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In the same year, Oakland was rated one of the top five destinations in the world and one of the top five most dangerous cities in the country. On February 1st, 2013 those two realities met with the fatal shooting of a teenager during First Friday, a monthly arts festival that has become the symbol of the city's economic and cultural revival.
FIRST FRIDAY follows a diverse group of residents as they work to preserve the event that represents a city’s attempt to transform itself.
WHY THIS STORY IS IMPORTANT
We are both filmmakers who live in Oakland, California. It a beautiful, complex city that has seen some hard times. But this city has an irrepressible spirit. We want to portray a side of Oakland that isn’t seen in the media. Yes, we’re the same place known for the Oscar Grant protest and Occupy Oakland. But we’re also the city that has an incredibly diverse population, some of the best new restaurants in the country and more artists per capita than any city outside of New York. All of those things are connected and the monthly First Friday events is a perfect example of that.
And although this may seem like a film that is about an unique event, it’s part of a larger conversation that we all need to be a part of when talking about redeveloping urban communities.
STYLE AND STRUCTURE
FIRST FRIDAY is an observational doc that will follow several key stakeholders during the days and weeks leading up to the next First Friday event. We will primarily use cinema verite and interviews as voice over, similarly used in the films like The Waiting Room and Detropia.
During the first Friday of March we had eight roving crews, each focused on one character. It provided us multiple and yet intimate mini-narratives about this large event.
The characters stories will be interwoven and each of their unique perspectives will demonstrate the importance of this monthly event and how it affects the community of Oakland.
N’JERI EATON is a freelance producer, editor and youth media educator. Her short film Perry County (IDA Awards nominee) screened at festivals around the country is now being distributed by New Day Films. City Fish (Audience Award Winner, Doc Challenge) premiered at Hot Docs Documentary Film Festival and was broadcast on the Documentary Channel. She was also the Associate Producer for The Waiting Room (Gotham Awards and Independent Spirit Awards nominee). N'Jeri has produced work for TIME.com and has worked as a freelance editor and assistant for various other production companies and nonprofit organizations. Since 2005, N’Jeri has also worked for the Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) as a Video Production Instructor. She has taught shooting and editing basics to at-risk youth in Oakland and San Francisco. She currently works at the Independent Television Service (ITVS) as a Programming Manager, where her work includes selecting and managing documentary films through their various funding initiatives. She received her M.A. at the UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism and her B.A. in Media Arts Studies from Emerson College. N'Jeri lives in Oakland, CA with her cat Rube Goldberg.
MARIO FURLONI is a filmmaker and cinematographer based in Oakland, CA. He studied documentary-making at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where he was a Carnegie-Knight News21 fellow. His work has appeared on PBS and TIME.com, among others. His first film, Pot Country (2011), won Best Documentary at the USA Short Film Festival (2012), was official selection at Hot Docs 2012 and Mill Valley Film Festival 2011, and a national finalist for the 2012 Student Academy Awards. Most recently, Mario worked on the upcoming feature documentary Raça, by Academy Award winner filmmaker Megan Mylan, and he’s an Associate Producer on Loteria Film’s project El Poeta, currently in production. As a cameraman, his clients include Edutopia, Pearson Foundation, and numerous independent documentary productions.
KRISTINA MOTWANI is a freelance editor based in San Francisco, CA. For three years she was the series editor for Independent Lens (PBS) and Global Voices (PBS WORLD). She was the assistant editor for the documentary film After Tiller, which premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. She also has a background in advertising, short form web content and commercial work. She received her B.A. in Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin - Madison.
HOW FUNDS RAISED WILL BE USED
We’ve shot the majority of our footage but a lot of our team members worked for deferred payment. They worked really hard to capture some beautiful moments so we want to compensate them for it. In addition, we still have about 45% of shooting still left. The money raised will help us do a couple of smaller shoots.
The bulk of the money raised through this campaign will be directed towards editing a rough-cut of the film. This initial editing is the hardest time for a documentary, and your support here is invaluable. First because a strong work-in-progress is vital to attract the best funding partners to complete the project. Second, because your support will show production and distribution partners that there are many people out there who want to watch this film.
Risks and challenges
Making a film is seldom easy, and making a documentary never so. The hardest thing about it is that the funding doesn’t come from investors looking for a return, but rather from grants and, increasingly, from regular folks like ourselves who are passionate about a topic and willing to pitch in to make a project happen.
It takes a community to make a documentary film, and that’s why we’re lucky to be making this particular film: we know there’s a big vibrant community of people out there who care about the topics raised in this film and who will support us in bringing this film to life. Right?
One advantage we have is that the bulk of our filming is completed, and we know for a fact we have the goods to make a terrific film that will inform, entertain, and create a vibrant public discussion around the issues that affect not only this beautiful city we call home, but so many cities in the U.S.
That said, editing an observational style film out of 2,500 gigabytes of real-life footage is a long and labor-intensive process, and in order to keep up the incredible momentum we’ve built so far, we need the funds to get our editor working intensively on the film.
So it won’t be an easy process. But neither is the work done every month by the people who put together this tremendous event. And, like the folks in our film, it will take a collaborative process and many hours of labor to get it done. Thank you so much for reading and for your support!
N’jeri and Mario.
- (28 days)