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By Ondi Timoner | January 24, 2013

Director Scott Hamilton Kennedy talks about his experience making docs about the South Central Farmers, gifted children in performance school, and a production of Our Town in Compton, Ca.

By sharing with us the images and experience he’s found with people yearning to express themselves against social adversity, Scott has found acclaim and he presents his work here with clarity.

Watch new episodes of BYOD live each week on Tuesdays at noon on TheLip.TV, or tune in for the archived replay starting here on the following Thursday.

BYOD is hosted by Ondi Timoner, director of “DIG!,” “JOIN US” and “WE LIVE IN PUBLIC,” and has the rare distinction of winning the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance twice. Each week the show explores a different documentary filmmaker or aspect of filmmaking, with special guests and a live Q&A– diving deep into creative process and the business realities of producing and distributing films. Ondi shares her insider views, opinions, and personal stories, welcoming audience participation. BYOD aims to entertain, inform, and elevate documentaries in general by bringing attention to films and film makers that deserve exposure.

Academy Award nominee Scott Hamilton Kennedy is a writer, director, producer, cameraman, and editor and has worked on everything from music videos and commercials to motion capture animation, scripted and reality television, and fiction and non-fiction film. Scott’s documentary The Garden was nominated for a 2009 Academy Award for Best Documentary feature. It tells the story of the South Central Community Garden, the largest of its kind in the U.S., and its complicated struggle for survival.

Scott’s journey as a filmmaker began at Skidmore College, where he majored in theater with a concentration in directing. Scott went on to establish himself as a director of music videos, commercials, and promos for clients ranging from Tony Bennett to CBS and Mattel. Scott then had the unique opportunity of being hired by low-budget legend Roger Corman to direct four TV features, each shot in six days. Scott’s debut documentary, OT: our town, tells the underdog story of the staging of the first play in twenty years at Dominguez High in Compton, California, and their attempt to produce Thornton Wilder’s Our Town. OT screened and won awards at some of the top film festivals in the world including Toronto, Los Angeles (best documentary), Tribeca, SXSW, Palm Springs Int’l (audience award), and Aspen (audience award). OT was also honored by being ‘short listed’ for an Oscar nomination, nominated for Best Documentary by the Independent Spirit Awards, and awarded a Human and Civil Rights award from the National Education Association (NEA). Critics loved OT, and the film was included on several ‘best of’ lists, including the L.A. Times and Seattle Times.

Scott has become a much sought after speaker and educator and has lectured and taught master classes in film at universities such as Carnegie Mellon, USC, and the Claremont Colleges.Scott is also developing several narrative projects, including an adaptation of The Garden. His feature script Up River, a coming of age action/adventure movie on the Los Angeles River, went through the highly competitive FIND Directors Lab and was featured on the Black List. Presently Scott is in post-production on a documentary with the working title Fame High, about the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA). Fame High follows five freshman and five seniors through a school year as they try to become successful actors, singers, dancers, and musicians.


00:01 Welcome to BYOD.
00:21 Introducing Scott Hamilton Kennedy.
02:00 The Garden and the story of the South Central LA Farmers.
33:34 Finding characters for a documentary.
37:15 Looking at OT Our Town, filming the arts in a Compton school.
45:54 Discussing Fame High and the LA County HS for the Arts.
56:10 Killing the myth of “overnight success.”

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