One Production Place is in the final phases of completing its documentary of Pine Lake, which covers multiple aspects of the city.
Elisa Gambino and Neal Broffman One Production Place, a film production company, are showcasing the woman-led town in an upcoming documentary that was previously titled Robe, Gavel and Gun, but is now titled All in Favor. The title change is credited to Pine Lake Mayor Melanie Hammet, who uses the phrase regularly during city council meetings. One Production Place has been filming in Pine Lake for 18 months.
“It was nice because we had the opportunity to see things evolve and change,” said Gambino. “It became a story of let’s not just look at the leadership but let’s look at the leadership in context of what’s going on in their community and the broader community.”
The documentary was initially centered on the city’s officials.
According to Gambino, Pine Lake is nestled in a predominately Black and Brown part of DeKalb County and is composed of mostly White residents; most businesses in the city are owned by Black and Brown people.
“A lot of the business owners don’t feel like the people in the city support them, shop with them or use their businesses,” said Gambino. “So it’s really interesting to see that [city officials] decided to move city hall out of the residential district and into the business district. That was a big move by saying ‘no we are all actually together here as one city.’”
Pine Lake opened its new city hall building located at 425 Allgood Road Oct. 31. Pine Lake’s previous city hall–located at 462 Clubhouse Drive–is a 1940s cottage and will still house the city’s court, police department and council meetings.
Interacting with the business owners was Gambino’s favorite part of filming the upcoming documentary.
“But I really loved meeting the business people because every time I would go into Pine Lake, people would just start coming up to us and talking and wanting to know what we were doing,” said Gambino. “I loved it. I would have these great conversations with them. I really enjoyed that part of it.”
The Champion Newspaper interviewed Gambino in 2018 about the documentary, when filming of the documentary was still in its beginning stages. Gambino said that she found out many residents don’t know their city is run by women.
Women holding positions of leadership in Pine Lake include Hammet; city council members Jean Bordeaux, Kris Casariego, Brandy Hall, Megan Pulsts and Augusta Woods; Chief of Police Sarai Y’hudah-Green; Municipal Court Judge L’Erin Barnes Wiggins; Otanya Clarke, court solicitor; Jennifer Cook, clerk administrator; Martha McMillan, deputy court clerk; Valerie Caldwell, city manager; and Missye Varner, administrative assistant.
“They are just the ones that stepped up,” Gambino said about the Pine Lake officials. “It’s not that men were excluded or anything. It just so happens that the women stepped up. I think if more women step up we’d start to see ourselves more in these roles. And so we step up even more.”
Gambino describes women-led communities as more collaborative and trustworthy.
“Pine Lake has very progressive leadership [and] the city does a lot of programs around the arts and the environment that other cities could replicate,” said Gambino. “I see a leadership that has eyes wide open, which is really nice and a leadership that isn’t afraid to address the past as they become something new.”
According to the filmmaker, Pine Lake residents “do a lot of fun things and are heavy on volunteerism.”
One Production Place will submit the documentary, once finished, into Hot Docs film festival. The festival that is held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada is the largest documentary festival in North America.
After the film festival, the filmmakers plan to include the documentary on a streaming service or public broadcasting. An event is being planned that will allow Pine Lake residents to have an opportunity to view the film at a later date.
Gambino said response to the film will be based on viewer’s interpretations. “People will walk away with it, with what they want,” said Gambino. “I was there to observe. So, the idea is that people will see as much or as little as they want to see in it.”