The Making Of

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In this excerpt from Tavis Smiley, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Producer and NBA All-Star Baron Davis and Director Stacy Peralta discuss the film and the latest efforts to stop gang violence in L.A. and around the country.

Director Stacy Peralta talks about realistically stopping gang warfare in Los Angeles and how the Crips and Bloods were “Made in America.”

What led you to make this film?

As a resident of L.A., born and bred, I was confused about why the gang problem has lasted for over four decades and I wanted to peer into that world as a filmmaker to see why it began in the first place and what conditions keep it proliferating.

What were some of the challenges you faced in making CRIPS AND BLOODS?

Stepping into a world where death is a common occurrence.

How did you gain the trust of the subjects in the film?

I made it my mission to go into the various neighborhoods and build relationships with prominent gang members and former gang members before the cameras ever arrived.

What is the significance of the subtitle “Made in America?”

The Crips and the Bloods are an American creation. They were not created in some other country and imported here; they were made inside our country for reasons having to do with our country.

Tell us about a scene in the film that especially moved or resonated with you.

It’s a specific line that is spoken by one of the primary characters in the film, Kumasi, who says, “Part of the mechanics of oppressing people is to pervert them to the extent that they become their own oppressors.”

What do you think it will take to stop gang warfare in L.A., and how long do you think it would realistically take to eradicate?

First and foremost we have to stop demonizing these young men who get caught up in gang violence and we must begin to understand the conditions that lead them to this in the first place. If we really want to solve the gang problem then we are going to have to rebuild our inner cities with the commitment of a Marshall Plan—nothing less will work.

Were there any technical challenges you faced while shooting, and if so, how did you resolve them?

Every aspect of making a film is technical; there are obstacles and problems every day and in every way. Over time you learn to live with the chaos of many problems swirling around you at all times.

What has the audience response been so far?

Better than we could have hoped. People who see the film don’t usually leave the theater, as they want to discuss the film. Many have asked us how they can get involved.

Have the people featured in the film seen it, and if so, what did they think?

Most of the gang members featured have seen the film and are very pleased with it. Most have said that up until seeing the film they had no idea of their own history.

The independent film business is a difficult one. What keeps you motivated?

I make films I personally want to see.

Why did you choose to present your film on public television?

Because they are the most committed to personal filmakers and understand how to present smart and dynamic films to the public. They have backbone and are not ruled by focus groups and number crunchers and trust that their viewers are actually smart and discerning people.

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