Docket 32357 will be a part of the 2013 lineup for the Phoenix Film Festival, which will take place April 4th through the 11th. We are really excited to be a part of the Prime Shorts Showcase, which is a category representing "strong films that were notable, recognized and handpicked by our festival leadership." This is festival selection number 15 and I'm excited that the film continues to gain exposure while playing in cities in the country I have never had a film play in. I'm gonna try my best to make it to this festival so there is the potential for some blogging coverage of the event. Congrats to the cast and crew on yet another accomplishment.
So I just finished watching the inauguration for President Obama's second term. I generally want to stay away from political discourse on this blog and site for pretty obvious reasons and I will try my best to stay under those guidelines with this post. Naturally, in the days of social media, we all have the opportunity to post our opinions and feelings on landmark moments like the one we witnessed today. It were these comments that inspired me to write this post and not the actual ceremony. I have an anecdote if you will indulge me. About a month ago, I was walking with Eljon and on the corner of Kenmare and Mulberry Streets there was a homeless man laying face down in the middle of the sidewalk experiencing a seizure. Outside of the convulsions, the man was paralyzed and seemed to be tearing. I assume out of fear. There were two people standing near him and one of them had called 911. I recalled that a pretty decent amount of people walked by us before we saw the man on the sidewalk. So that means that these folks saw him having the seizure and chose not to help him. Eljon and I were in shock to see him and were trying to figure out how to help him. I knew the paramedics were notified, but I felt like something else had to be done. Luckily, I saw a police van driving down the street. I literally jumped out in front of the van and made sure that they saw me. They stopped (thankfully so I didn't get hit) and pulled over. I told them that the man was having a seizure. When they saw that it was a homeless guy they IMMEDIATELY looked like they regretted getting out of the car. They were slow to respond and meandered instead of showing urgency. It was disappointing to say the least. I will say that the paramedics came, treated him and took him to the hospital.
I am reminded of that event today because I'm pretty certain that some of the people that walked by that man are the same people cheering for Obama during his inauguration today. These are the same people who had a chance to make their fellow man and community better, but chose not to do anything. I am not saying this to toot our own horn because we could have done more including comforting the man. We didn't do that. But the point I am trying to make is that there can't be a complete investment in our government, but not the same investment in ourselves and others. Why didn't more people help that guy out? Why did the cops change their attitude when they saw the man was homeless? Today is more about us than it is the government. There is potentially a moment every day to make this country better and what helps us move this forward is these moments. Not a dog and pony show. Not a vote. Not a liberal arts college debate that doesn't lead to action. Sometimes helping a guy out on the street makes things better. I don't want to make a grand statement with this post. But I do want to remind us all that helping each other out on a daily basis is just as important as the swearing in of a President. Our quality of life isn't just dependent upon decisions that our government makes. At the end of the day, we control that.
Thank you for reading.
I'm proud to announce that our short film "Docket 32357" is an Official Selection of the 2013 Dam Short Film Festival in Boulder City, Nevada! This is our first festival screening for the New Year and I'm really proud to be a part of this wonderful festival. It takes place February 6-9. Congrats to the cast and crew and thank you everyone that has supported the project.
I know this isn't film related, but I LOVE sports. I love sports as much as film and maybe even more. I was an athlete before being a filmmaker and it never left me. I have a love/hate relationship with basketball. I enjoy playing it, but it also was the reason for a catastrophic injury that indirectly led to me discovering film. So while I have fond memories of basketball; I also have hate what it did to me. But then I'm grateful because it led to my passion and career. As you can tell I am conflicted over the whole thing. That was just a long winded way of telling you to watch this amazing dunk by a high school SOPHOMORE. Pretty damn impressive... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MerJpZw7Puk&feature=youtu.be
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iyvZgcQpTVg&feature=youtu.be&a It is with great pride and excitement that I announce Docket 32357 is the winner of the Audience Choice Award at the 2012 International Black Film Festival of Nashville. It is a great honor to receive this award that reflects the people's interest in our work. It is humbling and inspiring to know the public enjoyed the result of the cast and crew's dedication and hard work for the film. We were also nominated for Best Short Film. There may be an added benefit for winning the award, but I will have more info on that in due time. I want to congratulate Eljon Wardally, Jessica Karen Brown, Tara Gadomski, Ashley Denise Robinson, Kiel Perry, Ryan Denmark, Jeff Pinilla, Blair Doroshwalther, Jon Altman and everyone else who made the film come to life. It is a shared accomplishment.
