2 Minutes With … Writer/Director Morgan Cooper

His creative journey combining art and purpose

Morgan Cooper, who came up as a cinematographer, has moved into writing and directing with a grace, skill and purpose that elevates his art as he looks to positively impact society with his work.

His recent acclaimed projects have included a reimagined trailer for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air depicting the '90s sitcom as a drama set in 2019; "Pay Day," a delightful short film for Synchrony Bank that feels like a mini episode of an HBO show; and "U Shoot Videos?", a 40-minute film about a young black filmmaker shooting low-budget music videos in Kansas City and dreaming of taking the next step in the business.

"Pay Day" and "U Shoot Videos?" won two of the top three prizes at this year's Tribeca X competition, the branded entertainment awards within the Tribeca Film Festival.

Cooper is currently mentoring four aspiring filmmakers, and hopes to inspire the next generation of young black filmmakers to fearlessly tell their stories. He is repped by CAA for film and TV projects, and by Chromista, Darren Aronofksy's creative content house, for commercials.

We spent two minutes with Cooper to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations, and recent work he's admired.


Morgan, tell us...

The town where you were born, and where you live now.

I was born in Kansas City, Mo., and currently live in L.A.

What you wanted to be when you grew up.

A sports journalist.

How you discovered you were creative.

To be honest, there was no specific moment. My family is full of creatives and I grew up sketching and playing music, so creativity has always been an important part of my life.

A person you idolized creatively growing up.

Miles Davis and John Coltrane.

A moment from high school or college that changed your life.

My junior year English teacher told me I wouldn’t amount to anything. Guess I showed her.

The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.

My first concert was The Roots, WAYYYY back in the day. My favorite artist at the moment is Durand Jones & the Indications. They’re making some of the best modern soul music there is.

Your favorite visual artist.

Gordon Parks (R.I.P.).

Your favorite hero or heroine in fiction.

Miles Morales!

The best book you've read lately.

I read a hardback version of the Moonlight screenplay by Barry Jenkins. Such brilliant writing.

Your favorite movie.

Juice, directed by Ernest Dickerson.

Your favorite Instagram follow.

@blvckvrchives @mylothecat @houseofhighlights

How the Covid-19 crisis has changed your life, personally or professionally, in recent months.

It’s magnified the things that I want to improve upon creatively while opening up time to reconnect with family and friends. It’s really provided invaluable perspective in terms of focusing on the things that really matter in life and the importance of human connection.

Your favorite creative project you've ever worked on, and why.

"U Shoot Videos?" because of how personal the project is to me. I was able to really examine my journey as a filmmaker and see how far I’ve come.

Your favorite creative project from the past year, and why.

Seeing the 30 Americans art exhibit was life-changing. Would HIGHLY recommend.

Someone else's creative project that inspired you years ago.

Juice by Ernest Dickerson. It will forever be my creative North Star.

Someone else's creative project that you've been envious of lately.

To be honest, I never feel envious of what other people are doing creatively. Celebration over comparison, always.

Your main strength as a creative person.

Passion.

Your weakness or blind spot.

Chocolate chip cookies!

One thing that always makes you happy.

Time with family and friends, and natural Ethiopian coffees.

One thing that always makes you sad.

Racism and apathy.

What you'd be doing if you weren't a filmmaker.

Photo journalism, for sure.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and founding editor of Muse by Clio. Prior to joining Clio in 2018, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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