V.K. Shah - Director

Bless You Boys

When most people think of New Orleans, they imagine Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras.  When I think of New Orleans, I imagine something different.  I see the tightly knit community that believes New Orleans is a big city with a small-town atmosphere in which people take care of each other.  Even though I resided in Los Angeles when Hurricane Katrina arrived, the term “home” took on a new meaning for me.  I felt a connection to New Orleans unlike anything I had felt before.  It was a feeling that I couldn’t explain to anyone, because I wasn’t sure I could reconcile it with myself. I had so many questions…what if the city never recovers? What if the jobs my parents worked 26 years relocate? What if, in 20 years, my children never see where their father grew up?  These questions, and many more like them, pushed me into a slight depression.  Then I realized that others were suffering much more than me, and I sank further into that depression.

As the months flew by, I saw the national media dismiss New Orleans as the summer 2005 story and move to other topics. But then August 2006 came.  As an avid fan of the local NFL franchise—the New Orleans Saints—I felt something in the air.  For most of their existence, the Saints have had losing seasons, fired coaches, lost money, and have become the laughing stock of the league.  Despite the countless threats to leave the city, poor decision making, and embarrassing moments, the city supported the franchise because it is part of New Orleans culture.  The 2006 season was a miracle for the fans.  For those few months, residents put their problems on the back burner and got to talk about something new.  That season was the best season in the history of the franchise and the city got to experience something new—feeling like winners. 

Bless You Boys came from the years of stories, research, and emotional experiences of residents of the Gulf Coast.  The script stars the city, in all its glory and misery, and tells the stories of families during this season.  This is not a football film or a down-on- your-luck film; it’s simply a relevant and timely story that needs to be told.  As an audience views the film, I want them to think about their lives and how this could happen to anyone.  I want them to think of the residents, rather than feeling sorry for them, admire that they are doing everything they can as human beings to survive. 

Bless You Boys is an important story.  Not only are the issues fresh, but its style and attitude bring a personal perspective to the film. Visually, I don’t want to over-stylize the film, but instead use the characters as the style and the city as the tone.  Blues artists and songs specific to New Orleans such as Allan Toussaint (“Yes, We Can Can”), B.B. King (“Playin With My Friends”), and Randy Newman (“Louisiana 1927”) will complement the story and reinforce the tone of the film. 

I spent years as an independent film editor, and in 2007, left a great job to pursue my passion for directing.  That was the greatest decision of my career because it allowed me the freedom to tell the world stories from my viewpoint.  I always keep the audience in mind because a true film relates to an audience.  Despite box office figures and fame, a film works when the story and characters work.  In all of my short films, I emphasize casting, rehearsals, and a true understanding of the story, and I never settle for less than the best.  I learned a long time ago that independent films are not limited by budget but by your creativity.  I have been fortunate to work with Percy Adlon (director of Bagdad Café) and his decades of experience gave me the energy and enthusiasm to make great films.    

Bless You Boys is written by Miranda Kwok, a Slamdance and NBC award winning writer, and the story is co-written and owned by me.  Miranda is an accomplished writer, producer, and actress.  Her awards have included winning the Slamdance screenplay competition for "Songs of Silence" which opened doors to to work with great talent.  Most recently, she worked as a writer for the Starz series "Spartacus" and the USA series "Sanctuary."  

It has been a long process to get the original ideas into a working script form, and our goal would be to begin production in the next 12-18 months.

I truly believe this is a great script that can capture America’s attention.  I have never second-guessed the value of what Bless You Boys will bring to cinema and to American culture.  I have nothing but confidence in myself and my city, and I know I will be true to my vision.  Thank you for taking the time to read my statement. I hope you see Bless You Boys as more than just a film. It is the story of when America comes home.    

For more information about the film and to view the full pitch packet, contact me.