Introduction

YOUR BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT FILMS NOT COMING SOON TO A THEATER NEAR YOU...This blog is dedicated to promoting the art of independent filmmaking. The films profiled here are conceived and created outside the studio system and are brought to you, the public, without the aid of a major distributor. Though they might experience a limited theatrical release, they will largely be available to wider audiences through outlets like Netflix, YouTube or by direct purchase.

Monday, November 7, 2011

CALIFORNIA IS A PLACE written and directed by Drea Cooper and Zack Canepari



OK, I admit it.  I have this thing against California.  I'd have to say it started in earnest about 14 years ago when I moved out to Colorado from the East Coast.  I got extremely pissed off as a young person trying to make it as an onslaught of, I assumed, fed-up Californians began fleeing their state en masse and spreading out across the West.  It seems they were able to take advantage of over-inflated real estate values and sell their homes for a hefty profit...which meant they could sweep into states like Colorado, where housing was relatively cheap, and buy up property without batting an eyelash.

Couple that with a barrage of news stories in recent years featuring everything from mudslides to wildfires;  homophobic legislation; budget crises; unemployed octo-moms and philandering ex-governers, and it would appear to the uninitiated that California is a veritable grab-bag of everything ailing modern society.

But life reaffirms that beauty lies within even the severest of tragedies.  So in 2009, at the height of what we now call The Great Recession, filmmaker Drea Cooper teamed up with photographer Zack Canepari to document the truth behind the stories.  Their efforts have manifested in a series of stunning web vignettes portraying the lives of various California citizens amidst the tumult of modern day life.

In their own unique way, Cooper and Canepari capture the essence of human struggle in a style that recognizes the extraordinary in the seemingly ordinary.

My first exposure to this project was a few weeks ago at the newly revived Crested Butte Film Festival.  A short film called SCRAPERTOWN preceded the feature I had gone to see... a little 5-minute vignette so powerful in both story and visuals it overwhelmed the film that followed.

For five minutes the audience, nestled in the peace and quiet of the Colorado mountains, was transported to a world most of us neither know nor fully understand.  There, in the heart of Oakland, one young man has turned a hobby into a movement to change the lives of young people caught in a world of violence and despair.

It's hard to describe how moving this journey was.  Canepari frames his subjects in such a way that their essence resonates off of the screen.  His photographic style integrates seamlessly into his video work, a challenge he says he never necessarily dreamed of taking on.

The experience was made even more poignant by the fact that the film's protagonist, Baby Champ, was there in person to introduce the piece and answer our many questions afterwards.  The whole thing embodied one of the magical moments in life where - if you're a cynic like me - your faith in humanity is at least temporarily restored.

But I'll let you find that out for yourself...just click right here.

And I must say, having made my way through most of the videos that currently make up the CALIFORNIA IS A PLACE series, each one brought me a little closer to realizing that California - just like any other place on earth - encompasses the same beauty, horror, wonder and strife inherent to any corner of the world where human beings reside.

TO HEAR FILMMAKER ZACK CANEPARI DISCUSS THE DETAILS AND MAKING OF CALIFORNIA IS A PLACE, TUNE IN TO KAFM RADIO (listen live here) TUESDAY, NOV. 8TH FROM 12:30-1:00 MST FOR MY IN-DEPTH ONE-ON-ONE INTERVIEW!

CAN'T TUNE IN?  I WILL POST A PODCAST OF THE INTERVIEW RIGHT HERE ON THE BLOG AFTER IT HAS AIRED

WATCH THE WHOLE SERIES:

Aquadettes
Uppercut
El Rey
Honey Pie
Cannonball
Big Vinny
Borderland