Movies have the power to stay in your thoughts years after seeing them, which is what happened to our guest blogger, Jeremiah Zagar, after he saw the film Fresh when he was barely a teen. Now, he’s a filmmaker with his own powerful storytelling tools, and his current documentary just celebrated its world premiere at Sundance. The festival is over but this isn’t the last you’ll hear from Zagar or his well-received film, Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart.
I was 13 years old when Boaz Yakin’s Fresh came out. I was chubby, dreadlocked and unpopular. Most weekends I spent in the Ritz theaters in old city Philadelphia hiding from the real world, while disappearing into another. I can’t tell you the exact weekend I saw Fresh but I can tell you that from the first frame to the last, it never let go of me. There are scenes in that film that replay in my mind even today. A dolly across a basketball court past a flattened ball to a dying girl shot in the neck, her leg thumping up and down. A young boy named Chuckie pretending to be the punisher, cocking his fists like guns as the scene intercuts with frames of a comic book. And the end, at a chess board in the park a boy in front of his father, crying.
The performances in the film were also unforgettable, Samuel L. Jackson, Sean Nelson and Giancarlo Esposito, haunted me. I remember coming into school on Monday morning and Fresh was all I wanted to talk about, but I was sure no one had seen it. I was wrong. Another chubby, unpopular kid named Jeremy Yaches had watched it as well and he loved it just as much as I did. Through class and into lunch we argued about and recounted every piece of the movie and by the end of the day we were friends.
Jeremy and I remain close, we are part owners of a company called Public Record, where we make commercials and feature films. We hope to continue to work with amazing partners like Hard Working Movies, Passion Pictures and HBO to make movies that will stick with their audiences for generations like Fresh.
My latest film, produced by Lori Cheatle, is CAPTIVATED The Trials of Pamela Smart. The Pamela Smart trial made history as the first trial televised gavel to gavel. With elements of sex, drugs, rock and roll, betrayal and murder, it captured the attention of a nation and became the inspiration for twenty years of movies, TV shows, books and theater, including To Die For, starring Nicole Kidman, directed by Gus Van Sant. Unfolding with the suspense of a fiction film, Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart uncovers the deeper story that most people have never seen and looks at how the media created a version that the public believes.
Captivated will air later in the year on HBO. Find more info on the film’s website.
Jeremiah Zagar is the cofounder of Public Record, a production company specializing in commercial and documentary storytelling. His documentary In A Dream screened theatrically across the U.S. and was broadcast on HBO. The film won numerous awards and received two Emmy Award nominations, including one for best documentary. His other work includes the Emmy Award–nominated Starved for Attention for Doctors Without Borders and the short documentary Heart Stop Beating, which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.