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Entries in Documentaries (20)

Sunday
Dec292013

Sunday Synopsis - The Gift from Steve Jobs and an Actor's Call of Duty

Earlier this month, I imposed a challenge on myself to create 30 videos in 30 days, leading up to the World Premiere of "ABYSS: The Greatest Proposal Ever" (or TGPE, as I will be referring to it as from time to time). These videos are part of my YouTube webseries "30 Days - The Making of ABYSS: The Greatest Proposal Ever" -- a collection of mini documentaries chronicling the making of the project, with many behind-the-scenes images, interviews and footage clips not shown until now.

The point of it all is to help build more buzz for the January 15th screening and also re-launch my YouTube channel since I've neglected it for a long time. 

After starting this challenge, however, I soon realized that some major techinical limitations would make it very difficult to produce them on a daily basis. Now, I'm planning to make and post them in batches, to figure out if that can help make the process less stressful and the web series project more likely to be completed. While the first episode serves as a quasi-trailer, here are the second and fourth episodes about how Steve Jobs simplified our workdays as well as why actor Rodney Benson answered to the call of duty for participating in this movie. 

Episode 2 - The Gift from Steve Jobs, or What the iPad 2 Taught Cast & Crew about Multitasking:

Episode 4 - Why actor Rodney Benson took on the Call of Duty

Boy, it seems like year flew by so fast. Tell me this...

What are YOUR plans for New Year's?

*Those of you who are on Twitter -- if you feel like sharing this post or the links to these videos or commenting on them via a tweet, please use the hashtags: #TGPE #30DAYS #ABYSSMOVIE #GreatestProposalEver 


 

Sunday
Jun092013

The Woman who Made ‘Player Hating: A Love Story’ – A Prelude #indiefilm

In an upcoming interview that’s long overdue, I will be introducing you to Maggie Hadleigh-West, a film director who took several leaps of faith to capture the kind of stories that are not seen on your local morning (or evening) TV news shows.

 

Embarking on the documentary “Player Hating: A Love Story,” about a young hip-hop artist who has a record deal and plans to use his debut album as his ticket out of the projects, she risked her safety – and that of her interview subjects – to highlight the grim realities that some of us are privileged to not having ever experienced in our lifetimes.

On Maggie’s first day of production at the Brownsville Housing Projects, some neighborhood teenagers robbed her film crew – stealing their equipment and almost blowing her cameraman’s brains out with a 9mm pistol. When the rapper she was working with dropped out for safety reasons, her search for a new main character of the film led to the Albany Projects in the Crown Heights neighborhood, where lyricist Half-a-Mill (who was managed by a former NYPD detective) became the subject of this movie. Half’s protection by Brooklyn Bloods also extended to Maggie but she eventually obtained her own security while filming the rest of “Player Hating: A Love Story.”

Blood Sport, one of the founding members of the Crown Heights Chapter of the Brooklyn Bloods, was among Half’s many associates that Maggie came to know while making her movie. He lost his mother to homicide after she was raped and then thrown off of a building.

While many of us do not know what it’s like to lose a friend or loved one to such violent deaths, we all share the common grief and possibly even anger that accompanies the loss of anyone closest to us. We also know what it’s like to feel abandoned or less important to the entities that are supposed to serve and protect our communities. Yet, there is very little concern for the fires, gas leaks, missing persons and homicides that go unnoticed in the media headlines nationwide – probably due to a mentality of people not having to “deal” with the troubles that are present in what has become a melting pot for fear and hopelessness.

I have no idea how one would go about exploring, and even attempt to address, all of the issues that plague the poverty stricken areas of our nation but I’ve wondered -- how does a filmmaker -- any filmmaker -- literally put herself or himself in harm’s way for a labor of love that focuses on day-to-day realities that a lot of people prefer to avoid and/or even refuse to acknowledge? Maggie’s experiences in making “Player Hating: A Love Story” is just one example of the lengths that many filmmakers are willing to go to bring their work to fruition.  

As I try to scream and throw my hands up to rid the stress of finishing my own movie, I hope – for the sake of every filmmakers’ sanity and health, no matter where they are in the world -- it’s all worth the hassles in the end. Maggie is one of the filmmakers whose work is a reminder that some of the challenges that we face are not as bad as they seem to us at the moment. I mean, if you aren’t in a workplace or situation where it’s likely you will be shot at any given time (as Maggie and her associates were while making this movie), then chances are you’re doing just fine.

Stay tuned for an interview with one of the most daring women directors of our time!

*Also, tomorrow’s Monday Movie Meme will be posted in the evening.

Saturday
Dec012012

‘I’m Fine, Thanks’ in a Nutshell -- Extended Edition #indiefilm 

Grant Peelle's directorial debut “I’m Fine, Thanks” is a fast paced documentary produced by Adam Baker, with a catchy soundtrack.

"I'm Fine, Thanks" DVD and Poster BundleIts bright, crisp and welcoming scenes are uplifting amidst tales of self-doubt, panic attacks, deteriorated health and most importantly -- longing. The subjects are longing for the day when it feels good to get out of bed in the morning; to live a fulfilled life, whatever that looks like.

Through home video footage, interviews with people who each have a different definition of the American Dream, clips of his crew and narrated tours of a cross-country road trip to end complacency, Peelle makes it clear that “the day” to finally go after a dream never comes to those who just sit back in their rut and wait for it to arrive. The day to live a dream is today. The time is now. “I’m Fine, Thanks” blends humor, adventure and sometimes tragic reality checks that illustrate one thing - being fine is a miserable way to live.

No one has to bathe his or her brain in caffeine just to tolerate a job that he or she hates. No one has to work so many hours that he or she develops a hole in the intestine after sleepwalking for days on end while ones’ immune system plummets. It is heartbreaking -- alarming even, to climb a ladder, reach the top and then realize that you have it leaned up against the wrong wall. Realizing that you don’t even know what the right wall is, however, is even scarier. Continuing on paths that disappoint you is one way to guarantee that it will never be found.

Actresses Virginia Wilcox, Claire Kennedy-Vega and I at the East Coast Premiere of "I'm Fine, Thanks." Photo by Dave LaTulippe; Courtesy of Grant Peelle.

When people follow their dreams and live a life that is in alignment with who they are, they don’t answer the question “How are you?” with “I’m Fine, Thanks.” They respond with “I’m fucking great! Never been better. How about you?” 

 

 

I don't know about anyone else, but that's the kind of response that I'd like to make more often than not. It beats the alternative!

 

What started as my attempt at writing a short review turned into this extended assessment. So, it looks like there will be two review series from now on at this blog: short reviews such as the one on “Blitz” and not-so-short ones such as the one on “Player Hating: A Love Story.”