Van Peebles Interview
This is a Visual History Recording

Visual History with Melvin Van Peebles (1932-2021)

Interviewed by: Mario Van Peebles

Melvin Van Peebles discusses his career with his son, director and actor Mario Van Peebles, including starting to direct in France, his award-winning film The Story of a Three Day Pass, and kicking off the blaxpoitation genre with his independently financed and produced Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.

After completing 3 short films, Van Peebles expected to be welcomed in Hollywood, but was offered a job as an elevator operator instead. Moving to Europe to study Astronomy on the G.I. Bill, he was invited to screen his shorts in France.

How he made his first feature film The Three Day Pass in France, which led to his first Hollywood directing assignment, Watermelon Man and enabled him to bring other people of color onto his crew.

Van Peebles says he is proud that he was able to play a part in making the Guild more inclusive and diverse over the years.