Ferasha Films | Year in Review 2014

 Bruce Kite, Amanda Danziger, and Brendan Schaller at The Backyard Philly Project Recut Premiere.

Bruce Kite, Amanda Danziger, and Brendan Schaller at The Backyard Philly Project Recut Premiere.

It's that time of year again when we give you our big year in review! 2014 was awesome, and we are so glad you joined us on an fun adventure recutting The Backyard Philly Project. For those of you who don't know, in 2013 we won Best Feature and Best Documentary at the Greater Lehigh Valley Filmmaker's Festival where we met with Filmmaker and Editor on Glee, Ishai Setton. Ishai encouraged us to recut Backyard Philly to help us gain a wider audience. And so, in December 2013 we went back to editing the film again! With some obstacles during the winter months, we finally were satisfied with the way the recut was going. We teamed up with Blair Brother's Music, based in Philadelphia, and they helped us with some custom soundtracks. We then premiered our recut to an audience of 200 people in October 2014. The response of our recut has been really great, and we're glad we've been able to get a few public and private screenings before 2014 went away.

While all the fun of recutting was happening, in May 2014, Lehigh Valley Business honored Amanda Danziger as a "Woman to Watch" at their Women of Influence awards. A special honor granted to only one person under the age of thirty. We're happy that the word of Ferasha Films has finally reached Amanda's hometown, and we're glad that the work we do is starting to get known!

 Amanda Danziger at The Women of Influence awards presented by Lehigh Valley Business.

Amanda Danziger at The Women of Influence awards presented by Lehigh Valley Business.

While we were working on the recut, we were finishing up our second biggest project: finishing our non-profit paperwork! We worked along side two fantastic lawyers, Stephanie Sikora and D. Keith Brown at Stuckert and Yates in Newtown, PA. They are phenomenal team, and they submitted our official paperwork this past summer. We highly recommend them if you ever need help setting up a non-profit! 

During all the non-profit paperwork process we held our first Board Meeting this past Summer. We are excited to share the names of those on our board:

  • Stephen Ferrell, VP Quality Solutions, Health & Life Sciences at Sidus BioData
  • George Mowrer, Partner at HMK Insurance 
  • Betsy Mowrer, Former Executive Director of R.K. Laros Foundation
  • Ariel Danziger, Coordinated Health

A big thanks to the four people mentioned above, we are extremely happy to have you on board! And we are extremely excited to see what the future holds!

As we enter 2015, we are patiently awaiting our non-profit approval, and if all goes well, we will be an official 501(c)3 organization! Thanks for all your support during our Backyard Philly Years! We've worked on this specific documentary since 2012, and we are glad we could travel this road with you and complete it alongside of you. Many of you have been an amazing support to us, and we wouldn't be where we are today without you.

So what happen's next? We've been researching a few stories to do in the future, and we plan on launching an application process on our website for those looking to have us tell your story. So stay tuned for the application coming soon! Thank you for a great 2014!

The Backyard Philly Project - Indie Film of the Year!

We are thrilled that our latest documentary The Backyard Philly Project  won Feature Length Indie Film of the Year at the Philadelphia Geek Awards! Thank you film lovers for nominating us and taking us this far. We are so excited to spread the word of our film to every part of the city. We believe that these stories must be shared. 

 In order of appearance: Adam Bruckner (our inspiration for this film), Brendan Schaller (the man who wore many hats in the production our film), Amanda Danziger (Director of Backyard Philly and founder/filmmaker at Ferasha Films), and Ariel Danziger (Amanda's husband, script writer). 

In order of appearance: Adam Bruckner (our inspiration for this film), Brendan Schaller (the man who wore many hats in the production our film), Amanda Danziger (Director of Backyard Philly and founder/filmmaker at Ferasha Films), and Ariel Danziger (Amanda's husband, script writer). 

This past Saturday night we went to the Philadelphia Geek Awards as nominees and came out winners of the Feature Length Indie Film of the Year category. This event didn't just spotlight cool projects in the city, but focused on people and organizations that are striving to better the city through technology and the arts. It's an honor for our film to be considered one of them. Geekadelphia, thanks for bringing us all together -- you rock!

