Corner Stores is a short documentary, 15 minutes long. From the perspective of 1 neighborhood store, Corner Stores tells an authentic story about community and constancy in New Orleans.
New Orleans Constants
Good food, hospitality, long-time characters, outlandish stories, off-beat decor are all New Orleans constants. Turns out, the same constants define the city's corner stores.
The corner store is a rich tradition in New Orleans.
"I think corner stores provide a sense of community because we've been here so long." Natasha Merryman explains in front of her mother’s store, Red Rooster Sno-Ball Stand.
Across the city, Beau Nguyen, owner of Singleton’s Mini Mart, tells the same story. “We’ve been here about 16 years. It changed so much since I would say Katrina. ….but the culture is the same. The culture is food. Gotta serve food. Good food!”
New Orleans is a city of endless developments and rapid gentrification. Yet, corner stores remain historical and cultural institutions. They represent New Orleans’ localized neighborhood culture, its connectedness, its diversity and its big heart.
Did you know?
Our feature store is over 30 years old, but many other stores have disappeared. They’ve been converted into bars, restaurants or personal residences. We feel it’s especially important to tell this story at a time when neighborhoods are gentrifying and grocery chains are replacing corner store culture.
Where Have We Been?
This isn’t Julia’s first project about corner stores. At this point, our director has visited 50+ corner stores throughout New Orleans.
With Co-Producer, Ashley Spears, Julia has asked 20 different store owners, “In your own words, what is a corner store?” Everybody has an answer. Every store has a story.
In June of 2017, Julia finished the 30 minute documentary, sponsored by the New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC), feat. 4 classic corner stores:
- Frady’s One-Stop Food Store
- Gene’s Po Boys
- Singleton’s Mini-Mart
- Red Rooster Sno-Ball Stand
This short documentary is an extension of that original project.
So, what sets this project apart?
This time around, our production crew will tell 1 hyper-focused story.
Also. This time around...we have support!! Y'all! PLUS our amazing partnership organizations. The Jazz & Heritage Foundation Community Partnerships Grant has provided support.
Where Are We Now?
Corner Stores is one of five films selected for the New Orleans Tricentennial Story Incubator Program, a partnership between NOVAC (New Orleans Video Access Center), The New Orleans Film Society, Kickstarter, the Mayor's Office of Cultural Economy/Film New Orleans, and #CreateLouisiana.
Our kickstarter campaign will run from November 2nd - December 1st.
If we reach our goal and raise $6,000 (or more), the Tricentennial Story Incubator Program will match the funds with a $5,000 award. That’s $11,000 in support!
We’re currently in pre-production on the film Corner Stores. In December 2017, we’ll follow one set of corner store owners and regulars through their daily lives at the store.
What’s the Style of the Film?
This mostly vérité documentary will alternate between narration and ethnography.
En Cinéma Vérité
Meditative audio and video footage (also referred to as en cinéma vérité) will augment the narration, while exploring the dozens of moods, rhythms, exchanges that take place “at a store at the corner of two streets.”
The structure of the story follows the sensory experience of a New Orleans corner store. The film opens as an a) arrival to the store, which leads to b) commercial transactions and then naturally to c) personal stories and interview conversations.
Julia and Weenta live in New Orleans mid-city neighborhood. We've chosen a store in our neighborhood because we want to make a film that is immersive and authentic.
As a part of the ethnography, we'll get the chance to embed with our characters and delve deeply into their personal stories and histories.
What Does the Money Support?
With the $11,000 raised via YOUR support and the support of Tricentennial Story Incubators Program, we will invest in 2 things: production crew salaries and equipment.
Camera and Audio Crew!!
$5,000 to cover production crew salaries. This short documentary has a committed crew. Production requires our crew to return to the feature store, more than once and consistently. Your donation allows creative opportunities to creative people!
$5,300 to purchase new equipment that is industry standard and allows us to get better footage in low lighting. Our equipment list includes:
- 1 Camera Lens (Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L USM II) $1,899.00
- 1 Camera Stabilizer Kit (DJI Ronin-M 3-Axis Gimbal Stabilizer and Kit) at $2,493.95
- 1 Studio Light (ikan ID500-v2 LED Studio Light) at $500.00
- 2 Auxiliary Lighting Pieces (Softbox + Filter Kit) at $210.58.
All donations are tax deductible!
Corner Stores has status as a nonprofit 501(c)(3). That means, your contributions are 100% tax-deductible!
Want to meet our team?
Julia Elizabeth Evans (Director) has a background in documentary filmmaking. She’s worked directly with academy award winning directors, Ross Kaufman and Sebastian Junger, as well as local producers in New Orleans. Evans was the recipient of the 2015-2016 New Orleans Video Access Center Joshua Short Scholarship. In June 2017, she completed a 30-minute documentary about 4 New Orleans’ corner stores.
Weenta Girmay (Producer) is a multimedia storyteller. She has worked in audio, video and photo formats with work featured in national outlets such as NPR and The Nation. Evans and Girmay are co-directors of Love You Back Productions (LYB), a documentary-style video production company based in New Orleans. LYB produces content for social media and the web. Their focus is on narrative, character-driven stories.
Ashley Ann Spears (Co-Producer) was born and raised in New Orleans, LA. Ms. Spears has been part of this production since Day 1. Ms. Spears handles interview questions, production crew coordination, interview transcription, community screening logistics, as well as story editing.
Thomas Walsh (Audio Engineer) is an independent audio producer and sound engineer at WWNO. Mr. Walsh has 7 years experience producing features for public radio segments like Louisiana Eats, All Things New Orleans, Notes From New Orleans, The Farmer's Market Minute The Listening Post and The Green Minute. He also produces music recordings, podcasts, short films, and live events. He is the sound engineer for the monthly live storytelling program, The Moth New Orleans.
Anuraag Pendyal (Score Composer) is a piano and cello player based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He performs and produces in genres including traditional & modern jazz, ragtime, bossa nova, and hip-hop. Catch him every Sunday, 7-10PM at Dragon's Den on Frenchmen.
George Chiesa (Motion Media Editor) graduated with a degree in motion media design from Savannah College of Art and Design. From 2012-2015, he worked as the animation director at 360 Live Media, Inc, based out of Washington D.C. Currently, Mr. Chiesa is the animation director at Velocity Agency, Inc., a large marketing and advertising firm based in New Orleans and Los Angeles.
thank you all so much!!
Risks and challenges
We know that if we don’t reach our goal kickstarter goal we’ll not only lose out on the money raised through kickstarter, but we won’t be matched by the Story Incubator grant.
That’s why over the past 3 months, we’ve been actively applying to other community grant programs. To date, our project has already secured $2,000 through the Jazz and Heritage Community Partnership Grant.
Our production team has the basic equipment to make this film happen. We’re experienced professionals with over 7 years experience in multimedia journalism and documentary filmmaking.
The reason why we’re seeking this funding is to make something that looks and feels seamless. In order to match the style and quality of the film we’ve set out to achieve, we need your support.
In the case that we don’t secure $11,000 from this Kickstarter campaign and the Story Incubators grant program, we’re prepared to to make this thing “run-and-gun” style as they say. We’ll sacrifice a production crew and cover just the basic cost of our producer and director’s time.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)