Does The American Dream Still Exist?
What a time to be alive. I'm a twenty first century maverick, born in the good 'ol U. S. of A and for that very fact of citizenship alone I'm fortunate beyond belief. These days a person might ask "How" with the intensity of a Kanye West meme but I know this because I've traveled. I know this because I'm a history buff and the life and times of those from older societies don't appeal to me much. I know this because no matter how bad it is at times here in 'Merica, there are few compelling alternatives, it kind of is what it is. When I was a younger man I blindly fought for this country as a member of it's armed services. Now that I'm wiser, I'll fight for its true potential as a thoughtful and informed citizen but again Mr. West asks that ever poignant question, "How?"
I am a member of what I whole heartedly feel is a truly magnanimous profession. When viewing the world through a lens you are forced to ignore all but your focus. As a writer I am challenged to be tactical and wonderful. When I edit I must exercise patience, listen for deeper meaning and design a path for others to follow. These important disciplines have helped to define the 30 something Ron Saunders Jr and I'm better for it.
In the summer of 2015 I was presented an opportunity to edit a short documentary film featuring 13 international college students who were taking courses in Los Angeles, CA. The director of the film, Hamza Sabri had received a budget through a university for the subject of the documentary and cleverly used that capital to contract me for two of his short films. The first film was a beautifully shot narrative similar to the 2013 movie "Her". Please believe that I was more than happy to cut some gorgeous 6K RED footage and push the limits of my custom built editing system but it was his documentary on contemporary immigration that I really signed on for.
I received a external hard drive with the contents of the films and I eagerly booted up 'The Beast' aka Cinema Styles Terminal 1. Version 2 (CST1.V2). Hey, when you build a monster like I did you tend to brag a bit! As I loaded the footage into my editing software I was delighted by the rawness of the images I began to view. This was run & gun filmmaking I was observing; limited & natural lighting, real faces - no actors, no makeup, personal stories, Canon DSLR footage and rough audio. I'm from where things aren't always pretty and I knew exactly how to take care of this hidden gem.
I have directed, shot and edited documentaries on several occasions. Whether its the story of families fighting autism, an up and coming comedian with deep personal issues, a fatherless child searching for purpose or a beautiful couple committing to a life long love, there is something so soulful about a quality documentary. For me nothing compares to tastefully and authentically telling the stories of real people. It provides a level of occupational satisfaction that I'm confident few professions ever could. For me this is the answer to "How" This is the way that I choose to impact the world that we live in and one should be humbled and reverent in its utilization.
The result of my collaboration with Hamza is a powerful little move titled "The New Wave". The challenge with crafting a documentary with so many different view points is finding common threads that allow for a cohesive theme. However when I began work on this project I could not help but be reminded that there are many more things that unite us as peoples of Earth than divide us. This movie features men and women from Russia to Congo to France to Egypt to Mexico and more. There are whole sections that I was able to cut seamlessly as one conversation between a uniquely varied group. One of the most interesting aspects of the movie is that it begs the question "Does the American Dream still exist?" You should watch to see how a group of people raised on foreign shores answers that but I'll end with something a little more personally challenging. Does our individual American Dreams still exist and what happens to our lives when our dreams die?
Food for thought.
The New Wave
Directed By: Hamza Sabri
Cinematography By: Henry Li
Edited By: Ron Saunders Jr
Time to Press Play!