A Creative Refuge



The creators of this necessary film, DEATH BY DESIGN sat down and spoke with The Record and Herald News to discuss what their vision for this film is.  Here is what Teddy Martinez, Rob Harrell Jr., and Jamal Hall had to say.

Documentary ‘Death by Design’ chronicles Paterson violence

Monday, February 4, 2013    Last updated: Tuesday February 5, 2013, 9:51 AM
The Record

PATERSON — The director of a new documentary exploring the criminal violence that grips the city where he used to teach school likens his cinematic style to that of a prize fighter.

Executive producers Teddie Martinez and Rob Harrell Jr., and director Jamal Hall
Executive producers Teddie Martinez and Rob Harrell Jr., and director Jamal Hall

Draw viewers inward, says director Jamal Hall, and then stun them unexpectedly with an “uppercut of reality.”

That’s the kind of experience Hall hopes to inflict on moviegoers Thursday night at the Paterson premiere of “Death by Design,” a feature-length film chronicling the causes and effects of gun violence in the state’s third-largest city.

The blows delivered in this film include an emotional interview with a city woman who lost her son in a fatal shooting, a candid testimonial from a purported gang member and disturbing images from a local morgue, according to the filmmakers.

The film has not been rated by the Motion Picture Association of America and the creators warn the film might not be appropriate for children 12 and younger.

The filmmakers, who include city residents Teddie Martinez and Rob Harrell Jr., said they needed to walk a fine line to tell a story that would resonate. Their goal was to avoid glorifying violence while delivering enough shock value to overpower the vulgarity and graphic nature of some of the music and media consumed by teens.

“Death by Design” is the brainchild of Martinez, who said city residents have become immune to violence and now need an “in-the-face reality check.” Martinez said his preference for a brash approach is bolstered by his memory of seeing the shocked reaction of Eastside High School students at the end an anti-violence presentation — when he carried a casket into the classroom.

Martinez, who has been attempting to bring attention to the issue for the past five years, said he has been motivated to speak out by his own experience as a victim of gun violence. Martinez said he survived being shot 11 times in 1993 while standing outside a Chinese restaurant in a high-crime section of Baltimore during what he says was a botched robbery attempt.

“When you’re a victim of a shooting, that never leaves you,” Martinez said.

After a failed partnership with one production company, Martinez got on Facebook and reached out to Hall, who he knew from his teaching days at Eastside. Hall now teaches at Malcolm X Shabazz High School in Newark.

The final cut of “Death by Design” uses previously recorded footage shot by Harrell in Paterson and material the trio set out to capture — the completely hopeless mother, gang members armed to the teeth and bodies in a morgue.

In other words, said Hall, “a lot of uppercuts.”

The event: Premiere of “Death by Design.”

Where: Fabian 8 in the Center City Mall, 301 Main St., Paterson.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday.

Getting in: Tickets are $10.

Leaving the car: Enter from Ward Street for paid parking beneath the mall.

Parents advisory: The documentary is not rated but contains graphic images and violence. The filmmakers said the movie might not be appropriate for children 12 and younger



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