I look for skill. I look to give people opportunities as well. People who may not be able to get the opportunity because they’re a woman or they are a person of color. They have a hurdle to get over because there really are not a lot of women or people of color in the art department, in the industry. And so I will look at that. You get the opportunity to come in and talk to me. Doesn’t mean you get the job. You have to have the skill. I’m very clear about that. I’m also very clear about firing people. I don’t play around with anything. My expectations are high. Everyone knows this now! They are really, really high. My father set almost impossible expectations for us as children. For everything. That’s a character flaw to some extent. And as I get older I’m learning to work with the idea that my expectations can’t be everybody’s expectations. Right now they are. I expect extremely hard work from people. And good references. And bring me your portfolio and show me what skill you have. Or if you don’t have a portfolio yet, tell me why I want you here.
When I was on Kill Switch I put it out on Twitter to send me resumes. I need a PA in Detroit, you have to work as a local but you’ll get paid and you get to be my assistant. I got a ton of resumes. I thought I would get maybe a few but it blew up! I went with a young man who hadn’t had any film experience, just graduated from college. He was very young but very passionate, you know? That was the thing. He was very much a self-starter. He took the initiative every single time.
AS: That passion and enthusiasm helps people.
HB: It really does. Show me that you want to be here, right? Show me that you want this! I may need you to organize the paint samples, you organize those paint samples like you ain’t never organized paint samples in your whole life! The gods come from the heavens and shine down on the paint sample organization! That’s what you have to bring to it. You have to bring that drive! Because there are hundreds of thousands of people who want it too. In order to get in you have to be better than those that are already there.
Some of the people I worked with on Panther are third generation Hollywood crew. My charge scenic Franco Ferrara is one of the best scenic painters and I swear I’m going to jump off a building if I can’t get him for Black Panther 2. He was the scenic charge, his father Gio was his foreman. You look at Gio’s IMDB credits and he’s got every award-winning film you could think of over the last forty years. His son came up under him. My propmaster Drew Petrotta, his father was a propmaster for Tim Burton and his first job was prop assistant on Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when he was seventeen. I remember standing in line at catering in the morning and there’s this kid in front of me with a walkie on who looks like he’s like twelve or thirteen. I was like, Where are your parents? Drew said, That’s my son! Third generation. His first job at thirteen is on Black Panther. Think about that. And that’s what you’re competing with. These kids don’t have to go to film school because they’re getting master classes in these crafts on the job. And by the time they’re of working age supporting themselves they’ve had a whole career in the film industry, with every connection.