rounded corners image

Archive for March, 2007

The school just did not look its best

Sunday, March 18th, 2007

The Education Law Center, Good Schools Pennsylvania (GSPA), and the Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) are leading The Pennsylvania Education Funding Reform Campaign. This campaign will advocate for a state finance system that provides all children with the resources needed for an excellent public education. The results could lead to significant legislative changes in the inequitable funding formula the state uses now. First Person is pleased to support this effort by participating in the Campaign’s Share Your Stories effort.

graffitidesk_440.jpg

My school did not get enough funding, and as a result, there were broken desks. There were not enough textbooks, and the books that we used were torn. There was graffiti on the desks. The school did just not look its best. In computer class, there were not enough computers. You’d have to wait on one and end up missing out on time you could have been doing work.

This affected my ability to learn because when there weren’t enough books and I had to partner with someone I did not like, I wouldn’t do the work. Or when there weren’t enough science supplies to go around and I couldn’t participate, I would leave. During class, if I had to sit in a broken, uncomfortable chair, I would be aggravated and not really focused on the work.

If I had more money for my school I would buy enough books for all students. I would get more learning supplies and fix up the broken chairs, desk doors, etc. More supplies for students would mean less conflict and maybe not so much talking. Maybe the school would look better, and maybe students would feel more comfortable in their environment.

Like staring at the Coliseum

Friday, March 16th, 2007

The Education Law Center, Good Schools Pennsylvania (GSPA), and the Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) are leading The Pennsylvania Education Funding Reform Campaign. This campaign will advocate for a state finance system that provides all children with the resources needed for an excellent public education. The results could lead to significant legislative changes in the inequitable funding formula the state uses now. First Person is pleased to support this effort by participating in the Campaign’s Share Your Stories effort.

chettaanddiane_440.jpg

Diane Dantzler (left): Joining the PIAA, we had the chance to play at Bensalem [a suburban school outside of Philadelphia.] That was like a college stadium to us, seeing as how we practice on a field that is half the size and is covered with dog feces. This is the first time the scoreboard is working all season. I’m a crossing guard in Philadelphia, and we are not funded at all. I am here every game, but its hard keeping [the kids’] morale up.

Conchetta Logan (right): I’ve written to the School District about the field [and other things], but I haven’t heard anything. These are the kids who want to do good things in terms of college, but they can’t get nothing.

Steve: My name is Steven Parr III. I am 18 and a recent graduate of Benjamin Franklin High School. I now attend the Community College of Philadelphia. I played football all four of the years I was in high school, and I always believed that my school was one of the more privileged schools in terms of funding in athletics. But that all changed when we had a game against Bensalem high school my junior year. We were excited to even have them on our roster because we had never played a “suburban” school. On the ride up we knew we were close because we started seeing less and less highway and more trees. We saw the high school and looked to our left and see the practice field. We have to walk about 10 blocks to our practice field, which is at a recreation center and only has about 60 yard of ground available. Then we get to their stadium, which is reminiscent of Franklin Field. Their home section has a built in concession stands, seats like 500 easy and has the pitted entrance/exit for the players of home and away. For us it was like staring at the Coliseum. We share a field with our rival high school. Our school is about 20 miles away from our “HOME” field. To make a long story short we were close at the half, but somehow we lost 55-12. It was a great experience but we witnessed first hand what kind of money goes into suburban schools. I believe if we had equal funding we could have the adequate facilities needed to compete at the state level of competition. I mean, Franklin doesn’t even own a tackling drive or even a good practice facility. Like any creature we adapt, but I am sure adaptation isn’t always going to cut it. We need resources. I look forward to the day that I can go to a Franklin game and sit amongst a crowd off 500 at night at their own home field, but until that day comes I will sit in the sardine packed crowd of 150 and cheer for my team.

Killing me

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Here are the things that are killing me with this process:

1. Not knowing what the hell I’m doing. I’m trying to read as much as I possibly can about distribution, financing, marketing, festival strategy, and 10 other topics…but books and online forums only go so far against the need to actually make something happen in the real world.

2. Having to act like I know what the hell I’m doing. I’m fundamentally inclined to be straight up about what I know and what I don’t. But that doesnt seem to be the most productive strategy in finding everything I need to find right now.

3. The fear of what I dont know. Its hard not to be paralyzed by the thought that one little thing I fuck up now is going to totally screw me later…whether that’s finding the right lawyer, the wording of deals with potential investors, what I choose to submit in order to meet a deadline, etc.

