Lesbian filmmaker Katherine Brooks is taking on a new challenge.
Brookswhose other films include the lesbian love story, Loving Annabelle and the drama/thriller, Waking Madison, as well as stints working on The Osbournes and The Real Worldhas taken her career in an entirely different direction with Face 2 Face.
The genesis of her new film came when Brooks realized that she wasn't happy living in Los Angeles so she sold her house and expensive car and moved to New Orleans to reconnect with her roots (she grew up in a small town in the bayou of La. near New Orleans). While living in New Orleans she had major surgery and became bedridden. As she was laying in bed her depression turned into severe depression and she also started running out of money. Brooks knew she would have to go back to LA and get a job in reality TV which she swore she would never do again.
"Here I am recovering from surgery staying with my mother and contacting reality TV producers telling them I needed a job. During that time I ended up trying to kill myself by OD'ing on Demerol," Brooks explained going on to say "that's only happened to me two times in my life, the other instance was when I was a teenager just before I left home. ... I do believe in a higher power and while I was laying in bed I said. ... Help me do something good with my life. Within an instant I got the idea for Face 2 Face.
"I was on my Facebook page and I saw that I have 5,000 friends but I'm completely alone. I've been in this bed for two months and no one has come to visit me so I turned on my flip cam and wrote in my status update 'the first 50 people who say yes, I'm coming to your city to spend the day with you and I'm going to make a movie about it.' Within ten minutes I had almost 100 people saying yes so I had my 50 and that is how it started."
Brooks took the first 50 people who responded and had AAA chart the most economical route for her 11,000-mile trip. At the time of this interview Brooks was in Winslow, Arizona having already met with 33 of the 50 people on her list. When asked what has surprised her the most during her travels Brooks said, " what are the chances that out of 5,000 people on my Facebook page everyone I have met has had some connection to my personal journey. That to me proves that nothing in life is random. Most of the people I have met I have made a lifelong connection with and will stay in touch with them after this project is over."
Which part of the country did Brooks find the most interesting to visit so far? Brooks related that she fell in love with Maine and is going to get a place there when she is finished with this film. "While I was there I felt like I was home so now I am going to start a commune for rescue animals. I worked with a man who helps people with emotional struggles and uses his horse for therapy. I got to ride his horse into the Atlantic Ocean during a sunrise and it was the most beautiful experience I've ever had. While riding that horse I said to myself 'thank God I didn't die because I would have missed this if I was gone.'" Brooks doesn't plan on retiring from filmmaking but will have her home base in Maine.
Since this project is not being backed by a studio or production company Brooks is financing it through donations. Brooks raised the initial $80,000 through Kickstarter and is now selling Face 2 Face movie posters and other memorabilia, giving people a chance to Skype with her for 30 minutes if they donate to the film as well as her upcoming Chicago meet and greet fundraiser with live music by Jordis Unga." I have faith that people will continue to help. Things come to us when we have good intentions and I plan on giving all the profits from this movie to charity," said Brooks.
Looking back at her 16-year-old self Brooks said she never expected to be where she is as a filmmaker. She initially dreamed of fame, fortune and the glitz and glamour of Hollywood but now her work has nothing to do with that. Now all she wants to do is make and do things that will help people.
Her advice to aspiring filmmakers is if you love a movie get the screenplay online to see what was on paper and what the end product looked like onscreen. Also, watch movies with the sound off to see camera movements and placement and watch the directors commentary track to hear how they made their movie. Read interviews with filmmakers you admire and subscribe to filmmaking magazines. "That is your film school," Brooks explained saying that where you went to school is not important to people in the entertainment industry.
Looking back at the reason why Brooks is doing this documentary she said " I believe that technology is a gift if we use it in a positive way. I would encourage people if they are using technology as an escape or to fill a void caused by loneliness to go out into the world and interact with people especially your friends and while you are with people put your phone away and disconnect."
For more information, visit www.katherinebrooks.com/home.html. To find out more about Face 2 Face, visit www.face2facemovie.com . For fundraiser tickets, visit katsinthehouseface2face.eventbrite.com .
The powerhouse vocalist Frenchie Davis recently was a semi-finalist on The Voice, where she was coached by Christina Aguilera. The "Beautiful" singer made the mistake of saying that Madonna's "Like a Prayer" has never been done in a fashion similar to how Davis reworked the hit. Cue up Loleatta Holloway's version from Virgin Voices: A Tribute to Madonna Volume 1. My votes were hopelessly devoted to Davis during her run on the competition.
