Filmmakers in Focus - Evolution of a Criminal, Lady Valor: The Kristen Beck Story & The Possibilities are Endless

Written by Jim Kolmar | March 4, 2014

Everyone faces challenges in life, but the key is figuring out how to overcome them. The three films in today's Filmmakers in Focus prove that most obstacles are only as insurmountable as you allow.

Darius Clark Monroe's deeply personal Evolution of a Criminal asks why a 16 year old commits a serious crime, and how he moves past it. In Lady Valor: The Kristen Beck Story, Sandrine Orabona & Mark Herzog tackles the thorny issue of identity and LGBTQ issues in the US military, with great heart and dignity. Edward Lovelace and James Hall's The Possibilities are Endless gets inside the discombobulated, vibrant mind of musician Edwyn Collins as he embarks on the long road to recovery after a stroke.

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Darius Clark Monroe on Evolution of a Criminal

Evolution of a Criminal

Tell us a little about your film.

When I was 16 years old, I robbed a small bank outside of Houston, Texas. That event changed the course of my life forever. In Evolution of a Criminal, I explore what motivated and influenced me to commit the crime in the first place. My choice created a lasting ripple effect that not only impacted my life, but the lives of family members, friends, and victims.

Why did you start making films?

I’ve always enjoyed writing, crafting story, but as a kid, I had no idea that filmmaking was an option. I started making films because I enjoy using cinema as a platform for discussion. I want to provoke and engage. I want to challenge perceptions and pre-conceived notions. I also want to tell stories that aren’t being told, stories by and about people who look like me.

Have you been to SXSW before? What are you most looking forward to?

As a native Texan, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never been to SXSW. I’m incredibly excited to bring this film back to Texas. In addition to the BBQ and booze, I look forward to sharing this experience with my entire family. They’re not only heavily featured in the documentary, but their unwavering support is the reason why I’m a filmmaker. I couldn’t have gone down this rabbit-hole without them. I can’t wait to introduce them to the SXSW audience.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

Life is short and I enjoy living. I love to dance (I’m light on my feet for a big guy, a feather, some would say). I love to cook and grill (I brought Texas BBQ to BedStuy and they’re loving it). And I love having a good time with great people.

Sandrine Orabona on Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story

Lady Valor: The Kristen Beck Story

Tell us a little about your film.

We started following Kristin Beck as she traveled around the country reconnecting with friends and family. We had no idea what to expect, but when trying to keep up with a former Navy SEAL it's guaranteed to never be boring. Her aim is still true - even in a pair of high heels.

Why did you start making films?

When I was in high school I wanted to be a journalist for newspapers, but was exposed to TV production through an after school club and got hooked. I preferred telling stories through images rather than written words.

Have you been to SXSW before? What are you most looking forward to?

I have not been to SXSW before, and I'm very much looking forward to enjoying work from other filmmakers. I'm also looking forward to screening the documentary for an audience and sharing the experience with Mark, Kristin and the rest of the crew that made this film possible.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

I've been involved in making documentary driven content for some time now, from my days at MTV doing features on musicians, to working at Herzog & Company on a variety of studio projects, to my involvement on Michael Jackson's This Is It. I love telling real stories about real people, artists, and filmmakers.

Edward Lovelace and James Hall The Possibilities are Endless

The Possibilities are Endless

Tell us a little about your film.

We first started by doing audio interviews with Edwyn nearly three years ago, going back and forth to his studio. It was a mixture of hanging out, asking questions or simply chatting over subjects for a couple of hours. Edwyn’s speech was improving with every session and we realized that they were contributing to Edwyn’s therapy. That really worked as an incentive for us to keep coming back and it is these conversations that narrate the film, letting Edwyn tell his story in his own words.

Why did you start making films?

There’s nothing quite like watching Basic Instinct for the first time as a 15 year old boy.

Have you been to SXSW before? What are you most looking forward to?

We were in Austin a few years ago when the festival was happening but we didn’t have tickets or accommodation. We were filming a group of DIY musicians at the House X House West festival and ended up camping in one of the venue's gardens for the week. One night we woke up thinking we were being attacked by raccoons but quickly realized it was someone relieving themselves on our tent. We are looking forward to sleeping on a mattress and using running water to brush our teeth.

Tell us a random fact (or two!) that would help our attendees get a better idea of who you are.

We are both obsessed with Bruce Springsteen. There is no doubt that his version of Americana has led to our love of the US, as well as some terrible Karaoke covers of ‘Thunder Road’.

*Top row: Evolution of a Criminal & filmmaker Darius Clark Monroe
Middle row: Filmmaker Sandrine Orabona & Lady Valor: The Kristin Beck Story
Bottom Row: The Possibilities are Endless & filmmakers James Hall & Edward Lovelace

All images courtesy the filmmakers*