4. Rejection: ITVS, TDF, and the Garrett Scott Development Fund in rapid succession over the past couple of weeks.

5. Money: I’m broke, and the choices between finding money to keep postproduction moving and to pay my bills are getting a little more dicey each month.

6. Continued uncertainty about the film we’re actually going to have. We’ve been building scene by scene, but it still feels a long way from a coherent whole. There is a big part of me that really needs to see it all start coming together, that is growing very impatient with the process that I know I just have to trust.

7. Still not being sure all this is worth it. The more I learn about the distribution and broadcast opportunities out there, the more I wonder about the capacity of established structures to reach the audience that I really care most about: urban teens. Seems like its cliche to make a doc about inner city kids, but a totally foreign concept to try to make a doc for inner city kids.

Greater than he gave himself credit for

Monday, March 12th, 2007

During the next two weeks, each of the young people featured in First Person will be getting a first look at one of their sample scenes from our developing rough cut, then blogging with their reaction. This post is from Kurtis’ mother, responding to questions from Director Ben Herold after viewing a scene with Kurtis walking to school on the first day of 11th grade.

1. What was happening in the scene you saw? What are your memories of that morning? Kurtis is walking with a friend, holding up his pants and talking negatively about his environment and school as it relates to him personnally. He slipped out the house without a belt obviously and walked to school instead of catching the bus. I usually insist on prayer, hug and kiss in the morning. Looks like he may have skipped out on that this morning, since I didn’t catch the pants! Meaning he probably hollered from downstairs that he was leaving and I instructed him to say a prayer and I told him I loved him as always.

2. How did you think the scene portrayed Kurtis? Was it accurate and did it feel like him? Not for me! But then I would prefer to see a more positive young man, describing a bright future instead of the blight I see in this scene! However unrealistic this may seem. His future to me was greater than he gave himself credit for - He was in a computer program, he was in a college program, he had a future worth looking forward too, from my point of view anyway!

3. What was your reaction to seeing him on screen? I loved seeing him on screen. I didn’t like the way he portrayed him self, or his life. Would have loved to have seen something indicating alot more positive feedback from him.

4. What was Kurtis’ reaction when you described the scene to him on the phone? He was hoping you had cut some of the language he used in the scenes. And he wanted the individual walking with him cut out!

5. Did the scene meet your expectations? Not at all, I was hoping for a positive reflection of him, but I am reminded that this positive
reflection I remember was probably only displayed at home, in front of or around me.

Pretty sucky

Friday, March 9th, 2007

The Education Law Center, Good Schools Pennsylvania (GSPA), and the Education Policy and Leadership Center (EPLC) are leading The Pennsylvania Education Funding Reform Campaign. This campaign will advocate for a state finance system that provides all children with the resources needed for an excellent public education. The results could lead to significant legislative changes in the inequitable funding formula the state uses now. First Person is pleased to support this effort by participating in the Campaign’s Share Your Stories effort.

kensingtonbackboard_440.jpg

My name is Mario, not your average eighteen year old (going to be nineteen soon) born, raised and still living in North Philadelphia. I went to Kensington High School (International School of Business), and am currently enrolled as a full-time student at Community College of Philadelphia. I work full-time as well, currently for a Para-transit company by the name of Transit Aid Inc.

Going through high school in an urban area requires a lot of patience. The classroom sizes are too small, and the lunches should only be served to axe murderers, gang bangers, and your average inmate as punishment. There were fights, the occasional bomb scares, and unorganized fire drills.

The school itself was okay. The main building was always too hot in the summer, too cold in the winter. It smelled musky, the water fountains spit out warm water that tasted like copper, and computers outside of the computer lab were scarce. The newer annex building had a better gym, working water fountains, and central heating and cooling.

Dances were a rarity. The school called them privileges. We usually had to have fundraisers and outside assistance for them, and they usually turned out pretty sucky anyway. Field trips were pretty rare too. Our graduation trip wasn’t anything to scream for either. We made it nice by having fun together as a senior class but it was bad was hearing about other schools going out of state for their school trips to amusement parks, other cities, staying in hotels, the whole nine yards.

We had baseball and softball, basketball, soccer, a bowling team, wrestling, even bowling, but no football. We never had a football squad. I asked about it once and was told that we didn’t have the sufficient funding for it, which I think is a sin. Aside from having an okay sports program, our equipment sucked pretty badly. The weight room looked like it came straight out of a bad news bear catalogue, and we had to travel to practice, and use a public recreational field, because we didn’t have a field of our own.

Imagining a situation where we had more school funding gives a prettier picture of what my high school experience would’ve been overall. More resources would’ve been available, educational or otherwise.

rounded corners image