Every year, thousands of children are placed into Juvenile Detention Centers as a result of criminal behavior. It’s a complex issue at the intersection of social, civil, and familial life, and quite frankly, not one which was being considered within the boundaries of our film production community.
As a company, Gorilla has worked to foster a culture which embraces the communities we operate within. While well intended, these efforts began with much naivety – especially when considering the socioeconomic dynamics of our founding studio in the Midwest. We envisioned a space where a diversity of filmmakers would feel empowered to contribute their perspectives to our work. Our work has allowed us to travel the world in search of stories which celebrate the value of human diversity, and we wanted to reflect these priorities at home. Today, we recognize that this is a complex challenge which requires much more of us than simply opening the front doors.
The reality is that we were only attracting a homogeneous group of filmmakers. This was both surprising and disappointing. Clearly, something was impeding the ascension of minority filmmakers in our community. What began as idealism transformed into action as we sought to understand the forces behind this. The veil of privilege had clouded our well-intended of ideals.
In all transparency, this should have been obvious. Although none of Gorilla’s founding members had grown up with significant means, we failed to discern the many socioeconomic privileges which led to our empowerment within the film industry. It’s not that we hadn’t worked our asses off (at this point we are completely assless), but rather that we had been given the opportunity to choose this path in the first place. We realized that if we wanted to be part of a diverse community we needed to do more than simply open our doors. We needed to contribute to the empowerment of future filmmakers and creatives so that they could eventually walk through them.
In response, Gorilla has taken an active role in the education and social transformation of the communities we work in. One of the ways we are doing this is through The DELTA Project: a program we have helped establish in partnership with the Kent County Juvenile Detention Center (West Michigan).
Championed and facilitated by inspiring founder Cole Williams, and produced in partnership with our friend (and tireless social advocate) Joel Van Kuiken, The DELTA Project works to mentor teenage boys who have been incarcerated. It’s an incredible program which reveals the true nature of delinquency in young men who, by and large, are seeking upward mobility in environments which often lack significant familial, social, and economic support.
Gorilla works to support of The DELTA Project’s mentorship goals by facilitating film workshops for young men in the program. Here we present the basics of filming an interview conversation – from lighting and camera to interviewing techniques – and culminate with a live-action production hosted by one of the students. For each session, a DELTA student is paired with a member of the community who has overcome similar circumstances and can offer encouragement/advice from an empathic point of view. They are filmed using Gorilla’s Face-to-Face recording device: a two-way camera system which allows both subjects to converse while looking directly into the camera lens. The result is an intimate conversation which disassembles assumptions of criminality and privilege, revealing barriers which stratify our community.
For us, The DELTA Project speaks to the heart of our desire to extend our knowledge and resources to help empower a more diverse environment. We‘re continuously amazed by the passion and drive of these young men.
Follow the link to read more: https://www.therapidian.org/placematters-delta-program