The announcement comes around the 6:16 mark if you want to skip right to it, but take a look at all the winners.
When I was 16 years old I was playing basketball at the "E-3" courts in the Parkchester section of the Bronx. Parkchester is the neighborhood in which I was raised. It was around July 4th so hearing the sounds of firecrackers was pretty routine. There were a bunch of us playing on the court that day as my play cousin and his boys were practicing for a big tournament. Now envision a basketball court that had one entrance/exit and was enclosed by a singular high chain link fence that formed a semi circle opposite of a brick wall. One way in and one way out. There are benches along the gate. On this day, one of my friends was sitting on a bench and seemed to get into a random verbal altercation with three teenagers. I was sitting on a separate bench that was on the opposite end of the exit. I looked away not worried about the argument because we far outnumbered the three guys outside of the fence. A couple seconds later, I hear what sounded like firecrackers. Then I saw people running out of the courts for dear life. Finally, I saw my play cousin's coach on the ground, clutching his face and screaming. The three guys were trying to shoot us. I had to run across the line of fire to make it through the exit. This was my introduction to gun violence. As I have stated on this site in the past, this topic is near and dear to my heart and that incident was the genesis. In light of the horrific tragedy in Connecticut, I have seen countless opinions, ideas and suggestions on how to tackle these events. I don't want to use this space to debate gun control laws or the second amendment. What I do want to shed light on is that gun violence cannot be limited to these heinous mass shootings. The problem extends far beyond one person deciding to inflict havoc in a contained space. This past weekend, there were multiple shootings in Chicago. Again. There were shootings in New York and Baltimore and Washington DC and Atlanta and Indianapolis and Oakland and many other places in America. It is time to acknowledge that we are experiencing a social and public health epidemic in the form of gun violence. This is an everyday occurrence that the media, politicians and too many citizens are failing to recognize. A conversation on banning assault weapons is not addressing the reasons, factors and results of everyday gun related incidents. There are too many people who have stories like mine. There are too many people who live in an environment where a situation like Newtown can happen to them literally at any moment albeit on a smaller scale. The national conversation cannot ignore this aspect. If we are to really make a difference we have to honestly discuss why gun violence is too normal in too many neighborhoods and then devise a multi-platform plan of concrete solutions. I sincerely hope we can use last week's tragedy as a springboard for improved safety, but I also hope we don't forget to bring the everyday tragedies into the conversation as well.
P.S. My play cousin's coach faked getting shot so the shooters would flee the scene quicker. It wasn't his first rodeo as they say.
P.S.S. I would really welcome comments on this topic. We have to figure out solutions to improve our way of life. Thank you for reading.
I have spoken on a few posts about my disdain for and battle against gun violence in America. The horrible tragedy at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Connecticut only strengthened my resolve against this epidemic. My sincerest condolences and heartfelt prayers go out to the children, parents, families and staff affected by this horror. I will do my best as a citizen and filmmaker to combat this issue. Enough is enough.
I returned home from the beautiful island of Nassau a couple days ago following the screening of "Docket 32357" at the 9th Annual Bahamas International Film Festival. Besides having the opportunity to experience the film's international premiere in 80 degree weather, I looked at the festival as a chance to work on my networking skills. The past couple of months have reinforced the old lesson that your ability to progress in the entertainment industry really does lie with who you know. Talent, craft and hard work are important elements, but you really need to have a substantial network to allow those other pieces to flourish. I am naturally a quiet and introverted guy. Part of being introverted is the natural instinct to only speak when you find it absolutely necessary. That can be a great thing, but also a hindrance when you need to build relationships with people that you don't know. Reminders about the previously mentioned lesson popped in my head and I decided to be active in taking advantage of the potential opportunities the festival offered to expand my network. I made the right decision. The comforts of being on an island made it possible for me to speak with great people in a relaxed environment. It felt natural to approach people and discuss a variety of topics that didn't necessarily involve film. It was liberating to be honest. I felt for one of the few times in my early career I was truly taking advantage of what a film festival can offer. I'm pretty proud of myself and I'm also thankful. I'm hoping that this is a sign of growth that I can take with me to future events. It is an admitted weakness of mine that I am determined to strengthen. Only positive things can come out of it and I need all the positives I can get.
