As an emerging talent in Hollywood, Terron Jones is known for his appearances in the hit shows FBI, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and The Night Of. Behind the scenes, he is a writer, director, and producer known for the short films When it All Falls Down… and Ibrahim. Both were official selections at the American Black Film Festival (ABFF) for the HBO Short Film Competition and Emerging Directors Showcase, respectively. He provides insight on his latest project Cycle and conveys why its meaningful message will resonate with audiences.
Jones’ innovative short film explores gender stereotypes, the effects of living in the current racial climate, and familial obstacles created by generational gaps. “Cycle is a film about a relationship between a Black father and son,” Jones explains. “It explores the complexities within a family and what it means to be a man. The inspiration for the film popped into my thoughts from my subconscious, like most stories that I write. In this case, I knew I wanted to write about fathers and sons.”
Aside from the typical gender-based stereotypes, Black fathers must also combat common misconceptions such as being shiftless and known as the major contributors toward crime in America. The media often presents Black males as hardened criminals more so than bestowers of goodness in society. Despite decades of activism, racism still bleeds into the very fabric of society.
In Cycle, Bobby reflects on the mistakes his father made during his childhood, and these fears are manifested as a dream. Viewers are privy to not only learning about Bobby’s past but also how it would impact his son Ajamu’s life if he chooses to follow the same method of childrearing. During the dream sequence, Bobby still suffers from deep-seated anger and resentment due to past trauma. His tumultuous upbringing has caused him to have an alpha male attitude and survival of the fittest mentality. Because of this, Bobby is unable to effectively communicate with Ajamu and provide the nurturing he needs.
Cycle also addresses issues that arise between a father and son due to the generational gap. Parents reflect on the hardships they’ve experienced while growing up and feel that their children have easier lives. This may appear to be true in some instances, but there are many complexities in which a parent may never have encountered in their youth. In the dream, Bobby navigates through life’s challenges by being a “tough guy” and feels his son should do the same. He’s imparting the poisonous beliefs of his childhood into his son’s life. At the film’s end, he has the wisdom to realize that his fears are unfounded, and he can choose a better approach to parenting.
Sometimes parents believe the path leading to a successful transition from adolescence to adulthood involves having a particular career or lifestyle, which reflects their values. However, success is subjective and comes in many forms when measured by each individuals’ goals or desired way of life. This is a lesson Bobby must learn when Ajamu admits how he despises the plans his father has set in motion for his life.
The short film’s subtle symbolism helps solidify the overall theme and brings everything full circle. The entire dream unfolds in the car and is a metaphor for the lack of progression in their relationship. The car stays parked out front, which symbolizes how the characters are literally and figuratively at a standstill.
When asked about a Black father’s role in providing a childhood free of toxic masculinity for their sons, Jones states, “Vulnerably, there is something powerful about being vulnerable and being able to teach that to their sons. Encourage the youth to be themselves and understand why that is important to them.”
Check out the short film below.