By Maddy Raven, Film & TV Editor & Lauryn Clarke, Third Year, History
Donta Storey is a non-binary, Black, and queer filmmaker from Compton, California on the rise. Their film LiME was an Official Selection at this year’s Outfest Fusion Film Festival after a successful festival run that took the film from San Francisco’s Black Film Festival to the DC Film Festival.
Donta also has a short film Dooley Does Murder!, which they wrote and will star in, in production currently and will film their debut feature film Boys Like Us this December.
We were given the opportunity to speak to Donta about LiME, their upbringing, and their filmmaking process. Having cited Michaela Coel and Issa Rae as inspirations, they are a voice of advocacy for queer, Black youth in filmmaking, and certainly one to watch.
LiME stars Urian Ross as a young man auditioning to be part of his local community majorettes’ team. This is a typically female-dominated sport and past-time, and he must face the disapproval of his peers while following his dream.
‘Casting LiME was a delight, I feel very lucky to have found the talent that I did for this film,’ says Storey, but when choosing an actor to play their younger self, Ross was a clear choice: ‘he brings such an energy to the film, a very special vulnerability. Working with Allana Barton who portrays the matriarch in the film was also such a delight, she is such a talent – and I can’t wait to work with her again.’
In fact, LiME is incredibly autobiographical – it’s based on events of Storey’s youth. They were in the drum squad for their local community, and they were a majorette. ‘I also wanted to celebrate and showcase a part of the culture I’m most proud of. We have so many dance teams, drill, and majorette squads in the urban communities. and it goes all the way up to HBCUs. Howard and Clark University are among some of the best to do it.’
The main crux of the film is a monologue by Allana Barton, talking about choosing to be the ‘sweet amongst the sour’, and showing kindness to those who choose to live their lives as ‘sour’. Though it doesn’t seem that there truly is a lime famous for its sweetness, all of the words come from Storey:
‘As a writer, I try my best to approach stories from an authentic space, and I remember hearing a quote once by Ayesha Siddiqi that reads “be the person you needed when you were younger,” and the monologue the grandmother in the film delivers is my way of fulfilling that for myself and hopefully for the audience.’
As both the director and writer of the film, the filming process was very involved, to say the least. Over two very long days, LiME was born, and the community in Compton supported the subject matter: in fact, this made Storey’s experience as a new director as ‘easy as pie.’
As a writer, I try my best to approach stories from an authentic space
In fact, Compton ‘represents itself pretty well... LiME captures the city through my eyes in such a beautiful way, and I hope anyone who watches see the softer side of the city. A friend of mine has a company called Beautiful Complication, and I would describe Compton that way – there is a lot of stuff that can be complicated about its roots, but there is so much beauty in it.’
Despite being a new director, Storey is not new to filmmaking – having started in theatre, and as an actor, storytelling is their bread and butter. They’ve been writing since they were young, having always wanted to work in entertainment. LiME, as a semi-autobiographical short film, was ‘really cathartic, because it’s based on my truth.’
Their upcoming film, Dooley Does Murder! is Storey’s love letter to campy 80’s horror. It’s a fun and bloody mess. Having written the film, and both directing and acting in it will be a challenge, but despite the rest of the curveballs this year has thrown at them, Storey remains confident that it’ll be a success.
LiME is now available on Amazon Prime, and you can watch the trailer on Vimeo.
Featured: Alesha Bush / Power & Mills
Who are your favourite up and coming directors?