The director of popular modern gems such as Fruitvale Station, Ryan Coogler has established himself as a promising filmmaker whose career trajectory is on the rise. After directing one of the most impactful superhero films of the 21st century in Black Panther, Coogler has set his sights on new horizons through promising projects.
Coogler’s production company recently signed a huge deal with Disney+ which also includes the development of an upcoming series based on the Black Panther universe. Despite being an important figure in Hollywood, several reports came out last month which stated that bank authorities had called the cops on the director when he went to withdraw money from his own account.
These horrifying experiences have been a major part of Coogler’s artistic sensibilities which is why many have labelled him as the most vocal champion of the Black experience in modern American cinema. In addition to his films, Coogler has also worked as a counsellor for incarcerated youth and has been a founding member of a campaign against racial discrimination and human rights violations in the US.
Born in California, Coogler was very involved in sports from an early age and was also talented at science subjects as well as mathematics. Due to his academic inclinations, Coogler decided to major in Chemistry at St. Mary’s College where he won a football scholarship. Although his initial plans were to become a doctor, it all changed when he submitted a creative writing assignment.
According to Coogler, all the football players were signed up for a creative writing course which provided him with the platform to showcase his abilities. The professor was extremely impressed with what Coogler had managed to achieve, praising him for his visual storytelling. It was only when he was encouraged to take up screenwriting that Coogler started reflecting on what it really meant.
In an interview, Coogler revealed how this exchange between him and his professor was “the weirdest conversation” he ever had. “I didn’t even know what a screenplay was,” Coogler admitted while describing how his dorm room had no books and was covered with rap posters. In order to support his love for reading and watching films, he ventured out into the world to buy some with $20 in his pocket.
“I hopped in my car, drove to Circuit City and I walked around the DVD section,” the future director recalled. He found a special edition of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction there which he picked up because it had a separate CD with the entire screenplay for the film. The magical experience of reading the iconic script became a pivotal moment in Coogler’s life.
“It reminded me of the first time I stepped on the football field and hit somebody,” Coogler added. “I felt like I was at home.” When he opened up Microsoft Word to properly format the Pulp Fiction screenplay, Coogler ended up staying up all night writing his first screenplay and he made it a regular habit to engage in screenwriting.