John Singleton exploded onto the film scene in 1991 with "Boyz N the Hood," a hard-edged movie about life among a group of friends in South-Central Los Angeles. He became not only the youngest director ever nominated for a best director Oscar but also the first African American.
That first film remains his most heralded so far--he went on to make "Poetic Justice" with Janet Jackson; "Higher Learning" with Laurence Fishburne, Ice Cube and Tyra Banks; the historical drama "Rosewood" with Ving Rhames and Jon Voight; and a sequel to "Shaft" with Samuel L. Jackson.
His new film, "Baby Boy," marks a return to South-Central for Singleton. It stars Tyrese Gibson (in a role written for the late Tupac Shakur), Rhames and Snoop Dogg.
DESKTOP: I have a Mac G4 that I call my mainframe. I keep stuff on it going back 13, 14 years ago to papers I wrote in college. I have the first treatment for "Boyz N the Hood" on there.
Q. Do you have any video editing software on the computer?
I have Final Cut, but I have yet to use it--just no time for it. I do hook my computer up to the Sony Handycam I got last year for home movies. I watch them on the computer, but that's about it.
I have the camera with me just about wherever I go. I love it. Whenever I see something interesting, I just start filming. I captured Tyrese acting silly on the press junket for the film, my daughter playing basketball at the park, that kind of thing.
Q. Do you think you will be shooting a feature in digital video in the future?
I don't know. The main problem with digital video is that it does not have the flaws that film has. In digital, everything is crystal-clear; there is no depth of field. It's not the way we process information. It takes away some of the choices we have as filmmakers.
LAPTOP: The G4 PowerBook, but I am getting the new titanium one in about a week. When I'm on the road, I do my writing on it.
HAND-HELD: I have the Palm IV, but I haven't used it much. If I want to e-mail someone, I use my Motorola Timeport two-way pager with its little keyboard. It's just so compact.
Q. Have you had trouble using it in any parts of the country?
Never. I was even using it in Mexico City to send e-mail.
BOOKMARKED SITES: I was adamant about the design of the "Baby Boy" site [http://www.sony.com/babyboy], that it get the overall vibe of the film. I wanted it to have continuous music--something like a streaming radio station--with 100 songs from or inspired by the movie so that every time you go to the site, it will also have different music.
I also wanted it to look different--the color of it changes according to the time of day. I wanted it to feel like going to South-Central when you went to the site.
Q. Did you make the choices of the music and images?
Yeah. Anything that has to do with my movie, I get involved in. This is the most elaborate site I've ever done.
Q. Did you get involved with the actual construction of the site?
No, that's not my job. One thing I wanted was that it could be used by people who did not have DSL, cable modems or some other kind of broadband. I wanted to make sure that people with regular modems could also hear the music.
Q. In addition to your movie sites, what sites do you visit often?
I read Variety [http://www.variety.com] and the Hollywood Reporter [http://www.hollywoodreporter.com] every day online.
Q. It's a little surprising to hear that from an independent filmmaker.
I am still working in Hollywood, so it's important to stay informed. I also read the Ain't It Cool News site [an irreverent look at the movie business at http://www.aint-it-cool-news.com], and I look at Food and Wine [http://www.foodandwine.com] because I cook.
Q. Do you use the Web to research your movies?
No. I just go out and talk to folks.
SCREEN SAVER: It's a digital picture of my daughter and I. I have been taking digital pictures since 1994. I use a Nikon 990 and shoot with it all the time. Sometimes, I use it to take pictures of possible locations.
CELL PHONE: I rely on it a lot. It's a Nokia, one of the very small ones.
FAVORITE TECH TOY: I have a PlayStation 2. I like to play "Army Men: Sarge's Heroes," "Star Wars Starfighter" and "Onimusha."
But my favorite tech device is my Timeport pager for sending e-mail from wherever I am.
Q. Why not just use your cell phone to make a call?
I would rather use e-mail when I can because you just say what you want to say and move on--there's nothing long-winded about it. This device makes it easy to send e-mail any time. Just now I sent some while I was talking with you.
Q. Who did you send it to?
A guy I know at FUBU, the clothing company.
HOME THEATER: I have a screening room at my office for film. At home, I have a setup with digital satellite, home THX sound. Everybody on the block can hear my setup.
--As told to DAVID COLKER