Meet Ashley Seering and Cory Byers, Fusion Doc Challenge Finalists with their video “Renewed.” As finalists they will screen at Slamdance Film Festival on January 24, 2016 where the winners will be announced and awarded $3500. They will also screen at The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in February and do a city tour through the filmmaker’s towns. The film will compete for audience favorite on The Audience Awards in the Spring. In addition they, along with the top 20 films, will receive an exclusive 24-month licensing deal with Fusion and will feature across Fusion’s broadcast and digital platforms throughout 2016.
What’s your Fusion Doc Challenge film about?
Our documentary is about second chances. We live in throw-away society. We use things until we’re bored with them, throw them out, then buy new things and the cycle repeats. Unfortunately, a lot of times, we apply that same mentality to people. People get one chance, if that, and if they don’t impress us or make themselves useful to us somehow, we throw them away.
The crew at Anew Nature showed us how these things and people that some may find useless, actually can be renewed into something useful. The store refurbishes furniture and gives ex-cons a second chance. That’s our story.
How did you choose your subject?
We’d read about Anew Nature and what they were doing and thought it could be a good idea for a doc. We went and talked to them and they were excited about the idea. Luckily the story fit the genre and theme of the competition and we were able to produce it.
We did have other ideas for different genres, and we had planned on producing this one anyway at some point because it was such a good story. Luckily it all worked out.
What was the hardest thing about the challenge?
The hardest part was the editing phase. We didn’t really decide on the focus of our story until we had a chance to go over both of the interviews we shot. Once we decided our focus would be on Guy, we had to develop the story, which is difficult to do in such a short period of time. Then there was the additional challenge of finding usable music, doing color correction, audio edits, and all of the other aspects that go into completing a film. It was a stressful but rewarding challenge.
What was the best thing about the challenge?
The best thing about the challenge was the time we spent at Anew Nature working with Guy and Robert. They had such a wonderful story to tell and they were very inspiring. So just being able to tell their story effectively within the time limit and getting it done was a pretty good feeling.
What’s your biggest take away from the challenge?
The biggest take away was something one of our characters said. Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s very clichéd, but it’s very true. We often label people and just see them as that label. And if that label is negative, like “ex-con”, we may not even want to associate with that person. We really need to look past the labels and get to know the person underneath. If we could all do that, the world would be a better place.
From a filmmaking standpoint, the challenge was a good lesson in creativity and working as a team, as most timed challenges are. It forced us to make decisions quickly and not second-guess ourselves which definitely put our skills to the test, but that was all a part of the fun.
What is on the docket now for your film career/What are you working on?
We’re always working on something. We often work on documentaries but we also have some narrative scripts/ideas we’d like to produce soon. It’s just a matter of figuring out which one to do first.
Anything else you want your audience to know?
We can’t wait to share Guy’s story with everyone. He’s a true inspiration and someone who we think people can learn a lot from. It’s not very often you meet people like him and we’re so glad we get to help share his journey.
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