Dustin Lance Black

Dustin Lance Black Headshot

Writer • Director • Producer • Activist

Birth Date: June 10, 1974

Age: 50 years old

Birth Place: Sacramento, California

Director and screenwriter Dustin Lee Black escaped a repressive childhood to explore the reality of gay life in a variety of film projects, including "On the Bus" (2001) and the acclaimed "Milk" (2008). Black found an escape from his strict religious upbringing in theater, which in turn introduced him to film production, where he began his career as a filmmaker with the critically praised "Journey of Jared Price" (2000) and "On the Bus," both of which examined identity and relationships among gay men with sensitivity and skill. He returned to his roots as a writer and co-producer on "Big Love" (HBO, 2006-11) before penning "Milk," a biographical feature on the life of San Francisco politician and activist Harvey Milk, whose life and tragic death inspired generations of gay adults to seek respect and representation for their own lives. The outpouring of praise from critics and award organizations for Black's script was a clear indication that he was soon to enter the top echelon of Hollywood writers.

Born in Sacramento, CA in 1979, Black was raised in a devoutly Mormon military family in San Antonio, TX before relocating to Salinas, CA after his mother's remarriage. The religious and political atmosphere of his early years clashed mightily with his sexuality; Black knew he was gay from an early age, but kept his true nature secret for fear of abuse at the hands of others. As a result, his childhood was a secretive and deeply painful one; reportedly, Black considered suicide during this formative period.

He found solace in the local theater, and delved deeply into every aspect of that world -from acting and technical work to apprenticing with local directors. Black's passion for performance took him to UCLA's School of Theater, Film and Television, from which he graduated with honors. After college, he found work in film production, first as an art director, and later as the director on various commercials and music videos. He made the transition to dramatic feature work in 2000 with "The Journey of Jared Price," an independent drama about a young gay man's sexual awakening which he shot over a period of five days for $30,000. It was followed by a similarly-themed short film "Something Close to Heaven" (2000) and a documentary, "On the Bus" (2001). Originally intended as a six-part reality series for the Digital Entertainment Network, the latter project took its initial premise - a group of six gay men of diverse personalities travel by bus to partake in the hedonism of the Burning Man festival - and inverted its exploitative elements to become an incisive commentary on gay stereotypes. Critically acclaimed by gay and straight press alike, "On the Bus" helped to put Black on the map as a filmmaker.

In 2003, Black produced and directed "My Life with Count Dracula," a documentary about Dr. Donald Reed, a horror movie fan whose dedication to the genre led to the creation of the Academy of Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror Film, as well as the Saturn Awards. The gentle biopic, which examined Reed's contributions to fantasy filmmaking as well as the financial toll it took on his life, further increased Black's profile as a documentary filmmaker and led to work as a producer and director on the BBC series "Faking It" (Channel 4, 2000-03, 2006). The program - a combination of game show and reality series - followed individuals as they were trained in a job completely outside of their day-to-day existence, after which they were judged alongside professionals in their new line of work by a panel who tried to determine who the "faker" in the group was. A popular and award-winning series in the UK, it led to several spin-offs, including an American version for The Learning Channel in 2003.

Black returned to the United States in 2004 to join the production team of HBO's "Big Love," which concerned a polygamous Mormon family and the conflicts their lifestyle incurred with the outside world. Black served as writer, co-producer and executive story editor for the show, and was also the sole Mormon in its creative team. While working on "Big Love," Black began researching the life of San Francisco city supervisor and gay activist Harvey Milk, who was gunned down by a co-worker in 1978. After meeting with friends and colleagues of Milk, he began penning a script based on events in Milk's personal and private life; the completed script eventually made its way to friend and producer Dan Jinks and director Gus Van Sant, who signed on to direct "Milk" (2008). Praised by nearly every press outlet during its theatrical release, the film went on to net several major award nominations, including an Oscar win for Best Original Screenplay for Black. Also in 2008, his penned biopic "Pedro" received limited release, detailing the life of AIDS activist and "Real World" (MTV, 1992- ) contestant Pedro Zamora. Directed by Nick Oceana, the film premiered at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.

Credits

RustinStream

Screenwriter
Movie
2023
83%

Mama's BoyStream

Self
Movie
2022
86%

Under the Banner of HeavenStream

Creator
Series
2022
86%

Under the Banner of HeavenStream

Director
Series
2022
86%

Under the Banner of HeavenStream

Executive Producer
Series
2022
86%

Under the Banner of HeavenStream

Story
Series
2022
86%

Under the Banner of HeavenStream

Writer
Series
2022
86%

The Big Scottish Book Club

Guest
Show
2019

L'étincelle, une histoire des luttes LGBT+

Self
Show
2019

The Sara Cox Show

Guest
Show
2019

Today 3rd Hour

Guest
Show
2018

When We RiseStream

Director
Miniseries
2017
82%

When We RiseStream

Executive Producer
Miniseries
2017
82%

When We RiseStream

Writer
Miniseries
2017
82%

Vice Guide to Film

Actor
Show
2016

Prophet's Prey

Executive Producer
Movie
2015

Late Night With Seth MeyersStream

Guest
Talk
2014

A World of Dreams: Voices From the Out 100

Actor
Show
2013

Gogglebox

Self
Show
2013

J. EdgarStream

Screenwriter
Movie
2011
43%

8: The Mormon Proposition

Narrator
Movie
2010

Virginia

Director
Movie
2010

Virginia

Screenwriter
Movie
2010

MilkStream

Executive Producer
Movie
2008
93%

MilkStream

Writer
Movie
2008
93%

Pedro

Screenwriter
Movie
2008

Big LoveStream

Writer
Series
2006
80%

My Life With Count Dracula

Director
Show
2003

Focus

Guest
Show
2001

On the Bus

Director
Movie
2001

On the Bus

Film Editor
Movie
2001

On the Bus

Producer
Movie
2001

On the Bus

Self
Movie
2001

The Journey of Jared Price

Director
Movie
2000

The Journey of Jared Price

Writer
Movie
2000

Good Morning America

Guest
News
1975

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