When he first got into film, his passion was for French and Asian New Wave cinema. He would always head straight for the Foreign Films section of his local Blockbuster and devour all he could afford. After he espied a photo of Quentin Tarantino on the VHS jacket for Chungking Express (1994) his curiosity was immediately piqued, and once he saw that movie he knew that he had to become a filmmaker.
Does not storyboard, opting instead for straightforward shot lists.
[Moonlight (2016) playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney] and I are this kid. We are Chiron. And you don't think that kid grows up to be nominated for eight Academy Awards. It's not a dream he's allowed to have. I still feel that way. I didn't think this was possible. But now I look at other people looking at me and if I didn't think it was possible, how are they going to? But now it's happened. So what I think of possibility, let's take it off the table. The thing has happened. [Feb.2017]
[on My Josephine (2003)] I went to school in Tallahassee, Florida, and it's different from going to school in New York, where you have the whole city as a backdrop. Down in Tallahassee, you have to work to make the background interesting. 9-11 had happened, and it was on my mind as something I wanted to make a film about, in Florida. Through watching all those foreign films, especially as someone who didn't speak any foreign language or know any foreign people, I got opened up to the possibility of language in cinema. At the time, people were saying being a Muslim or an Arab was 'the new Black.' So I decided to take my experience of feeling like an 'other' as a Black man in the South, and use that as a way to empathize with my characters. That's where I discovered that there was a different way to approach the form, and it all came together in that short, which is kind of out there. [Dec.2016]
[on the cinematography of Moonlight (2016)] Cinema is a little over 100 years old, and a lot of what we do is built around film emulsion. Those things were calibrated for white skin. We've always put powder on skin to dull the light. But my memory of growing up in Miami is this moist, beautiful black skin. So we used oil. I wanted everyone's skin to have a sheen to reflect my memory. 
[how Zui hao de shi guang (2005) influenced Moonlight (2016)] I first saw "Three Times" at the 2005 Telluride Film Festival. It was wonderful, Roger Ebert introduced the film. He loved it and thankfully gushed over it in a way that didn't hype such a delicate film. (...) The structure of "Three Times" is the sole impetus for the structure of "Moonlight." The source material the film originated from was not in triptych form. Beyond that, this idea of a delicate treatment of roiling emotions, of interiority translated through external imagery (and SOUND) rather than interior monologue, these things I kept in heart and head as "Moonlight" evolved into the film that it is. 
[on his next film project "If Beale Street Could Talk"] [Author] James Baldwin is a man of and ahead of his time; his interrogations of the American consciousness have remained relevant to this day. To translate the power of Tish and Fonny's love to the screen in Baldwin's image is a dream I've long held dear. Working alongside the Baldwin Estate, I'm excited to finally make that dream come true. [July 2017]