Matthew Sherwood was born and raised in Texas. He came to the UK in 2001 to work for The Economist. Matthew has worked in journalism and publishing and has a wealth of experience writing for publications, interviewing world leaders, and chairing conferences. Formally he spent his time helping diverse audiences understand the global trends impacting their lives.
 The US is a nation of immigrants. And there’s no better example of this than Hamtramck, Michigan, America’s first Muslim-majority city. No bigger than two square miles, Hamtramck is home to a myriad of nationalities and ethnic groups. Over 30 different languages can be heard on its streets. Using a city government election as a backdrop, producers and directors Justin Feltman and Razi Jafri eloquently capture the dynamism stemming from successive waves of immigration. Is America a melting pot or a mosaic? Or does it matter what we call it? We find out as we catch up with Justin and Razi from their homes in Washington, DC, and Hamtramck, Michigan. They tell us how they managed to gain such unprecedented access, and formed such close relationships with their subjects. Hamtramck, USA is a deep dive into multiculturalism and what the future landscape of America could look like. “Our nation is changing. Our demographics are changing very quickly and there’s a lot to be learnt from places like Hamtramck” – Razi Jafri Time Stamps: 02:56 – The multicultural nature of America. 03:41 – Meeting our guests. 05:26 – Hamtramck USA and where it’s being released. 08:35 – The issues with Hamtramck being a Muslim-majority city. 09:45 – What the film is about. 11:50 – The inspiration behind the film was. 13:24 – The shifting demographics of the city and how these affected the election. 18:20 – How Razi and Justin gained access and built such good relationships with the locals.21:02 – The underlying lessons the documentary examines. 24:02 – Our first clip on the last in a hundred year line of polish mayors. 28:12 – What Justin expected to see when he first went to Hamtramck. 30:36 – The lessons Razi wants viewers to take away from the film. 33:46 – The strong role of religion in Hamtramck and how that affects the urban soundscape.37:29 – How having mixed religions in a community still gives residents a shared commonality.39:19 – Whether America is a melting pot or a mosaic, and which should we strive for. 44:01 – Opportunities for documentaries as educational tools. 45:40 – The uncertainty there is with reopening film festivals. 47:06 – The films the two of them are now working on. 50:02 – Who Justin’s and Razi’s main influences are.  Resources:  Hamtramck, USA Hamtramck Documentary on Twitter and Facebook Alamo Pictures Connect with Justin Feltman: LinkedIn Instagram Twitter Connect with Razi Jafri: LinkedIn Facebook Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 In 1976, Sylvester Stallone was a struggling actor with the big dream and the courage of his convictions. That dream became Rocky, one of the most iconic films of all time. Using home movies shot mostly by the director John Avildsen, director and producer Derek Wayne Johnson perfectly captures the moment when Sylvester Stallone became a superstar. 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, as it is known in the USA and Canada, or Becoming Rocky: The Birth of a Classic, as it is known everywhere else, reminds us that while Sylvester Stallone is known for a lot of things, consummate filmmaker should be first among them. We caught up recently with Derek from East Texas. Not only does he give us insights on what it is like to work closely with Sylvester Stallone, but we learn how he too has chased his own dreams to success in Hollywood. “I think he’s a genius and I stand by that. Because this is a guy who is not only a wonderful actor, but also wonderful writer who writes from the heart, which is very rare.” – Derek Wayne Johnson Time Stamps: 2:02 – Introducing our guest and what we are talking about today. 4:15 – Where people can watch 40 Years of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic. 5:50 – What it is like working with Sylvester Stallone. 7:20 – What the film is about, which footage was used, and who was involved in the production. 9:20 – How the idea came for making the film came about. 14:30 – Why we have a wrong impression of Sylvester Stallone based on his most famous roles. 18:51 – How Sylvester Stallone did the narrated commentary in one take. 21:01 – The story of how the ice rink scene in Rocky was shot. 26:05 – How Derek became the documentarian for Sly Stallone and his family. 28:05 – What inspired Derek to become a filmmaker. 31:05 – The family storytelling tradition that still exists in Texas. 33:00 – The story of how Derek got into documentaries. 38:00 – What Derek’s other film, Stallone: Frank, That Is, is about. 41:00 – How the Coronavirus pushed back the release of Stallone: Frank, That Is. 43:31 – What is so special about the musicians of Frank Stallone’s and the doo-wop generation.47:00 – How the film industry is changing in the COVID-19 environment. 49:00 – What Derek’s next documentary is about. Resources: 40 Years Of Rocky: The Birth of a Classic (2020) Follow the film on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Becoming Rocky: The Birth of a Classic (2020) Follow the film on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter Rocky Movies (IMDb) Cinema 83 Entertainment John G. Avildsen: King of the Underdogs (2017) Alamo Pictures Connect with Derek Wayne Johnson: Facebook Twitter Instagram Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 In the late 1950s, doo-wop music took America by storm. And its legacy lasts to this day in the music of such recording artists as Bruno Mars and Meghan Trainor.  