Columbia Film Festival

Children of Paris

Expired June 26, 2021 3:59 AM
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Children of Paris is a vignette style documentary short whose central focus is hip-hop artists Kotic Couture and DDm as well as pop artist Rovo Monty. It follows these three Baltimore-based black LGBTQ+ performers as they hustle to bridge the gap between the underground scene and mainstream stardom. Each artist gets their own narrative space which shows the significance of their individual talents and stories. The segments are composed of personal interviews and performance moments that create an introduction to these voices. The demand for Kotic Couture, DDm, and Rovo Monty’s sound is soaring in counterculture, so the question still remains, why is the hip-hop/pop mainstream industry still dragging its feet on a real push to back black LGBTQ+ artists?

Kotic Couture opens the discussion with thoughts on what queer artists are up against in the hip-hop industry and their everyday lives. The performance segments highlight Kotic’s dynamic stage presence and popularity. Next, DDm, a seasoned veteran of the underground hip-hop scene and music industry, recalls how gay artists have been subjected to extremely disrespectful treatment as well as a fear of being ”found out”. Lastly, Rovo Monty is an openly gay pop artist who sees clearly that initial ambiguity is required to make it in the pop industry. This knowledge and the determination to remain true to himself only feeds his resolution to make it.

There are so many layers to the discrimination of queer and gay voices that are needlessly silenced all across the music industry. Children of Paris focuses on the bigotry against the LGBTQ+ community within the hip-hop landscape that seems determined to maintain a marketed hyper-black male persona. The film shines a light on the industry’s tricks and games to appear inclusive, but the lack of true visibility

calls them out. Kotic Couture, DDm, and Rovo Monty’s verity and willingness to be unguarded in revealing their personal experiences establishes a strong foundation to begin an exchange between the communities. Children of Paris opens this dialogue

but still, it only scratches the surface of the conversation that needs to begin. So, let’s start the cipher and pass the mic.

Director Statement

Hello, I’m Brandy Creek Director of the documentary Children of Paris and I am so pleased to share some of the ins and outs in making this film.

Post-graduation I was looking for a subject to do my first out-of-film school effort. Initially, I wanted to revisit Jennie Livingston's Paris is Burning iconic ballroom documentary. Paris was one of the documentaries that made me want to go to film school and I knew the ballroom scene had changed quite a bit since the ’80s. That weekend I met up with some friends for a night out at a place in Baltimore called the Crown. Performing that night was Kotic Couture and the performance was phenomenal. Kotic agreed to meet up for an interview and by the time it ended I knew the queer experience in the underground hip-hop scene was a story that needed to be told. DDm and RoVo Monty came into the picture about 5 months into filming. Initially, they were going to be much smaller voices in the discussion but their dynamic personalities compelled me to give them both a much larger piece in the film.

Having only a camera with one lens and an onboard mic I just started shooting. I went to every Kotic show and those early shoots were huge learning experiences. Mastering filming with one lens and often only the stage lighting to illuminate what I captured is by far my favorite learned skill. It ended up a mix of properly exposed and grainy footage, which turns out was a much-needed narrative element in itself giving the feel of the hot concert hall or night out.

The interview portion was filmed after all location filming had wrapped. Their comfort was my top priority because I wanted the interview to flow like a conversation. I stuffed them full of bagels and creams, donuts, and coffee, pressed record, and enjoyed an open frank conversation. We covered so much ground and had such a fun time that it wasn’t until editing that it truly registered how profound each of their stories is.

When I watch the final cut all the emotions of those moments wash over me. This being my first film I made a ton of mistakes and Kotic, DDm and Rovo gave me the patience and the space to be exactly where I was in my craft. It was unspoken but they fully understood the

pains that come with growing as an artist and creating a work the world might reject and never wanna see. The mainstream music industry can be intolerable especially towards people they deem mere “radio stars”. Being invited to watch another artist work thru their process knowing they will still face immense obstacles has inspired me beyond belief. In putting this film together the process really was the reward.

Director Biography - Brandy Creek

Brandy Creek is a documentary filmmaker who lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her husband and youngest child. Her documentaries include Bounce (2010), The Ugly Myth (2011), Art of Urban Decay (2012), and The Last Picture House (2015). She is a Stevenson University graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Film and earned the University President Award for Creative Scholar 2015.

  • Year
  • Runtime
  • Language
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Brandy Creek
  • Producer
    Brandy Creek
  • Cast
    Kotic Couture, DDm, Rovomonty