Message from the Director
What do Matthew Shepard, James Byrd, and the victims of 9/11 all have in common?
They are all victims of hate crimes. They share this dubious title with thousands of other victims. In 1996 alone, there were 10,706 incidences of hate crimes reported in the United States alone and that number has grown each year. The greatest number of hate crimes are those committed against African-Americans. But in an equally disturbing trend, attacks upon gays and lesbians are increasing both in number and severity.
This film project deals with the proliferation of hate crimes and looks at the growth of one young man away from a life of blind hate.
One of the reasons I chose this subject matter is to draw attention to this alarming trend in our country. I chose violence against gays as the inciting incident in this movie because of the fact that it is a fast growing subset of hate crimes and because very little has been written about it in the film community.
Movies are a very powerful way to get a message across to people. I don't think there is anyone who goes to movies who hasn't been hypnotized by a story at one time or another. To sit in the dark and experience something that one might never experience otherwise - an aborted mission to the moon on Apollo 13; an opportunity to see dead people and help those still living gain some sort of perspective or peace as Cole Seer did in The Sixth Sense; or perhaps to watch two bumbling criminals botch a kidnaping and have events go horribly awry in the North Dakota city of Fargo.
In the Company of Strangers is a film which looks at a brief period in the life of Brian Nowicki, a young man at a critical juncture in his life. Does he follow the mob - his friends since childhood - and join blindly in the persecution of a group of people solely based on their sexual orientation or does he move from that group into a more enlightened life?
This is a story I have decided to tell through the medium of an independent film.
Independent films are not the 600 pound gorillas of Hollywood - going where they want to go and doing what they want to do. They are small pictures - films made by committed individuals with a vision and with a story to tell.
This project is no exception. Twenty-seven speaking roles and a crew of 18 worked together for 25 shooting days to produce a film of which we are all very proud. Additionally, this was all done without the benefit of big name actors, a big name director or any Hollywood backing whatsover.
We hope you enjoy In The Company Of Strangers.
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