Evolution of a Criminal Film – World Premiere March 8, 2014
In 2009 I was presented with an opportunity to co-executive produce a documentary called Evolution of a Criminal Film. A thesis project by a young film maker attending NYU Film School, the story-line gripped my interest. Directed by and featuring himself, Darius Monroe is a convicted felon and bank robber.
Spike Lee was one of the first people to support the project. For me, the opportunity to help make a film with one of the most legendary film makers in the world was really exciting. Even more exciting was the opportunity to support a project with an incredibly powerful and inspiring message of second chances and hope.
It was September 2009 when the New York Post ran this little piece on Page Six. I was kinda stunned when the parking garage attendant on my street in the West Village mentioned it to me one fall morning. It didn’t seem real. However the excitement soon wore off as progress slowly ground to a halt. Darius was struggling to get the final cut just right.
A very personal story, he makes himself completely vulnerable as he retraces his steps and hunts down the people who were in the bank that day when he and his two friends robbed a bank with a shot gun. (They took off with over $150k in cash and it was only a matter of time for their actions to catch up to them.)
Documenting how he evolved into a juvenile criminal (without even realizing it at the time) is an incredibly brave thing to do. Taking responsibility for it and hunting down every person impacted, in order to apologize and find healing, was an even braver thing to do.
This film was “almost done” 5 years ago when I joined the project. It’s been a long, long, long road. Over the years I’ve questioned the decision to back this project many times. It just seemed to lack the will to live and I considered giving up on it many times.
Over the last few years more than a few festivals extended invitations to premiere the film but we could never quite get it done. SXSW screened it and especially loved it. (It’s filmed in Houston and the Texas connection was a nice fit.)
I’m proud of Darius for sticking with this project.
I am proud to say that the world premiere is finally set for March 8, 2014.
I’m happy that this story will finally be told. We hope for it to be an inspiration to millions of kids, to encourage them to break the paralyzing cycle of crime and incarceration – regardless of the fact that they didn’t choose to be born into the circumstances they were born into, (any more than you or I.)
Patience and persistence have always paid off for me and today this reaffirms that even more. Being able to hang in there long after the initial excitement wears off takes courage and faith. It takes trust in yourself that you made the right decision. I’m feeling pretty happy about this right now; not going to lie!