Carlton Daniel Jr. pinpoints Friday nights spent poring over Spike Lee and Steven Spielberg films as the highlight of his childhood. As the writer and director of Homegoing, a short film loosely based on his time working for a Cleveland funeral home, Daniel has taken his passion for storytelling to new heights. The film recently garnered him a fellowship with Outfest Screenwriting Lab in Los Angeles. Here’s the scoop on the up-and-coming director and his dream to turn Homegoing into his first full-length feature film.
Homegoing is based on Daniel’s time working for a funeral home in Cleveland after getting his MFA in film from Syracuse University. He was moved by the dedication of the people who worked there and the people who were coming in to bury and grieve their loved ones. “[Writing is] a really freeing thing,” he says. “It helps me make sense of who I am and who I want to be, how I want to show up in the world.”
Daniel received mentorship during a weeklong intensive workshop with Outfest Screenwriting Lab in November. He hopes to turn the short film into a full-length feature in which a gay son of a mortician is haunted by the dead. “It has this supernatural element to it, exploring the supernatural element of Blackness. It also talks about the surprising places of queer and gay comfort that can be found within a Black funeral parlor,” he says.
Daniel united Malik Shakur, Tupac Shakur’s nephew, with Khalil Kain, who starred alongside Tupac in the 1992 film Juice, for his film. If Daniel gets a production company and investors to bring the film to life, he hopes to keep those actors around. “We were pretty much furthering the same conversations that they were having in Juice 20 years later, just from my perspective of being a Cleveland-born, Black, queer filmmaker,” he says.