Meet Travis Donald “Director Smallz” Grambling Graduate to Release New Film “Rise” This Fall

 Travis Donald “ Director Smallz”, 26, film production student, of New Orleans, follows dream of winning Oscar by releasing one short film at a time!


Director Travis Donald “Director Smallz” fell in love with film at the tender age of 10, after watching Spike Lee’s “Crooklyn” and has been making films ever since. After high-school, Donald went on to attend Grambling State University where he majored in Mass Communication and studied film under the phenomenal Mr. Alan Blakeney. While studying for his undergraduate degree, Director Smallz managed to travel to Cannes, France with The Creative Mind Film Group for the Festival De Cannes. There he creates a short film entitled “Small Talk.” This opportunity would soon put Donald on the fast track to success in the Film industry. Since Cannes, Donald has gone on to direct, write and produce many other shorts films including his first docu-series “A Mother’s Cry,” which is set to debut November 2017. Donald now attends The New York Film Academy in Burbank, CA where he is currently getting his Master’s in Fine Arts.


1) When did you first become interested in directing and film?

A) Film has always been a passion of mine ever since I was small, it’s just breath taking how you can take something through three stages (Idea, Script, Film) and make a story that people in this world can relate to.

2) What interests you about both of them?

A) The interesting thing about film is that you can be who you want. For example, you can sit down and write a film about people in poverty and through research you would actually have to live that life to get the full understanding of that lifestyle, so that’s pretty interesting for me.

3) What was the first film you created?

A) The first notable film I created was “Small Talk” in 2013, it premiered in the Creative Mind Film Group at The Cannes Film Festival in France.

4) How did receiving an education at Grambling State University help you prepare for following your dream of becoming a director?

A) Grambling State University really helped mold me into a Director with the non-stop work of my professors and the entire newsroom staff with Ms. Wanda Peters. My hat really goes off to Mr. Alan Blakaney “Mr. B” in the Television Center, what he does with the students in there is really outstanding, being in the T.V center really made me understand that anything is within reach if you’re willing to put the work in.

5) You have a film coming out in the fall entitled “Rise” tell me a little bit about that film?

A) RISE  is a breath of fresh air for the community, often times we as people judge other people’s situations without knowing the entire story or background and that’s horrible. This movie highlights that exact problem but in a different way, form and perspective.

6.) Who were some of the others involved in creating this film and what was it like working with them?

A) For this film on the creative side it was really all me from start to finish but as far as the process of the film, a few of my professors from The New York Film Academy played a huge part in helping me iron out the script of un-needed materials and making sure that the locations and permits were all in tack, so that the shoot ran smoothly.

7) Creating “RISE” did not happen overnight, it took long hours of hard work. What advice could you give to other young person’s pursuing to take a step in the film industry?

A) Make the film, make the mistakes and learn from them, a young person has to understand that the film industry is a self-motivated field and it will only go as far as you let it, so don’t be afraid of failing just get up wipe yourself off and keep it pushing. Failure will always be your best teacher.

8) Speaking of the hard work it took to create “RISE“, exactly how long did it take to create?

A) RISE  has been in the making for just about a year now including pre-production.

9) While creating the film, is there anything you wish you would have gotten to include or take out that you couldn’t or just did not?

A) Yes, I wanted to give ‘RISE’ an urban feel so I film on one of the busiest streets in Los Angeles and for that reason the captured sound on set was horrible, so we had to spend extra hours in the ADR booth in order to redo the sound and make it film ready. NEVER AGAIN. Also, I wish I was able to work with my production team (Fast4Productions) so that they could have gained a better understanding on what we as a team can/can’t do. But due to my partners (Jordan Gaither & Gleron Flemming) having prior endeavors it couldn’t happen.

10) Why do you think “RISE” will be the best movie released this fall?

A) RISE  will be the best movie released this fall simply because of the message that comes behind it, many films are made just to be made but RISE has a clear cut message about the people that live in this world and how your judgment of a person can really harm them, including the power a conversation holds.

Keep striving for greatness and breaking down walls that stand in your way and remember. “Failure will always be your best teacher. – Travis Donald “Director Smallz” –


Social Media: @directorsmallz


E'Vonne Gipson60 Posts

Follow E'Vonne: Instagram: @forever_evonne Twitter: @EVonneGipson SC: @byevonnegipson E'Vonne Gipson is an award winning journalist from Missouri City, TX. She is a graduate of Grambling State University where she received a B.A. degree in Mass Communication with a concentration in journalism and public relations. Gipson has written for several publications including Sheen Magazine, HBCU Buzz, The Black Beat, The News-Star, The Ruston Daily Leader,, and Houston Style Magazine. She is a former business reporting intern at Abilene Reporter-News in Abilene, TX and a current social media intern for MC Lyte's Hip Hop Sisters Network. She first began her journalism career writing for her school's newspaper "The Gramblinite". In 2016, Gipson worked with the Web Department at Houston television station, KHOU-11 TV where she gained professional photography and social media skills. Gipson is currently a producer at USA Today Network newspaper, The News-Star in Monroe. She is a member of The National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ), Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.


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