August and Max are normal teens: they dig cars, girls, and video games. They are also hearing impaired. AVENUE X follows August and Max as they scam money from a bodega owner to finance an adventurous, sometimes dangerous day trip, filled with sound, fury, and silence, to Coney Island for one unforgettable ride on the Cyclone roller coaster.
Haitian-American director Phil Roc has directed music videos and other projects for music producer Dallas Austin, VH1, the Ford Motor Company, and more. In 2003, Roc participated in the inaugural Tribeca All Access Program. In 2004, he produced the Sony Music DualDisc documentary MADE IN HEAVEN - THE MAKING OF KIND OF BLUE, about the recording and influence of Miles Davis' quintessential album. Roc also directed the critically-acclaimed, award winning short film AVENUE X, about the adventure-filled day of two deaf teens on their way to Coney Island. He was nominated for the 2004 IFP Market Gordon Parks Award for Directing, and was awarded Best Director at the 2005 Gotham International Film & Video Festival. Also in 2005, Roc produced the film accompaniment for the Roger Waters opera- ÇA-IRA, which premiered in Rome, Italy. Roc completed another film in 2006- RHYME ANIMAL, a hip-hop horror thriller, starring Craig 'muMs' Grant, Al Thompson, and Bridget Barkan. He recently completed two film projects for The Apollo Theater Foundation, THE HISTORY OF THE APOLLO THEATER, THEN & NOW, and A TRIBUTE TO JAMES BROWN.The feature version of AVENUE X is in pre-production and he is currently working on a documentary about the return of Jamaican Reggae music pioneer Claudius "Kingman" Linton. Mr. Roc lives and works in New York City.
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What inspired you to make this piece?
My writing partner, Aaron F. Schnore, and I decided to take a break from a feature-length script we were working on and write a short. I had originally written a feature screenplay with a deaf antagonist, and nothing really happened with it after shopping it around. It was a drama piece, and everyone felt it was "too dark." aaron thought it was cool, but we decided to write something lighter in tone. We felt the story of two deaf teens behaving like "normal" teens would be interesting, so we put it down on paper and months later shot it.
Briefly tell us how you made your film or video: what camera and format did you use to shoot your piece, and what system did you use to edit it? What is your working process? Did you use any special techniques to make this work?
We shot with the Panasonic DVX 100-24p camera, and edited on Final Cut Pro. The original budget was about $2k -- out of pocket. Robert Salsbury was our editor. After we discussed some ideas for the feel for the film, I basically gave Robert the "freedom" to do what an editor does. He knew the story and the mood of the piece I was looking to create and did a great job putting it together, and also had some great ideas about sound design.
Do you have any interesting behind-the-scenes stories about the making of this particular work?
Long story short -- we shot the film in two days on the last weekend that was available to our actors, Res Piedrahita -- "Max" -- and Rawle Burnham -- "August." Aaron and I were still trying to put our funds together that summer, and also had schedule conflicts, bad weather, etc. So the weekend we shot was our "last chance" to make it happen. Andres, who is hearing impaired, was getting ready to go to Gallaudet University to study drama, and Rawle was preparing to go on extended vacation with his family to Guyana. So we had no choice but to film that weekend, otherwise the film wouldn't have happened. Very stressful and hectic, but we made it happen. I didn't know how to sign, so Andres, who is hearing –impaired, worked as my translator. Rawle is totally deaf.
What is the relationship between your work as a video/filmmaker and life in the New York metropolitan area?
I was born and raised in New York City. Growing up here is an education itself because of all the different cultures and people who live here. There are so many stories to tell. NYC itself is its own character. It breathes. It lives, and that comes across in any film that is shot here.
What films/videos and makers have inspired you or influenced your work? And why?
Gordon Parks -- iconoclast -- he did it all and well! (SHAFT, LEADBELLY, THE LEARNING TREE)
Melvin Van Peebles -- truly an independent risk taker, filmmaker (SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG)
John Cassavettes -- made it happen at all costs as an independent filmmaker (THE KILLING OF A CHINESE BOOKIE, A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE, FACES)
Spike Lee -- makes it happen in NYC, representing the different cultures and faces who reside here (DO THE RIGHT THING, SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT, CROOKLYN)
Ousmane Sembene -- amazing storyteller -- "the father of African cinema" (XALA, GUELWAAR, MANDABI)
Raoul Peck -- Haitian filmmaker, wonderful storyteller (HAITIAN CORNER, THE MAN BY THE SHORE, LUMUMBA, SOMETIMES IN APRIL)
Wong Kar Wai -- amazing storyteller (CHUNGKING EXPRESS, IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, FALLEN ANGELS)
Jim Jarmusch -- NYC filmmaker, makes it happen totally independently (STRANGER THAN PARADISE, NIGHT ON EARTH, GHOST DOG)
Just to name a few ... There's plenty more.
If viewers are interested in obtaining copies of your work for rental or purchase, whom should they contact and at what address and phone number?
LBM Films, Inc
71O Fulton Street, Suite 4
Brooklyn, NY 11217