About this project
John Leguizamo let us follow him around during the process of creating GHETTO KLOWN, his uber-successful fifth one-man show. What came to life was an intense portrayal of a talented artist writing his magnum opus. From Off-Broadway to Broadway, from English to Spanish, from New York to LA, Colombia, and everywhere in between, this is a story of how you make a Ghetto Klown.
Ben DeJesus directs this intimate look at an urban superstar turned Broadway baby. The film chronicles the three year long endeavor including the writing process, the ups and downs of producing, the pitfalls and the stress involved in turning an idea, and then later a cultural re-awakening, into a reality.
John Leguizamo and his faithful director Fisher Stevens take us on the triumphant journey. Along the way, we meet supporters and friends including Rosie Perez, Ralph Fiennes, Liev Schrieber, Justine Leguizamo, Ruben Blades, producer Arnold Engelman, John’s childhood friends, the legendary acting coach, Wynn Handman, and more.
Behind the Camera:
Founded by director Ben DeJesus, Diamante Pictures is a production and branded entertainment company that is based in New York City and Miami Beach. Diamante Pictures has produced over 75 hours of programming for broadcast, 100+ commercials, 100+ webisodes, 35 music videos, and 25 DVD titles.
Fisher Stevens, Produceris an actor, director, and Oscar-winning producer. His most recent successes include the 2010 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature for his film THE COVE and 2008 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary Feature for his film CRAZY LOVE. He also directed the award-winning Broadway show GHETTO KLOWN starring John Leguizamo.
We aim to complete the film in the next few months with the highest quality standards possible. The film will premiere this summer on Public Television, but we need your support to make it happen.
This documentary is more than just a behind-the-scenes look at a play; it’s a touching, hilarious, and uplifting experience that will leave many people inspired and changed.
With this head start, we could bring the film the international attention that it deserves.
What the Donations would do:
- · Additional Post-Production
- · Opening Title Sequence
- · Original Music Score
- · Production & Post-Production of DVD SPECIAL FEATURES
- · Post-Production of DVD Audio Commentary
- · DVD Design & Authoring
- · Rights & Clearances of key archival footage
- · Rights & Clearances of John’s past projects
- · Sound Design
- · Audio Mixing
- · Color Correction
- · On-Line Editing & Mastering
- · Closed Captioning & Subtitling
- · Graphic Design
- · Shipping and Merchandise Costs for Rewards
- · Kickstarter Fees
Thank you so much for taking the time to consider our project for your generous support. If you pledge now, we assure you that this film will see the light sooner than should be humanly possible. Please help make this happen. We will deliver your rewards, including: merchandise, twitter shout-outs, producer credits, and more ASAP! Thank you! Thank you!
ABOUT JOHN LEGUIZAMO
Multi-faceted performer and Emmy Award winner John Leguizamo’s notable career defies categorization. Possessing boundless energy and creativity, Leguizamo’s work spans the genres of film, theatre, television, literature and beyond. Presently, Leguizamo delights younger fans as the voice of Sid the Sloth in ICE AGE 1, 2, and 3.
As writer and performer, Leguizamo created the Off-Broadway sensation MAMBO MOUTH, in which he portrayed seven different characters. His second one-man show, SPIC-O-RAMA, enjoyed extended sold-out runs in Chicago and New York. His third solo show, FREAK, completed a successful run on Broadway in 1998. A special presentation of FREAK, directed by Spike Lee, aired on HBO (Emmy Award for Outstanding Performance in a Variety, Music or Comedy Special). In Fall 2001, Leguizamo returned to Broadway with SEXAHOLIX…A LOVE STORY, directed by Peter Askin (Outer Critic Circle Award nomination and Tony Award nomination for Best Special Theatrical Performance). SEXAHOLIXaired as an HBO Special in 2002.
He has been seen in countless films including Love In the Time of Cholera opposite Javier Bardem and Benjamin Bratt, The Happening opposite Mark Wahlberg, Righteous Kill opposite Robert De Niro and Al Pacino, Carlito’s Way, Moulin Rouge, Summer of Sam, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, Land of the Dead, The Groomsmen, Spawn, Dr. Doolittle, and Casualties of War.
The journey of GHETTO KLOWN isn't over! Come see the show LIVE! Click here for more info.
We are SO THANKFUL to our fans for making this film a reality! We need just a couple of things from you to get you your rewards ASAP.
FIRST, please make sure that your payment has cleared via Amazon Payments.
SECOND, please fill out the survey that we sent all of you. With this information, we'll be able to send you our thanks along with the exciting rewards that we've promised you!
THIRD, watch a selected cut of the film that YOU MADE POSSIBLE on PBS on July 13!
Filmmaker Ben DeJesus went behind-the-scenes to capture Leguizamo’s theaterical journey in the documentary, “Tales from a Ghetto Klown,” scheduled to début as part of the PBS Arts Summer Festival in July. DeJesus spoke with Tania Fuentez Media about working with the comedic force-of-nature, grassroots efforts to raise funds via Kickstarter for production costs and more. “I saw this as a fascinating story of this really small group of people led by John’s creative genius who were literally taking on Broadway,” says DeJesus, who helms Diamante Pictures. The film also includes commentary from Leguizamo’s mentors and friends such as “Ghetto Klown” director Fisher Stevens, Rosie Perez, Ralph Fiennes, Liev Schrieber and Ruben Blades.
