If You Break the Skin, You Must Come In

Friday, February 02, 2007


Repost From Zoe Strauss's Blog

Thursday, February 01, 2007

If You Break the Skin, It's Mostly Likely Because Zoe Strauss Went on a Stabbing Spree
The process of getting the film out has been absolute torture. I don't even know where to begin with this... DHS demanded that the film be pulled after it had been submitted to the Philadelphia Film Festival, which it was in good faith. DHS and the ICA own the footage of the film. But creative control was in the hands of the BPA and the ICA. And the kids who participated in the project were from the AIC, which is under the auspices of DHS. Acronyms central.

There are a million things that have ensued since the demand to pull the film, but everything blew the fuck up at a DHS/ICA/BPA/PAP meeting at DHS earlier this week. Until this meeting, all groups had been working together to come to a compromise on the final editing of the film. This isn't to say that there hadn't been tension, tension was present all through post-production but that was just related to the completion of the film, which was fairly complex. However, this meeting saw a tsunami of ignorance pour into the room.

My GOD, you can not believe the things I heard. Although all of the DHS workers who I worked with up to this point regarded the project as an incredible success, a woman who I had never met and seemed to be the supervisor of these workers claimed to be taking charge; and in this charge the most shocking things were said. DHS has some concerns with the film that are understandable and would have been able to be discussed, such as a repeated image of "Man Nude on Bed" which includes the images of him standing outside, standing with his pants down, and then the image that I've chosen as a final image. I have a lot to say about that but later, later.

Anyway, this DHS woman, who apparently had not watched the film began making completely insane statements...that my work was not appropriate for the AIC members to have seen at all and then she implied that I was a inappropriate choice as to work with the young adults. She implied that she was the only one "looking out for the children." She attempted to belittle her DHS coworkers. She then went on to compare the AIC members viewing my work and participating in this project to be the equivalent of offering the AIC members marijuana, and I quote "the first time it's fun, but then what happens?" While this statement is actually pretty funny considering that it's probably the only time my work has been described as "fun," it was a moment when I saw just how very myopic this woman was. I am rarely shocked, but in that moment I was completely stunned. Seriously.

Then she mandated that the AIC members who made the film were not allowed to watch it. That's right, the film makers, all of whom (except one) are 18 or older, are prohibited from watching the film. It was also said that the AIC members auto-biographical sections in the documentary could be cut, that these guys might not be allowed to tell their own stories. Jesus H. Christ, my head was going to implode. The thing that's so unbelievable is that this film is the feel good movie of the year. It's love, love and love!

There were many more completely insane things said. And I mean COMPLETELY FUCKING INSANE! And the end result is that DHS lawyers are watching the film and coming back with their assessment, their legal position on the film and a list of mandatory edits tomorrow. Now, I am certain of several things regardless of what "directives" come back tomorrow.

1. I am not an employee of DHS, nor have I ever been. In that regard, any sort of demand made of me from DHS is completely worthless, unless it is a legal mandate. I am waiting to hear what's coming back tomorrow and then will decide what course of action to take, if any.

2. While I am very appreciative to have had my voice heard in the editing process, I am not in a position to say how the film moves forward without the input of the film makers. I will fight against sanitizing this film. David Kessler has directed AND edited this film, which is amazing. He has made it into a feature length film. But the other film makers and stars of the film have been shut out. That's beyond fucked up. I'll fight for the film makers to own their own work and their own stories. Below is the body of an email I sent to the ICA, who, unfortunately, has now been positioned as an adversary to DHS, as opposed to their intended relationship as a collaborator.

Below is the email I sent to the ICA about how I am planning on moving forward after tomorrow.

"I am responding pre DHS directives about how a decision will be made in relation to "If You Break the Skin, You Must Come In" moving forward with the requested edits. I don't believe that I should be making the final decision alone; this is a film about me, not a film I made. I have weighed in on the editing process with a number of suggestions, but they were only suggestions, not demands. The final decision about what will happen with this film will have to come from the filmmakers, the AIC youth who participated making this film. They moved the flow of the project with their ideas and their responses to my work, they did the filming and conducted the interviews and their participation in this project is what influenced David's editing and structuring of the film. They have to weigh in on if they deem the requested edits appropriate or not and if the film accurately presents the summer project. Although I am very happy to have been allowed to give input into the making of the film I have to firmly assert that this film is not my work, it is about my work. I am more than happy to make the final decision and let the ICA know how I want this move forward, but I can't without the filmmakers letting me know their decision on the film."

More tomorrow.


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