Craig Brewer is a multi-disciplinary artist hailed from the Southern state of Tennessee with a knack for storytelling. His passion for filmmaking stems from his ability to captivate his audience and connect culturally relevant plots on screen. As a young prodigy, the streets of Memphis, Tennessee served as his film school. His guerrilla style approach and relentless work ethic led to his first feature film, THE POOR & HUNGRY. At the time, Craig was the manager of Barnes & Noble and began writing the screenplay for the film at the local P&H Café. Shot in the late 90s, The POOR & HUNGRY was a prime example of Memphis community. With a small, run-and-gun skeleton crew mixed with free rein leadership, Craig and his team made magic. Local musicians provided the soundtrack, and much of the cast and crew were volunteers.
The “digiflik” was able to capture and compliment the gritty day-to-day grind of those living in his hometown. This raw yet soulful drama won Best Digital Feature at The 2000 Hollywood Film Festival and was acquired by the Independent Film Channel soon afterwards.
Brewer’s second feature film, HUSTLE & FLOW, starring Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson was produced by the late John Singleton and Stephanie Allain. The film premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Audience Award for Best Feature. Most importantly, HUSTLE & FLOW is based on Craig’s experience making THE POOR & HUNGRY. It was his idea of showing viewers that, “the only way you’re going to succeed is if you fail.” The spirit of HUSTLE & FLOW worked in tandem with Craig’s dream of directing American cinema. The film secured a record-breaking acquisition deal by Paramount Pictures and MTV Films. It garnered an Academy Award nomination for lead actor, Terrence Howard, and won the Academy Award for Best Original Song: Three 6 Mafia’s It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp.
Brewer’s third film, BLACK SNAKE MOAN, starred Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake. Driven by a classic and contemporary Blues soundtrack, BLACK SNAKE MOAN is a Southern gothic tale featuring the Brewer hallmarks of sex, sin and redemption. Craig’s aim was to increase cultural buzz and palpable suspense. The film later premiered at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival and was released in theatres by Paramount Pictures.
A few years later, Craig directed a remake of the 1984 film, FOOTLOOSE, which was released on October 14, 2011. The film introduced upcoming artists, Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough. In 2012, Brewer produced Paramount Pictures’ concert documentary KATY PERRY: PART OF ME, and ten years after the release of HUSTLE & FLOW, Brewer re-teamed with Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson on their hit TV series, EMPIRE. Over the span of 10 episodes, Craig was able to share his musical palette with the cast and crew. In fact, similar to HUSTLE & FLOW, EMPIRE was his chance to reconnect his passion for music with his love of filmmaking.
In June 2018, Craig began directing a Netflix feature, DOLEMITE IS MY NAME, starring Eddie Murphy and Wesley Snipes. The film is based on the life of Rudy Ray Moore, a 70s comedian who finances an action film based on a character from his stand-up material. DOLEMITE IS MY NAME was listed as the top film from TIME and the NATION BOARD OF REVIEW. It was nominated for four CRITIC’S CHOICE AWARDS and two GOLDEN GLOBES, including BEST FEATURE (MUSICAL/COMEDY) and a best actor nomination for EDDIE MURPHY.
Craig is currently editing Paramount Pictures’ COMING 2 AMERICA, starring screen veterans Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall and James Earl Jones. The film is scheduled to release in December 2020.
Through it all he has maintained his home in Memphis. He has been the driving force behind lndieMemphis and has mentored young film makers in Memphis at every turn. He never seeks personal acclaim. He works behind the scenes, but he is always promoting Memphis.
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