Documentary By Local Ex-Con Turned Director To Open At St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase
ST. LOUIS - Night Life, the full-length directorial debut of St. Louis resident Seth Ferranti, is slated to have its world premiere as a centerpiece film at the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase on Sunday, July 17, 7:30pm at Washington University's Brown Hall.
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This call-to-action docu-drama focuses on 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 interrupt the gun violence crisis within a city notoriously known for being the murder capital of America.
“I’m looking forward to headlining the Showcase with Night Life because I feel that premiering the film in St. Louis is important to the city as a whole and can have a big cultural impact on the community,” Ferranti said. “While this film highlights people like the Reverend Kenneth McKoy who have made it their mission to save their communities and their people, it is a microcosm of everything that has been plaguing our nation. Watching and understanding why and how these people live the lives they lead we can better comprehend how to help make things better for all of us. This is just my contribution to the solution. Much more is needed but watching this film is a start.”
The film, a culmination of two years of filming and three years of editing, was shot in the North side of St. Louis and features more than 25 interviews. “We were threatened, chastised, ridiculed, and looked down upon but at no time did I feel unsafe. Being with the Reverend Kenneth McKoy is like being with an angel,” described Ferranti. “We filmed the poverty and homelessness, the drug addiction and drug dealers, the gangbangers and prostitutes and the degradation of these communities but we also filmed the hope, love, consideration, caring and the lust for life and all things.”
“I wanted to find a local story I could craft for my directorial debut,” Ferranti explained. “After writing a piece for VICE about the Reverend Kenneth McKoy and his group NightLiFE, I knew I’d found the story to base my first documentary on. As an ex-con I knew what it felt like to be marginalized and discriminated against, but in reality I had no idea what a black man in our society faced every day. To think that an 11 or 12 year old kid feels like he needs a gun for protection in our country is infuriating.”
Ferranti initially came to the media’s attention as a first time, non-violent offender in 1993, when his impending twenty-five year LSD kingpin conviction and subsequent position on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted List attracted national media attention from outlets like The Washington Post and Rolling Stone.
But despite his sentence, Ferranti decided to rise above his past and focus on his future and has become an inspiration for others facing similar situations. He began building a writing and journalism career by earning an associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degree while in prison. With unlimited access to criminals’ stories and a renewed hope for his future, he crafted raw portrayals of prison life and penned prison and gangster stories for national outlets like Vicewhile establishing his brand, Gorilla Convict.
Ferranti starred in the Season One Finale of Vice TV’s “I was a Teenage Felon,” appeared on Fox News, Inside Edition, and News Nation as a subject matter expert, and has acted in, directed and produced numerous short films and documentaries. Most notable to date is White Boy, the former Netflix Top 10 documentary about youthful drug dealer and FBI informant Richard Wershe Jr. He has also written more than 25 books on gangsters, true crime and prison life, drawing heavily on his background as an ex-con for material. He currently has three films in pre-production.
“When I was in prison the guards told me I’d never be a writer much less a filmmaker,” Ferranti remembers. “Think I’ve proved them wrong 100 times over.”
Future plans for Night Life include a digital release via video-on-demand (VOD), then streaming domestically and internationally for subscription and ad-based VOD. Distribution details to be announced later this summer.
Information and tickets for the Showcase Premiere can be found at https://www.cinemastlouis.org/night-life. Additional information on Ferranti and his company, Gorilla Convict, is available at https://www.gorillaconvict.com/.
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