There’s the goosebumps, the beauty, the tug on your heartstrings. Trying to describe the emotional trip one feels when viewing the work of director and filmmaker Maurice Marable is like describing a shooting star across a midnight sky. The mind behind the TV promos for heavy-hitting shows like HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire” and BET’s “The Game” —not to mention commercials, music videos and documentary film—often leaves viewers breathless with his ethereal yet calculated stories of fantasy and mystique.
“I’m very concerned about feeling,” says the 42-year-old VP of Creative Services at BET. “When people see my work, they may not remember all of the details, but they will remember how they feel. I want my work to leave a lasting impression. That’s my goal.”
An army-brat who hails from Savannah, Georgia, Marable majored in film studies at Georgia State University. But his golden opportunity into the business came via an internship with the Spike Lee-produced movie, “Drop Squad” which was shooting in the Atlanta area. “At the end of shooting, they needed someone to drive the equipment back to New York, and I volunteered to do it,” he says. For Marable, a member of the Air Force who had lived in Germany and four American states, it was his first time in the big city. “When I got there, Butch Robinson, the film’s producer, offered me a job as an office assistant at his production company.” That was a Thursday; that Friday, Marable flew back to GA, packed his things, and was at work Monday morning.
Such quick decision-making and visionary faith is the hallmark of a great director, and is the reason Marable has become the one to call when networks like HBO and BET want a compelling, high drama promo for their ensemble casts. His main title sequence for “Big Love” was nominated for Emmy, but it was his 2004 “Six Feet Under” promo, “Grocery Store”—which featured the cast playing out respective storylines while lip-synching the Nina Simone classic “Feeling Good”—that gave him wings. “It was a leap from what I had done in the past, so I was completely out of my comfort zone,” says Marable who shot the segment in a Long Beach, California, grocery store in two nights. “It was the biggest thing that I had ever done creatively and I didn’t know if what I was thinking in my head would make sense to everyone else.”
Apparently it did. Since, Marable has directed commercials for companies like Coca Cola and AT&T, as well as directed a music video for Raphael Siddiq (“100 Yard Dash”), and a documentary, “The Story”, which chronicles students from The Ghetto Film School in the Bronx, NY, as they travel to Uganda to shoot a short film. As an VP and Creative Director at BET, Marable oversees the day to day operations of creative promotion for the network. He’s helping change the fact of the network via smart, sexy spots like this season’s launch of “The Game” (entitled “Are You Ready to Play?”), which, if Twitter and industry buzz are any indication, already have viewers ready to watch.
Marable, who sees a feature film in is future, says he sees his art philosophically, if not cinematically. “Whether the project is in film or television, it’s all about finding the central theme and building a story around that,” he says. “I like to place the characters in an environment that is slightly fantastic and hyper real. But it’s all in service for the theme. It’s just about telling a story.”