Contribute to the Making of “Uncle Frank’s House: An American Dream”

As I hunker down to edit my new short documentary film, “Uncle Frank’s House: An American Dream“, I’ve come across one of those things you might describe as a “good problem”. While my Indiegogo campaign has come to a close, I am still being asked by people if they can contribute to the making of this film.

Short answer: Yes, you can!


Fund This Film



The perks I offered with the Indiegogo campaign are still the same, you can take a look at them here. Or, for a quick recap:

  • $10 – gets you a social media shoutout and “thanks” in the film’s final credits
  • $25 – gets you a look at some behind the scenes video, plus the $10 perks
  • $50 – gets you some “Top Secret Detroit” tips, “Special Thanks” in the credits and everything else $25 buys
  • $100 – gets you a 5″ x 7″ signed photo print of Detroit, everything the $50 buys and – this additional perk has just been added for the most popular contributor category – Sneak Preview of the Finished Film! (all $100 donors will be receiving this special link, later this summer).

Simply pull down the menu until you see the amount you’d like to give, then click “Buy Now”.

All contributions are put toward paying off the costs incurred on a 10-day trip to Detroit in April, as well as toward the Final Cut bells and whistles needed to enhance the editing and film festival submission fees. For independent filmmakers, the film festival circuit is our best chance to get people from around the world to see and share our work. Your help in getting “Uncle Frank’s House: An American Dream” into the film fests that we qualify for cannot be underestimated!

Watch the trailer “Voices of Detroit” now. This was put together to highlight some of the interviews we did on our recent trip to Detroit, as well as to showcase the music of Detroit’s own John Greasy, who is providing original music.

 

I’ll continue to update you throughout the summer on the progress of this film. As those of you who have been following this project since its inception know, it began when my father, Mike Drasky, suggested that I try to find his uncle’s house in Detroit’s Nortown district back in 2015. My great uncle Frank had moved to Detroit in the 1920s, worked for the Ford Motor Company and bought a house – the American Dream – in the late 1940s. Detroit has certainly had an interesting history since that time, as has the concept of the American Dream as a whole. No one really expected Uncle Frank’s House to still be standing, but there it was – looking virtually unchanged since he proudly sent photos of it back to his brother (my grandfather) in the 1950s. I wanted to know what transpired there, what kept one block in Detroit vibrant and intact, while the next was abandoned and leveled. Why did some dreams live and others die?

The film’s tagline describes my journey – and what I hope to show in the finished film best: “I went looking for my uncle’s house. I found so much more.”

WATCH: Behind the scenes footage, “Voices of Detroit” here.

CONTRIBUTE to the making of “Uncle Frank’s House: An American Dream” by clicking the “Donate” button below. I am grateful for your support!


Fund This Film



New Short Documentary in Progress

I’ve been hard at work on a new short documentary film project about my great uncle, Frank Drasky, and his quest to achieve the American Dream as a worker for the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, Michigan, starting in the 1920s. The first two parts of work on this film have been rather fun. They included a few visits to Detroit to learn about what Anthony Bourdain has dubbed “our most American city”. I did the “ruin porn” route, but quickly discovered there was so much more here. To quote a Detroit street artist Fel3000ft, “it takes heart to fight for something that so many consider a lost cause”.

The second part of this project included interviews with my father, who was Frank’s nephew (Frank was my grandfather’s brother). My mother, our venerable family historian, who pieced together a family tree – had some information on Uncle Frank – including the address to his house in Detroit’s Nortown neighborhood. While Google’s street view showed a house was still there, a drive past it on one of my trips yielded a pleasant surprise. Not only was the house still standing – the entire block was one of the few that had not just survived all that has happened in Detroit, it appears to thrive.

Now I start the third leg of this film, the search for the narrative that will bring together past and present and tie my family’s 20th century history to modern-day Detroit. I’ll be making another trip to the Motor City, April 13-21 – and am seeking funding to help defray the travel costs, as well as to see me through the arduous editing and post-production phases that will follow.

To see a trailer of the work so far, and to make a donation (or simply just help out by sharing on social media), please visit my Indiegogo page.

A Weekly Photo Journey on Medium.com

This could be overly ambitious, but I’ve started a (semi)- / (sort of)-weekly photo journal on Medium.com.

At about 8 weeks into the New Year, I’ve been sticking with it. It took me a while, but last year I began a very good work habit of uploading my photos, processing them and tagging them once a week. I learned this lesson the hard way when I finally got together a portfolio of 10 years’ work that took about two years to complete. I knew that things had to change.

