This filmmaker directs dark comedies about heavy issues like grief and gentrification: 'My generation is making real change'

Emerald Pellot
·2-min read

Rachael Moton is a filmmaker and the director of Dad’s Dead Dammit which appeared at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival and 2019 Cannes Film Festival.

The Philadelphia native now resides in Los Angels where she teaches at Moore College of Art & Design. She is currently working on her first feature film, the dark comedy Paper Trail, about Philly gentrification and performative allyship.

“I really like doing things that just look very weird and are very visually intense and pretty,” Moton told In The Know. “Especially because a lot of the topics I talk about are so dark, I love flipping that on its head and making it super bright and beautiful and kind of taking you out of the headspace of where I want you to be.”

Her short film Dad’s Dead Dammit is about a woman dealing with grief following the loss of her father. The positive reception led to Moton pursuing screenwriting and directing as a career.

“I love comedy but I also think that there has to be a balance of joy and pain so I tend to make things very deeply sad but also keep people laughing the whole time,” she said.

While studying filmmaking at Temple University, Moton said she noticed a lot of non-BIPOC students
“pretending” to be invested in anti-racism because it was “trendy.” This became the inspiration for her first feature film.

Paper Trail really just focuses on the commodification of wokeness and of activism because when everybody is an activist, what does that mean if no one is doing anything?” Moton said.

The filmmaker’s big dream is to make a few successful films and eventually start a nonprofit to invest in other marginalized creators.

“I absolutely believe my generation is making real change,” Moton said. “I’m inspired every day just watching how we as a generation are just so open. Even though I’m a little bit older now, like more seasoned in the industry. I’m always inspired by the way that me and my friends collaborate because we’re all just so excited about making the industry what we want it to be.”

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