Dare Not Walk Alone
Jul 31, 2009
by Nick McGregor, '05
Alumnus’ documentary receives major nomination at NAACP Image Awards
Four years ago, when Jeremy Dean finished his documentary “Dare Not Walk Alone,” the 2002 Flagler alumnus had incurred $30,000 in debt. He spent countless hours securing interviews with reluctant subjects. And he wasn’t sure whether the film — which examines both St. Augustine’s role in the 1960s Civil Rights struggle and the Oldest City’s more modern inequalities — would ever find a receptive audience.
But in 2008, after numerous film festival awards, theatrical screenings and a DVD deal with Wal-Mart, “Dare Not Walk Alone” received its highest honor yet: an NAACP Image Award nomination in the category of Outstanding Documentary. Dean’s film was in good company – fellow nominees included the critically acclaimed Hurricane Katrina movie, “Trouble The Water,” along with documentaries produced by HBO, ESPN and CNN.
“We were really the only independent film [in the category],” Dean said. “But to be compared with other productions of that caliber was very rewarding. We didn’t win, but the nomination opened a lot of doors and gave us a stamp of approval from the African-American community, which was very helpful.”
Dean attended the 40th Annual NAACP Image Awards on Feb. 13 in Los Angeles, with Executive Producer Stephen Cobb. He came away from the experience in awe. “It was a pretty big moment for anyone dealing with issues of race and class,” Dean said. “All the biggest names were there: Beyonce, Jennifer Hudson, Stevie Wonder, Muhammad Ali, Russell Simmons. Once the major stars showed up, it was like being a spectator at a big performance.”
Dean said his biggest personal highlight was meeting the cast from HBO series “The Wire.” He acknowledges the benefit of making industry connections at such a major event. “Not to say that ‘Dare Not Walk Alone’ is going to get picked up by Fox or anything,” Dean laughed, “but it’s always good to meet people for future projects.”
Those projects include combining fine art and film, finishing a screenplay and developing a documentary about surfing in the inner city “favelas” – or shanty towns – of Brazil. Dean was also chosen to serve on the screening panel for the 2nd Annual New York Surf Film Festival.
After spending seven years of his life on “Dare Not Walk Alone,” Dean still remains involved, speaking on college campuses and at other engagements. . Cable channels Sundance and IFC recently passed on the film, but it’s still under consideration by HBO. “Our next big hope is for a television deal,” Dean said.
Laughing, he added, “I didn’t know this, but distributing an independent film takes almost as long as making it.”Tagged As