Geek Story of the Year: Pong on the Cira Centre
Startup of the Year: Autism Expressed
Hacker of the Year: Dr. Frank Lee
Social Media Campaign of the Year: Braille Street Art
Scientist of the Year: Kimberlee Sue Moran
Comic Creator of the Year: Andrew Goletz
Indie Game of the Year: Perfection
Web Project of the Year: AxisPhilly
Mobile App of the Year: BizVizz
Event of the Year: Open Air Philadelphia
Feature Length Indie Film of the Year: (Us!) The Backyard Philly Project
Viral Project of the Year: We are Never Ever Going to Win with Andy
Geek of the Year: Dan Ueda (Check out this letter he wrote recently to The Washington Post --- he got our attention and we're happy that he won!). 

We had a blast meeting all of you and we hope to stay in touch! 

Also, be sure to check out the other two nominees for the indie film of the year category (Detonator and This Time Tomorrow). Our city is filled with many talented filmmakers, and we are excited to be in community with so many great Philly films. 

-The Ferasha Films Team

P.s. for more photos from our special night and to watch Amanda's thank you speech visit our Facebook page! 

 

 

Our next screening: First Glance Film Festival at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. September 21 at 5pm. Tickets are $10. (Let us know on Facebook that you're coming --- so we can sleep at night knowing that you will be there).  More info here. 

We are just STOKED about our nomination! Philly Geek Awards here we come!

The Backyard Philly Project - nominated for a Philly Geek Award for Feature Length Indie Film of the Year! Awards ceremony takes place this August 17, 2013. 

 The Backyard Philly Project, nominated for Feature Length Indie Film of the Year, Philly Geek Awards

This morning we woke up to a blog post from Geekadelphia titled "The Nominees for the 2013 Philadelphia Geek Awards." After scrolling down to see the nominees for Feature Length Indie Film of the Year we were so excited to see "The Backyard Philly Project" up for a nomination! We cannot wait until the awards ceremony this August 17th at the Academy of Natural Science of Drexel University. In an article published by Newsworks today, Eric Smith co-founder of the Geek Awards defines a geek as "...a person that is so passionate about a specific thing that it becomes a part of their lifestyle, a part of who they are." We think that definition fits us perfectly. We are so passionate about the work that we do here at Ferasha Films and especially about our latest documentary Backyard Philly. "The Backyard Philly Project" has taught us about freely giving ourselves but also allowing us to do what we love by showing our viewers the world through the lens of our cameras. 

We are looking forward to be involved in this special night, and we're crossing our fingers to be the Feature Length Indie Film of the Year! Tickets go on sale on July 29 (prices to be announced soon). 

Thanks for all the love and support friends, family, and fans! 

-Amanda  

 

An interview with Nienke Izurieta, The Backyard Philly Project

We did a little interview with our Assistant Director, Nienke Izurieta, about her favorite scenes in The Backyard Philly Project and more. 

 Nienke Izurieta, Assistant Director pictured with Bruce Kite, Cinematographer of The Backyard Philly Project.

Nienke Izurieta, Assistant Director pictured with Bruce Kite, Cinematographer of The Backyard Philly Project.

 Tasia's Graduation -- a still shot from The Backyard Philly Project.

Tasia's Graduation -- a still shot from The Backyard Philly Project.

1. What is your role at Ferasha Films?

My title is Director of Still Photography, but my role at Ferasha Films and The Backyard Philly Project in particular includes all sorts of various tasks and responsibilities behind the scenes.

2. As the Assistant Director, what was your most memorable moment during the production of Backyard Philly?

I was able to attend and film Tasia's graduation ceremony. Taking part in that was a huge honor for me since it was a tremendous milestone for her and her family. It is one of the more redeeming parts of the film and one of the most memorable for me.

3. What was it like working as the Assistant Director and also the Still Photographer on set?

Tasia, Montae, Brianna and David are so likable it was so much fun to "work" with them on set. I had such a great time just spending time with them and getting to know them in between filming that I would often forget to photograph what was going on because I really enjoyed their company.

