The Video Creation Project/ An interview with Franklyn Strachan
AFA: How did you get involved with Arts For All?
FS: I have been a filmmaker for sixteen years. On my first film “Eyes Of NY”, I was a substitute teacher for the NYC board of ed. I added interested students to the film’s production crew and cast. After that I started a program with a junior high school in the Bronx, called “Kid Flicks”. Movies written and acted in by students and produced by professionals. I continued to incorporate local children and teens into all my subsequent productions. Donna Tait of Arts For All suggested to me that I check out the organization because what I do could work here. After completing one project I agree.
AFA: What is your artistic background?
FS:I have been a visual artist my whole life. As I entered High School I was drawn to the Theatre. I joined the Stage Crew for the schools productions and was the first student set designer in the school’s history. After that I studied Theatre Arts and Film at SUNY Purchase. I concentrated in Costume and set design. After Purchase I stated Cypher Productions and began producing feature films. To date we have produced five feature films and many shorts and music videos.
After the first three films I returned to school and graduated with a Masters in Fictional Narrative Video. I use those skills and the knowledge of filmmaking as a professor teaching Intro to Digital filmmaking at Manhattanville College.
AFA: Could you tell us about your recent experience making a documentary with Incarnation Children’s Center?
FS: I recently worked with the Incarnation Children’s Center in Washington Heights. The center houses children living with HIV/AIDS. I worked with a group of about 10 students ranging from the ages of 7 to 21. The hardest part of working on this project was my own fears and expectations of what these children would be like. Sick, angry and upset with the world is what I was prepared for. What I encountered were kids. Regular kids. AIDS was a part of their life but it wasn’t their life. They were very opinionated and considered the space theirs. It made it easy for them to show me around and document what they felt was important.
AFA: How did this experience affect you? Are there any moments that stand out?
FS: My preconceptions about living with AIDS were shattered. Considering how much information I have lived with concerning the subject I have never interacted with people who have it so intimately. These children have the same dreams and flaws that all kids have. I was happy to learn that. I learned that not only do they want children they can have AIDS free children. When I returned a week later to drop off the DVD the comfort level and excitement to see me again stood out for me.
AFA: What’s your next documentary project with AFA?
FS: I am looking forward to having a new documentary group to find out about . Each group have different interests and will produce different subjects. I would also like to produce narrative films with the students. Let them come up with the characters and act them out.
AFA: What’s your next documentary/film project outside of AFA?
FS:I am currently writing a screenplay about a woman witnessing racial tensions in America and going to South Africa to compare the two and find out why we are racist.
Here’s a picture of Franklyn and children featured in his film, “Death is No Escape.” Find out more about Franklyn and his films on his website, Cypher Productions!