Friday, May 27, 2011

Fenced Off - Loving your neighbor can be complicated

Josh and Anne just moved into their first house. George and Tia live next door. George is retired and ready for life to slow down a little. Josh is a young, idealistic social worker ready to be welcomed to the neighborhood. Much to Tia’s chagrin, George has little interest giving Josh a warm welcome. What starts off as a day of yard work and random to-dos for the new neighbors turns into a series of misunderstandings and confrontation. Based on a true story, Fenced Off explores the reality that loving your neighbor can be complicated.

Back Story

That’s me (Brad) on the left, and Isaac on the right. Fenced Off started with Isaac walking into my office and telling me a story about his first week living in his new house. He wondered if there was something film-worthy to his story; a young white couple moving into a predominantly African American neighborhood and discovering he had some racial prejudices and assumptions he wasn’t previously aware of. Over a few months this idea would come up in conversations and we’d go back and forth crafting a “movie we should make someday.”
At that time we were working on a romantic comedy that was going to shoot September of 2010. We realized in July, however, that we were going to have to delay that production until the next year. Our conversations about Fenced Off changed from nonchalant dreaming to serious consideration. “Could we actually do this?” we asked each other.

So I started writing a script. The writing process was basically a series of asking each other, “What if…?” Every plot point came from that question. Isaac then broke down the script and figured out (in theory) how we could do it for $15,000 in 12 days. We then pitched it to our bosses at Vineyard Cincinnati. They gave us a green light. Then we had to go out and find/convince a crew that we could do it. That was harder than we anticipated. And not to mention we had our day jobs to take care of.

Even though on paper we were under-resourced in every way possible, in October of 2010 a ragtag collection of storytellers made a little movie together. For me, it felt like building a childhood fort in the woods. It was hard work full of challenges, missteps, hurdles and conflict, but every day I woke up excited to march out through the wet grass and keep building. We had a mission with a deadline. Which meant there were goals to hit hour by hour. But it didn’t feel like work. It felt like a group of friends, collaborators and builders all pooling their talents and resources to create something together. And honestly, our motivation was purely that. Sure we hope the movie will be good and find its way into theaters or DVD players. But the real reason we spent 12 hours a day working our tails off was because it is a magical thing to collaborate. For a couple weeks in October, we were a band of misfits building a fort in the middle of a tall forest, completely and happily lost in the process. by Brad Wise

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