Filmmaker Steve Pomerantz is working on a documentary about the recent attacks in Oak Lawn and how the community is responding
Steve Pomerantz has a story to tell about the recent rash of attacks on gay men in Oak Lawn, and he plans on telling it in a feature-length documentary now in the works, through his A Story To Tell Productions. His working title is Taking Back Oak Lawn.
It all started, Pomerantz said this week, in early October when he attended a rally organized by local activist Daniel Scott Cates in response to the attack on a gay man named Blake, which happened the evening of Sept. 20, following the Alan Ross Texas Freedom Parade.
Media attention on that attack brought to light other attacks that had happened earlier in September, and Cates organized the gathering under the rallying cry of “Take Back Oak Lawn.” It was a moment that opened Pomerantz’s eyes.
“I was just very moved by everything I saw and heard that night at that rally,” he said. “Michael Dominguez, who was one of the first victims, spoke that night, and it really made me think about what was happening.”
The attacks have continued, the 14th such assault happening Dec. 19, based on police reports, and that doesn’t count incidents that were not reported to police. There have been numerous community meetings and other rallies since that first gathering in early October, as the community’s outrage and calls for action have both increased. But it was that first rally that set Pomerantz on his path.
Pomerantz describes himself as a grassroots documentary filmmaker with “a few short documentaries” to his credit. He said that he had stepped away from filmmaking for a while, but attending the October rally “really lit my creative spark again.”
“I was thinking originally about doing just a short documentary about what is going on, and about the formation of SOS,” the Survivors Offering Support group that was formed by Dominguez and other survivors of violent attacks.
“But I have been to all the meetings, all the rallies, and I have met with most of the victims of the attacks and interviewed them,” Pomerantz continued. “Right now, I have eight to 10 hours of footage, that’s more than enough for a feature-length documentary.”
Initially, Pomerantz said, he planned for his documentary primarily to promote SOS and the activists working to bring these attacks to the public’s attention.
“I talked to Daniel Scott Cates and [rally organizer] John Anderson. I talked to the victims of these recent attacks, like Michael Dominguez. I talked to Burke Burnett, who survived an anti-gay attack in Paris, Texas a few years ago. I talked to Lee Daugherty,” who owns Alexandre’s and who has been working to help get the city to respond, Pomerantz said. “You have these people who have been so influential in the response and most of them didn’t know each other when it all started.
“It was a story about how these strangers were thrown together and all used their different strengths to create a response.”
But Pomerantz isn’t looking back on an event or series of events that have already happened and retelling that story.
Instead, he is trying to recount a story that is still unfolding.
“The story is changing every day, and so the documentary is changing, based on what’s happening,” Pomerantz said. “It’s all very organic. This story, really, is telling itself, and I am just here to get the details right.”
Pomerantz has already finished two trailers for the film, both available for viewing on YouTube, with links on Pomerantz’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/aStorytoTellProduction. He said he intends to have the film finished in April, and intends to take it on the film festival circuit — “both LGBT and mainstream.” He also hopes to get the film distributed “either online or in theaters.”
“I do everything myself, shooting the footage and editing it all. And the editing process is taking a bit longer than I thought it would, just because the story is changing as we go along,” he said. “It’s a very basic story, but at the same time, it is very complicated. And I want to make sure to get it right.”
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 25, 2015.