Malcom Kenyatta is a young, motivated politician campaigning for reform in North Philidelphia

25th November 2019

Film maker Tim Harris followed Malcom Kenyatta on election day in 2018. Malcom was hoping to make history by becoming the first openly LGBT candidate of colour to be elected in Pennsylvania.

MadeGood – Please tell me a bit about yourself as a film maker, and how you got into making short docs. Is this a typical example of your work?

Tim – I am documentary and commercial filmmaker from Philadelphia. My passion is telling heartfelt and honest stories, and I’ve found that my favorite way to do that is through documentary story-telling. In all honesty, this was my first passion project in about 5 years. I had my head down in the commercial world while trying to build up my production company, and just didn’t have time to make work for myself. I felt like I had lost a little bit of creative fire, so I decided to make something. Election day wasn’t going to change, so I had a locked-in date which made it easier to start. Now I’ve got the passion project bug again, and I don’t see myself slowing down.

Malcom Kenyatta encourages people to vote on social media | MadeGood

MadeGood – How did you find out about Malcom Kenyatta, and what made you want to make a film about him? Did you set out initially to profile him as an activist/politician, or was it more about grassroots campaigning in general? Was the current political situation in the US partially responsible for inspiring this film?

Tim – I met Malcolm in 2010 while we were both students at Temple University (whose campus is within the 181st district). He was a vocal activist even then. I continued to follow his career post-graduation, and we crossed paths again after I saw him give an impassioned speech at the 2017 Women’s March in Philadelphia. My goal was to portray him as an inspiring person, first and foremost. Malcolm has been an advocate for North Philadelphia, and an outspoken critic of policies that negatively impact his community. I find him thoughtful and motivating, and knew that following him on Election Day would make a great story.

MadeGood – I see you worked with a DOP and assistance camera operator. Is this always the way you work? Please tell me a bit about your working dynamic on set.

Tim – I primarily like to work with a DP, as opposed to shooting and directing myself. I find this allows me to see things that the DP might not be able while behind the camera, and vice versa. I usually decide the scenarios that would be the most interesting to shoot, and I then give the DP some loose direction, but I mainly just want them to follow the action and trust their instincts. An AC is a nice-to-have on passion projects. It just gives the DP a few less things to worry about. On doc shoots, I like to keep crews as small as possible. So it’s a lot of people who are in it for the right reasons and want to make something cool together. No one person can do it alone!

Malcom Kenyatta speaking to members of the local church | MadeGood

MadeGood – Have you been following Malcom since the election? How’s he getting one!?

Tim – I have been following Malcolm, and in fact, he recently got his first piece of legislation passed through the PA State Congress, and it’s now on the way to the state Senate. Things aren’t easy for democrats in PA, as republicans hold the majority in the state. That being said, I know he’s fighting hard for those who need it, and he’s always bringing the same energy and focus to his work every day. His next battle is re-election, which he’ll be up for in 2020 (hard to believe)!

MadeGood – What are you working on next?

Tim – I just wrapped up a new short documentary last month that I’m hoping will get a festival run and premiere online at some point! It’s about a street drummer in Philly who struggles to balance his mission of spreading positivity and anti-violence with the realities of his struggle for survival. It’s definitely a little different and more stylised than Going Forward, so I’m interested in seeing how it will be received!

MadeGood – Wow, that sounds great. Can’t wait to watch that. Thanks for your time Tim, good on the festival run. Please remember to send it over when it’s ready!

Screenshot 2019-11-14 at 14.38.41 | MadeGood
Screenshot 2019-11-14 at 14.42.28 | MadeGood

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