Tuesday, August 14, 2007

The Future of America

I'm not sure if I've fully disclosed the feature project that we're working on or not. It's an experiment, a crazy collaboration, a passion project, a piece of my heart ...

Years ago after I finished cicadas, I was volunteering at American Youthworks. I spent some time working with a class that my friend Susan Bishop was teaching. I met some amazing kids that had dropped out of the public school system for whatever reason and had decided to finish their degree at this alternative high school. Their stories and histories were all over the place. Teen pregnancy, gang members, boredom, drugs, abusive households, neglect ... I decided to make a documentary about them. I followed four kids, Star, David, Adam and Shaunea for about a year and a half. I listened to their stories, met their friends, their families, went to prom, graduation, family gatherings. I recruited friends to help me ... Kurt, Karen, Heather Courtney. My footage was ok. Not enough and not quite good enough to piece together. I'm not a camera person and my sound was kinda crummy. But the stories that opened up to me, really captured my heart. I was ashamed that I never finished the film. For myself and for them.

Flash forward 5 years. I'm desperate to make another feature film. I'm sick of waiting for Hollywood to give me permission to make Brain Brawl. I went back to my footage. I sat at Quacks watching their faces and listening to their stories. I came to Stacy with a crazy idea. I wanted to hand pick a few teen students to collaborate with on a narrative version of Future of America. It would blur the lines between fiction and documentary and tell the stories of high school drop outs. No one believed me about the staggering statistics of the number of kids that drop out of the public school system each year. One out of three. One out of three. I sent articles and websites to back me up. It's totally fucked up. So, Stacy came on board. From there we took the project to The Austin School of Film. They came on board. I took the project to 5 teen students and they came on board. It's a bit of a complicated project to put down in a blog entry of how it will work, the format, the vision. It's an experiment.

Tonight we had our second meeting with our kids, our collaborators. We spent almost three hours tossing out stories, ideas, character portraits. Everyone throwing in equal amount of opinions, thoughts and ideas. The first meeting I came home from, I was on cloud nine. And now the second meeting I've come home from, I'm beside myself. This means the world to me. This means more than permission from Hollywood or acknowledgement from the indie filmmaking world. Don't get me wrong, I want to make Brain Brawl and I want to do bigger projects, but this, the Girl's Camp, my classes at The Austin School of Film ... nothing comes close. I can't put into words how thankful I am for these experiences.

3 comments:

Bryan P said...

This sounds great, Kat. Damn the torpedos! Full steam ahead!

kelly rae said...

sounds amazing kat. i love your enthusiasm and passion and inventive spirit. xo

Anonymous said...

I was there...h.a.e.