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Kurtis's posts

Everyday people seeking to make it

Friday, February 15th, 2008

The students, families, and crew of First Person recently got to see the completed film for the first time. Below are excerpts from the written response of Ginger Graves, Kurtis’s mother.

Hi Ben here are my comments after watching the DVD…

In some ways, I finish watching this film thinking that it was a
failure because no one made it to a four year college. On the other hand, I
felt it was a success because it showed real life circumstances and how
they affect the lives of everyday people seeking to make it from high
school to college. This was awesome because nothing is hidden – not the
start of boot camp, incarceration or advanced college entrance to the
discharges – from the dropouts to the GED’s – to the graduations, to
college acceptance and scholarship availability – from the family support
system to the lack there of. It all comes down to real life issues and
challenges. These young people never gave up they are still pushing
forward. This is the key to this project and it has indeed accomplished
its task through the lives of these six students.

I pray that those watching this film especially the young people won’t get
discouraged…I pray that they see instead community college as a stepping stone to a four year
college… We need to make sure our children look
at this community [college] experience as a stepping stone, low cost opportunity not
a failure to not make it to a four year college.

Great Job overall. Praying for much success! We can benefit
these young people in the struggle to make it against all odds and their
ability to do so. I know I have said alot. call me if you want to talk.

Kurtis's posts

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.

Kurtis's posts

All by myself

Monday, December 4th, 2006

Kurtis is currently incarcerated. His blog posts come from his correspondence.

It feels good knowin’ my story (the whole story) may be a part of a movie because a lot of time when people fall on bad times their dreams and plans are forgotten or replaced with tryin’ to improvise with their current situation. I don’t want either to happen to me. Knowin’ that my story is gonna be told gives me more initiative to continue fighting for a better ending…

In our daily lives, we make a lot of decisions based on what people expect us to do or think of us, when in all actuality, it don’t matter. When I sit back and start runnin’ through names and relations, I think ‘damn, where he at’ or ‘what she doin?’ when it affects me very little or none at all to really know. People who you plan to know even five years from now disappear and leave you all by yourself. People who you thought had love for you brush you off as nothing but a memory. So I’ve decided to do the same. I came in this world all by myself, I’m livin’ this life all by myself, and I’ll take my last breath all by myself.

Kurtis's posts

For a reason

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

Kurtis is currently incarcerated. His blog posts come from his correspondence. The post below is Kurtis’ request for how First Person Director Ben Herold should respond to the question “Why did Kurtis make the decisions he made compared to the decisions made by the other students?”

On the question of why do you think Kurtis made decisions he made compared to the decisions of others? Make sure you state the fact that the object of First Person involved getting six different kids from six different backgrounds which includes six different types of daily struggles. There is no telling how any of the other 5 students or even ourselves would have reacted if faced with the situation Kurtis was faced with. Although I (may or may not) agree with Kurtis’ reaction, I do however understand that the decision he made was with and for a reason.

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