From Dana's Guests

Clifton Bell

Clifton Bell aka ghettonerd is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina. He attended North Carolina School of the Arts School of Filmmaking. During his four-year study, he was inducted into the elite directing program and graduated with a BFA in Filmmaking. He currently resides in New York City as an active producer, director and editor for his production company ghettonerd filmworks. His current body of music video work includes "Guess Who Loves You More" by Raheem DeVaughn / Jive Records, "Gotta Go - The Remix" by Trey Songz / Atlantic Records - "Mind On The Road" by Rev Run / Island Def Jam as well as "Sista Big Bones" by Anthony Hamilton / Arista Records. All four music videos were in steady rotation in the domestic and international markets on MTV, BET, Fuse and other popular video outlets. More importantly these videos have been a proven asset for record labels, which in turn has helped propel Clifton's career from an independent to major label status. Clifton has also developed, directed and edited EPK's for established artist such as Trey Songz / Atlantic Records and Anthony Hamilton / Arista Records. As a writer Clifton is developing commercial campaigns for Def Jam, Phat Farm and Sprite featuring 50 cent and the G-Unit. He is also writing music video treatments for various artists on Universal Music Group, Virgin Records, Def Jam, Jive Records, Atlantic Records, J Records and Koch Records for upcoming productions. With a bona fide skill set, supported by drive, initiative and dedication, Clifton is a force to be reckoned with!
Clifton Bell

If You Think You Can

Clifton Bell reminds me of that guy we all went to high school with; the guy who everybody likes and the one who everybody always speaks well of. The fact that Clifton has been able to successfully break into the film industry is not surprising - after all, he's the guy that everybody likes. But take a closer look and you'll see that there is a definite method to his madness and a science to his art.

Clifton Bell understands what it takes to make it and he is unwilling to waste time or squander opportunity and that is just one of the reasons why people speak well of him today.

As told to Dana:

I grew up in Charlotte North Carolina and I got the bug for filmmaking when I was in sixth grade. When I was in seventh grade I saw Spike Lee's School Daze and I told my Mom that I knew that whatever happened, I had to be a filmmaker.

In my family, growing up, I was always the guy with the camera filming.

Whenever I had an opportunity to do a visual project or a video presentation for class, I would do it, and it would always come together like - MAGIC. One particular project that I did was really well received. The teachers passed my film around the entire school and there was this buzz about my short film that I had done based on the book The Crucible. That is when I thought that I might have what it takes.

I wanted to go to film school; I wanted to go to NYU but we couldn't afford that. Because my second love was civil engineering -- I wanted to design railroads and highways, my mother got me into an engineering program where I studied how to build bridges. But, in the back of my mind I still wanted to be a filmmaker, I just didn't know how to go about doing that.

I ended up getting into North Carolina A & T SU, an historically Black University. This was my first experience in an all black learning institution. It was a great experience for me. It helped me to understand my culture, my history and my people. A year later, I entered North Carolina School of the Arts - School of Film Making. In film school I ended up being the only Black student in my class. In the beginning, I knew nothing about film language or technique going in but I studied very hard I graduated as one of the top students in my class.

From there I started saving up my money so that I could move to New York and pursue a serious film career. A month before I moved to New York, Spike Lee was in Charlotte directing The Kings of Comedy. I met him, met his crew and one of his producers. I told him what I was trying to do. He told me to call him when I get to New York.

I saved up my money, rented a U-haul -- I had a big jar of change that paid for the gas and all of the tolls, and I headed to New York City.

When I got there, I started off the bat working as a production Assistant for Spike but I kept wondering when my big transition was going to take place.

About a year later I moved my wife, Jevonne to New York. I always wanted for her to be in a position where she didn't have to work. Because of that, I told myself that:

"The next job that I work I will be in the director's chair and I will be doing the hiring".

A year later, videos started coming to me and other opportunities and I haven't had to look back.

Networking has allowed me to do the jobs that I want to do.

I got a contract working for Bishop E Bernard Jordan and I did a music video for a North Carolina artist and that gave me the confidence to believe in myself. I started to believe that I could work for myself. As a result, all of my work has come without an agent or any other kind of representative.

From there, because of my work with Bishop Jordan and my relationship with Rev Run I got my first really big opportunity in the music video world. Rev Run approached me to direct his next video. He told me that he had a $230,000 budget. Up until that time my budgets were more like $20,000, $50,000…that was a big budget to me.

I have really been blessed, coming from nothing and creating a platform for myself

I am persistent.

Still from music video "Mind On The Road" co-directed with rap legend Rev Run.

I am very persistent about building relationships at every level. What happened with the Anthony Hamilton video over at Jive records -

I had been sitting around Anthony and his camp for about a year. Then, there was another up and coming solo artist whose management team I had been talking to, during that same year, and another artist at Jive and I had been talking to his management team too. Eventually, all the decision makers, regarding who is going to shoot the video, started calling me. They all wanted to meet me because -

here there were, three different camps that were talking about wanting to use me, all at the same time.

That kind of persistence has gotten me very far.

When I look at my entire life --

I am happiest about my kids. I love my kids. I love kids and I try to look out for young people.

I went home to Charlotte recently and I had this kid tell me that he really wanted to get into music. I told him that he was already in music because he was thinking about it. I told him that he just needs to figure out how to make it happen.

If you are thinking about, you are already in it!

You just have to figure out what the next steps are to get you there.


It is amazing how much information is right at your fingertips.

I was so hungry and so I just grabbed a camera. I shot something, anything even though I didn't know the language. I tell kids to just push, push, push and have faith; true faith in yourself and in your abilities.

If I tell myself something enough times, eventually I will believe it. Whatever you say will happen, will happen. If you say it is going to happen then believe it is done. That is not always easy to do. We all doubt ourselves sometimes.

Ultimately, I just want to sit in the director's chair and tell stories that entertain, motivate and uplift people.

My mentor is Bishop E. Bernard Jordan and he shared a quote with me recently:

"Whoever controls the image, controls the destiny of the people."

That sticks with me. Whatever I put on a screen has the power to really effect people. In today's world images are so powerful and we have to be responsible for that. If my five year old son can't look at my work than I feel like I am not doing what I am supposed to be doing. I want my mother to be able to look at my work and be proud of it.

I was talking to Rev Run last night about life and about what I want my legacy to be -- we were talking about the legacy that Russell {Simmons} is leaving with his philanthropic work -- What is important to me is the legacy that I leave with my family. It is important to me that my children's children can say that I provided a platform that allows them to build something even bigger for themselves.

One last thing:

If you can't get up in the morning and look at yourself in the mirror and be honest -

You should go back to bed.


Clifton Bell is currently developing his first feature film, for ghettonerd filmworks, starring Anthony Hamilton & Monique! ghettonerd music™ Presents Inferno Blaze - MADE MAN - 2007 Eddie Fontane - THE MOTION PICTURE - 2007 Tour de Force THE ALBUM -2007. ghettonerd apparel™ Presents ghettonerd gear™ SKATE EDITION - 2007 THINK RICH™

Visit to learn more about Clifton Bell as a director/filmmaker and his work including music videos, stills, and more.

Head back to the top.