The gripping story of Reverend Kenneth McKoy, known to St. Louis as the Pastor of the Streets and his Nightlife Ministry's mission to fight an epidemic of mental illness and drug addiction while they actively interrupted the gun violence crisis within a city notoriously known for being the murder capital of America.
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH SETH FERRANTI
How and why did you become a documentary filmmaker?
I started writing and doing journalism while I was serving a 25 year sentence for a first-time, nonviolent LSD/Cannabis offense as a victim of the war on drugs. I wanted to reach out to the world and I did through my writings and articles. I started a publishing house from behind bars, Gorilla Convict, and wrote 8 books while in prison and 100s of articles for publications like VICE, Penthouse, Real Crime, and more. All nonfiction gangster/crime/drug culture/prison stuff. To me writing for film was the highest level of writing so when I got out in 2015 after serving 21 years in federal prison I worked toward the goal of being a filmmaker. My first film of note was "White Boy". I wrote and produced the film and then started directing. "Night Life" is my directorial debut. Since "Night Life" came out I’ve also released "Psychedelic Revolution" and "Dope Men".
What makes a good documentary?
I think at one time documentaries were kind of like infomercials but nowadays ever since "Making A Murderer" blew up, documentaries are following the formula that Hollywood movies have always used. The three act structure. A good documentary has to get you invested in the characters that are telling the story. Just like a good film has to get you invested in the main character. I like the story arcs, the whammies, the emotional pulls that make the audience and viewer feel for what is going on in the story.
Why did you make "Night Life" and what were the key challenges you faced making the film?
"Night Life" started as an article that I wrote for VICE about the people walking St. Louis’ most dangerous streets. I was working on "White Boy" at the time and I was looking for a local story that I could film without a budget. I decided to go out in the streets with a camera team and record the Reverend Ken McKoy as he did his thing. I wanted to show what he was doing. To me he is like a knight in shining armor on a mission to save his people. I wanted to show what was going on. Why do young black kids in these inner city neighborhoods feel like they need a gun? To me it seemed like the Rev was the only person out there attempting to help. Lots of challenges. We were filming at night. In hostile conditions. Luckily we never got robbed but we got threatened numerous times. The Rev would always intercede. He commanded a lot of respect and I felt completely safe out there in his presence.
What's next for you? What projects are you currently working on?
I just released the first episodes of two ten part series in "Dope Men" and "Psychedelic Revolution". The next episodes for both of those are in the works. As is my film "A Tortured Mind". And more coming from Outlaw Films.