Now, after establishing much better workflow practices I thought I would begin to write a little more about the images I make. What influences them? What works? What doesn’t? And because photography has become such a major part of my life over the past decade, I wanted to write about that – a journal, if you will.

You can always see my recent entry here. Wish me luck in keeping up this new practice.

Favorite Shots of 2016

At the end of the year, for the past few years, I’ve chosen a selection of photos that I’ve taken over the course of the year to try and understand what just happened.

The 12 or so images I choose each year represent a combination of feelings about what’s personal for me mixed with what’s going on in the world.

“Event Meets Street Meets Documentary” – 14 Shots

I began getting paid (a little) for photo work as an event photographer and photojournalist about a decade ago. With the advent of the iPhone, I took to the streets, joining legions of fledgling street photographers redefining a long unsung art. For several years I’ve been trying to bring these two styles — using both digital and mobile photography — together into one voice. This year I added some film to the mix. What I got is “event meets street meets documentary”. And while that did not help me not make sense of the turbulence by any means, I’ve come to the understanding that you must find your balance in its midst.

Have a look at the album on Flickr.

Jeanne & Mike: Original Art Wins Best Short Film at Direct Short Online Film Festival March 2016

BSF

My short independent documentary, Jeanne & Mike: Original Art has just won “Best Short Film” in the Direct Short Online Film Festival for March 2016. I love that this festival recognized this as a short film, not solely a documentary. I also love that there are so many opportunities for independent filmmakers to get our work seen. The rise of mobile plays a huge role, as more entertainment is consumed on smartphones and tablets. Online film festivals are simply the next step in helping people like me reach a wider audience than we could have ever dreamed.

Meet the Street Photographer Documenting Divisadero for 12 Years and Counting

Hey, that’s me!

 

 

 

 

 
It was wonderful to sit down with my local online publication Hoodline and talk about this ongoing documentary photo project I’ve been working on (for 12 years now).

Divisadero Corridor is a project that is near and dear to my heart. When I started it, back in 2004, I owned an Olympus point-and-shoot 3-megapixel camera. I thought it was the greatest thing at the time. There was no Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. I had a blog – but no one read that.

The neighborhood I had just moved to was dark, gritty. Sandwiched between still colorful Haight-Ashbury and its weird cousin, the Lower Haight, the Divisadero Corridor didn’t warrant much explanation. It was (as it still is) a major north/south thoroughfare through San Francisco, a part of the much larger area known as the Western Addition. There were few businesses besides the car repair shops and gas stations. A couple of corner stores. A few quirky places to eat and drink (Club Waziema remains a favorite). No one came to Divisadero to do anything. But they used to. As I walked the Corridor and its surrounds I began to pick up on the rich African-American history that was once at its core. Sadly, I’ve watched the little parts of that which were still here in 2004 be chipped away at even more. Yet, I’ve also watched a slow and careful gentrification take place. I was here when the shift was made to calling the neighborhood NoPa, but as I still photo walk the Corridor a couple of times a week, I can still feel the beat of Divisadero. It’s all about where you look.

 

IC Meet Series: Q&A With Kathy Drasky

I love participating in the Indisposable Concept – a project dedicated to film photography and bringing back the use of disposable cameras. Long before the first cell phone and its little one- or two-megapixel camera, let alone the latest iPhone, we occasionally picked up a disposable camera at Walgreens or CVS on our way to a party or on our way out of town. In many ways, these little grab-and-go cameras were a precursor of what was to come. Shooting with one today is a trip back in time to when you really had to think about if you wanted to make a photo of something. There is no taking a look at your images and there is no deleting as you snap your way through a roll of film. And, you have to wait at least a couple of hours after you finish a roll to see your efforts.

Selfie with film

Meet Kathy Drasky

We call it the #ICMEETSERIES and thought it would be interesting to find out a bit more about the people behind the disposables. We asked a few IC contributors to tell us a bit about themselves and this is what we got in return…

Kathy Drasky – San Francisco, CA. USA

Click here to read what I love about disposables and how they got me back into shooting film.

New Collateral for Jeanne & Mike: Original Art

On the back of our success with my short film about my parents and the art in their house, we thought it was time to freshen up the collateral. These double sided postcards will continue to help KazzaDrask Media spread the word.

If you haven’t seen Jeanne & Mike: Original Art yet (or just want to watch it again…and again), visit the film’s website. You can also like the Jeanne & Mike: Original Art page on Facebook and keep updated on the film’s progress on the film fest circuit and upcoming screenings.

Jeanne and Mike 2016 collateral

 

jean and mike backside of postcard