Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers #35: “Blow Your Mind” With East New York Street Performers In ‘Flex Is Kings’

Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers #35: "Blow Your Mind" With East New York Street Performers In 'Flex Is Kings'

Documentary filmmaker Michael Beach
Nichols (“The Man Behind the Curtain”) introduces audiences to the talented, bizarre and DIY dance scene of the flex community in “Flex Is Kings.” The film follows three Brooklyn street performers in dance showcases that Nichols said will “blow your mind.”

What it’s about: On a macro level, it’s about how an insanely gorgeous and weird dance
style in East New York gives a community a creative launchpad. On a
micro level, it’s about how three men – Flizzo, Jay Donn, and Reem –
navigate their creative journey while dealing with harsh realities and
new obligations.

About the filmmaker: I grew up in Florida, but have lived in Colorado, Massachusetts,
California, and Budapest. I’ve been in New York City for 4 years – I
moved here to make documentaries. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to
work for a wonderful production company in Chelsea called Blowback
Productions for most of the time I’ve been here, and they’ve nurtured
and supported everything I’ve worked on. And it was there that I met
Christopher K. Walker, who was a Producer and head Editor on “Flex Is

When not working on film, I’m fairly music obsessed. And I like drinking bourbon.

What else do you want audiences to know about your film? The flex community could be the most creative group of people I’ve ever
met – not only do they innovate in dance, but most of them have several
other talents, whether it be in music, fashion, or filmmaking. They’re
crazy talented. Flex showcases happen constantly – check out Battlefest
League and D.R.E.A.M. if you live in the area and want to witness
something that’ll blow your mind.

What was your biggest challenge in developing this project? Luckily for us, it’s mainly been the money. Everything else – the
incredibly talented core team behind the camera (my
co-director/producer/cinematographer Deidre Schoo, producer/editor
Christopher K. Walker, co-producers Joshua Woltermann and Ryan Hancock),
who devoted three years worth of barely-existent free time because they
believed in the project, the amazing dancers and community in East New
York who welcomed us with open arms and took a leap of faith that we
would honor their stories and art – came together seamlessly. But
film’s expensive, and we’ve had to go in debt to make this happen.
Fortunately, Kickstarter has been very good to us and we’ve found a
large worldwide community of people supportive of Flex. Without
crowdfunding this film wouldn’t exist.

What would you like Tribeca audiences to come away with after seeing your film? I hope they come away with a sense of the power of DIY art in
communities without a lot of access to public funding or resources. But
mainly I hope they sit back for 80 minutes and enjoy the ride.

Did any specific films inspire you? During the first two years of filming “Flex Is Kings,” I was working as an
associate producer/editor on a Sundance Channel series called “Brick
City,” directed by Marc Levin and Mark Benjamin. The series examined
the city of Newark from every angle – politics, the police, the justice
system, gangs, community activism – to try to get a sense of what shapes
an American city in the 21st century. I applied what I learned while
working on that project to our film, believing that by focusing on a
community of incredibly talented dancers we could get to the heart of a
neighborhood full of hope and creativity. Also, “Paris Is Burning” was a
tremendous influence.

What do you have in the works? I’m currently developing a short project with Christopher K. Walker on rattlesnakes and churches in the South.

invited Tribeca Film Festival directors to tell us about their films,
including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re
doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2013

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on April 17 for the latest profiles.

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