conditions. This conversation gave Jessie and me an opportunity to ask about his beginnings as a gag writer while still in high school, his passion for playing New Orleans-style jazz, and his singular work ethic. He was uncommonly generous with his time and typically self-deprecating about his talent.
Ernest Dickerson studied cinematography at NYU where, on his first day, he met and bonded with fellow student Spike Lee. They made six memorable films together (including Do the Right Thing and Malcolm X) before Ernest made his directing debut with Juice, which has just been released in a special Blu-ray edition marking its 30th anniversary. He has gone on to direct such striking TV series as The Wire, Treme, Dexter, The Walking Dead and Bosch, to name just a few. Leonard and Jessie have been following his work for years and are delighted to have had a chance to talk to such a grounded and progressive filmmaker.