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/53939130 w=600&h=337] (h/t to Basso Media)
As I'm thinking about how to construct this post I'm discovering that this is essentially an external continuation of a conversation I have in my head at least once a day. I came across this El-P interview with Basso Magazine and felt that he was echoing the thoughts and feelings that I sometimes struggle to put into neat little words. For those of you that aren't familiar with El-P he is a legendary, innovative and groundbreaking producer who started his career on the NYC hip hop scene with the amazing Company Flow rap group in the mid 90's. Company Flow knocked down the doors and changed the game. El-P went on to man the record label Def Jux and continue on a stellar path with a solo career. Simply put, El-P is on my Mt. Rushmore of inspirational artists.
What I found really engaging about this interview is the idea of freedom as an artist and the consequences that come along with reaching for it. In writing my feature script, "The Gunnery," freedom has emerged as the main theme of the narrative. I'm understanding more and more that this is a reflection of my own quest for that. In watching El-P's interview, it dawned on me that I'm searching for the freedom to think independently of the status quo or beyond the initial impression people get when they come across a particular topic. The funny thing is that I think I've done that my whole life, but with the onslaught of social media and immediate, often irrational, reactions I feel like part of that has been lost. In many cases, I see myself in the minority of how I interpret certain issues when compared to other viewpoints. I seem to generally have a non-mainstream approach to various things like popular films, politics and even sports. This becomes a tougher thing to navigate through when you place it in a social media context. Often times rather than having a conversation where diverse opinions are discussed it becomes a pissing contest or an exercise in demonizing the other person. I do want to make it clear this doesn't happen with everyone, but it takes place more than it should. I want to be challenged rather than on the defensive. But when in watching the interview I'm reminded that this is the reason I pursued filmmaking. It is a sanctuary to place a thought in the world and hopefully inspire engaging, meaningful dialogue and possibly beneficial action. The very act of offering your voice to the world is an act of freedom and one that can't be taken for granted. There is a need for people to see diverse viewpoints. My hope is that I offer an uncensored, honest and intelligent one that pushes the conversation rather than detracts from it. There are few things more liberating than that.
The International Black Film Festival of Nashville is stepping into the online world for this year's installment of the festival. We are honored to announce that Docket 32357 is a part of this historic lineup. The festival runs from Thursday, December 13 - Sunday, December 16. Docket will be screening ALL DAY on SATURDAY, DECEMBER 15th. I will post more details about the screening (i.e. link, pricing, etc.) as soon as I receive it. Being that this is an online festival you will be able to check the film out wherever you are through your computer, ipad or cell phone. It will run all day Saturday with an encore screening the next day at a specific time slot. Please take the time out to see the film. I will have more information soon. Thanks.
I apologize for not being as active with the blog lately, but I have been putting most of my writing energy towards my feature script "The Gunnery." I wanted to bring you all up to date with future screenings of Docket 32357. If you are in the NYC area during Thanksgiving weekend, please come out to Imagenation's Sangria Sundays in Harlem for a featured screening of the film. The event is at Raw Space, 2031 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. (bet. 121st & 122nd Sts.), New York, NY 10027 on NOVEMBER 25TH from 3-7pm. Here is an example of a past Sangria Sunday event: http://imagenation.us/ai1ec_event/sangria-sundays/?instance_id=55425. The tickets are $5 for admission and that comes with a complimentary glass of Sangria or Sorrell. So please come out, be in good company, have a drink and check out Dockt 32357 to end your holiday weekend. I hope to see you there!
Docket 32357 is a nominee for the Best Short Film Award at the 2012 Birmingham Black International Film Festival! This is our second official selection from an international festival. It is awesome to see our film can span across different borders and entertain different regions. It's also nice to be recognized as a nominee for an award. The festival runs from October 20th to October 28th and the awards ceremony is October 27th. Congrats to the cast and crew and a special thank you to all of the film's supporters!