NOTE: “Tales from a Ghetto Klown” premieres as part of the PBS Arts Summer Festival on Friday, July 13, 2012.
TFM: Why did you want to make “Tales from a Ghetto Klown” and how did you pitch the idea to John Leguizamo? What was his first reaction?
Ben: I was first introduced to John by my business partner, David Chitel from NGL Media, who had been partners with John for over 10 years. I had always been a superfan of John as an actor in theater. I had read his books when I was studying theater at Rutgers; I had stood in line at the TKTS booth to buy half-priced tickets to “Freak” back in 1998. I even stood outside his stage door to shake John’s hand. So once he mentioned that he was starting to rehearse his new one-man show, right away I asked if I could come check out a rehearsal – with my camera, of course. But my plan was to be low-key and more of a fly on the wall. There I met Fisher (Stevens), the director and the rest of the crew, including Arnold (Engelman) the producer, Aaron (Gonzalez) the designer and Micah (Frank), the uber-assistant (director).
After that first day, I saw this as a fascinating story of this really small group of people led by John’s creative genius who were literally taking on Broadway. It seemed like history was being made in this small rehearsal space above the Duane Reade on 50th and Broadway. So I asked John if I could hang out again the next day – with my camera, of course. That day, I came in with a treatment for the documentary and pitched John and Fish to let me hit the road with them to capture this story. Fortunately, they said yes and I got to capture this story.
TFM: Has this film’s three-year journey and working closely with Leguizamo lived up to expectations? Was there any time during production that he asked you to stop filming or didn’t want you to shoot something too personal? What have you gained from the experience?
Ben: I’ve always loved documentaries that capture some type of mission in progress. Whether they result in a happy ending or not. So while this show was destined to make it to Broadway, there were many moments of potential failure and forces throughout that had the potential to derail the whole thing. I would be shooting behind the camera, completely engrossed in how John and the team would overcome these amazing challenges and obstacles that seemed to pop up at every corner. John never once asked for me to stop shooting. But I also had a sense of when to put the camera down. So from an outsider’s point of view, I could see that people would be interested in seeing the not always-pretty process behind the curtain. John and Fisher especially were so invested and worked so hard to make the show better, that it was not hard to root for them. But their success was certainly not guaranteed, which made the story even more compelling to me. Plus, not a lot of people ever get to connect and collaborate with one of their genuine heroes, so I was very aware that I had landed in a good spot. Regardless, I was there to capture the story as it happened – the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s been an amazing journey, that has certainly opened a lot of doors for myself personally and professionally.
TFM: You began your television career as an MTV intern, successfully becoming a producer/writer for MTV Cribs and other popular shows. What led to launching Diamante Pictures and going independent? Discuss what draws you to new projects?
Ben: I usually just tap into what I know, which is music, youth, mainstream urban and overall POP CULTURE ENTERTAINMENT. If I am going to ‘live’ with a project over a long period of time, then it better be something I am truly passionate about. In the case of this film with John, it’s been an incredible ride and has felt more like an adventure, than a ‘job.’ I also want to tell stories that have never been told before.
TFM: Funding an independent film can be a daunting challenge, to say the least, but a Kickstarter campaign was initiated to aid the process of making “Tales from a Ghetto Klown.” How has that been coming along? What still needs to be done to see the film through to the end?
Ben: Latino Public Broadcasting and PBS have been the biggest champions for the film, thanks to their generous support and belief in the project. Without them, none of this would be possible. However, we’ve made a film that is bigger than the budget we had originally raised which is why we went the Kickstarter route in this last phase. Kickstarter is like the PBS Pledge Drive for the 21st century. Besides being a great source of funding for a project, the buzz you can build via a Kickstarter campaign is extremely valuable. I’ve backed projects there myself, so I believe in the model for artists from all kinds of mediums. At the moment, we have raised over $15k towards the our $25k goal … Now we have only six days left to raise another $10k, or we get ZERO. So we really need people out there to get behind the project to make it a reality.
TFM: Funniest moment working with Leguizamo?
Ben: A lot of times, I would be the last person in John’s dressing room before he headed out onstage. Those moments were great because a lot of times it would just be us shooting the breeze right before the shows and not all of it was just shooting all the time. Some of the best footage came when I would just be cracking wise with John about anything and everything. During those times backstage, at some point the vibe would shift and John would open up to my camera in a way that was unplanned and natural. Seeing him and Fisher interact was always funny, and I’d have to muffle my laughs to not ruin the footage.
TFM: What’s next for Diamante Pictures?
Ben: I’m looking forward to a stretch of three days off in a row. Then after that, I want to keep directing more television, before doing my first feature film. I have a script in development for a television coming-of-age series. I also want to find another project to work with John again ASAP. He’s a great guy and someone who goes out of his way to open doors for people who are trying to make it happen. In addition to my work with Diamante Pictures, I’m also the chief creative officer of NGL Media, which is one of the leading producers and distributors of original digital content targeting New Generation Latinos. John is also a partner in that company along with our executive producers, David Chitel and Ben Leff.
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