Award-winning director and producer Brent Wilson is shining a light on this genre of pop music. Using original interviews with doo-wop recording artists, and those they influenced, Brent’s documentary Streetlight Harmonies perfectly captures the zeitgeist of the 50s and early 60s.  Doo-wop originated with African-American teenagers on the street corners of urban America – places like New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Detroit. With the rise of vocal harmony singing, teenagers started recording music for themselves for the first time in history.  However, these teenagers had to face up to racism, predatory producers and the pressures of being in the spotlight. Looking back on their lives, they reveal a love and passion for their music that inspires us to this day. “I wanted it to feel fresh, I wanted it to feel present. My goal was it would be seen by people who don’t like doo-wop music.”  – Brent Wilson Time Stamps: 02:29 – The emergence of doo-wop and Brent’s aim of making doo-wop well-known again. 03:23 – Where Brent has been during the lockdown and what it’s been like for him. 04:22 – Where you can watch the documentary. 05:01 – What the film is about. 06:12 – Where the term ‘doo-wop’ came from. 07:21 – First clip showing the beginnings of doo-wop. 09:53 – The idea of singing on the street corner. 10:55 – The different places people used to sing. 11:59 – The origins of doo-wop. 13:31 – Second clip showing why people used to sing on the streets. 16:04 – What the motivation was for women singers. 18:07 – Other issues the film brings up, and how lots of children were duped. 22:22 – The issues of racism that many of these young artists had to face. 23:35 – Third clip showing the racism the performers encountered in the South. 26:53 – How some incredible songs were covered by whites, and butchered in the process. 28:53 – What the legacy of vocal harmony music is today. 31:05 – How Brent got involved with the film. 32:50 – The respect that doo-wop deserves. 37:36 – The difficulties involved with the production and release of the film. 42:25 – Brent’s documentary about Brian Wilson, and the Beach Boys. 48:36 – What makes doo-wop artists different to other modern artists.  Resources: Streetlight Harmonies (2020) Pre-order Streetlight Harmonies Original Soundtrack ‘Classic Black Vinyl’ Streetlight Harmonies on Facebook Streetlight Harmonies on Instagram Alamo Pictures Connect with Brent Wilson: LinkedIn Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
 In the 1970s Camp Jened was not just any old summer camp in the Catskills. Hippy values, the Grateful Dead and pot smoking shaped this utopia for teens with disabilities.   Before long, a generation of summer campers with disabilities became a social movement that soon changed the world. We welcome Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham, co-directors of the Netflix documentary Crip Camp, to the podcast. Jim and Nicole share their experiences making a documentary about one of the most compelling, previously untold stories of our time. In the process, we find out what it is like to work with executive producers Barack and Michelle Obama. Jim and Nicole also discuss the next items on the agenda for disability rights. “I had no mental model for imagining disability communities, and I didn’t have any mental model for thinking about wild, horny teenagers listening to Bob Dylan at a summer camp. It was just joyous.” – Nicole Newnham Time Stamps: 03:26 – What Camp Jened was, and the impact it had on the world.   06:25 – What the film Crip Camp is really about. 08:30 – Jim talks about what it is like seeing your life on screen. 11:15 – Jim relays his experiences as a disabled child and teen in the 1960s and 70s. 13:08 – Why a lot of people don’t know about the disability rights movement and Camp Jened.17:05 – First clip: footage from Camp Jened. 19:42 – How Nicole managed to get the footage from the camp. 23:48 – Where the name ‘Crip Camp’ came from. 27:51 – Judy Heumann, the disability rights movement and why her story remained untold. 31:26 – Second clip: Judy shuts down Madison Avenue. 34:26 – How Nicole got involved with the making of the film. 37:53 – How Jim and Nicole shaped the story to focus on the disability rights movement. 38:28 – How Higher Ground got involved, and what it was like working with the Obamas. 41:57 – How COVID-19 has affected the release of the film. 43:45 – Current issues facing the disability community. 45:35 – The impact Nicole hopes the film will have. 46:55 – Advice to parents with children who have disabilities. 47:50 – Future projects Jim is working on. 48:24 – What Nicole’s future looks like.  Resources: Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution Higher Ground Productions Alamo Pictures This Is Distorted  Connect with Jim LeBrecht: TwitterFacebook Connect with Nicole Newnham: Twitter Connect with Factual America: Facebook Instagram Twitter Connect with Matthew Sherwood: Facebook LinkedIn Twitter
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Creator Details

York, England, United Kingdom
Episode Count
Podcast Count
Total Airtime
18 hours, 18 minutes