Directed by Austin Smock

After Roz Pichardo lost her brother in 2012 due to gun violence, she knew that she had to take a stand and combat this growing problem in Philadelphia. Her way of doing this was by creating Operation Save Our City, an organization dedicated to bring awareness and justice to families, who like Roz, have lost someone due to gun violence.

Project Breakdown

When talking with the guys from Jtwo about the summer internship, I was really excited when I learned that I will have the ability to create my own project within the first few weeks of being there. When it came time to start my project I immediately knew I wanted to do something under their Projects That Matter Initiative – a program that works directly with Non-Profit Organizations since my focus is documentary film.

I find myself very interested in projects that place me in situations that I would have otherwise not been exposed to, or know nothing about. I tend to focus on short form documentary with a cinema verite style. With all this mind, I usually begin searching google for articles about people in Philadelphia that are doing something in their community or for a story that really catches my

The process of getting my subject locked down wasn’t easy and it seems to never really be that easy. I was constantly researching potential subjects and reaching out to people, while not having much luck getting someone locked down. I kept pushing and eventually found my subject.

I have heard about Roz, from other subjects I worked with, but for whatever reason really never thought to try and pursue a project with her. After reading a few different articles and hearing tragic life story I knew that it was the project I wanted to create. Roz, was a victim of an attempted murder, lost her boyfriend at the time to gun violence, and years later her brother was murdered. After a short phone call with Roz, I knew instantly she was the subject I wanted my project to be about.

When I approached JTWO’s Creative Director, Justin Jarrett with my project idea, he liked the project, but wanted to see me try something different from the normal style that I roll with for my projects. I decided to use Roz’s interview more as a narration and using the visual’s than to illustrate the story Roz is telling. I also knew I needed to have compelling imagery because there would be no talking head throughout the video, so I immediately began researching films on vimeo that utilized the same style I wanted to go with for this project.

Vimeo is a great place to find references and I also find it very easy to find films that I like. Another great thing that vimeo provides, is the ability to add a video to a “watch later” list, which allowed me to constantly revisit the videos that I wanted to use as references for my project.

Since 2006, more than 14,500 people have been shot in Philadelphia.

At first I had scheduled two shooting days with Roz. The first day I would go with her to a motorcade that she was participating in, that was organized to bring awareness to gun violence. I shot quite a bit this day, but was also really focused on doing a bit of pre interviewing so I was 100 percent ready for the day I would do the interview her. A few days later I would be filming the interview with Roz and the rest of the broll. Due to the days I spent researching references and working on pre-production I went into this shoot day knowing what I wanted. We went to the location where her brother was murdered, her brother’s gravesite, shot the interview and then shot some broll around her house. After reviewing my footage, I realized I needed more that would really illustrate what she is saying throughout the video. Luckily, there was an event happening the following week where families would lineup on the art museum steps with photos of someone they have lost to gun violence. After capturing this event I knew I would have what I needed to complete the film.

I got back to Jtwo and immediately started editing my project, I had shot a majority of this project in 60fps and right away made the decision of having most of my broll in slomo. I felt it gave this angelic feel that really worked well with Roz’s story. I also decided to use music that wasn’t overpowering and distracting when watching the video. I decided to open the film, with the footage of her brother’s murder and then eventually bringing the film full circle with Roz speaking about the creation of her organization.

The editing process is something I struggle with, mainly because I get married to certain things that really do nothing for the video. I found that the time I spent of pre-production really helped make the editing process much easier. The second I had all of my selects and interview cut I knew how I wanted to edit the video together. This was also the first time I would be implementing statistics into a video and this was something new for that I was skeptical about at first, but it proved to add a really nice touch to the video. Overall, I this project showed me the importance of being open to trying new things and the potential benefits they can provide.

This project was a great experience that really showed me how crucial pre-production is if you want up your chances of creating a successful project. After the completion of this project, I realized it is good to try new techniques because it is a great way to grow as a filmmaker. This project was a great way to kick off the internship and I can’t wait to get started on my next project.

Meet the Director

Austin Smock is a Philadelphia based film-maker with a passion for creating documentary films. I love exploring new places and the people that inhabit them. Through my work I hope to give voices to people that are usually left without one and showcase people that are fighting for social change.

This project was created as part of the JTWO [INC]ubator Project. A semester long internship program built from the ground up to give young filmmakers, content creators, and all around hungry for a challenge individuals a place to stretch their creative minds while preparing them for the road ahead.

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