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Director of ‘Milwaukee 53206″ answers questions about film making

Keith+McQuirter+%28left%29%2C+director+and+producer+of+the+documentary%2C+%22Milwaukee+53206.%22
Keith McQuirter (left), director and producer of the documentary,

Keith McQuirter (left), director and producer of the documentary, "Milwaukee 53206."

Keith McQuirter (left), director and producer of the documentary, "Milwaukee 53206."

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Keith McQuirter, a director and producer of documentary films, held a question and answer session in hopes to inspire students and potential filmmakers in Johnston Hall Monday afternoon.

McQuirter produced “Milwaukee 53206,” which focuses on Milwaukee’s 53206 zip code. 53206 contains the highest percentage of adult men that have spent time in prison of all zip codes in the nation. The film shows personal stories of three Milwaukee men whose lives have been affected by incarceration. McQuirter discussed his experience creating the film and answered questions about directing and producing different projects.

McQuirter said the most surprising thing he found while doing research for the film was discovering how difficult life is for ex-felons.

“They can’t find places to live, they can’t get loans, they can’t find work very easily,” he said. “These are men and women who have brilliant minds, but they find themselves floundering and don’t know how to get out of that.”

McQuiter was inspired to work on “Milwaukee 53206” visiting a prison while working on a different project. He said the images he saw of the prisoners were haunting.

“I saw a sea of faces and they all looked like me,” McQuirter said. “That never left me, I knew I had to tell their story somehow. There was an unresolved emotion for me that this story was a vehicle to find their story for myself and for other people.

McQuirter worked in an array of fields besides documentaries, including commercials and music videos. He said aspiring filmmakers and documentarians should expect to work on a variety of different projects.

“One day I was doing a story following the Bloods and understanding who they are as people and how they see themselves,” McQuirter said. “The next day, I was doing a Kraft cheese commercial.”

Kristin Holodak, an assistant professor of digital media and performing arts, said she thinks her students can learn from McQuirter’s ability to work in his variety of fields.

“He does all the different types of things that digital media people have to do to keep going,” Holodak said.

The director shared personal stories about how he got his start in media, including working on a reality court show named “Curtis Court.” He said working on this small project helped him develop his skills, as he learned how to do post-production from the show.

Neve Moos, a sophomore in the College of Communication, said McQuirter’s advice on where to start was inspiring.

“I’m really into directing, but I’m not sure where I’m headed,” she said. “This talk kind of inspired me to know where to go because it’s so hard to know how to start directing.”

McQuirter said creating documentaries is a rewarding experience because it can be an effective way to tell personal stories.

“Doing this type of a work is a great way to meet incredible people and have the honor to tell their stories,” McQuirter said. “You get to see how other people live and it can be very adventurous. I see it as a way of service, it’s the way I can give back to a community and give back to society.”

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