Meet a Mt. Pleasant Filmmaker
Local filmmakers Natalie Avery and Kyle Centers are screening their short documentary Out of the Basement at a few DC public libraries - including Avery's local, Mt. Pleasant Library on Saturday July 12 at 11 a.m. We had the opportunity to ask Avery a few questions about being a filmmaker and living in Mt. Pleasant!
Q) How did you become a film maker?
It's always been a dream of mine. I found out about the GW Documentary Filmmaking Institute and decided to give it a try. It was much harder but also much more life changing and rewarding than i ever imagined.
Q) What other some of your favorite projects you have worked on?
I've always been charged by helping to create platforms for the voices and stories of people out of the limelight - so anything with that element is exciting to me. I loved being involved with Radio CPR and putting on shows at La Casa. And even though it was grueling and painful, I loved being part of Hear Mount Pleasant and bringing live music and dancing back to the neighborhood restaurants.
Q) How did you find the subject of Out of the Basement?
One of my fellow students at GW found out about the gym and thought it would be a great project for our group's thesis film. So that's how we found Lime Lite Boxing and Fitness. In the summer of 2012, as students, we made a movie about another boxer there, Malik Jackson, who is a two-time US National Champion and has a really good chance of being in the 2016 Olympics. We met Greg through this process and his story was really compelling to us. We didn't have time to tell his story in that film so after it was all over, I asked Kyle, who I'd worked really closely with in the GW program, if he wanted to make a film about Greg with me. He said yes.
Q) What made you think the topic would make a good film?
There is something inherently raw and exciting about boxing. You want to know, "will this person win or lose?" Your stomach clenches when they walk down that aisle and step into that ring. So we had a through-line that we thought would keep people interested and would be visually compelling. This let us explore some other themes about ambition and family and community. You think of boxing as this really violent sport - which it is - but then you meet these people who have made boxing their lives and they are some of the most loving and peaceful you've ever met. I love that juxtaposition and I think it really comes through.
Q) What is your next project?
I don't know yet. I would love to keep making films with Kyle. I have this dream of writing a heartbreaking, funny, gritty TV show about DC. This is where I really relate to Greg. I want to pursue my dreams. I also want to make sure I can support my family. There's always a question about whether you can do both. We'll see but I'm sure I'll find something.
Q) What do you love about living in Mt Pleasant?
I love always knowing I'll run into someone on Mount Pleasant Street. I love how practically everything you need is a bike ride away from really good soprasetta to a manicure to canning supplies to a delicious burrito to an awesome kettle bell work out. I love its musical and cultural legacy - all the great bands and films and art that's been made in its basements and bars and group houses. And of course, I love Mount Pleasant Library. Every day I thank my lucky stars that I get to live and raise my kids here.
Check out a trailer for the movie online here and come by Saturday at 11 a.m. for the full documentary short.