God on the Street


TYPE
: Documentary Feature
GENRE: Documentary
STATUS: Post-Production

LOGLINE

How do we describe our relationship with something we can’t see? A heartbroken woman travels across the country asking strangers to describe their personal – and often surprising – ideas about God. A search for answers becomes a love story about how radical compassion can transform the way we see the world.

SYNOPSIS

God on the Street invites the audience to leave home and take a trip across the country, from which we return with a new perspective. The movie starts with a moment of crisis—a profound romantic breakup—and progresses through the resulting break up with life as I know it. I am seeking, and everything is up for questioning. I am the “every person” on the spiritual path. The film is the manifestation of my journey. It is both intensely personal and entirely universal.

The movie features intimate conversations I had with a diverse group of people who agreed to share stories about their relationship (or lack thereof) with God as they define that concept. They are of different races, ethnicities, ages, and sexual orientations. But more important is their diversity of experience. They are taxi drivers and teachers, accountants, drug dealers, cops, surfers, circus performers and mothers holding babies. These are my teachers. No discussion of specific religious practices. No politics. No celebrities.

Each conversation serves as a plot point, leading me through a spiritual lesson. The need for approval. Perfectionism. Judging myself and others. The way these stories are arranged with respect to each other and to the overarching narrative gives them deep meaning. Topics explored include overcoming addiction, making art, parenting, basketball, forgiveness, gratitude, coincidence. In other words, the subjects discuss what gives our lives meaning.

This project has the power to be an antidote to the current geo-political trend of fear and intolerance. Viewers witness the spiritual transformation of the filmmaker and her subjects. They are encouraged to reconsider fixed ideas, ask their own questions, and become more open-minded. In this way, God on the Street promotes tolerance, compassion and community as it extends to platforms beyond the screen.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

The driving force behind the narrative of the film is the act of seeking. The film is not just about faith; it is an act of faith. As a first-time documentary maker, I experience longing, doubt, frustration, and moments of surrender, connection and clarity—also markers on the path of spiritual searching. My goal is for members of the audience to imagine themselves in the seeker role. As one of my subjects said, “I could talk to just about anyone about spirituality…but who has time to do that, to stop people in their tracks?” (As he was in the middle of the street talking to me!)

The movie has a visual sense of contemplation, curiosity, and spontaneity. This is a version of verité—I meet people in the midst of their daily lives, they have no time to prep for our conversation, it is live. The movie deals with serious topics, but the process can be very funny. I let the viewer see the realities of run-and-gun filmmaking—asking the subject to turn on lamps in a dark room, cutting to the PA teetering in an unsustainable crouch, the tripod falling over, other “mistakes.” I struggle, and I am imperfect. In spite of the imperfection, it is beautiful. Perhaps because it is imperfect it is beautiful. This is film as inspiration to the artist in all of us.

God on the Street is a multi-platform experience. Online, it is an Instagram feed with photos and “mini meditations” as well as behind the scenes documentation of the making of the movie. The feed will feature pictures of the subjects and quotes from their interviews. God on the Street is also a blog, a book, and a sequel.

 

KEY CREW

Lisa Jan Fogel - Director, Producer, Cinematographer

L.J. is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who marries her production experience with a 15-year career in digital content strategy. Documentary is the perfect form for her as she enjoys the challenge of real-world situations, the intimacy that can take place between strangers, and the adventure of not knowing what the outcome will be. She is interested in elevating the aesthetic of the world as it is, without manipulating the environment or subject except when absolutely necessary. In her former career, she was an Executive Director of Digital Media, establishing brand voice and managing multi-platform campaigns consisting of television, online and live event content. Her teams have won Webby and CableFax awards. She worked at F/X, Yahoo! and SiTV. (Now Fuse TV.)  L.J. graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College and studied film at NYU. She shot her first films in high school using a VHS-C.

Marinna Guzy - Marinna Guzy, Producer, Co-Editor

Marinna is a filmmaker and sound artist. She has created visual content for the Nature Conservancy, the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and Focal Press. Her sound art has been featured by the University of Pennsylvania, the Owens-Thomas House in Savannah, GA, and the global art project Cities and Memory (Oxford, UK). She is the co-founder of Raconteur Sound, a post-production sound house located in Los Angeles. Marinna holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Vassar College, and an MFA in Sound Design from the Savannah College of Art and Design. 

 

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