Interview with Filmmaker Lakai Worrell (A PLACE CALLED HOME)

A PLACE CALLED HOME, 10min., USA, Documentary
Directed by Lakai Worrell
One woman’s story as she moved from the streets, eating out of garbage cans, and being in a shelter, to finding the strength and courage to find a home for her and her children.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?
One day while driving my son to school, he noticed a man asking for money, and asked “Daddy, why are there so many homeless people”. Sadly, I could not give him a solid answer and in an effort to learn more, I asked my friend Jennifer Lee about her experience, as someone that had lived through that reality. As she was sharing I heard her desire to change to something better. I could relate to the struggle, and the need to triumph, to have faith through the trauma, to hold onto love and compassion, as she went through the wilderness. I realized that this is not a homeless story, but a human story, and that no matter our living arrangements, home can be a very foreign place. So, with all of us, how do we maintain ourselves when we feel lost, or out of place. Immigrants, people recently released from prison, someone living in an abusive environment, freshman at college, can all be identified as homeless, as all need to find ways to keep their peace. It is a discovery of self, and I was motivated to find a way to share and possibly expand our view of not just our houseless population but for us all.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I would say about 3 months from idea to completion. I was moving fast, due to the deadline given by our Documentary Intensive instructors at BRIC in Brooklyn, NY. But I will say I think the thoughts were planted around 3 years prior to the start of my process, so I had a lot of ideas waiting to be given a platform to express themselves.

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

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
The biggest obstacle for me was learning how to use camera, sound, and lighting equipment and editing software, all at the same time within a 4 month process! It was challenging, and unrealistic. Thankfully, I was able to call upon some friends that provided much needed wisdom in areas I was a novice. While I had my story and structure laid out and did manage to capture video and audio scenes, they came in and helped to smooth out my many rough edges.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I think I tried to brace myself, while holding my breath, while not moving AT ALL! I felt nervous but wanted to remain open to receive all and anything shared. But I released and began to breathe again once the last person spoke.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
Prior to the pandemic most of my work was presented on stage, but during that shutdown period I had an opportunity to Direct a film. As a storyteller I was amazed at how much one could really do with the camera, and after working with the DP on the project, I was inspired to learn more. My intention is to understand the language of film so that I could give the medium, the teams, the audience, the quality and the respect it deserves. As a new student to film, I watch movies with a different eye, and understanding, and it excites me to know what is possible with it all. I now know that film can bring my imagination to life in ways I would have never thought possible. It is my desire to become an even better storyteller with film as a tool that helps me to do so.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
That would probably be “Legends of the Fall”. Directed by Edward Zwick. I Love the masterful unfolding of the characters as we watch their individual and collective stories. I am attracted to the setting of each scene as each looks like a still image given life. I value the story of the main character Tristan, as he wrestles to find balance between the two worlds he exists in. There is so much more for me, but I think you get the idea, I love the film!

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
Since I am new to this entire world, I must say that I learning to know what I would want or need. What the LADFF has created so far has been amazing. I think one other piece I really want to understand is how to fund a project, where to find investors, how to put professional packages together, learn how to pitch films effectively, and best equipment for any job.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site? My experience is that it has been great. I find it easy to use even with as many festivals there are listed. I am pleased with the film freeway platform.

10. What is your favorite meal?
Brown Stew Fish (Snapper), with callaloo, and pumpkin! You can also throw in some fresh made Mauby, Sorrel or Ginger Beer to drink!

11. What is next for you? A new film?
Creating! And YES! My mind is moving and I have begun writing out scripts for several projects. I know I need to focus on one at a time, so what I have is one Main script that I am developing, while scribbling out notes and scene ideas for other projects. I am also scheduling to do some filming this summer as I intend on building out supporting footage for the main script idea. And I am looking into buying my first camera and lens. This way I can practice, learn and develop more projects in an effort to develop the style, rhythm and look of my work. I think that will keep me busy for a little while.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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