Scooter Cops of BedStuy
TYPE: Documentary Feature
1970 BedStuy, Brooklyn was troubled and dangerous. Yet scooter cops Joe and Kenny served the neighborhood and brought in criminals without ever firing their weapons.
Scooter Cops Joe and Kenny took on impossible odds in 1970s BedStuy. Without permission, they cracked murder cases and collared menacing drug dealers. Their incredible journey powerfully exemplifies how an alliance between citizens and police, built through communication and trust, is an officer’s best weapon in protecting and serving their community.
The film captures in both tone and format the bombastic charm and cunning balance embodied by the incredible duo, Scooter Joe and Kenny. Just as Joe and Kenny walked a tricky line between enforcement and compassion, obeying their orders yet following their instincts, so too does our documentary straddle a delicate line between activism and entertainment, criticism and appreciation. “The Scooter Cops of BedStuy” is grounded in the heart of BedStuy - its people. But this isn’t strictly a talking head production. You see Joe and Kenny’s lasting legacy in surprising verite moments. It’s one thing to hear Joe and Kenny talk about how they interacted with people in BedStuy, it’s quite another to see it manifest in the real world at the corner of Tompkins and Jefferson. Their stories come to life with stylized and expertly crafted recreations that transport the audience not just to 1970s BedStuy, but to the tense moments before Joe and Kenny enter a derelict tenement with their credibility and careers on the line, or when they kick down the door to a heroin shooting gallery that they didn’t have authorization to enter. We’ll achieve this through powerful motion graphics that will evoke the iconic, sharp design aesthetics of 1970s film title sequences, but with a modern dynamism. Joe, Kenny, local academics and everyday residents narrate this heavily researched section. These motion graphics will be supported by a thorough and robust collection of authentic archival materials directly from the time period, including family photos from both Joe and Kenny, newspaper articles covering their biggest cases, and police documents that provide a comprehensive scope of their twenty year careers. We also draw footage from previously completed documentaries and films from the 1970s. Lastly, none of this would be complete without a powerful music score to accentuate the various tones we invoke throughout the film; be they contemplative, suspenseful or downright funky. What makes “The Scooter Cops of BedStuy” such a pertinent documentary for 2016 is that its message is one of empathy and activism. Joe and Kenny’s story champions ideals that demand consideration in a system that is failing black citizens. Scooter Joe and Kenny’s story asks the question, “How can the police better understand and serve minority communities?” The Scooter Cops of BedStuy straddles the perceived divide between police and civilians. It is told from the perspective of two highly effective police officers - on scooters, no less - one Jewish and the other African-American, who did their job but treated civilians with respect. A duo who saw their neighborhood not as a battlefield but as a struggling community, who saw past race and went after results. They worked a difficult beat, but they never strayed from a philosophy of words over weapons. Theirs is a message of respect, trust and communication. While the nation cries out for a solution to the recent discord, this documentary suggests a way to improve relations – by following the intrepid spirit of Joe and Kenny.
Travis Benn - Director/Producer
Travis Benn and Gideon De Villiers are co-directing and co-producing “The Scooter Cops of BedStuy.” They have been friends and creative collaborators since meeting at the University of Texas at Austin’s Radio, Television and Film department in 2009. Travis currently lives in BedStuy, Brooklyn. He is a jack-of-all-trades but a master-of-none within the film and animation industry. He works as a freelance animator, motion-graphics designer, and VFX compositor in the New York City market. He has been doing the research, field-audio recording and graphic design for “The Scooter Cops of BedStuy.”
Gideon de Villiers - Director/Producer
Gideon splits his time between living in Red Hook, Brooklyn and the Bronx while attending full-time graduate classes at the SUNY Maritime College earning his third-mate’s commercial ship license and working as a freelance cinematographer. He is an accomplished director of photography, editor and adventurer. He has been the lead cinematographer for one documentary and two narrative feature films, which have recently been programmed at Telluride and Toronto International Film Festivals. The documentary “Almost Sunrise,” for which Gideon has assistant editor and lead cinematographer credit, was recently programmed for PBS’s POV distribution channel. Gideon is the director of photography for “The Scooter Cops of BedStuy.”
Julia Pontecorvo - Producer
Julia is a Fort Greene, Brooklyn-based creative producer and filmmaker enthusiastic about good storytelling and the business of connecting those stories with audiences. With rich experience working with writers, directors, programmers, and designers across all media, her projects reflect a deep passion for the art of crafting and communicating narratives in an age of distraction. The majority of her work is in non-fiction for both traditional television and digital platforms. She has been fortunate to develop her skills through working with talent like Joe Berlinger and Bryce Dallas Howard and with companies like Vice, Radical Media, Cinemax, and ITV Studios. When she’s not trying to create quality story-driven media, she’s slogging away at a Master’s Program in Media Studies at The New School.
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UPDATE - January 31, 2017
We're excited to be traveling to Missoula, Montana in a couple weeks to pitch our project in front of a great panel of programers, festival attendees, and the wonderful people of Missoula!
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