Dreams do come true. At least filmmaker Christine Lee thinks so. And she’s determined to convert anyone in the ‘Doubters Club,’ too. Ten years ago, before she was married or had her two daughters and well after she’d worked as an editor on “Any Given Sunday,” Cookie’s Fortune” and “Natural Born Killers,” she met her destiny at the Congo Room in Los Angeles, California. Within moments of hearing the daKAH Orchestra’s resonant strains of “A Rainy Day In East LA,” her life changed.
“I totally got it. There were young musicians playing at a very high level: jazz, hip hop, funk. It was the orchestra I wish I could have been a part of.” Christine says.
“I played viola in the high school orchestra, which,” Christine says, “was never considered very glamorous. But,” she quickly adds, “in daKAH, violists are one of the most flamboyant sections in the orchestra.”
She immediately connected with the Maestro Geoff “Double G” Gallegos and began shooting short segments of the orchestra’s rehearsals and performances including a memorable event at Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles.
“I became his defacto documentarian,” Christine says, “when he asked me to help with a Durfee Foundation Grant. Durfee awards 3 Los Angeles artists $25,000 to continue their art. We wrote and made this funny video and he got the grant. It seemed natural to continue. By then the orchestra was still growing exponentially and they were getting bigger and bigger venues. It was a very exciting time to be following around a young conductor on the rise.”
Christine crisp story telling and stellar editing skills bring a bell like clarity to her 10 year chronicle of the young men and women in “Hip Hop Maestro.” Over the span of the film’s life, Christine had two daughters and continued to edit any chance she got.
“I think, had Double G not been 1) such a great composer and 2) such a compelling person, all this footage could have easily sat in a box, on shelf somewhere. Motherhood could have been an excuse to not finish the documentary.” she says. “But when I realized that 10 years was upon us and daKAH was still playing concerts, it was somehow easier to see the path that daKAH took and why it was important to finish it.”
The film, which won an Audience award for documentary at Dances with Films last year, follows the young men and women of daKAH and Double G as they learn, grow and move forward in their own music careers.
“It’s very hard to go to any concert in LA and not bump into a daKAH musician.” she says. “I’ve even seen them on Jay Leno, on the Academy awards, at the Hollywood Bowl, in commercials even.” She estimates that Double G has supported more than 300 musicians in Los Angeles.”
“Hip Hop Maestro” will be shown on Saturday, October 15th at the 34th Annual Mill Valley Film Festival. The daKAH orchestra has been invited to play a concert at the Closing Ceremony of the entire festival on October 16th. Christine and Double G are hoping to raise travel and expenses for 31 players-the venue’s maximum capacity-and have created a campaign on Kickstarter.com. To date, they have 65 backers and have raised $7,500.
With any luck–and the support of their fans–they’ll make 31 more kid’s dreams come true. For Christine Lee, that’s already happened.