Elliott Gilbert is nominally a producer at Adam and Elliott Moving Pictures, in which he’s partnered with longtime best friend Adam Dietrich. Gilbert’s range of talents and abilities is wide and deep – whether he’s on stage, adapting original works from play to film, shooting commercials or performing improv on a street corner in Barcelona, Gilbert’s flexibility and talent have created a range of opportunities.
Tell us about your background.
"My family is very into education so it was important that I finish my degree. [After graduating from Arlington’s Martin High School,] I attended Southern Methodist University. There were five of us who got scholarships – we were “The fab five" and we were fish out of water. Life was a little wild. I lived in Barcelona for a year with friends. We acted and wrote poetry. Then, I got married, came back and obtained a BFA in Film and Video Production from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2013. I started moving away from being in front and to be behind the camera."
What did university teach you?
"I had to learn the politics of business and the politics of art. When you’re young and naïve you think if you do your best and work hard you’re going to succeed, but that’s not always the case. People make decisions based on other factors that have no bearing on how “good” you are. I was cast in a main-stage show freshman year and a week after the cast list was posted, the heads of department sat me down, told me how great I was, but a senior was graduating and 'we need him to take that lead to help him on his journey.' It was a shocker at the time."
Martin High School is a powerhouse in the arts. You've worked with Director Larry Cure who opened Martin Theatre.
"He (Cure) was like Mr. Holland’s Opus and Dead Poets Society. He taught us how to dream big and take chances. Adam and I are working on a script based on life at Martin Theatre. I still feel some of that energy. Those things that we did at an early age still fuel us."
Tell us about your time on the set of Fort Worth-based film production of Miss Juneteenth.
"Channing [Godfrey Peoples] was amazing. I have been in an all-Black theatre troupe but I had never worked on a crew where the director was a Black woman and the producer, DP and sound guy were Black as well. I’ve never worked in a place where people of color and women were in charge of making decisions. I’ve always been the weirdo. I was the one who played football and also did theatre. Sometimes I’m the only Black guy in the room. It was a special moment and you have to hold onto moments like those in your heart."
You were Prop Master for the film. How does that differ from producer?
"Prop Master is a lot about finding things that are not easy to find. It’s finding the guy who has the thing or the guy who could repair the thing that nobody knew how to fix. Theatre is a lot of ensemble work. Everyone has to come together. I try to use that in whatever role I take."
Tell us about Legends and Legacies, a documentary about Fort Worth’s finest Black leaders.
"That was fun because I got to learn more about the Black community in Fort Worth. Adam lives there and knows more about Fort Worth than I do. It was amazing learning about I.M. Terrell and Evans Plaza, and the doctors and business owners that came out of that area."
You also shot a video with Opal Lee for Visit Fort Worth.
"Yes, for the Hospitality Award. Ms. Opal never slows down. There’s always something to do, someone to help. You get leery and life throws you curveballs but you keep going. She’s still going. Seeing her makes me feel like we’re on the right path."
[Conversation edited for clarity.]