F. Gary Gray

Felix Gary Gray (born July 17, 1969)[1] is an American film director, film producer, and music video director. Gray began his career as a director on numerous critically acclaimed and award-winning music videos, including "It Was a Good Day" by Ice Cube, "Natural Born Killaz" by Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, "Keep Their Heads Ringin'" by Dr. Dre, "Waterfalls" by TLC, and "Ms. Jackson" by Outkast.

F. Gary Gray
F. Gary Gray (21226277825).jpg
Gray at San Diego Comic-Con in 2015
Born
Felix Gary Gray

(1969-07-17) July 17, 1969 (age 53)
New York City, U.S.
Other namesGary Gray
OccupationFilm director, film producer, music video director
Years active1988–present

Gray made his feature film directorial debut with the comedy Friday (1995). He has since directed the films Set It Off (1996), The Negotiator (1998), The Italian Job (2003), Be Cool (2005), Law Abiding Citizen (2009), and Straight Outta Compton (2015). He also directed the eighth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, The Fate of the Furious (2017), which is the 19th-highest-grossing film of all time.[2]

Early lifeEdit

Gray was born in New York City and raised primarily in South Los Angeles. He decided at the age of sixteen that he would become a filmmaker, having discovered a natural talent for the video camera with his AV class in high school.

CareerEdit

Seeking out a step-by-step process, he planned to work a number of years in the film industry as an assistant and hoped to work his first feature by the time he had turned 45. As such, he started working as soon as he left high school, working as a camera operator on programs such as Screen Scene. He also had a bit part in the comedy Major League (1989).[3] He got his first chance to direct with music videos, starting with a video for the hip-hop group WC and the Maad Circle (WC was a former classmate of his). In 1993, he directed the music video for Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day". The video is a literal adaptation of the lyrics. He would go on to direct subsequent videos for Ice Cube, as well as artists such as Cypress Hill, Outkast, Dr. Dre, and Queen Latifah. At age 26,[3] Gray directed his first film, the buddy stoner comedy Friday with rapper-producer Ice Cube (who co-wrote the film based on his experiences in Los Angeles) and Chris Tucker. Next, he directed the film Set It Off, with Jada Pinkett and Queen Latifah. He then directed The Negotiator, which starred Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson while earning Gray both Best Film and Best Director awards at the 1998 Acapulco Film Festival.

Gray directed The Italian Job, a 2003 action-thriller starring Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg. Gray garnered the Best Director award at the 2004 Black American Film Festival for his work on the film, which surpassed the $100 million mark in the domestic box office. His next film was A Man Apart, an action thriller starring Vin Diesel. He would later direct Be Cool, an adaptation of Elmore Leonard's novel of the same name. The John Travolta vehicle was panned by critics but went on to gross over $95 million worldwide.[4]

He then directed the thriller Law Abiding Citizen, starring Jamie Foxx and Gerard Butler and written by Kurt Wimmer. The film grossed over $100 million worldwide. Gray received the Ivan Dixon Award of Achievement from the Black Hollywood Education and Resource Center and was named one of the "50 Best and Brightest African Americans Under 40" by Black Enterprise magazine. He was honored by the African American Film Critics Association with their 2004 Special Achievement Award and was recognized by the Artist Empowerment Coalition with the Artist Empowerment Award that same year. He also received the Pioneer Director award from the Pan-African Film and Arts Festival in 2010.

Gray directed the 2015 drama Straight Outta Compton, a biographical film about the rap group N.W.A. In 2017, Gray directed The Fate of the Furious, the eighth film in the Fast & Furious franchise, which was released on April 14, 2017.[5] Upon release, both films set the record for best opening by a film with a black director[2] and The Fate of the Furious became the first film directed by an African-American to gross over $1 billion worldwide.[6][7] In April 2019, it was revealed that Gray would direct an adaptation of the video game franchise Saints Row, with a screenplay written by Greg Russo.[8] In September 2021, it was announced that he would direct the heist film Lift starring Kevin Hart for Netflix[9]

FilmographyEdit

Feature filmsEdit

Year Title Director Producer
1995 Friday Yes No
1996 Set It Off Yes Executive
1998 The Negotiator Yes No
2003 The Italian Job Yes Executive
A Man Apart Yes No
2005 Be Cool Yes Executive
2009 Law Abiding Citizen Yes No
2015 The Sea of Trees No Yes
Straight Outta Compton Yes Yes
2017 The Fate of the Furious Yes No
2019 Men in Black: International Yes No
TBA Lift Yes No

Cameo roles

Year Title Role
1995 Friday Black man at store
1996 Set It Off Gangster driving lowrider
2009 Law Abiding Citizen Detective with evidence bag
2015 Straight Outta Compton Greg Mack

TelevisionEdit

Year Title Notes
1999 Ryan Caulfield: Year One Episode "Pilot"
2006 Enemies Episode "Pilot"

Music videosEdit

Year Title Artist
1992 "It Was a Good Day" Ice Cube
1993 "Call Me a Mack" Usher
"I Ain't Goin' Out Like That" Cypress Hill
"When the Ship Goes Down"
"Truthful" Heavy D
"Fantastic Voyage" Coolio
1994 "Natural Born Killaz" Dr. Dre
Ice Cube
"Saturday Nite Live" Masta Ace Incorporated
"Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik" OutKast
"Black Hand Side" Queen Latifah
1995 "Keep Their Heads Ringin'" Dr. Dre
"Pretty Girl" Jon B.[10]
"Come On" Barry White
"I Believe in You and Me" Whitney Houston
"Waterfalls" TLC
"Diggin' on You"
1996 "How Come, How Long" Babyface
1999 "If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time" R. Kelly
2000 "Ms. Jackson" OutKast
2004 "Bang Bang Boom" Drag-On
2006 "Show Me What You Got" Jay-Z
2010 "Super High" Rick Ross

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "F. Gary Gray Biography (1969?-)". FilmReference.com. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  2. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (April 17, 2017). "'Fate Of The Furious' To Clock $100M+ Stateside, As Pic Zooms To All-Time $529M+ Global Debut – Sunday AM Update". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 17, 2017.
  3. ^ a b Barker, Andrew (April 5, 2017). "On Eve of 'Fate of the Furious,' F. Gary Gray Celebrates 25 Years of Filmmaking". Variety. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  4. ^ "Be Cool (2005)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved August 6, 2017.
  5. ^ "The Fate of the Furious (2017) - Box Office Mojo".
  6. ^ "Box-Office Milestone: 'Fate of the Furious' Crosses $1B Globally". The Hollywood Reporter. April 30, 2017. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  7. ^ Harris, Dana; Brueggemann, Tom (April 4, 2017). "'The Fate of the Furious': F. Gary Gray is the First African American To Direct a Billion-Dollar Movie". Indiewire.com. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  8. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (April 30, 2019). "F. Gary Gray Developing To Direct Movie Based On Video Game Franchise 'Saints Row' For Fenix, Koch, Occupant". Deadline. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (September 24, 2021). "Kevin Hart Teams With Director F. Gary Gray On 'Lift' At Netflix". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 22, 2021.
  10. ^ ""Pretty Girl" by Jon B." VH1 (Viacom International). September 1, 2004. Archived from the original on May 18, 2015. Retrieved May 9, 2015.

External linksEdit