Craig Brewer at the Brooks Tonight



Filmmaker Craig Brewer hosts the "Real to Reel" series at the Brooks Museum of Art tonight and says he will take the audience on a tour of how he came to make his first completed feature, The Poor & Hungry.

Brewer will open the program with a newly cut five-minute trailer of his aborted first feature, Melody's Surviving. That pre-Poor & Hungry work, which features Brewer, wife Jodi, and siblings-in-law Erin and Seth Hagee, was a partial inspiration for his later breakthrough film Hustle & Flow. The footage for Melody's Surviving, shot on 16mm film, was never developed and had sat in a box in his shed for the past 10 years, Brewer says.

Recently developed, the raw footage has been edited into a five-minute sequence by Erin Hagee and Brewer collaborator Morgan Jon Fox.

Also on the program will be footage Brewer shot of Wanda Wilson's 50th birthday celebration at the P&H Café, some brief selections from Mike McCarthy, the local filmmaker who directly inspired Brewer and used Jodi Brewer in his films, and early color footage from a first stab at the ultimately black-and-white Poor & Hungry.

Some of Brewer's "Wanda Wilson" footage from the P&H:

But, Brewer says, the whole evening will be building up to the feature attraction, Danish filmmaker Thomas Vinterberg's 1998 feature The Celebration, which Brewer calls the film that changed his life and set the stage for him completing The Poor & Hungry.

A key work in the then-fashionable Dogme 95 movement, The Celebration is an effective family drama shot by Vinterberg on the cheap, using digital video and minimal production design.

What happened was The Celebration happened," Brewer says about his own filmmaking breakthrough. Following his father's death, Brewer went to see The Celebration with friends, not expecting much.

"That was the movie that changed my life," Brewer says. "I came home and was inspired. They shot it on a shittier camera than I was using. So I came home and started working on The Poor & Hungry.

Brewer's "Real to Reel" program begins at 7 p.m. tonight at the Brooks. Admission is $8 or $6 for Brooks members.

A trailer for The Celebration:


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