Just two weeks ago Rick Famuyiwa was selling Air Jordans at the Beverly Hills Niketown store. Now the 24-year-old USC Film School grad from Inglewood has a deal with MTV Films as writer and director of his script "The Wood," an African American coming-of-age story flashing back to his hometown in the '80s, developed through the Sundance Institute's screenwriters and directors labs. Goodbye, day job.

RIGHT TIME: "The stuff I wrote in 'The Wood' is the same kind of stuff I'd written before, which I guess two years ago no one felt was profitable. But with 'Waiting to Exhale' and 'Soul Food' making money, I guess the timing was good now."

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: "It's a universal script, not something that alienates the audience where you say, 'That takes place in that part of town, not my part of town.' A lot of people were able to read this and look at their own childhood experiences, and this just happens to be in Inglewood."

HE'LL NEVER LAST: "I'm from the school that believes the director drives the vision, but everybody involved in the film has a creative input in what makes it a success or failure. I don't really believe in the 'my way or the highway' philosophy."

IT'S THE SHOES: "I was working at Niketown and flooded with treatments and scripts after that article about me [in the Los Angeles Times Magazine last spring]. People would come into the store saying, 'Can you help me get this made?' I'm going, 'Can't you see I'm selling shoes here?' "

SCREENING ROOM: "Like everyone I'm waiting for the 'Star Wars' prequel. 'Star Wars' was the first movie I saw. But the rest of upcoming films is just mix-and-match stars--Bruce Willis or Arnold or whoever, you can put them in any of these films and everyone will be happy as long as you have digital sound."

INSPIRATION: "The one film to start with would have to be 'The Godfather,' if you want to know about filmmaking, about American society, about the '20s to the present."

CLOTHESHORSE: "I sit here saying, 'I never thought I'd be sitting in a room talking with suits.' I'm actually here [at MTV's offices] in my jeans and North Carolina gear. If you see me wearing a suit, pull me aside and hack it off me."

FILM BUSINESS: "At the end of the day everyone wants to make money, and hopefully we can make art at the same time, which is where I hope to fit in--where you can make money without blowing up 18 square miles of the city. You can make money with a wide variety of films."

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