Four Brothers (2005): director
Hustle & Flow (2005): producer
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003): director
Shaft (2000): writer-director-producer
Higher Learning (1995): writer-director-producer
Boyz N The Hood (1991): writer-director

John Singleton is best known, of course, as the writer-director of such films as Boyz N The Hood, his powerful 1991 debut about West Coast gang life, and Shaft, his 2000 take on a 1970s blaxploitation classic.

Lately, though, the Los Angeles-born multi-hyphenate has been busiest as a producer, most recently on protege Craig Brewer's Black Snake Moan. Singleton and Stephanie Allan produced writer-director Brewer's award-winning breakthrough Hustle & Flow, and reprised their roles on Black Snake Moan, which premiered last month at Sundance.

The provocative tale of a God-fearing black bluesman (played by Singleton's Shaft star Samuel L Jackson) and the white town tramp (Christina Ricci) struck its producer as being a bigger challenge than Hustle & Flow.

"The story was great but it brought out all these different things in people reading the script," Singleton recalls. "Some said, 'It's incredible,' others were like, 'Oh no, you can't make this.'"

The important thing, he stresses, is that in the end the project was made - by Paramount Vantage - without compromising Brewer's vision.

With Black Snake in the bag - it opens in North America through Paramount Classics on February 23 before rolling out to the rest of the world through Paramount Pictures International - Singleton is now turning his attention to other ventures. And while he decides on his next directing project (he has been linked to Marvel's black superhero movie Luke Cage) it is once again producing that is keeping him busy.

He and Allan are planning to produce Brewer's next film, Maggie Lynn, for Paramount. In the meantime, he has Latino crime drama Illegal Tender to steer to a conclusion. Directed by Franc Reyes (Empire), it is the first project made under a pact Singleton's New Deal Productions signed last year with Universal, which will release the film domestically this summer.

The arrangement, under which New Deal will finance and produce five projects, gives Singleton the kind of autonomy any hyphenate would envy. And it allows him to help up-and-coming film-makers deliver the streetwise, multi-ethnic movies he favours.

"For me," says the writer-director-producer, "it's about making the hot shit, as they say on the street. The movies that we - me and my friends like Craig Brewer - make are only really different in that they have a multi-ethnic component to them. It's not necessarily urban, it's the fact they have so much flavour."

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