As film centres go, the Echo Park Film Centre would be easy to dismiss as one among the herd. But there are two very distinguishing factors that make up its character: one the work it does with youth at risk and two the film education it seeks to provide that crosses boundaries and goes into various states of across the US giving the whole idea a very national character. The centre turns 10 this year. So it’s been a decade of travelling, teaching, learning and filming. Decades are turning points. Where does the centre go from here?
What is the story? As a film education and appreciation (it exhibits documentaries and films from the world over) centre where is it going in the next decade?
It has a nondescript appearance. The shop front is bang on main street so no arching doorways, no driveways to give the opening shots appeal and depth. But visual treasures lie in the store. The old cameras, the walls done up with posters and colourful cuttings make great atmosphere so letting the camera work within the store with a few opening shots to establish context should work.
Much of the story will focus on its directors Paulo and the volunteers who come in every Thursday and Friday. If the youth filmmakers are willing to share their stories then that can be used as voice over’s without showing their actual faces or revealing identity. The bus the team uses to travel all over the United States can be a character by itself.
The camera can be a roving one but will be mounted on the tripod to have steady shots. It doesn’t have to focus on any one person through opening shots can feature on Paulo the director. For Paulo its will be fun to know what motivates him to carry? There isn’t much money in taking free classes for seniors and young people and showcasing films. How does he manage to balance his accounts? What’s been his greatest moment till date?
The volunteers (who are, as Paulo says, the soul of the centre) will have good sound bytes. Many of them are from the youth at risk population the centre works with. They train and then come back to volunteer. Films keep them away from gangs, drugs and violence. After their program is over how does it feel to mentor other young people? Do they see themselves in their new students?
We are going at a time when classes will be on. The b roll can include sessions from the classes, the instructors and the new folks learning to film. In fact the training session is by itself a good story to explore for our 3 minute video. The sounds will be of the interviewees, the sounds of equipment being used, the instructors and the comments and questions the class being instructed throws up. The story starts with Paulo’s motivation and ends with where he sees the centre going in the future. There doesn’t have to be a definite time span: just a general take on future plans.
Our area is Echo Park and my wonderful team with its dynamic advisor decided to film very eclectic aspects. That’s why we found a pinball playing centre, a psychic office and the film club. By itself the film club is an obvious and rather unsubtle issue to choose. But it turns 10 and that’s not been covered. Using that as a peg we can take off on various issues that haven’t been touched upon in detail before.