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For example, kids can make movies in foreign countries like Brazil, Russia or China—all financed with money raised via fundraisers with some help from the state of New York. Every student that participated graduated from high school, and 64 percent of them go to college. “James Murdoch found us and said, ‘Let’s please bring this to L. A.” There is also a new initiative for women interested in filmmaking that is symbiotic with the release of his new film, , about the real-life struggle of Miracle Mop founder Joy Mangano.
A GFS-led initiative called the Digital Bodega helps high school students find jobs in media after graduating college. “What happens when you make something special is you don’t have to seek out other people, they find you,” Russell says of the L. “There was a drop-off statistically with some of the women in the program when they got out of college; some of them lost traction when it came time to get into the workplace,” he notes.
“Gradually you become part of the community, and before you know it, you’re one of the veterans welcoming the newcomers—the parents who show up and are out of hope—and explaining to them how your kids can change,” he says, noting that he’s also been working to create a facility for The Glenholme School graduates, like his son.
“We’re creating an infrastructure where [these kids] can have compassionate, creative, inspired, guided independence that’s not institutional.
It’s not a halfway house, it’s not part of the hospital: it’s something that can feel human.
I was living in California and having to go to Connecticut was very emotional for me and my ex-wife [Janet Grillo].” Russell is one to find a silver lining in every situation, so to speak, and embraced both his son’s condition and the school itself.
Cinema, narrative and fiction inspired me through my life, [so] I understand what inspires them.” He likens working with the Ghetto Film School students and pushing them to succeed with his own experience trying slowly but surely to obtain certain music for his films.
He is the tortoise who keeps on trucking, and eventually wins the race.
“It’s the same thing trying to get music or actors in my movies: you have to bring yourself and your heart to them over a period of time, and you can get songs that have never been licensed from Led Zeppelin because you went to them, artist to artist.
You can’t just make a phone call and write a check because the answer would be no.