Jamal J. Hodge on Mourning Meal

Jamal J. Hodge

I’m privileged to have an interview with director and producer Jamal J. Hodge, known for Mourning Meal (2019), A Happy Divorce (2018) and Primal Instinct (2018).

His most recent project, Mourning Meal, is inspired by a poem from Linda D. Addison, a four-time recipient of the HWA Bram Stoker Award® and the 2018 HWA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Together they make a formidable team, weaving powerful words with keen visuals to create something lovely, dark and true.

AYS—Can you tell me a little about yourself as a film maker?

Jamal J. Hodge—I’m a multi-award winning filmmaker and writer. “Since May of 2016 Jamal Hodge’s films have been an official selection in over 65 Film Festivals, and have won 19 awards. In 2018 he also directed the first season of Investigation Discovery Channel’s ‘Primal instinct’.

Also, in 2018 his short screenplay ‘Mourning Meal’ won 5 awards (including best short screenplay at NYC Horror Film Festival) and was featured as a finalist in 7 writing competitions including (Shriekfest, Nightmares Film Festival). Jamal’s horror poetry has been featured in SPACE AND TIME MAGAZINE.”

AYS—What I have seen of Mourning Meal so far is chilling and yet beautiful. Can you tell us about this original horror film without giving away any spoilers?

Jamal J. Hodge—I’m so happy you said that, chilling but beautiful was the goal! We set out to create something frightening but beautiful, kinda like the aesthetic you’d find in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ with the classic feel of  ‘Seven’ or ‘The Silence of the Lambs’! Without spoiling anything I’ll just say the movie explores one woman’s relationship with pain, and what can happen if you let pain and loss dominate your mind and emotions. The transformation that can occur…

So much of our identity is based around what hurt us in the past or what might hurt us in the future, that fear of pain and our retreat into comfort and pleasures has its own risk, but the risk of embracing the pain too much, or rather, becoming the pain itself… can be far worse.

Mourning Meal is a psychological exploration of a deteriorating mind.

Linda D. Addison

AYS—How did you meet Linda Addison and decide to make a film based on her poem?

Jamal J. Hodge—Normally I don’t remember first meetings. I know its weird but if I met you and I like you, then the beginning doesn’t matter to me, just the present and what we make together—and what we’ve been making together has been very good! That being said, I believe I met Linda at a black writer’s get together and then I harassed her beyond all endurance until she agreed to being my writing mentor :)

Linda’s genius is her ability to conjure a full human experience in a verse, or weave a new illuminating perspective into a situation where there normally would only be revulsion or terror.

I strive to do the same in my own art, to use darkness to show light. So to me it just made sense to align with someone so robustly human, with a heart in the light and a mind in the darkness!

I’ve been telling her for years I was going to write something based off one of her poems, since reading her work inspires my own dark imaginings. It was a no-brainer turning Mourning Meal into a film. It was a must.

AYS—The Mourning Meal screenplay has already received awards and accolades. Can you tell me about some of the recognition this film has received?

Jamal J. Hodge—In 2018 the short screenplay of ‘Mourning Meal’ has won 5 awards, including best short screenplay at the prestigious NYC Horror Film Festival, and was featured as a finalist in 7 writing competitions including Shriekfest and Nightmares Film Festival. It has a crazy 75 percent selection rate!

I’m so excited that we have such good material to weave from.

AYS—What was the biggest challenge with this production?

Jamal J. Hodge—So, as you know, we’ve started shooting and have completed 70 percent of the film. Right now the biggest challenge is shooting the rest of it in April, mainly for financial reasons.

Making films independently is SO EXPENSIVE. We’re doing this with our blood sweat and tears and the help of supporters that want to see us win and put something different into the genre, a film that entertains, teaches, and gets us to explore our own relationship with pain and how much were letting that shape us.  So far we’ve spent 12K on the film and we need about another 8K to see it through and sent to festivals around the world.

Our cast is great led by Ruya Koman, our crew led by DOP Koshi Kiyokawa is a genius and we’ve joined forces with super producer Lamar Mackson and The Nonstop Show Group. So were in good shape with the talent and getting it done.

Our only difficulty now is the money, unfortunately.

AYS—What are your plans for Mourning Meal? What do you see for this film’s future?

Jamal J. Hodge—The intention is two-fold. With the short we want to make an epic product and then send it to all the major horror, thriller, and even drama festivals around the world from NYC Horror Film Festival to Cannes Film Festival. Everywhere. God willing.

The second part is that the Short is actually the first act in a feature film, so when its all done we want to take it to Universal and Blumhouse!

Mourning Meal is a story I really believe in and I feel it will help people come to a revelation about the pain in their life. Hopefully start them on the path to healing.

AYS—How can we help you get Mourning Meal out to everyone?

Jamal J. Hodge—Financial support would go a long way for sure! I’d be extremely grateful! You can see a sample of the film and our fundraising video here. Click here to support Mourning Meal from Poem to Film! organized by For Linda Addison

Or help us get the word out if you know people that would support diverse filmmakers and crews. Lastly you can come support the film when it screens this fall! We’ll be posting the upcoming dates on social media. My Instagram is @directorh

Our film’s website is Mourning Meal Movie.

Mourning Meal Fundraising short video from Jamal Hodge on Vimeo.

About Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith's work is published in print and online publications, including “Horror Writers Association's Poetry Showcase” vols. 2-4 and “Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy” anthology. Her novella, Bitter Suites, is a 2018 Bram Stoker Awards® finalist. Her first collection of poetry, “In Favor of Pain,” was nominated for an 2017 Elgin Award. All her books are available on Amazon. Currently, she publishes Space and Time Magazine, a 52 year old publication dedicated to fantasy, horror and science fiction. For more information visit SpaceandTimeMagazine.com.
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2 Responses to Jamal J. Hodge on Mourning Meal

  1. Marge Simon says:

    I’d sure like to see this in the Final Frame Film Festival competition at a future Stokercon. Or at least see a clip from it there. Wishing you all best, Jamal & company and YAY Linda D. Addison!

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