Ricky Danielle Ford Discusses the Astral Plane, Dreams and Poetry in Diary Filmmaking, and Building Community for Video Artists of Color
Interview by Nick Ramsay
Image from "Diary Entry 2"(2021) by Ricky Danielle Ford
NR:
Your work explores the metaphysical through retellings of dreams and memories. In “Diary Entry #2” you describe a dream about a train moving backwards. It feels like dreams and reality are of equal importance to your films, and even your “reality” feels metaphorical and dream-like sometimes (I’m thinking of the man letting the balloons into the sky). Why are you interested in dreams, and how does dreaming influence your filmmaking?
RF:
For me, I've always seen filmmaking and dreaming as very similar things. Not a lot of mediums have the ability to depict reality as we see and live it as well and as beautifully as film does. I'm pretty sure every kid at some point in their lives wishes that they could record their dreams and watch them when they wake up, and for me I think film is the closest we can get to that. 
As far as dreams influencing my work, I've kind of always been a big dream fanatic. Having done a lot of research on the various spiritual and religious practices around entering the astral plane and having read a lot about the practices of dream reading, when I began to learn about the ways that they reflect the subconscious mind through visual language, I really sought to imitate those concepts within my own work. As I started to work in that way, I noticed how deeply self exploratory and oftentimes difficult of an experience it was to force yourself to renavigate the mind (in a state without the ego attached) and retell a story that is given to you in very confusing pieces.
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Image from "Diary Entry 1"(2020) by Ricky Danielle Ford
NR:
Both of your films that we’re screening in the festival are in black and white, and both use voice over narration. Some of the scenes seem to be created and shot to illustrate your diary entries, with a cinematic, fiction-filmmaking style— while other footage seems to be recorded from your daily life. In general, what inspires your filmmaking choices and how do you approach making diary films?
RF:
The way that I approach filmmaking is trying to really force myself into thinking in a very visual language and finding ways that I can make images fill in the gaps that words might leave. I write a lot of poetry in my free time and like to almost always think about my films as a kind of extension to my writings regardless of if I'm working within the diary format or not. Ultimately, I favor the expression of emotion over anything else and will always choose the method that gets me there in the most intact way, sometimes forgoing a more cinematic shot for narration or even using something I may have shot on accident if it portrays that emotion most deeply.
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Image From "Diary Entry #1"(2020) by Ricky Danielle Ford
NR:
Can you talk about your work with Onyx22 Collective, and how that work intersects with your own goals and work as a filmmaker?
RF:
About two years ago when I first started making films and doing moving image work, I really wanted to reach out to some sort of community where I could be around other filmmakers of color and just be in spaces that were dedicated to supporting that type of work, but after awhile I started to realize that there just really weren't spaces or organizations like that in my city (if you know anything about the midwest you understand). After discussing all of this with close friends and taking a pretty long hiatus from making any work, I started to really realize that I might have to commit to creating the community that I want to be a part of, so Onyx22 was born!
The collective settles more on my work as a curator than anything, but we focus primarily on creating spaces for video artists to show their work and be around other people that do and are interested in the same things. Our ultimate goal is really to just create some sort of concise and lasting video art and film community here in Minnesota and encourage people who might be on the fence about film to just pick up a camera and go for it.​​​​​​​
Image from "Diary Entry #2"(2021) by Ricky Danielle Ford
NR:
What inspired you to make Diary Entry #1 and Diary Entry #2? Will there be more Diary Entry films from you in the future? 
RF:
Originally, Diary Entry #1 was actually given to me as part of an assignment in a film class I took in college. After making the first, I decided that I really liked the intimacy of the format and wanted to continuously make work that reflected myself so personally in that way. As an avid and slightly obsessive diary writer, it only felt natural. A third (and possibly final) iteration of the Diary series is actually in the works right now! I won't say too much, but the film spans chronologically over the last two years and is almost 25 minutes long as of right now, which is definitely a first for me in terms of duration.  ​​​​​​​
Image from "Diary Entry #2"(2021) by Ricky Danielle Ford
Ricky Danielle Ford is a Minneapolis, MN based filmmaker whose work explores existentialism and the metaphysical through retellings of dreams and memories. "Diary Entry #1" and "Diary Entry #2" will be screening Thursday, 11/11 at Film Noir Cinema in Brooklyn.
Nick Ramsay is a filmmaker and co-founder of Film Diary NYC.