ON GUARD: A Story of American Youth feature film, audience reactions
FESTIVAL AUDIENCE FEEDBACK VIDEOS • 9m 14s
ON GUARD: A Story of American Youth., 92min., USA, Documentary
Directed by Randal Allen Otto
On Guard is a coming of age story as told through the eyes of five teenage women of color growing up in an era unlike any other.
Set in the border city of El Paso, TX - a region thrust into the forefront of political issues plaguing the nation - the film takes viewers into the hierarchal hallways of Bel Air High School where a determined, all-female team of students are brought together by their passion for the unheralded, All-American sport of Color Guard.
They say “every film is a miracle” and this one is no exception. I have never wanted anything more than to make a feature film. It’s been my life’s goal.
This film is an homage to the girls who protected me throughout high school. As a gay kid growing up in Texas, I never had the courage to participate in Colorguard myself - but both of my sisters and all my best friends in High School were Guard Girls. For 7/8 years, I travelled to almost every competition with them as a “roadie”. Even at that time , I began to see how this was a quirky world unto its’ own and would make a great backdrop for a film one day.
As I grew older and came into myself, I became aware of how those girls (and their coach) helped me survive high school. So when the opportunity to make my first feature came along, this is what I chose.
I am deeply connected to the story- but ultimately I am not the people I film.
It was important to me from the outset to be fully transparent and let the girls on the team take control of their own narrative. We provided them their own cameras, interview topics yielded to what they wanted to discuss, and most of the VO is based off personal prose or was written directly by one of our main subjects, Jesie (for which we she will receive a “writer” credit).
I have been making documentaries professionally for 10+ years, many of which were received, but as a first-time feature director who began full production just a few months before a global pandemic this has been a big lesson in losing control over a story - and finding a way to go with it.
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