It was probably only a matter of time before someone made a movie about First Fridays — the monthly event is, after all, a deeply cinematic affair, a fairly perfect encapsulation all of Oakland's contradictions (plus, lots of attractive people always helps!) — but local filmmakers N'Jeri Eaton and Mario Furloni are officially the first, and what they're working in looks pretty rad:
"We tried to make the film for a couple of reasons," Eaton said in a recent interview. "After the murder of Kiante Campbell [in February], there was so much energy and so many conversations about First Friday and what it means for the city." Even as Oakland was garnering well-deserved attention for its arts scene, the city's violent side showed itself in a profoundly public way. "Oakland has some contradictions, and [First Fridays] is when those two things collide," Eaton continued. "we wanted to capture that."
That's a remarkably ambitious project on any timeframe, but Eaton and Furloni — both of whom were accomplished filmmakers before this project — are aiming to make it happen in a super-compressed time frame: Their first meeting about the film was about a week after Campbell's death, which meant that if they wanted to film at the following month's First Friday — which they did — they'd need to come up with a crew, a plan, and a cast of characters in about three weeks.
"It was hard," Furloni said with a laugh. But eventually they rounded up about thirty filmmakers, who, in teams, followed one of eight characters, each with a different background and stake in First Fridays. Tonight at Betti Ono Gallery, they'll officially launch the now-nearly-finished project and celebrate the success of their Kickstarter campaign, which reached its $15,000 goal yesterday; Eaton and Furloni will soon begin shopping the film — which will run about an hour long — around to local TV stations and festivals, though eventually they'd like to see it get a national audience.
"We really want to change the national conversation about Oakland," Eaton said. "Just like any city, there are amazing things that happen here and things we have to work on. We want to encourage conversations around Oakland, and around urban development and urban planning."