Ep 133: Filmmaking in the age of COVID - Jeffrey Davis!


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Jeffrey Delano Davis–Director Jeffrey spent his college years studying drama and literature at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, before marching forth to New York City with $70. After an extended couch surfing period,he settled into the East Village, managed a coffee shop, and performed in Shakespeare plays in a parking lot at night. Ironically, the coffee shop offered as much artistic insight as performing did. Conversations he had with artists, filmmakers, and actors shaped his understanding of artmaking. Some of the people he quizzed were Brian DePalma, Daniel Day-Lewis, Calista Flockhart, and John Leguizamo. His first TV performance was in rap great Big Punisher's video "You Came Up"as a valet. Feeling the need to expand his horizons,he auditioned for the Rutgers University MFA Acting program, was accepted, and spent three years studying under William Esper. Upon graduating, he acted in numerous plays in NYC, including "Much Ado About Nothing" at the Harlem Arts Center,"The Pavilion" directed by Michael Kostroff ("The Wire," "The Black List"), and Ken Greller's play "Troll" at The Secret Theater. Currently, he is happily ensconced in Red Bank, New Jersey, with his wife (and producing partner) Maria and their two daughters Vera and Josie. In 2018, Jeffrey penned and directed a short film called "Three Sonnets" based on a dilemma he faced when his wife was pregnant with their first daughter, which became a surprise hit. The film played multiple festivals and received television distribution on five continents. Jeffrey completed two films during the pandemic; "Breathing Room" a searing portrait of a nursing home on the verge of collapse told from the vantage point of a speech pathologist, and "The Art of Catastrophe" an intimate portrait of his family life during quarantine.
Director Statement–“The Art of Catastrophe” It all started with my mother-in-law. She comes from a line of Italians who survived World War 2, post-war deprivations, and numerous other catastrophes. She wished her relatives had captured more of their experience. So, when we were in the midst of the first wave of COVID, she said to me, "Grab your camera! Snap out of it!".I snapped out of it. I shot nearly sixty hours of footage of my family coping with quarantine, its quiet and not so quiet terrors; food shortages, sick children, and most pressing, isolation and despair. I filmed "The Art of Catastrophe" to maintain my sanity. Everybody in my family caught the bug and started creating, painting, singing, filming with me (my four-year-old shot one clip in the film), dancing, etc. We made "The Art of Catastrophe" because we had to.In its form, "The Art of Catastrophe" is a new type of Cinema Verite film that takes inspiration from Instagram Stories as much as D.A. Pennebaker and Nanni Moretti.
Do enjoy.
Meet Jeff, Maria, Vera, and Josie Davis. They’re your regular American family going through a once in a 100-year pandemic. Watch as they dance, sing, paint, and vacation in their driveway, all to fight back the one thing more dangerous than the virus; despair.
Culled from nearly 60 hours of footage shot at the height of the pandemic in New Jersey, “The Art of Catastrophe” is an unprecedented and unflinching look at one family’s struggle for meaning amidst chaos.
“The Art of Catastrophe” Trailer
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Also, you can check out my documentary The People of Brixton, on Kwelitv here: https://www.kweli.tv/programs/the-people-of-brixton
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