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a true story about people who don't exist
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The Facts behind the Fiction:

Lionel Crear, Aminisha Ferdinand, Nicole Lang, Mario Moorhead, and T'Kalla star in Red Bone Gerillas, an improvisational narrative project from exittheapple. The story was shot with no second takes and no script; providing an immersive, realistic story-telling experience for both actors and audience.

Exittheapple has been creating award-winning and thought-provoking film and video projects since 1992. Director Pierre Bennu is a 2001 New York Foundation for the Arts film fellow, and earlier this year, the trailer for this film won 2nd place in the ABTV mini-doc contest at adbusters.org.

Director / Producter Q & A

Q. Where did you get the name?
A. The original title – Albino Gorilla – was inspired by a Gil Scott Heron album cover with a big white gorilla in front of an American flag. The final title is a riff off that idea.

Q. Where did the concept come from?
Frustration. The story came out of frustration at what has become popular culture, and with the idea that we all play so many roles in real life.What if we could break out of our expected roles? What if we could just be ourselves, all the time? What would be the effect of that kind of social disobedience?

The process also came out of frustration from doing everything by the rules and seeing little progress. For almost 6 years prior to doing RBG I had been working unsuccessfully to get my 1st feature length project off the ground. I was beginning to hate film and needed to do something that was fun. I did a few shorts to warm myself up to the idea of ‘breaking all the rules,’ and basically did this piece as an exercise in trust. Normally I am an extremely regimented filmmaker; meticulous storyboards, every shot planned. I had to let go of all that. My meditation for this film was “let go.”

These two frustrations came together to create a story about revolution. In particular, I wanted revolution and being a revolutionary to appear fun and I wanted the viewer to feel that change was an attainable and achievable goal. It’s not without risk, but it can happen. You can make it happen.

Q. How was this movie done? What do you mean ‘no script, no second takes?’ Can you talk about the directing process?
For all practical purposes we shot it as a documentary. Although everyone knew the trajectory of the story, no one was told what we’d be shooting on a given day until they arrived on set. Everyone was asked to show up in character because when they hit set, we were rolling.

We went over the story with the actors, as a group, ONCE, a few weeks before we began shooting. We gave each one of them detailed outlines and background on their characters; including videos, movies, books, music that the character would use. They were not given scripts.

The actors responded to this challenge splendidly! They really became those characters. The Red Bone Guerillas were real. We actually did the interventions, created those realities in the streets. My only regret if any is that we were unable to shoot all the interventions that Jamyla & I conceived… and also, that we didn’t have mics powerful enough to catch the reactions of some of the people on the streets.

Q. How long did it take?
We shot for 13 days (over 2 1/2 months) in the summer of 2002. It took 9 months to edit the first cut of the project.

Q. How much did it cost?
The total cost was about $6000; most of which came from the book advance for Bullsh*t Or Fertilizer. We figured how better to use a chunk of money that came from a pro-art inspiration book than to make a piece of art.

Q. What was is like to edit it?
As the director I had great fun, exercise in trust and all of that. It was very freeing for all of us involved. As the editor I wanted to kick the directors ass! We wrapped shooting and I had 36 hours of footage and no script. I basically had to recreate the entire story from scratch.

Q. Is this the final edit? Are you happy with it?
I was happy with it when it was 2 hours and 15 min but 4 test screenings and a lot of feedback later it’s slimmed down to 99 minutes. I’m cool with it. Everything I wanted for the movie to say gets said. I still have my directors cut. This cut is for you.

Q. What is the difference between this version and earlier versions?
The lesson I learned with this version was how to cut things OUT; how to leave holes and trust the audience to fill in the blanks. I actually call this version my ‘stand up metal chair’ version. I noticed at the rough cut/cast screening that people’s attention spans varied in direct proportion to the comfort of the chair they were sitting in. So after editing this version I watched the entire thing standing up; and then again sitting in a metal chair. These conditions aren’t ideal, but might sometimes be the case in more intimate venues. I’m happy to announce that it passes the metal chair test fine.

Q. How do you plan on promoting this film? What are your plans for the film? How are you going to distribute a film with so many borrowed clips?
We think of this project as more of a movement than a movie; an extended meditation; a piece of artistic propaganda. Ideally we will show it at galleries or art houses, colleges, museums, and smaller independent theatres. We enjoy interacting with an intimate audience who can hang out, ask questions and talk.

There was an independent Black filmmaker at the turn of the century named Oscar Micheaux. He made dozens of films and distributed them himself, carrying prints and projector from town to town and showing them wherever he could assemble an audience. In honor of this ancestor we’ve dubbed our traveling film caravan The Micheaux Show and would love to come to your town. We also are open to having individuals who the movie speaks to, hosting screenings on their own. You can learn more about this viral distribution plan here.

We will also be happy to give away copies of RBG in appreciation for donations to support our work.