Ashley Denise Robinson.
Kia M. Neal.
These wonderful talents, along with many others, have allowed "Docket 32357" to achieve success on the festival circuit in a relatively short amount of time. With our latest acceptance, the film has now reached ten selections. This landmark means a great deal to me. Docket was created because I wanted to keep my directorial skills sharp and I wanted to remain relevant to various film audiences. Eljon wrote a strong piece and it provided an opportunity to achieve those two goals. My hope was that our film would play in a couple festivals nationwide and showcase the talents of everyone involved. Now I can say with confidence that my expectations have been exceeded. It feels good when your work has an opportunity to be shown in front of diverse audiences that you haven't had a chance to engage with in the past. It is also satisfying because our determination to overcome numerous challenges is being rewarded by the overwhelming positive responses the film has received. I was a little concerned when I first took on the project because it is a simple premise in one location. But that concern dissipated when I trusted the talent around me and had faith that the audience will be engaged if we told the story with quality and care. Docket 32357 reminds me of why I love being a filmmaker. The adrenaline rush of being on set and the excitement of interacting with moviegoers. It is addictive. I wouldn't want it any other way.
We are making our international debut of Docket 32357! Actually, this is my first opportunity to screen any film of mine outside of the continental United States so this is pretty special. We have been selected for the Bahamas International Film Festival in December. In addition to being a part of a great festival, I am happy to be a part of the program because I met Executive Director, Leslie Vanderpool, in 2005 at the old 40 Acres and A Mule office while interning on Inside Man. She mentioned the festival and it was always one I wanted to have a film in. Now I have that opportunity and who doesn't like watching films while hanging out on the beach? I can't wait for this one. If you're looking for a quick vacation in the sun come down to Nassau and hang out with us.
I am pleased to announce that "Docket 32357" is an Official Selection of the 2012 Orlando Film Festival! Congrats to all of the cast and crew for earning another screening opportunity. This is our Florida premiere and we are excited to bring the film down there. Our film continues to gain attention and we appreciate it.
Hello Everyone, Tickets are now available for the New York premiere of "Docket 32357" at the Urbanworld Film Festival. The screening times are SEPTEMBER 21st at 3:15PM and SEPTEMBER 22nd at NOON. Both screenings will be held at the 34th Street AMC Theater in Manhattan. You can purchase tickets at the theater box office or you can purchase them here. I hope to see you all there. Thank you.
Here is a new promo that I shot recently for FOX 59 in Indiana entitled "Indiana Made." Jeff Pinilla and I spent a week there to help with a new campaign the creative team at FOX 59 wanted to execute. I got a chance to immerse myself with the wonderful people of Indianapolis and get an understanding of the pride that they feel for their city and region. We shot for five days and were split up into two teams where we traveled around the city in a run and gun style to capture the diverse aspects of Indy. One day of the five was spent in the Chase tower with the station's prominent talent. The spot is directed by Jeff Pinilla who also did additional cinematography and is produced by Michael Brouder, Andrew Witham and Shelby Simpson. Let me know what you think of the spot in the comments below. Hope you enjoy it.
[vimeo https://vimeo.com/48888772 w=600&h=337]
Indiana Made - Fox 59 Indiana Creative Promo
Directed by Jeff Pinilla
Cinematography by Randy Wilkins & Jeff Pinilla
Produced by Michael Brouder, Andrew Witham and Shelby Simpson
Shot on Canon 5D and 7D
I am pleased to announce that Docket 32357 will be a part of the 4th Annual Louisville International Festival of Film in October. We are excited to be a part of the program. It is awesome that the film continues to get exposure in various regions of the country. It gives us an opportunity to add to our audience for not just Docket, but for future projects as well. We look forward to a great screening in the city of Louisville.
I am proud to announce that Docket 32357 will be screening at the 4th Annual Lady Filmmakers Film Festival in Beverly Hills! The festival runs from September 28th-30th at the WGA Theater. We are excited to be a part of the festival's program. It is also great to see that the film is beginning to get exposure in various regions of the country. It feels good that people are responding well to the story. I hope to see some of you in Beverly Hills.