The Fretts on Film Interview: Documentarian Daniel Glick on Making a “Stand,” Working with Ed Asner and More!
Kickstart me up! I’ve gotten great joy in recent years pretending to be an indie-movie producer by donating through the Kickstarter website to worthwhile projects by promising filmmakers like Christina Choe (the award-winning short “I Am John Wayne”) and Jyllian Gunther (the charter-school documentary “The New Public”)—and getting premium goodies like signed DVDs as a gift. So when my friend Daniel Glick approached me and asked for my support for his cinematic work-in-progress, a documentary portrait of prisoner-turned-poet Jimmy Santiago Baca based on his acclaimed memoir A Place to Stand, I had to put my money where my mouth (and heart) is. And you can, too, by donating via this link. (Glick’s nearly halfway to his goal of raising $50,000 to finish the film by year’s end, with 19 days left to go in the Kickstarter campaign.) I spoke with my fellow New Jerseyan about Baca’s—and his own—Hollywood connections.
Movie fans might be familiar with Baca’s work from his screenplay for the 1993 Latino-gang epic Blood In, Blood Out. Was that film autobiographical?
Jimmy wrote it and executive-produced it. Parts of it were inspired by his life. It was directed by Taylor Hackford (An Officer and a Gentleman), who approached Jimmy to do it out of the blue, because he knew Jimmy’s poetry. I don’t know how well it did at the time, but it’s a cult classic today. Without question, every single Hispanic person I’ve spoken to has been like, “Oh, that’s the best movie!”
I always confuse it in my mind with American Me, Edward James Olmos’ 1992 Latino crime drama. Was Jimmy involved with that movie, too?
I’m not sure if this is official, but I think Jimmy wrote the first 10 minutes of American Me. He had to choose between the two, and he went with Blood In, Blood Out.
You worked with another Edward—Asner—on your first film, the mockumentary The Triumph of William Henry Harrison. How did that come about?
My father knew Ed from working on progressive-activist issues. So he sent Ed a note saying, “Would you be interested in narrating this film my son is working on?” A day later, I got a phone call from Ed Asner. I was walking down the street with a friend in Bloomfield, New Jersey and I stopped, stunned. He said, “Yeah, I’d love to do it.”
How was he to work with?
He was great. I went out to L.A. and set up a recording studio, and he said, “Hey, this is good copy. Good job.” He was really gruff and blunt and brusque but really warm at the same time.
And after that, he did voiceover work in Up, so maybe you jumpstarted that part of his career.
I paved the groundwork, yeah. (laughs)
Give me your quick pitch for why you want to make A Place to Stand—and why people should support it through Kickstarter.
I want to do it because Jimmy’s memoir changed my life and the way I view prison and the possibility for human transformation. His story embodies human potential, and the reason I’m making it is he’s already inspired countless people to change their lives. Whether it’s through his poetry or his memoir or his writing workshops, he has that God-given ability to shift people’s souls just a little bit. I want the film to make his story and his power available to a much larger population, in order to make a difference for many. Especially because the people most affected by Jimmy’s work—prisoners and urban youth—they don’t read, generally, and this would be a way to connect with them and to share Jimmy’s story with them.
Will you take a Stand and support Glick’s movie? Open up those wallets, people!