TANAEL JOACHIM: THE COMEDIAN AND FILMMAKER
Tanael Joachim is a man of many talents. He’s a recognizable stand up comedian born in Haiti and now based in New York City. He’s a comedian with a very laid back, smooth, and conversational style on stage. Tanael jokes about race, society’s idiosyncrasies, and the inherent contrast between life in Haiti and America. Tanael performs at some of the best comedy clubs in NYC, including these, among others: Gotham Comedy Club, The Stand Comedy Club, The Knitting Factory with Hannibal Buress, Broadway Comedy Club, Eastville Comedy Club.
As of recent Tanael has manifested more greatness, in the realm of filmmaking. He recently wrote, directed and started in his four part web series, Unrequited. The dictionary definition of unrequited is, (of a feeling, especially love) not returned. In Unrequitted, Tanael plays Jacques, a writer living in Brooklyn who has to deal with an old flame who came back into his life unexpectedly.
Unrequited is an incredible story of love, unrequited love. A story that is often not told because certainly many of us don’t want to admit to falling in such love. A love that does not give us the outcome we desired or even may of thought we deserved.
However, Unrequited does give us hope as stated in episode 2 by Danielle when counseling Jacques: “Love is a leap of faith. That’s why they call it falling in love. If you fall and there’s no one there to catch you, it’s going to hurt.”
We had the opportunity to conversate with Tanael about Unrequited and what’s in the filmmaking future for him.
ONE ON ONE WITH TANAEL
What inspired you to become a filmmaker (acting, writing and directing)?
As a comedian and storyteller, I’m interested in all the possible ways to tell a good story. I’m a standup comedian first and foremost, but film is an attractive medium as well. When I do standup, it’s me and my voice alone. Filmmaking allows me to give voice to different perspectives that I may not be able to explore on stage. I can create characters and stories that may not be a good fit for my first medium. So, in the end, it’s all a different type of creative expression.
Unrequited is the title of your web series. Why that title and can you talk about the process of writing and also directing it?
I picked the name because it really captured what the story at its core is. Also, I like one word titles for some reason. Writing it was a process of getting rid of what didn’t matter so I could keep what was important for this particular story. It’s based on something that happened to me in real life, so I had a really solid foundation for the story. I wrote the scripts, sent them to some friends I trusted and they liked it, I moved from there. As far as directing, I knew what I wanted. So I made sure what I wanted matched the budget I had without losing the core of the vision. Working on a small budget taught me how to tell a decent story without too much fanfare. I had to do some creative things, like in episode 3.
What in particular inspired you to make Unrequited? And also, why did you make it a four episode web series versus a short film or a feature film?
I’ve told friends that Unrequited is a therapy session that I couldn’t afford, so I made a web series out of it. It was something real, and honest, and I felt like it was a story worth telling in terms of love, black love, and male vulnerability. I made it 4 episodes because I wanted every part of the story to have their own distinct feel instead of one big short. I thought of it as 4 short films that tell one connected story.
You have an extraordinary and diverse cast in Unrequited. How did you go about casting everyone for the web series?
I basically wanted the best people I can find so that my acting could look decent next to them. That really was the idea. I found some great people through backstage and my DP made some good recommendations as well. I’m really proud of the work all the actors did. I really am.
There’s so much quick and witty humor in Unrequited. How did you develop this capability to write such humor?
Thank you. Sometimes I get annoyed at the way humor is written on television, because it has nothing to do with the way people actually talk. So for me, it was about making the humor as real as I can. For instance, when a character says something that’s funny, I wanted the other character to react with laughter or amusement instead of their riposte to the joke. Because that’s what people do in real life. My standup background certainly helped with that part of the script.
The Unrequited series can seem at times like great ancient philosophers gathered together with the purpose to philosophize on the topic of love. And they do so in a modern, relatable and contemporary fashion. Was it something done purposefully?
I certainly am flattered by that. I do have philosophical musings, so I won’t disagree with it. Everything done in the series is done purposefully for sure. Part of writing this story was also trying to understand what love is. Because Jacques, the character I played, isn’t sure of it. He just knows he loves this person. So there’s a nice playground to dissect and ask some interesting questions.
You’re signed with Authentic, Talent and Literary Management. Authentic is truly a bicoastal management company with thriving offices in New York and Los Angeles. How did the relationship with them come about?
Basically, I was changing management. And I was doing some research after someone I trusted made some recommendations to me. Authentic came up. And it turns out the owner is a really good guy that I know, who also does charitable work in my homeland, Haiti. That was a great place to start and we went from there.
What’s ahead for you as a filmmaker?
I think of myself more as a comedian who makes films instead of a filmmaker. For now, I’m just enjoying Unrequited. I’m brewing some ideas for a second season, I definitely want to make it. So keep an eye out for that. I have tons of ideas in my head, so it’s all about which ones I get to make. I get excited by making things.
Tanael’s a phenomenal featured writer whose work has graced The New York Times, Elite Daily, and The Interrobang.
Below is a button link to view Unrequited (a four-part web series), available here on MarilynFilms.com. We encourage you to support independent filmmaking by viewing the series and we’d love to hear your take on it. You can simply comment below or send us your comments via our CONTACT page.
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