George Gittoes -- talented, committed, brave, inventive, enterprising -- has just released in Australia his new film, Rampage. The idea came to him during the filming of his previous movie, Soundtrack To War, which chronicled the musical activities or U.S. service men and women on operations in Iraq. That was a wonderful film. During filming, he was confronted by the fact that one of his subjects, Elliott Lovett, came from a place in America so savage that Iraq could be considered a way out of trouble. Today's The Daily Telegraph covered the new release in its 'Sydney Live' supplement (here's an earlier story in the same tabloid).
Brown Sub, as the housing project is called, is somewhere you don't want to go. It is drug-ridden, gang-infested, systematically violent, and almost impossible to escape if you are a resident.
Located in Miami, Florida, the Brownsville Subdivision is home to Lovett, and he takes Gittoes into the area, introduces the filmmaker to his family, and shows him around the traps.
[G]oing to Brown Sub with Lovett, Gittoes was to awaken to the nightmare which is the project dwellers' reality. He filmed interviews on the street and in gang headquarters, living the experience and earning the trust of a cast of extraordinary characters who spoke, rapped, cried and raged directly into Gittoes' lens. "I discovered with Rampage that the real job of the director is to get the best performance out of the 'actors'. Rampage is wall-to-wall performances," Gittoes says.
I remember seeing Soundtrack To War when it first came out and being really very impressed with it. There was a distinct charm to the performances by the soldiers and Iraqis who were filmed on location in the middle of what is now a struggle fought over more days and weeks than World War Two. Gittoes has a unique ability to get people to reveal themselves. As the Telegraph's Elizabeth Fortesque writes:
He is non-judgemental about everyone on whom he trains his camera, living entirely in the moment and seeing the world from their perspective.
In the battle between personal fear, and fear of "not having a film", Gittoes says the latter won out.
Great line. Great sentiment. The work is everything.