Indy Filmmakers Dream come True . . Kind Of: I walked the Red Carpet at the Oscars While Making my Movie.
It was Christmas season of 2010/2011 and it was worse than usual. I was suffering from meningitis in my brain from a tick born infection. I was barely able to function at my job as a media arts teacher at Dickinson High School in Jersey City. My good friend Melissa Donath, Principal at PS22 Elementary School in Staten Island asked me to come film her Chorus’ Christmas Concert. She promised there would be a crazy surprise. No big deal I had filmed a dozen or so Christmas concerts at this point in my career as a media arts teacher.
This wasn’t the typical Christmas Concert though. First of all the music transported me to a place of healing. When the students sang Eminem’s “Not Afraid” the anxiety about having a confusing brain infection seemed to be a million miles away. These kids had become a YouTube sensation for their covers of pop and Indy music because of this power. It was one of those rare moments. Oh yeah, and Anne Hathaway was there to invite the chorus to be the feature performance at that year’s Oscars.
I’d dabbled in documentary film before and this was just a natural. Worst case scenario — I get to film lots of this angelic music and make a video for the chorus kids families to commemorate their adventure. It wasn’t the worst case scenario however. The documentary gods were smiling on me and providing me with incredible access and drama. I was backstage at the Oscars! I’m convinced that it is a better experience to film these pure innocent children enjoying a walk on the Red Carpet than it could have been for me to walk it by being nominated for something else I shot.
The film had a great run on the film festival circuit including a Tribeca premiere attended by all the Chorus kids and even winning a couple of awards. So what if it ends up on YouTube instead of with a boutique indy film distributor. It gets far more reach than they could ever dream of and it is where the PS22 Chorus belongs anyway.
So in preparation for the annual same old-same old of Hollywood’s entertainment elite having the staged experience of either winning or getting snubbed perhaps you would like to tune into Once in a Lullaby: The PS22 Chorus Story and see what the Oscars are like through the eyes of 10 year old kids from a working class neighborhood in Staten Island.
Here is the link for a free view: https://youtu.be/VlzzjBtk0FY
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