Interview with Filmmaker Jordan Brown (PARK AVENUE)

PARK AVENUE played to rave reviews at the August 2020 DOCUMENTARY Film Festival.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Jordan Brown: I was motivated to make this film because the social justice system is corrupt and disproportionately targets Black and Brown communities. I have witnessed this first hand with experiences of my peers growing up. As a Pennsylvania native, I wanted to make a film about a part of the system that does not get talked about as much, what happens after someone is released from prison. While this film is not intended to be viewed as a PSA or as an ad by any means, I wanted to somehow include a real source people could go to should they ever need to. Mainly, I just wanted to tell a real story of someone’s struggle to let people in the world know that they are not alone and to let people who have ever experienced anything like this know that this is a real conversation for some people within the United States.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

This whole film took about a month and a half to create. I created it while at a summer internship in Philadelphia, PA.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Unheard story.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

The biggest issue I faced while creating this film was deciding what would make the cut. Through the company I was working for, I was only given 2:45 seconds of runtime (excluding credits). Given the amount of time given for the film, I had to choose very carefully what was seen on screen.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I was very pleased with the reactions. A common reaction was regarding the length of the film and people wanting to see more, and I was thinking to myself how I wished I could have given them more without the parameters I was under, but I am still very grateful that I was even able to create any story at all about this topic.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I felt like the story fell in my lap in a way. I was mainly going to focus on The Center for Returning Citizens in Philadelphia and just talk about what a Reentry Center is, but after meeting John and hearing his story, I wanted to tell his story as the main focus. I felt like it was a more personable approach and made for a more captivating story.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

I have seen “The Pursuit of Happyness” (2006) a countless number of times. One of my all time favorite films.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

I felt that the platform was incredibly easy to use. I had no trouble and I recommend FilmFreeway to all of my other filmmaking friends when they go to submit to festivals.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

My most listened to song, and probably my favorite song is “Born Sinner” by J. Cole. It just reminds us that we’re human.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Hopefully a new film! I am currently the cinematographer for a documentary about the history of Oakland, California (pending title is “Once Upon a Time in Oakland”). I have had my hands full with this project, but I’m also trying to piece together some films of my own that cover other important issues, and others that are just creative projects to express myself and have a good time.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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