Letter to Philadelphia Department of Human Services from Charday Laverty regarding "If You Break the Skin, You Must Come In"
January 31, 2007
To Whom It May Concern,
My name is Charday Laverty and I was one of the youth that worked to make the documentary on Zoe Strauss. It has come to my understanding, that there is some controversy going on about being able to release the documentary to the public. I have an idea that might work; it would get the movie released as well as keep all parties happy.
First, I would like to give my input about the whole situation. Now this is just my opinion so please do not take offense. I really do not know all the facts and the litigation about why everyone is saying not to put the movie out, but from what I do know, it seems foolish. I understand that as youth in DHS care that we are not allowed to say and do certain things like using obscene language. I also understand the fact that everything we do reflects DHS. I know that this movie may not reflect the image that DHS wanted us to portray but it is from us. It was made by us for us. It was not a DHS promo nor was it to say that life in DHS is easy. As you may have seen that all of our lives while in the system have not been peachy clean. They have been hard. So, like for y’all to say that we the actors, the makers and all that comes in between can not see the movie because you don’t approve of it is very insensitive. I know that if I were able to see the movie then it would be easier to compromise about changes that could possibly be made. But to my understanding that is where the problem is. The working together part and, trust, that is one thing we learned while making this film. We learned that a group has to work as a team to get the job done and get it right. I think that is what we need to do now. We need to work together to get this film right in everyone’s eyes. I just think this whole situation is crazy. I hope that we can really work this out. The biggest problem to me is that it seems as if you want the documentary to change to fit you and your expectations. That was not what the movie was for though. It was to show the life of Zoe Strauss while opening the youth up to new experiences that they, I mean we, may not ever be able to do. When I was hired I was told to be myself. It not only taught me about art but it taught me about life. I have met a lot of great people who are not only prominent in the art world but also prominent in the city. It opened me up to different types of art and different types of lifestyles. The only people that we have to thank for that are those that were involved in making this film.
Second, on to the infamous Ms. Strauss. She is one of a kind. At the start of this I don’t think that Zoe knew she was going to be adopting 5 children. Five very grown children, but she did. She handled and still is handling that responsibility very well. Zoe is the type of person who you can call at anytime and she will be there to listen. She doesn’t bite her tongue but she says what she has to say in the kindest way anyone could have ever thought possible. She has done so much for the group. She took us to a Sixers game. The game was really big for me personally but she made sure we were there. While there we met DMC from the group Run DMC. So yes, Zoe has taken us on and did things outside of the documentary for us. Now personally Zoe, came to court with me the day I got discharged. When no one else was down for it and nobody thought it was right Zoe was there. So she is not a bad influence on any of us. She may be a little crazy but she only means well.
Lastly, I guess this is my time to say what I suggest. I guess the first thing is to not cut the movie. It took a lot of time and energy, not only those two, but also money. The key word in that sentence was money. Money that could have either been, wasted because people can’t compromise or money that was used for a good cause. The cause being that some youth really got the chance to try something new and the chance to meet a really amazing person. I think that everyone that was involved in making this movie (meaning –AIC, BPA, ICA, and DHS) should have a movie preview. We need to all sit down together and watch the movie and when a person finds something that they believe should be edited that can speak up. But if someone disagrees with it they should also be allowed to state their argument. No disagreement can go without being solved. This method would go on throughout the whole movie until it is completed and everyone is pleased. I guess the key word to this is compromise. At this event EVERYONE has to be willing to compromise regardless how much seniority they have. But then again this is just a suggestion.
Anyway, so basically what I am trying to say is please come to an agreement to where everyone can be happy. Everyone can see the movie. But do not cut the movie. It was truly a learning experience for everyone involved. They can all say that they left the movie with something good. I beg of you (and trust I don’t beg) please do not cut the documentary. It means so much to all of us. Thank you.