When Jason Whalen lived in New York, he was part of a wide and deep social net, so when he moved to San Francisco last year knowing very few people, he wanted to get right to work building up new friendships and meeting some of San Francisco’s key players. With past experience in advertising and creative production, he started thinking about ways he could turn his exploration of the city into a creative project. Enter Nick Kova, whose work was forwarded to Jason by his sister, and soon after, the Neighbors Documentary (working title), being produced by Jason’s creative agency Agency Charlie, was born:
SCOUT: Jason, tell us more about how you got the idea for Neighbors?
JASON: When I first moved to San Francisco, I did a lot of walking around and saw how different every neighborhood is. There also seemed to be certain neighborhoods where the creative scene was thriving, but I knew there had to be other places where creative people lived and were doing amazing things. As I started making more friends and telling them about the idea, they threw out names of people they thought I should get in touch with. Looking for those people and getting to know them and their network seemed like the best way to get to know the city and figure out those degrees of separation.
SCOUT: You talked about finding those “key people.” How do some of the people you’ve featured fall in to that category?
AGENCY CHARLIE: Richard “Dick” Vivian’s story is about how his record shop, Rooky Ricardo’s Records, in the Haight is indirectly responsible for influencing a big social scene; in this case, the DJ scene. Dick started out with an extensive record collection 25 years and his shop was a place for people to come by and trade or sell vinyl. Because of where his store is located (Haight between Fillmore & Webster), he was also encouraging people to venture into a part of the Haight, they might not have been interested in checking out before. Then later on, for DJ’s, it became the place to go for unique vinyl. More recently, we spoke with DJ Brown Amy who DJ’s with the soul group Hard French, Fran Martin with the Visitacion Valley Greenway Project and Mike Giant who is a full-time artist specializing in graffiti.
SCOUT: The way the stories are shot creates a really raw, intimate look into the person’s world.
AGENCY CHARLIE: Advertising has taken this turn into work that is less produced and more meaningful and real. So going off that style, we wanted to create that real glimpse into people’s lives with the Neighbors documentary. We wanted to present something that the viewer could make his or her own interpretations of and create whatever meaningful connections he or she felt with the story. We want to make something that people care to watch and that they feel connected to so they want to go down to Dick’s store and say hit to him after watching his story.
SCOUT: What’s in the future for the Neighbors documentary?
AGENCY CHARLIE: This project is completely self-funded and something that we have to make time for outside of our regular jobs. Sometimes that makes things hard, but we’re constantly working on the project, whether it’s seeking out those key players, or actually working on shoot. This is the type of project that can never really be complete, but someday we’d love to be able to string enough stories together to be able to debut it to a large group.
SCOUT: Shameless plug time!
AGENCY CHARLIE: Check out Agency Charlie’s site for Neighbors-related updates and some of the other work we do. We also post about new clips on Twitter.