high school


WHATEVER IT TAKES: We Finished the Film!

It’s hard to believe, but I can finally announce that WHATEVER IT TAKES has been completed! At times, I never thought my film would be done. There was always another scene to shoot, another rough cut to edit, another technical detail to manage. But through it all we persevered, and now we are ready to show our film to the world.

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Last month, something happened which reminded me that I’m not just making a film. In documentary, we’re not just dealing with footage that we shot a few months ago; we’re dealing with individuals whose lives continue evolve. This is real life, and sometimes things change for the better, sometimes for the worse. In this case, it was definitely the latter…

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Big Meeting


Right before you start a documentary film, before you shoot a second of footage, what do you have? You might know who your main characters will be, but you have no idea of how they will “perform” on camera. You might know the history behind your project, but who knows how you’ll portray it. What we do have, of course, is a vision of what the film can be. This latter vision was the genesis for my documentary WHATEVER IT TAKES.

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Sharifea Morning


So I need to apologize again for the long absence between blog posts here… As you might imagine, things have been incredibly busy as we get to the very end of the film. Right now, we are consumed with three major tasks: finishing the edit, crafting the animation, and choosing a composer.

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Ed and Sharifea

WHATEVER IT TAKES: There Can Only Be One

What’s more interesting in a documentary? A story about one person or many? If you capture the lives of four or five individuals, it seems like you would have an interesting mix of narrative threads to follow. But if you follow just one person around, you might not get enough action to fill out your film.

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WHATEVER IT TAKES: We got into Sundance!!!

Well, kind of… I should explain. Since July 2007, WHATEVER IT TAKES has been supported by the Sundance Institute Documentary Fund. Besides CAAM, Sundance has been our other major backer, providing us with not only a large grant, but also much needed creative and technical assistance.

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School Hallway


Everyone tells you that you can’t make a film by yourself. So true. But while it’s absolutely crucial to have a wonderful camera crew and editing team, it also really helps to have an awesome film organization (or two) backing you up. For this project, we have had amazing support from CAAM, and I want to spend some time bragging about them… (FYI, CAAM did not put me up to this; this is completely my own doing.)

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Principal Edward Tom

WHATEVER IT TAKES: The Man and the Mission

For those of you who have been keeping track of this blog about my film “Whatever It Takes”, let me first apologize for being a bad, bad blogger these past four weeks. I do have a decent excuse, though, because I was incredibly busy planning some fundraising events in three different cities. As someone who has never done this before, let’s just say that it was (and continues to be) a mighty difficult undertaking.

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WHATEVER IT TAKES: Breaking Stereotypes

WHATEVER IT TAKES: Breaking Stereotypes

Started editing today on our Final Cut Pro system. Definitely feels good to finally be at this stage, when all the footage gradually morphs into comprehensive scenes. I’m looking forward to developing our main characters into the fullest and most meaningful realization of who they truly are.

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Principal Tom

WHATEVER IT TAKES: Finding the Story

Shooting 140 hours of footage is one thing. Logging, organizing, capturing, and digitizing it is quite another… We are now just over halfway done with the review, and it’s obvious that the discussions we are having now will save us a tremendous amount of time and effort later.

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Christopher Wong


Hi everybody, my name is Christopher Wong, and I’ve been asked to write a weekly blog about my feature-length documentary film WHATEVER IT TAKES – a year-long story about a new public school in New York City’s South Bronx.

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