Raven Jackson’s debut feature-length movie, "All Dirt Roads Taste Of Salt," is not just a film; it's a lyrical exploration of life and a testament to the creativity of its director. Hailing from Tennessee and now at 33, Jackson paints a vivid picture of the experiences of a Black woman in Mississippi across different moments in her life.
As we dive into the Director's Cut of this stunning film, we'll unravel the artistic vision and personal inspirations of Raven Jackson's storytelling. Join us as we celebrate this talented filmmaker and experience the essence of "All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt," opening in select cities today, where every frame of the movie carries the weight of untold stories and the beauty of resilience.
BET: How did Tennessee shape your love for filmmaking?
Raven Jackson: I grew up fishing, I grew up close to nature, even though every time I go back to where I'm from, it's more developed, but I grew up loving fireflies and loving dirt on my hands. I know that informs what I'm interested in as a filmmaker.
BET: You are a filmmaker, but you're also a poet and photographer. Talk about your roots as a poet and a photographer.
Raven Jackson: I came to writing first. I'm grateful I studied that first because that's where I found my voice, my obsessions. My poetry is very detail-oriented: it leans a lot into images. When I was about to graduate from the writing program that I was in, it felt like a now-or-never moment to study film. It's something that had interested me for a while, but it just felt like it wasn't possible for me because I didn't have a technical background. I'm so grateful I took that leap. I had to find my way with filmmaking, but I already knew who I was coming into it, and I knew what my interests were.
BET: “All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” is your first feature-length film and takes place in rural Mississippi. Tell us about this film for folks who may not know.
Raven Jackson: It's a film that lyrically explores the life of a Black woman in Mississippi at different moments, experiences, and eras in her life. A question I asked coming into it is, if our lives were to flood, what are those moments that would rise to the surface, and how would they speak to each other? How would they flow in between each other? It's a very fluid film. I'm interested in this film being an experience and in it washing over the audience.
BET: The film highlights the lives of rural Black folks. Why was it important to explore Mississippi in the film, which has so much history?
Raven Jackson: In the early stages of writing the film, I thought I would shoot into Tennessee because that's where I'm from. In the development process, a true gift happened when I discovered Rose Hill Church through William Ferris photographs. The photographs I saw were from the late 1960s and early 1970s. I was pretty positive that this church wouldn't be standing. I sent the cold email because the film needed a church location, and I was very interested in being surrounded by land. When I sent a cold email to him [William Ferris], not only was the church still standing, but he was so open to me shooting there. That location eventually became a key location that we built the production around. I say it's a gift because not only is there so much rich history in that church but there are people I met in the film's production that were children in the photographs. This rich history is threaded in the film in ways and in the process of making the film. But my mother is from Mississippi, and for a film that deals so much with what's passed from generation to generation, it's been beautiful to have a conversation with my mother and my lineage in this way as well. So it was a gift shooting in Mississippi and finding the ways to thread very specific histories into the film, not only my own but other histories too.
BET: This is your first feature-length film. What is your hope and intention as you move forward in your career?
Raven Jackson: My guiding light as far as going to be to do work that I deeply care about and that deeply moves me. I deeply trust what moves me, and I will not lose that. [Laughs] Also, I am curious about not knowing. I know what I aim to do next, but I also love this moment of potential. I'm holding both, knowing what I wanted to do next and leaning into the unknown of it all and allowing room for surprise.
BET: Although you are just beginning your career, we are all the directors of our own life. What does the director's cut of your life look like thus far in filmmaking?
Raven Jackson: So far, it looks like waking up and excited about the creation process. What I'm aiming to create, and I hope to preserve that for my career.
“All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt” opens in select cities today, November 3.
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