Mark Bonner was born and raised in Shreveport and used his storytelling skills to create a poignant film that won him the top honor at the 2021 Film Prize.
Bonner always had an active imagination and expressed his creativity by drawing comics as a kid before moving on to writing scripts. In high school, he wrote stories every week like a tv show and would let everyone in his class read it. His classmates' reactions and need to know what happened next fueled Bonner's desire to keep writing.
His first interest in writing scripts came from his love of "old-fashioned" storytelling. Shows like "The Jeffersons" and "Sanford and Son" inspired his style of writing about real issues and creating a narrative around them.
"They were comedies, but they meant something like they always had a driving point behind each episode," said Bonner. "We don't see a lot of that anymore."
Bonner's film debut "Shreveport Son" had elements of late 90's and early 2000's cinema with a nostalgic feel to it. The short film follows a young man who reunites with a childhood friend during the last 37 hours of his life.
Director John Singleton was an inspiration for Bonner and he had the opportunity of meeting Singleton before his passing in 2019. It was Singleton who encouraged him to begin acting and years later Bonner would star in his own film.
"I met him and I was on his set and working with him right before he died," explained Bonner. "It was amazing. I got to see and absorb his directing style and then he told me to come back because what I did was so natural. I was always really shy and I loved film, but I wanted to be behind the scenes and I didn't want to be in front of a lot of people."
His accidental fall into acting ended up helping him secure the win at the 2021 Louisiana Film Prize. Most directors will tell you that being able to work any part of the creation of the film makes you a better filmmaker, because you understand how it all works from the inside out and comes together.
"From having my hand in everything, even from the point of the editing, is like when I'm directing I'm thinking from the editing standpoint too that I can cut this and cut that and cut that together and it'll be perfect," said Bonner. "I think it's really essential overall to kind of just study everything and it'll help you be overall a better filmmaker."
While Bonner loves having his hands in all of the different elements, his passion still lies in what starts it all: the story. Screenwriting is still his main passion and while he was rejected from different film schools, Bonner didn't give up. Now he puts together treatment pitch packages for others, does lighting for films and occasionally ghostwrites.
Currently, Bonner has four scripts in various stages, but his main focus is on a historical film that uses modern and fun elements to drive the theme forward.
Meredith G. White is the arts and culture reporter for the Shreveport Times. You can find her on Facebook as Meredith G. White, on Instagram and Twitter as @meredithgwhite, and email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Shreveport Times: Get to know 2021 Film Prize winner Mark D. Bonner