I came across an amazing beautiful photo essay by Angela Boatwright that she did on punk rockers. They had on all the typical attire you would expect and most were adorned with ill thought out piercings and tattoos. The difference here, tho’, was that these kids were all Latinos. The photos led me to a documentary series Boatwright did on Latino punk rockers that threw concerts in whatever backyard they could find in East Los Angeles. These kids took pride in being from places like Compton, Long Beach, South Gate, East Los and thought of each other as family. What I found incredibly moving was that beyond the ‘Suicidal Tendencies’, ‘Dead Kennedys’ & ‘Misfits’ T-Shirts, beyond the mosh pits and aggressive music were these expressively tenderhearted kids. There’s Anthony who was raised by an O.G. abuelo, ‘Nekro’ who plays acoustic guitar while his abuelita serenades him with a ranchera and sweet faced 14-year-old Lauren who has to be chaperoned by her mother to the gigs. Angela Boatwright shatters your perception of what it is to love punk rock music. As one purple haired young woman stated, “It’s bigger than us”.
LatinoBuzz: I love East L.A and try to go every time I’m in Cali but I had no idea about the backyard Latino punk movement. How did you come across this?
Angela: I discovered two articles online, they were written for L.A. Weekly by an awesome human named Javier Cabral.
LatinoBuzz: You are from Ohio, did you imagine you would be making a film in East LA one day?
Angela: Not specifically, but in a way, yes. I lived in NYC for 19 years before I moved to L.A. so my teenage thoughts were more focused on the east coast, however I've always been into aggressive music so in that regard, documenting the East L.A. scene wasn't too far from my initial interests - geographically far but not spiritually.
LatinoBuzz: What was the most important thing you wanted to say about your subjects?
Angela: It seems incredibly obvious to me (and potentially to you and your readers) that music is almost never the "problem". These kids (and all kids, honestly) have valid, distinct and complicated lives. Life is difficult especially when you're young and especially when your dad is in jail, as in Lauren's case. Music is their salvation, their place to belong.
LatinoBuzz: How did you gain their trust?
Angela: I make sure and keep my word for starters (side note: I use the word "kids" in the general sense - many of these "kids" are in their early to mid 20s). And I listen to and attempt to remember the details of their stories. I was a very similar teenager, although I grew up on heavy metal and later, hardcore and grunge.
LatinoBuzz: Who did you relate to most?
Angela: I definitely related to each character (and several of the kids that weren't featured) in their own way. I suppose Lauren's story is the most like my own, however.
LatinoBuzz: I found the kids to be sweet and your affection for them shows. Do you think people pre-judge these kids?
Angela: Sure. And for a million reasons. But people pre-judge everyone, we all do it. It's awesome to get to know individuals you might never speak to or think about in real life through documentary filmmaking. I think that deep down we are all so incredibly similar, I want the audience to be able to relate to the kids as much as possible.
LatinoBuzz: Would you ever re-visit these kids on film later on in life to see where it took them?
Angela: Of course! I'm still in touch with all of them, there have already been some changes in their lives. I love projects through the passage of time. Almost everyone I've photographed personally I've kept in touch with. It's one of my favorite things about being a photographer.
LatinoBuzz: Who do you think they will become?
Angela: I have no idea! I hope they all go on to do amazing things!
LatinoBuzz: Your favorite moment in the film?
Angela: Haha, I spent so many hours editing the episodes - my most favorite moments are very quick and brief. I love the shot of the skinheads in the teaser, for example. I love that shot! There are tons of quotes and moments that didn't make the cut that I love, too. In Episode 3, I love the transition from Lauren's seemingly bratty attitude directly into her father's voice via telephone call from jail. That moment always hits my heart. I cry every time I watch that episode.
LatinoBuzz: Do you ever want to do a fiction narrative?
Angela: Maybe, sure!
LatinoBuzz: What was the Vans connection?
Angela: I had spent four years previous to the Vans project documenting metal bands that tour all over the world and funded it by myself. I was working with Vans photographing their Vans Girls' look-books around the same time. I asked the Vans Girls' art director if she could introduce me to anyone in the video department so that I could show them the teaser for my personal, heavy metal doc. The introduction was made, Vans loved the teaser and asked me to contribute to their 2014 documentary campaign.
To view more of Angela’s work take a visit to: http://www.angelaboatwright.com , and stay for a while!
Written by Juan Caceres . LatinoBuzz is a weekly feature on SydneysBuzz that highlights Latino indie talent and upcoming trends in Latino film with the specific objective of presenting a broad range of Latino voices. Follow [AT]LatinoBuzz on Twitter and Facebook