After growing up on the tough and gritty streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn and serving time in prison, Dorian Cabrera has found his “vision,” which he explores in his documentary “Section 3: Finding My Vision.”
Cabrera collaborated on the project with actor Edwin Freeman. Both men chatted with The Knockturnal about how although times have changed from when they were young men growing up, the issues they faced continue to be relevant today.
The Knockturnal: Why is now the right time to release the documentary?
Dorian Cabrera: This is the right time to release Section 3: Finding My Vision because society needs an authentic, relatable example of transformation, especially for our young men of color.
Edwin Freeman: Now is the right time to tell this story to our millennial generation who I think is our most brilliant generation, because a lot of them are facing the same adversities that our former generations were facing, and it’s important that they hear from someone who’s already been through what they’re currently going through and came out good.
The Knockturnal: How did you (Dorian) and Edwin come to work on the documentary together?
Dorian Cabrera: Edwin Freeman and I were both raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn as children. Years later Edwin and his family moved out of Brownsville, Brooklyn to Jamaica, Queens, New York. Shortly after, I got involved with the wrong crowd and it wasn’t long after that I began selling drugs. Ultimately, I went to prison for a long period of time. When I was released, I was a changed man, living a positive life. I graduated from college, got married and opened up a successful optical business. One day I had a conversation with Edwin where we discussed my life’s journey. He told me about his dealings in the film industry and we both agreed that it would be a good idea to create a documentary that would tell my story.
Edwin Freeman: Dorian and I grew up in the same building in Howard Houses in Brownsville, Brooklyn during the 80s and while he was away in prison I was out in the town planting my feet firmly in the music, film in fashion industries. After he was released and got situated in the optical industry, we had the chance to get together and discuss life and many of the things he went through. We both agreed that his story needed to be shared with the world and what we have now is the result Section 3: Finding My Vision.
The Knockturnal: Dorian, in exploring the prison system in the documentary what was the biggest challenge encountered? How did you go about selecting individuals to participate?
Dorian Cabrera: In exploring the prison system, the biggest challenge encountered was getting permission to film inside of Wallkill Correctional Facility. Getting the clearance required to bring filming equipment and a filming crew inside of any prison facility is difficult. Our direct line of communication with Superintendent Catherine Jacobsen allowed the professional staff at Barcelona Film Works to meet all the necessary requirements to gain clearance into Wallkill Correctional Facility as effortless as possible. The cast and crew that were responsible for creating the documentary came together organically. It originally started with Edwin and I, and it grew bigger as friends and associates heard of the idea and wanted to be a part of the project. It seemed that God had a hand in the creation of the documentary because whenever we hit a snag, it seemed that out of nowhere the person, place or thing we needed would appear to keep the project moving along. For example, when we finished the filming and reached the editing phase, we couldn’t find an editor that was able to see our vision. Then I got a call from my nephew in Texas who asked me if he could stay at my home for two months to do some film work in New York City. I said of course and when he arrived he told me that he was editing an indie film for a client and when I told him about Section 3: Finding My Vision he was blown away and volunteered to edit the documentary.
The Knockturnal: Dorian, in looking back while making the documentary is there anything you wish you could change about your decisions or past experiences?
Dorian Cabrera: As I reflect on my past, I realized that I allowed the streets of Brownsville, Brooklyn to define me. If I could go back in time I would tell the young me that as humans our minds are bigger than our surroundings. Despite my environment and my circumstances, I was able to transform my life for the better and carve out a pretty good life for myself.
The Knockturnal: Edwin, what has making the documentary helped you learn about yourself as well as the communities that you depict?
Edwin Freeman: Reflecting on some of the topics that we covered in Section 3: Finding My Vision I realized how we “African Americans and Latinos”, participated in the destruction of our own communities. Even though that wasn’t our intent, because most of us were poor and saw crime as a way to make fast money and survive that’s all we cared about. We didn’t think about the negative ramifications that we’re still dealing with today, and that’s why Dorian and I are working hard in our communities to make a positive change.
The Knockturnal: Dorian, can you speak a little about your S.O.U.P. program and how has it made an impact on the community from what you have observed? And Edwin, can you speak about the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative? Also do you see a possible collaboration between S.O.U.P and the Coney Island Anti Violence Collaborative?
Dorian Cabrera: In early 2018, I founded the non-profit organization called S.O.U.P. (Scholastic Optical Upliftment Program). The purpose of S.O.U.P. is to teach young adults the optical trade in order for them to learn a marketable skill that will allow them to sustain themselves in the same manner that the optical trade has allowed me to build a successful life for myself. I had to go to prison to get exposed to the optical field
and my mission is to teach young adults the optical trade before they walk down that same destructive path that I once walked. I’m using my past experiences and the optical trade to accomplish this feat.
Edwin Freeman: The Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative is dedicated to curbing violence and finding peaceful solutions to conflict amongst the residents of the Coney Island Community, primarily the youth. I’ve been a part of their Annual Family Day, Stop the Violence Block Party for the past 3 years. Ronald Stewart who is one of their founders is featured in “Section 3: Finding My Vision”, and works very closely with Dorian Cabrera and S.O.U.P.
The Knockturnal: Edwin, what are some elements from the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative that the S.O.U.P. program could use and vice versa?
Edwin Freeman: S.O.U.P. and the Coney Island Anti-Violence Collaborative share the same mission of helping individuals in our underserved communities overcome their many life challenges. Both organizations work collectively with religious, charitable, civic and professional organizations to affectively carry out our work. We know that unification is important, and that we can get more accomplished together, and will
continue to bring positive change in the lives of those that we serve.
The Knockturnal: Edwin, what is the ultimate message you want viewers to take away from the documentary?
Edwin Freeman: The overall message of Section 3: Finding My Vision is that change starts with yourself. Once you change yourself, then you can change your life, once you change your life, you can change your environment, once you change your environment, and make it a better place, you can help bring about positive change in the lives of others. It all begins with us as individuals.