I recently had the chance to interview Jake Boritt the Director of 759: Boy Scouts of Harlem. Hope you enjoy.
What was the motivation, the drive behind making the film?
I had recently moved to Harlem and was fascinated by the neighborhood. I was exploring angles to make a film about Harlem. I was just finished my film Budapest to Gettysburg when Justin returned from an 18 month trip around the world looking to get started on a film project. He wanted to follow a New York City scout troop. We quickly saw the synergy and began looking for a troop to follow.
Can you tell us briefly about the film?
The film is a funny yet moving true life story about some unforgettable scouts and their Scoutmasters from one of the most famous neighborhood's on earth. The star the film is 11 year old - a tough talking, adorable new scout named Keith with a heart of gold. The youngest scout in Troop 759 Keith has dreams of earning his Eagle Scout - but is having trouble earning Tenderfoot. Over the course of his first trip to Camp Keowa he struggles to overcome the dock test, the climbing wall, the creepy creatures of the night and even the siberian sirens of the dining hall.
Are there any interesting stories or scenes that did not make the final cut that you could tell us about
We shot lots of footage that we didn't put into the film. The troop visited Gettysburg - my hometown where my family still lives on a farm. There is great scene when Asst. Scoutmaster Anne is trying to remember the Gettysburg Address while Keith is busy trying to track down his new pet grasshopper.
What are the chances that any cut scenes will make it onto youtube?
Better then even.
Why did you choose Troop 759 for this project?
In some ways they were a big risk because they are small troop - and losing one or two scouts could have shut down the entire film project. But because they are small it allows the personalties of each character to show. And this allows the audience to fall in love with Keith, Manny, Devon and KC as well as Mr Sowah and Miss Anne.
What kind of equipment did you use in creating the film? For example cameras, lighting, audio, editing, etc.
We shot the film using Sony HDV Z1U cameras - shooting high definition 1080i footage. We use Sennheiser microphones - both on board shotguns and lavaliers. We used very little artificial lighting - rather we chose use available light - for a more natural look - that allowed the subjects to be less affected by film productio equipment. We cut the film on a Mac -using Final Cut Pro. The sound mix was done on ProTools and the Color Correct in Color (part of Final Cut Pro Studio)
Do you have any suggestions for any young film makers out there?
All the equipment needed to make a film is within your reach- make a film - don't bite off more then you can chew. Think through your film - and start small. Make a short 5 minute film before you try to do a feature length project. You'll learn a lot from all the mistakes you'll make on your first film. And this will help tremendously in future projects.
And join the 759 facebook fanpage and find us at our website: www.HarlemScouts.com
How long did it take you to complete this film?
We began shooting in Spring of 2007. Finished most shooting by August 2007. Began editing and finished the film - with additional shooting along the way in February 2009. It premiered in March 2007.
What projects do you see in your future?
Lots of ideas - if we are successful in reaching a large audience with 759 - we'd love to do another film about Scouts - possibly following a troop on their trip to Philmont Scout Ranch. We've discussed doing a documentary about the Peace Corps as well.
Thank you Jake for taking the time to answer my questions and making such a wonderful and truthful documentry about Scouting.