When I met Davis at Pridefest last year, I asked her if she felt a connection with the audience and she lit up that magnificent smile. The crowd enjoyed her so much, that she belted out her take on "When Love Takes Over" again as an encore. Davis was on tour with the other contestants from The Voice earlier this summer and is on board to delight attendees at Northalsted Market Days on Sunday, Aug. 14. Davis will be singing at the wedding for Bev McClellan, a lesbian contestant on The Voice.
Just before Exposé performed in Chicago in 2008, I ran into a friend, who asked me if Exposé would be the original singers. I laughed and pointed out that this was a trick question. In 1985 when "Point of No Return" topped the club charts, the three vocalists were not the same singers, who comprised Exposé on its 1987 full-length debut, Exposure. Prior to the release of the 1992 self-titled outing, Gioia Bruno temporarily bowed out of the group when she lost her voice. Kelly Moneymaker filled Bruno's vacated spot. Ultimately, the three singers from Exposé's first two albums entertained the masses at the street festival and will be back this year. New mixes of the signature "Point of No Return" are available at www.exposeonline.net .
Also scheduled to appear is fellow freestyle hitmaker Lisa Lisa. The beautiful singer came out as a breast cancer survivor and was romantically linked to Robbie Rob Clivilles of C&C Music Factory, who remixed her dance hit "Let the Beat Hit 'Em." Lisa Lisa's "I Wonder If I Take You Home" has been sampled by many including Kylie Minogue and Black Eyed Peas.
Darren Criss, who plays the gay teen Blaine on Glee, is due to perform at Northalsted Market Days as well. Criss will be featured in the limited run Glee: The 3D Concert Movie, which opens Friday, Aug. 12.
Shiny Toy Guns will be at the street festival too. This goth-pop-electronic band burst onto the scene with We Are Pilots, but turned heads with a cover of "Major Tom (Coming Home)" for Lincoln MKZ commercials.
Other talent lined up for Northalsted Market Days include "Funk Boutique" freestyle vocal trio Cover Girls, out singer-songwriter Eric Himan and disco icon Ms. Gloria Gaynor. For a complete schedule, please visit http:// www.chicagoevents.com .
Dave DeRosa is the mastermind behind the new electro-pop act Genius Lovers. Joined by vocalist Katara, the New York-based band's debut Strange Game shows how Auto-Tune should be done on "Three-Thirty." "Hi-Tech" is fun and funky, worthy of Klymaxx. "Press Play" is a modernization of freestyle straight from the latter half of the '80s. But all of the electronic enhancers are stripped away on the superb showstopper "You Know Why You're Here." Strange Game is out now via Thrill Horizon Records.
Last year the blogosphere went aflutter over Graffiti6. The British band's brilliant lead single "Annie You Save Me" transports me back to the late '80s, where soul, pop and modern rock united on hits like When in Rome's "The Promise" and Love & Rockets' "So Alive." Resistance is futile with the well delivered bridge "stars, please shine for me tonight." It doesn't hurt that lead singer Jamie Scott has handsome looks, blending Jason Priestly and Nick Lachey. Don't be fooled, Graffiti6 does not rely on studio magic. You Tube clips feature the group jamming on a stairwell. The EP Annie You Save Me is out now.
Wynter Gordon burst onto the scene with "Dirty Talk," where she tempts her listener by cooing, "I'm no angel." She followed with "Believer," a club ready collaboration with Freemasons. As an accomplished songwriter, she has penned material for the likes of Mary J. Blige and Jennifer Lopez. Gordon's feel good track "Til Death" is a clever play on words as she sings "til death do we party." Her latest EP, With the Music I Die, also features "Buy My Love," which is the most humorous capitalist cut since The Tamperer's "If You Buy This Record (Your Life Will Be Better)." "Still Getting Younger" is airy and melodic, yet it still has a beat. My foot taps impatiently awaiting Gordon's full-length album.
Like Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendryx and Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse is another musician gone at the age of 27. The British soul singer will be remembered for her hit "Rehab," which is her rebellious rant about the disease that cut her life short. In a day when garish outfits and outlandish behavior overshadow the actual music, the five time Grammy winner is better known for her very public battle with addiction that lead to unflattering appearances in tabloids, instead of her well executed tales of heartache like "Back to Black." Attempts to record a proper follow up were unfruitful, but Winehouse guests with Tony Bennett on "Body and Soul" on his upcoming album Duets II.
Looking for other contemporary artists with Winehouse's Billie Holiday-influenced vocal style? Then check out Glovebox and Angela McCluskey.