By Dylan Deprey
Before Brendon Carter was directing hit reality television shows and winning Emmy’s, he was just another kid growing up on the block.
He grew up in a community where neighbors taught the local children just as much as their parents did.
He participated in volunteer- operated programs. He batted his way through Beckum Stapleton Little League Baseball, boxed at the Martin Luther King Center and sprinted for South Division High School.
Flash to today and he lives in California, and makes yearly visits back to Milwaukee.
During each trip, he noticed an ever-deteriorating city. The neighborhoods he once knew were engulfed in a crippling darkness, as even more poverty, violence and crime leeched any positive community efforts.
“Over the last three to five years, Milwaukee has been getting a lot of negative attention,” Carter said. “Being a Milwaukee native, everywhere I went, I became the spokesperson for Milwaukee.”
After the many years of producing and directing reality shows like, “The Osbornes” and “Queer Eye,” he had the idea to bring the community together like the film crews he had once worked with.
“You get 200 people from all different places working on one idea going in one direction. When it’s done, even with the peaks and valleys you’ve managed to get 200 people on the same page for a length of time working on the same issues together. That is very powerful,” Carter said.
Carter’s goal is to close the communication gaps between Milwaukee residents, activists, advocates, organizations and local government for his upcoming short film “Brew City Therapy.”
Carter wrote the film, and focused on narrating positive efforts in the city, as well as three “people-oriented” issues that have taken root in Milwaukee.
Though Milwaukee has made headlines for the spike in gun violence and crime, Carter said he wanted to focus on more “people- oriented” problems: domestic violence, human sex trafficking and infidelity related to increased HIV/ STD’s.
Milwaukee has been labeled a major Midwest human trafficking hub. The average age a girl is groomed for sale is 13- years-old, according to the Human Trafficking Task Force of Greater Milwaukee.
“We need to start operating as a people,” Carter said. “When there is a “people-issue” they tend to dovetail into other communities, and by the time it gets into others, it’s an epidemic. You see young Hmong girls being taken at alarming rates, young Black girls, young Caucasian, young Latino girls.”
He added that domestic violence issues also unnoticed. There were 84 domestic violence related deaths in Wisconsin in 2016, according to The HOPE Domestic Violence Homicide Help website.
“Some people say, ‘Gun violence doesn’t affect my community.’ That might be true, but domestic violence affects every community across the country and every community in Milwaukee,” Carter said. “These are people who know and love each other. It’s men, women and children, and that is a problem.”
Carter said he wants to inspire people with a call to action towards the end of the film for Milwaukee’s communities to assess, combat and address the next steps towards healing our city.
Like the many film crews that he has worked with before, he hopes to bring together as many local organizations, community members, advocates and legislatures to take on the trials and parade the triumphs.
He has his eyes set to cast Milwaukee talent in front of and behind the lens. Auditions for “Brew City Therapy” will be held at the African American Women’s Center on March 11 and 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Carter is aiming to make the July deadline for the Telluride Film Festival in Colorado.
“We want this to be a living archive that they can say, ‘You said we were the worst city and this is what we did, and we can empower people,’” Carter said.