July 25, 2014— “An opportunity to help exists in every corner, on every street,” says filmmaker Russell Blanchard.
Blanchard is referring to The Lot, a short film he is working on and aims to complete with the help of the crowdfunding community on Kickstarter. He has launched a campaign to raise $10,000 from June 28 to July 28 to produce the short film, which was based on a true story.
A Story of Friendship and Community
The Lot is based on the advocacy Baakir Tyehimba, who operates a café in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans. In the summer of 2007, Tyehimba saw an opportunity to help his under-served community by attempting to transform the abandoned lot across the street from his café into an after-school workshop for the youth. Fast forward to today, 7 years later, the lot remains unfortunately abandoned.
Blanchard’s movie hopes to capture Tyehimba’s hope for his community and the story behind this lot and why the café owner was forced to put down anything that was already built in the area.
The Lot aims to draw a creative parallel to Tyehimba’s story and in its course inspire other communities. According to Blanchard, “Our film is not a documentary or a shot for shot re-telling of Baakir’s story, though we utilize the theme of reaching out and helping those around you and instill that throughout our film. Stepping out to help is always a challenge and often it is the journey and relationships formed along the way that have the most lasting impact.”
The short film is a narrative that follows the main character, Grady, as he befriends an outcast boy named Christian. Together, they journey in their unlikely friendship and learn from each other. However, Grady’s good intentions must be put to the test as he learns that helping others must be on their terms and not his own.
“We’re not abandoning hope”
Through the Kickstarter campaign, Blanchard and his team of volunteer cast and crew hope to bring to life a dynamic story that simply started as a conversation with a compassionate café owner, which snowballed into what now is a short film ready for production. Many are even touched by the story and have volunteered their talents and skills into making The Lot come to life.
While the team of volunteers will cut the filmmaking costs, Blanchard is still hoping that the Kickstarter campaign will help produce a high-quality short film that will inspire others. The proceeds from the campaign will cover equipment, production insurance, set design, hard drives, and food for the cast and crew. From the films proceeds, Blanchard and Tyehimba can finally get the park built on the abandoned lot and therefore help children learn skills that would then help the whole community. He furthers, “Our goal is to inspire not just one park, but many. If not a park, then a simple helping hand. As filmmakers, we have to decide how we can take a message and get it out there the best way we know how. That is of course, to make a film.”
To find out more, visit http://www.thelotfilm.com/.
About Russell Blanchard
Russell Blanchard is an independent filmmaker based in New Orleans. He has produced and directed over 15 narrative short films that have premiered in theaters and competed in festival in Los Angeles, Shanghai, New Orleans and Hawaii.
He recently completed five years as Creative Director and Lead Director/Producer for Falck Productions, a global health and safety film division. He previously worked in multiple departments on ABC’s LOST and at PBS Hawaii.
He has a degree in Cinematic Production from the University of Hawaii-Manao’s Academy for Creative Media. His thesis film was selected as the first co-production to receive the SMART Exchange financier award and was co-produced and funded by both the Shanghai University and the University of Hawaii.
Blanchard founded LOCOfilm in 2010 to connect artists with film projects that have a social impact.