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Old November 19th, 2008, 01:32 PM   #1
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Gang docs

I may be involved soon in a project involving gang culture. I am NOT anxious to venture into inner city "no go" areas with a camera myself, but I would be grateful if anyone could point me in the direction of any existing documentary material on this subject which could be a starting point for warning youngsters about the consequences of involvement in gangs. Then I hope to encourage the kids to produce their own dvd on the subject.

Any low/no cost suggestions appreciated.
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Old November 19th, 2008, 01:52 PM   #2
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Try watching Ross Kemps on Gangs (National Geographic).
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Old November 22nd, 2008, 03:18 PM   #3
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Colin,

The key to any documentary is to get an INSIDE view of the culture you're trying to document. That means you MUST have access. Which implies you need TRUST. If you don't have that kind of entree into the culture you need to secure the help of those that do.

I'd start by cultivating sources AROUND the culture and building up my reputation. Community, church, local bars, auto customization shops, whatever. There will be people who work with and provide services to the culture you want to get access to.

Some gangs (not necessarily all) engage in illegal activity. To document even the culture peripheral those events will put you under a LOT of pressure. If you hear that something illegal is coming down, do you shut up and maintain your trust and access? Or do you act responsibly to society at large and risk losing your access because you won't become a party to those illegal activities.

You can start to see why this is so very hard and why so few real "insider" looks at these cultures exist. Most docs about gangs are created by non-gang members riding along with civil authorities and looking at the results of the activities, not actually documenting the lifestyle of the actual members from an inside view of their lives.

Eventually if you truely want the inside view - the subjects have to trust you enough to LET you inside. And it will probably take any outsider a LONG, LONG time to get inside that kind of culture. And yes, I suspect it would be VERY risky as well.

Good luck.
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Old November 28th, 2008, 04:20 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Colin McDonald View Post
I may be involved soon in a project involving gang culture. I am NOT anxious to venture into inner city "no go" areas with a camera myself, but I would be grateful if anyone could point me in the direction of any existing documentary material on this subject which could be a starting point for warning youngsters about the consequences of involvement in gangs. Then I hope to encourage the kids to produce their own dvd on the subject.

Any low/no cost suggestions appreciated.
I suspect Glasgow is like most UK cities, the gangs are mostly in their own estates rather than in inner city areas like downtown LA There have been a few CH4 documentaries about the subject, one I seem to recall included Glasgow.

To get good material you really have to build up relationships with the people involved or former gang members. The latter could be easier to access and may be more willing to talk, especially if they now regard membership as a mistake from their youth.
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Old November 30th, 2008, 07:35 AM   #5
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Colin,

I suggest you read the following book:
Sudhir Venkatesh,
Gang Leader for a Day: a Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets
($11 at Amazon)

If you can match this guy's insight, you have a real winner.

Best

Vasco
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Old November 30th, 2008, 08:08 AM   #6
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Thanks Noel, Bill, Brian and Vasco for your thoughts and ideas. I have been involved a bit in projects to do with sectarianism and debt avoidance already, both of which used the young folks in drama and role play rather than front line reporting on video.

Some of the youngsters who would be taking part in this project will already be involved or at least well exposed to gang culture where they live, so I was thinking of taking the approach that if they try to tell me and an audience (live or on film) about it they will start to be more conscious of (and hopefully and start to question) the whole scenario themselves.
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Old November 30th, 2008, 02:06 PM   #7
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If you won't do the filming why not find some gang members and give them cameras?

How about trying to get the gangs to make their own videos as a starting point?
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Old November 30th, 2008, 03:19 PM   #8
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If you won't do the filming why not find some gang members and give them cameras?

How about trying to get the gangs to make their own videos as a starting point?
Thanks Richard.

Perhaps I have not been clear what this is about. I am not actually wanting to make a documentary myself about gangs, but to find some existing docu material which might be suitable for viewing and discussion as part of a community effort against gang culture in youngsters.

Yes, I hope the youngsters will be doing some filming as part of this project. But no, I am NOT after a broadcast quality version of the "happy slapping" type activities some of them occasionally get involved in filming with their phones, so they will not be filming any real front line documentary stuff by themselves. The Star Trek Prime Directive does not apply here - quite the reverse! The point of the project will be to try to change ingrained patterns of behaviour and producing a DVD is one of the outcomes, so perhaps in a way this was the wrong forum to post in. Perhaps it should be in a "propaganda" forum!
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Old December 1st, 2008, 11:29 AM   #9
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Hi Colin
You could do worse than try to get permission to use the Louis Theroux film that went out last night on BBC2 in the UK.
Different country but same problems I imagine.
It was a thoroughly depressing end to the film. You can see why this stuff happens and it's very difficult to see how to change it.
You've got your work cut out trying to do that.
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Old December 1st, 2008, 12:22 PM   #10
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Brad (my husband and business partner) edited a 30 minute piece about getting out of gang life that was shot by a director team - at least one of whom had been deeply involved in gang life herself. They interview lots of former gangsters about the lifestyle and how they got out.

http://bradmays.com/exitstrat.mov

I don't know if it relevant to what you're doing because the point of the piece is that you can get out of gang life and go on and live a perfectly normal life. But these people tell some harsh stories in the meantime. Whoa! It was a real eye opener for me. Nina, the producer/director, just seemed like the most normal, sweet, well-adjusted woman in the world - I can't imagine her doing anything more uncivilized than jay-walking.
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 05:46 PM   #11
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gang related

Hi There,
I've produced segments on gang-related subjects a few times here in L.A. Specifically focusing on a survivor of a drive by shooting in one instance, in another with someone who got out of a gang and opted to enroll in a work training program.. unfortunately still in the wrong place at the wrong time and shot recently... give me an email and I'll see if I can send you some links or perhaps a DVD would be better.
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Old December 23rd, 2008, 06:02 PM   #12
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Thanks JB. I've sent you an email.
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Old January 22nd, 2009, 12:06 PM   #13
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another film

Hey Colin. There an amazing doc that just came out called Made in America.

CRIPS AND BLOODS: MADE IN AMERICA, the movie - Movie Made in America about the Crips & Bloods, Gangs of Los Angeles South Central

It's still screening now, but I've heard that if you send them an email asking for a copy for educational resources, they might send you one.
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Old January 25th, 2009, 12:22 PM   #14
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Hi, Colin.
There was also an HBO documentary from the mid 90s called "Gang War: Bangin' in Little Rock." It's about the Crips and Bloods in Little Rock, Arkansas. I haven't seen it in years. So I can't really tell you a lot about it.

Here's a link:

Amazon.com: Gang Wars: Mark Benjamin, Matthew Akers, Marc Levin, Alison Ellwood, Ken Eluto, Alan Levin, Daphne Pinkerson, Michael Skolnik, Sheila Nevins: Movies & TV

Hope this helps,
Jon
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Old January 25th, 2009, 01:03 PM   #15
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Thanks Josh and Jon for these suggestions. I'll have a look at them.
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