Friday, February 26, 2010

Hats Off to A Friend

Last Wednesday I got email from a longtime friend who lives in Los Angeles. Shelby and I go back quite a ways, to a time before California, back to the salad days of our early twenties in New York. Suffice it to say, we’ve been friends for many years, and though living a world apart these past thirty years, we have kept in touch. There have been a few years when we’ve managed no more than holiday greetings, but more often than not, we write two or three times a year. So, it was no surprise to get email from Shelby last week, but the contents of her mail did surprise me. Not only did it surprise me, it also gave me a tremendous thrill with its special attachment.

Shelby is an actress, and one who has done very well at it without becoming ‘famous’ or the stuff of paparazzi. She is one of those people who plugged away at her craft year after year, eventually building a reputation and making the connections necessary to support herself comfortably through film and television work. Over the years, she has done a lot of film and television work, and it isn’t an exaggeration to say that her face, if not her name, is very likely familiar to countless television viewers. In a few words, it’s because she is good at what she does.

Once upon a time when we were young and full of dreams and the excitement of living in New York, Shelby was asked by a graduate student in film at NYU to do a short film with him, something that was a part of his graduate school requirements. It wasn’t a time when any of us turned down work, and so Shelby happily agreed to do the film. It was the central role, and if it turned out well, would be an invaluable piece of film for a young actress to show around. Well, it did turn out well, especially as a showcase for the artists involved, and though I cannot cite specifics, I believe it led to other opportunities for the star performer, Shelby Leverington.

There are rights involved and I am not allowed to embed a copy of the sixteen minute film in this blog post, but there is no constraint on my including a link to this short film. I can’t encourage you strongly enough to find the time to see this film. It has the distinction of being one of the films accepted into the U.S. National Archive of Film. The press release that went out with that announcement described it like this:

Done in faux cinéma vérité style, Mitchell Block’s 16-minute New York University student film begins on a note of insouciant amateurism and then convincingly moves into darker, deeper waters. Opening with a scene of a girl getting ready for a date, the camera-wielding protagonist adroitly orchestrates a mood shift from goofiness to raw pain as an interviewer tears down the girl’s emotional defenses after being raped. One of the first films to deal with the way rape victims are treated when they seek professional help for sexual assault, No Lies still possesses a searing resonance and has been widely viewed by nurses, therapists and police officers.

I first saw the film shortly after it was completed many years ago, and I had forgotten just how powerful it is. The link includes a very good history and commentary on the film. I hope you will watch it. The film is called No Lies.

The first photo on this page is a shot during filming of No Lies, and the second one of Shelby in Japan when she came here to spend a couple of weeks with me a few years back.

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About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America