"Dreams -- A Trayvon Martin Story" aired as part of the 2013 edition of "Fine Cut." A summary: The Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman altercation is explored in a narrative way.
Here, we speak with Izzy Pollak, the director of "Dreams -- A Trayvon Martin Story," about his docu-narrative style, his provocative topic, and the human condition.
What drove you to tell Trayvon Martin's story, and what do you hope this film accomplishes?
I was driven to tell the story of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman because I felt that most of the country was focusing and arguing about superficial aspects of the case -- race and gun control were the primary topics discussed. Many were angry, and I believe they were projecting their feelings onto these media driven hot topics that were destructive and divisive. Conflict in life, like in movies, should always teach, but given the amount of anger surrounding these topics, beneficial abstraction became very difficult -- What can we learn when our minds are blinded by emotions? Our nation's original sin is racial inequality founded on violence both socially and economically, so what new wisdom can one learn from these seemingly cyclical arguments?
I believe the smartest thing one can do when dealing with such a heartbreaking crisis, especially when it is a hot topic, is to find the unifying core that everyone can agree on, an idea that angers everyone equally and discuss that issue. In the case of Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, I believe everyone can agree on the fact that this boy had his dreams and especially his life taken away which is soul crushing. This deserves to be the mutually discussed point. I only wish that I explored the other side of the equation, seeing how this violence was not only destructive to Trayvon Martin's life, but to George Zimmerman's life as well.
I hope this film digs at people's hearts and provokes them towards open-mindedness when confronted with emotionally strenuous topics. There are always at least three sides to every story.
What made you choose to insert the actual 911 calls made that night in addition to showing us the reenactment?
Hearing the actual calls from the night of Trayvon's death was a huge source of inspiration for the project, and I felt they would be the most effective way of enforcing the realistic nature of the reenactment. I chose to do the reenactment because there was much speculation concerning the altercation and I figured I'd show people an interpretation that considered all stories as true.
Your film draws on components of documentary filmmaking and news media. What interests you about these elements?
Blurring the lines of what is real and what isn't using these techniques creates a very unique experience that draws audiences into the story more easily since their disbelief is more readily suspended when the subject is more accessible. Truthful performance is imperative for an empathetic relationship between the audience and characters or story, and nothing could be more authentic than the real recordings themselves. Documentary filmmaking and journalistic approaches just feel right when creating such a project.
Was this film made for a class? How did your professor and classmates respond to such a provocative topic?
This project was made in conjunction with a class, but I made it for myself. My professor, being an African-American woman, naturally was sensitive to the issue at first, especially since the occurrence happened only a few weeks prior to the assignment, and never really supported my curiosity. My classmates enjoyed my choice to pursue such a topic, and the docu-narrative style set my project apart from the rest.
Who do you consider some of your greatest artistic inspirations?
I am inspired by the human condition and death, the greatest teacher and great equalizer. Love and fear play a huge part as well in my thoughts as I feel they are the only universal truths and are the basis of decision making.
What's next for you?
Right now I am endeavoring to find my next job for the summer. I had the wonderful opportunity to intern at Vuguru LLC this past summer, and now wish to act in a feature or intern with a director. I also continually produce projects with my good friends Dylan Walsh, Chris Braun, Jett Lucas, Jason Segal, Chris Kalil and John Bashyam. So far we have produced two projects collectively and have plans to start a production company with content being created regularly. Our latest project, directed by Dylan Walsh and written by him and me is titled "Come Fly with Me" due to be released this Valentine's Day. Our goal is to produce one of our feature films by the time we graduate using Nouvelle Vogue or French New Wave film techniques, like Randy Moore's new film "Escape from Tomorrow" filmed guerilla style at Disneyland Parks using patrons as background actors. I love it. To follow our work, check out my website www.IzzyPollak.com.