Today, we feature director Keva Rosenfeld as part of our #FilmmakerFridays series. In 1984, Keva filmed All American High, a documentary which featured the senior class of Torrance High School. Several decades later, the film was rediscovered, which posed the question, “What ever became of these teenagers?” Keva set out to locate the students he’d met 30 years earlier. By bringing this story full circle, then and now- a generation later, ALL AMERICAN HIGH REVISITED was born.
You originally began filming the documentary “All American High” back in ‘80s. Why did you decide to film at that specific high school?
Keva: I wanted to film a suburban, public school; I went to high school in suburbia. I didn’t want it to be in a known place like Hollywood or Beverly Hills. I liked the idea of following a senior class for an entire year. The school liked my proposal about exploring the values and attitudes of graduating seniors. When I found out that among the classes was one in “surfing” and that there was an elective called “Survival of Singles,” I couldn’t resist.
When one watches the film, one can’t help but to think back to their high school years. What were your favorite moments as a teen?
Keva: High school was something we all had to endure. Perhaps like many people who look back at their teen years, I mostly remember my friends. There were a few interesting classes, but for the most part, I remember hanging out with my friends or making short films with some of them.
Why did you decide to go back and follow up with the people featured in the film?
Keva: The 30th reunion of the class that I filmed was coming up, and it made me wonder what happened to those students. It seemed like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a filmmaker, to go back three decades later and interview the same people. I became obsessed, and it was amazing to re-connect with them after so long. If I thought about it, of course it would be absurd now, to plan in 30 years to make a film based on something I did 30 years prior. What a trip! This whole process of “revisiting” All American High has been tremendously gratifying.
Filming in the 1980’s has dramatically changed ever since due to new technology, techniques etc. What are the significant differences you noticed filming then and now?
Keva: Grain! The 16mm film grain is so much more beautiful to me than an ultra-sharp, high definition image. I love how 16mm gives everything such a soft look. You can try to soften an HD image, but it’s not at all the same.
With that being, society has also evolved including pop culture and technology since the 80’s. What’s one thing you wish you can bring back from that era?
Keva: I’m not someone who thinks the past is better than the present. I’m not a very nostalgic person. I do like some older technologies — like Polaroids, LP records and typewriters — but I like them mostly for aesthetic reasons, not for their efficiency. Looking back at the pre-digital universe, there is something to be said about being spontaneous and carefree without worrying if you’ll show up on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or whatever. As great as new technologies are, I think they might make us less socially interactive, more insecure, even a bit more paranoid.
Are you currently working on future projects?
Keva: Yes, I look forward to making another movie. I love writing fiction and directing actors. I’m in the middle of trying to do that now, and hopefully I’ll finish it soon and start filming it next year.
Watch All American High Revisited, available for digital download.