I was so excited to see this story in the Baltimore Sun about how the Baltimore School for the Arts is starting a film program. Though I knew that the article (and the generous gift from the Josephs) was coming, seeing the story in print was somewhat cathartic.
My friend and colleague, Bea Bufrahi, had been developing this program for years. Long before I worked at the Baltimore School for the Arts, Bea was running video classes where stage production students made short, obscure films. It’s hard to exaggerate how much effort she put into these films. Bea is nothing if not dedicated. Few people came to her film showcases. She didn’t always get paid. But still she persisted.
When I pitched the idea for The Founders, Chris Ford the director of BSA brought Bea and I together. I dimly recall him saying “you guys should be working together.” I wasn’t sure why, but I knew that I couldn’t make the Founders alone. At that first meeting, she told me that her goal was to start a film track at BSA. It was laughable how distant it was. After all, BSA hadn’t changed in 35 years. Why should it start now?
Then we made The Founders. It took 18 months and it brought us to our knees many times. When it premiered in the fall of that year, both of us felt that we had just finished a huge project. But that wasn’t the case. Really, we were beginning even bigger projects. The following summer we made The Audition, an experimental film, which was just as hard as the Founders, but in a different way. We felt pretty exhausted after that experience so we went back to our respective corners. I to my writing, Bea to her video program and her High School Film Festival.
Briefly, it felt like the ripple had ceased, the waters quieted. But that wasn’t the case. In fact, that is probably never the case.
Because someone (Caroline? Carter?) applied for grant money from the Saul Zaentz foundation, the following summer we made four beautiful films in six weeks with students. We added a new partner to our mix, Pat Galluzzo, who was the master technologist of the group. Once again, we were in the throes of production and by the fall, people were so happy with the product that suddenly we were courting donors for a potential film program. As a bonus, that fall, I became a Saul Zaentz Fellow based on a feature screenplay I wrote which added more momentum to our efforts.
Three round tables later and a visit by Tom Rothman from Sony pictures and here we are. Next month we will audition our first class of young filmmakers from Baltimore city. Next week, Bea and I will interview a director for our first feature film. All of this seems like a miracle. We worked hard, but I won’t flatter myself to think that hard work alone got us here. There was timing, attitude, the right conditions, and of course…friends.
The scientists got it wrong. The Big Bang didn’t happen. The explosion is still happening. And you’re it.
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