JOE CLARK - CINEMATIC HERO - REAL LIFE HERO
For some reason I really enjoy good movies about real life heroes. You know: films that are based on true stories which surround the lives of real individuals. I’m especially fond of those films whose characters spark change in our young people. Among these I recall most readily titles such as Stand and Deliver; Coach Carter; and, an old favorite of mine and true classic, To Sir with Love, starring the incomparable Sidney Poitier.
Now, all of these films are great in their own right but there is one that stands out in my mind for its rawness of power and poignancy, and that is Lean on Me, starring the very talented Morgan Freeman as real life hero Joe Clark.
Lean on Me depicts the story of unorthodox educator Joe Clark during a tumultuous time as principal of Eastside High in Paterson, New Jersey. Clark is instrumental in bringing pride and order back to this once-chaotic inner-city school by any means necessary. Known for cruising the hallways with a bat and a bullhorn, Clark defended the right of every student to be educated by courageously standing in the way of anyone trying to lead students astray.
Talk about a real life hero: Joe Clark’s story is pure inspiration. An Army Reserve sergeant and drill instructor turns to education, bringing with him a major respect for order and achievement to an environment plagued with drugs and violence. Mind you now, Clark was brought in to raise the basic skills scores of the predominantly Black and Hispanic students of Eastside High but in the process he also brought “tough love,” which was welcomed by the students as they quickly realized he was truly devoted to their well being.
As Clark rid the school of dealers and drugs he encouraged those with issues of addiction to “drop the base and pick up a book.” In his quest to leave no child behind, he often delved into their home lives, providing much-needed services and support. Clark even had a sense of humor, which popped up when least expected but always at the right time. Clark was a disciplinarian who truly cared about his students; a man who set the bar high only because he knew that in the right setting his students could achieve more than what was expected of them. Joe Clark was determined to provide that “right setting,” oftentimes using questionable and confusing tactics but always with the best intentions.
I can’t help but think how different our youth would be if we had a Joe Clark in every high school in America; a real-life hero whose sole responsibility would be to keep our schools safe by welding a baseball bat— not as a weapon, as Joe Clark says, but “as a symbol of choice: a student could either strike out or hit a home run”. I guarantee without the distracting nonsense that often plagues our schools, students would be hitting “grand slams” all over the place.
Julie Robinson - Film Bio
Julie Robinson(Co-President Meet Mario Productions/Producer/Writer/Director) has been working in the arena of creativity since she was a kid, growing up to be a filmmaker through education and participation. Julie acquired her knowledge in film at Clark College, now Clark-Atlanta University (BA in Communications), Connecticut’s Film Industry training program, (Certificate in Script Supervision) and Sacred Heart University's FTMA graduate program (MA in Film and Television). Julie has worked on numerous feature films including "For Us The Living - The Story of Medger Evers," starring the late great Howard Rollins, ”Officer Down," which carried an enormous cast that included Stephen Dorff and James Woods, ”Hello, I Must Be Going," which starred Melanie Lynskey and veteran actress, Blythe Danner and finally ”The Volunteer," which starred the extremely talented Aunjanue Ellis. As a writer/director, Julie has made two short films, "The Talk” and “Moments In My Life”. Julie also co-wrote her first feature film entitled, “MEET MARIO” with her production company partner and dear friend, D.J. Higgins. Upon meeting D.J. in grad school the two started MEET MARIO PRODUCTIONS and have since collaborated & produced several short films. Recently, Julie has taken on the role of “Producer” within the Meet Mario organization helping to bring “PASQUALE’S MAGIC VEAL” (which starred Vincent Pastore of “The Sopranos”) to the screen as well as “SMACK”, “SANTINO”, “SUPER-WOMAN”, “ARMED & DANGEROUS” and “IMMIGRANT” all short films written & directed by D.J. Higgins.
Creative collaboration is what Julie Robinson truly enjoys and together in her partnership with D.J. Higgins they strive to make movies with a meaningful message..