Monday, April 7, 2008

Kevin Epps

Kevin Epps, chatting with students after the talk

Kevin Epps, filmmaker, activist, artist and my teacher for documentary class, gave a really intriguing talk about his experience as an artist in today's media landscape. "Digital technology is the reason this story was able to be told," he said about his 2005 documentary Straight Outta Hunter's Point. It was quite refreshing to hear someone talk about making a difference through media, giving people a voice by helping them to tell their story through documentary film. "There's something very empowering about telling your own story." Epps said. One of the ways he helps people do this is by working with Conscious Youth Media Crew, a non-profit production studio that provides inner city youth with the opportunity to create media. Awesome.

Epps also stated the idea that "We don't have to compete with Hollywood." As a media studies student, I guess it feels like everyone is always talking about making it big. Epps made me realize that it's more about small community power than Hollywood. Let's face it- Hollywood sucks.

Although, in this capitalist society, everyone needs money. Epps talked about how as an artist he and everyone else have been figuring out how to control ownership of their work and manage it in order to be compensated. This is the big issue that is happening right now with music downloading, and the reason why the writers' strike took place. It will be interesting to see how these sorts of issues play out in my lifetime.

This was the first time in our Davies Forum on Digital Literacy class that we had the perspective of a digital artist. Kevin Epps has a very unique, important perspective, perfect for the role. He touched on the digital divide too, something we are about to talk more about in our class. "Not having the access to the latest, fastest, digital technology is definitely a digital divide," Epps said.

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