4. What is your favorite scene in the film?

This is a difficult question to answer. There are a few scenes that are my favorites for various reasons; whether it is a beautiful cinematographic shot, a witty juxtaposition, a profound statement or the rawness of emotion there are certain parts of the film that replay in my mind. There is one point in the film where Brianna breaks down and cries during her interview and I admire her so much for her vulnerability in that moment. Being a photographer, I question how far I can push the boundary of documenting  without imposing on the vulnerability of my subject. I want them to know that I can be trusted to tell their story truthfully without exploiting them. That scene in particular strikes a personal chord in me. I want to reach through the screen and comfort her.

5. What do you hope people will take away when they watch this film?

Poverty is complex and multifaceted.  My opinion is that the most effective way to fight it is on a small individual and inter-personal level. Make a difference in the life of one person and it has a ripple affect. Change can only come after realizing that poverty exists in places not very far from your front door. I don't expect The Backyard Philly Project to expose people to poverty that they haven't seen before but rather to change their perception of it. If anyone goes home after watching the film wondering how they can get involved in their neighborhood or community, I'd say that they took something away from the stories that they heard. That is a good first step in being called to action.


Our next event takes place this Thursday, June 27 at RAW: natural born artists in Philadelphia. More details here.

 

Amanda's Story

Director Amanda Danziger shares her story behind The Backyard Philly Project.

But everyday I looked out that window onto my backyard, toward North Philadelphia, and I felt Philadelphia calling my name.
 Photo by Nienke Izurieta

Photo by Nienke Izurieta

I met Adam Bruckner at a local café in Philadelphia. I was excited to meet him because he said he worked a lot in the world of “American Poverty.” American—-what? Poverty? Yeah, I know that some people in America are poor – but how poor can they be compared to what I’ve seen in third world countries? It’s amazing how blind we can be to our own communities. Since 2007, I’ve been walking the streets of Philadelphia and have learned to ignore the world of Philadelphia’s homeless. It’s easy to ignore, and soon you become blind to the world of poverty in your own backyard.

My husband, Ariel, is my biggest support. After we got married in 2011, I took a small break from the world of documentary making. But after a while I started to feel that I needed to build a new project for Ferasha Films. He encouraged me to think outside the box and find a new story to film. I thought about leaving the country again, but it just didn’t seem right. We lived on the 20th floor in a small studio apartment for our first year of marriage. What a view! It was a place of inspiration, even though we lived in such a small space. But everyday I looked out that window onto my backyard, toward North Philadelphia, and I felt Philadelphia calling my name. That’s when I decided to organize a crew for Ferasha Films to work on our first feature documentary in our own backyard.

Adam told me a lot about how he works with the homeless at a program he started called Philly Restart. But what really struck me was his time and dedication to a housing project near the Northern Liberties neighborhood. Adam organized an after school program at The Helping Hand Rescue Mission (the Mission) for the children in the community. The after school program’s mission is twofold: to tutor elementary school students in their schoolwork, and to challenge the older teens of the neighborhood to take action and tutor those same students.

My first day visiting the Mission made my pulse race with fear. That’s when I asked Nienke Izurieta (Director of Still Photography) to come with me. The first time we went, the palms of my hands were sweating as Adam gave us a walking tour around the neighborhood. Growing up as a middle class suburban girl and moving into the big mean scary city you hear stories about “the projects.” As we walked with Adam I kept thinking ‘what on earth am I doing? I’m going to get shot.’ I was extremely relieved when we concluded our walking tour and we sat in the Mission waiting for the tutoring program to begin. And that’s when I fell in love with the faces of the neighborhood.

From then on I went every Tuesday and volunteered at the Mission with Nienke, even before production officially began. Eventually the teens in our documentary started to notice that we were showing up to tutor. What they didn’t know was those new tutors were soon to invite them to participate in the making of The Backyard Philly Project.

I’m very excited to premiere the documentary this May 10th and 11th. I really hope that you are too. I hope that when you do watch this film (at the premiere, a screening, film festival, buying the DVD) that you are inspired to work within your own community. The issues our documentary highlights cannot be fixed with money. The problems we filmed require personal commitment and volunteering. It is only by facing the problems and investing time in our backyards that we can successfully defeat the problems we attempted to document. Please connect with your community today.

-The Backyard Philly Project will premiere this May 10th and 11th at the Drexel University URBN Center Annex-

-For tickets and info, visit ferashafilms.com-