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Lead Never Follow

This documentary follows the life of Chicago living legend Corey Gilkey, the ultimate, uncensored mentor and behind-the-scenes rainmaker in the fashion industry and retail business. Opening up doors for many well-known creators such as Chance The Rapper, Hebru Brantley. Vic Mensa, Fashion Geek Zo, Vic Loyd of Fat Tiger, etc. Corey's vision led to inspiring others to build their own empires that stand today.

  • Joshua Johnson
  • Joshua Johnson
  • Joshua Johnson
  • Veronica Peterson
  • Corey Gilkey
  • Corey Gilkey
    Key Cast
  • Freeland Payne
    Key Cast
  • Keeland Payne
    Key Cast
  • Clint Payne
    Key Cast
  • Alonzo Jackson
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Short
  • Genres:
  • Runtime:
    10 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    April 25, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    3,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Sony FS7
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Joshua Johnson

Joshua Johnson is a serial creator and entrepreneur from Chicago. When people ask him what he does, his response is I'm a creator. From music executive creating music with Gucci Mane to a successful interior designer to creating successful apps. Joshua doesn't let society box him in on his vision for creating art. His forwarding thinking and ambition have led him to work with some legends in certain industries that created lifelong art and friendships.

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Director Statement

It was an honor to be granted the right to tell the story of living legends in Chicago. This type of story has been told from New York, Los Angeles, but never from Chicago. Chicago is the heart of culture in fashion, music, and creativity. Corey Gilkey is a pioneer in creating a new path for black entrepreneurs and creatives to enter the fashion world.

One of the things I felt strongly about making Lead Never Follow is that I wanted this film to have its own language, both tonally and structurally. I did not want the film to be too straight forward because many films are informative but do not really provide an experience. I wanted to make a film that allowed audiences to feel what I felt when I first heard Corey's story — the tremendous strength, vitality and loyalty that these individuals had for each other and thier future.

It was important to me that the audience not only get excited but also angry during the watching of this film, or to be so torn up that they shut down and stopped listening. So the balancing between the devastation of what these men had suffered and the incredible force of hope and joy that they embodied was something I wanted to showcase. The shifting tones between pathos, humor, irreverence, and joy were something I strived for, trying to keep the film visceral and surprising in its emotion and arc.

To this end, I used all sorts of methods and found myself being very creative and free in post-production. I tried to create a feeling of nostalgia, including visuals that will help bring the story to life as if you were there. I worked a lot with sound and music and the interaction of these elements. Each character had its own identity and energy that you will want more of. I tried to give enough history but not too much, and I questioned myself constantly in this regard. This was a real challenge and I hope an audience finds it satisfying but this lacing of elements and tonal shifts was very important to me. I want the audience to embody the title
Lead Never Follow!