Van Peebles began writing about his experiences as a cable car driver. What evolved from an initially small article and a series of photographs was Van Peebles’ first book, The Big Heart.
One day, a passenger suggested that Van Peebles should become a filmmaker. He shot his first short film, Pickup Men for Herrick, in 1957. He made two more short films during the same period. According to Van Peebles, “I thought they were features. Each one turned out to be eleven minutes long. I was trying to do features. I knew nothing.” As Van Peebles learned more about the filmmaking process, he found out that “I could make a feature for five hundred dollars. That was the cost of ninety minutes of film. I didn’t know a thing about shooting a film sixteen to one or ten to one or none of that shit. Then I forgot you had to develop film. And I didn’t know you needed a work print. All I can say is that after I did one thing he would say, ‘Well, aren’t you gonna put sound on it?’ and I would go… read more