Alex Miranda Cruz and Noel Miranda seek transformative “cinema dignité”

Trace The Line, their first feature film endeavor as Bravebird, is currently in production.

Trace The Line, their first feature film endeavor as Bravebird, is currently in production.

Headshot by Mike Gorski.

The pandemic has forced much of the film industry to suspend production, but Alex Miranda Cruz and Noel Miranda have been undeterred in their creative pursuits. Their Middleton-based company, Bravebird, is currently in the midst of a safe, socially distanced autumnal shoot of its first narrative feature film, Trace The Line. Inspired by the mid-twentieth century photojournalism of Gordon Parks and the recent films of Barry Jenkins (If Beale Street Could Talk), the film is a poetic exploration of the internal and social chaos of 2020.

With its cast and crew rising to adapt to distinct and ever-growing challenges, Trace The Line speaks to the ingenuity of DIY filmmakers who exist outside the studio system, as Cruz will attest in his years as a young actor in Hollywood. Finding greater inspiration and conscious control behind the camera in the Midwest, the production company has taken an active role in nurturing local talent as well as providing opportunities for a crew of freelancers who were sadly furloughed this past March. But Cruz and Miranda’s ambitions are also thematic and transformative. They’ve pioneered the term “cinema dignite” in response to the industry’s insularity and lack of representation—a riff, of course, on the “cinéma vérité” movement that took root in France in the 1960s. Bravebird and Trace The Line are evolving narrative by more naturally connecting it with wider community conversation.

While the film’s planned four-week shoot has progressed, Cruz and Miranda kindly offered their time to talk about some of the defining characteristics of Trace The Line, revealing how they aim to visualize intimacy in the wake of our present physical separation, and how the two principal actors—poet Matthew Charles Bogart and visual artist Brooke Leland—are fashioning singular art for the film itself. Cruz and Miranda also discussed more of their personal histories that led them to want to tell stories through the cinema medium, the psychology of Trace The Line that explores the “disengaged observer” and finding inner peace, “symbolic annihilation” in the commercial film industry, diversifying homegrown talent and fellow Wisconsin filmmakers, a nationally-minded future project for Bravebird relating to transformative justice, and how to actively support Trace The Line‘s production at this very moment.

Tone Madison: In attempting to understand this first feature film endeavor for you called Trace The Line, I thought it would be illuminating to learn a little more about Bravebird as a production company, its mission, and some of your prior work. In the last few years, you’ve done a variety of photography shoots and video testimonials or resumés in video form for local artists and even some businesses. Were those necessary to find your footing to ensure you could make a feature film? Has making feature films been the ultimate goal all along?

Alex Miranda Cruz: Before Bravebird, I worked in Hollywood at New Line Cinema. Before that, I went to film school. And before that, I was in Hollywood as a professional actor for over 15 years with the Screen Actors Guild. My experience in advertising and marketing for nearly six years helped me a lot, especially with directing and development. I directed commercials with an ad agency, and then when we went on our own with Bravebird, I started to focus on the story I wanted to tell. So, the training is a mixture of several different experiences—as an actor, in creative development, as a creative director, and even some of my education in studying theology for a time. One of the things that prepared me for Trace The Line, specifically, was our short film, Fantasy in D Minor (2018). That was the first project that Noel and I did together.

Noel Miranda: I don’t come from a film background. My experience has been more in corporate responsibility and nonprofit work. But there’s always a lot of storytelling in the nonprofit world, so I feel like it was a natural jump for me. Like Alex mentioned, we did that short film together; he approached me with the idea after we had been married for about a year. There are a lot of filmmaking or husband-wife duos, and we figured we’d try it out to see if we could work together. We were both working day jobs at the time, and it took us a little over three years to finish our short. But after that point, it was really clear to us that we wanted to continue telling stories, transform the way narratives are told, and develop our own process for how we do that called “cinema dignité.” It’s all about bringing dignity through visuals. That’s a key component in this feature-length film as well.

Alex Miranda Cruz: I would also say seeing filmmaking from different perspectives—in front of camera and behind the camera. That’s helped us get to this point where we are today. Not an easy route. I was in-and-out of the entertainment industry twice, and so never thought I would be making a movie, if you asked me a few years ago.

Tone Madison: It does sound like making narrative work is your passion, but you’re planning to continue doing the work you’ve been doing, moving forward.

Alex Miranda Cruz: That’s correct. I strongly believe narratives need to get to the next level, and they play an important role in developing the perceptions of people and of the world, and our relationship to it and one another. I feel committed to this moving forward.

Noel Miranda: With Bravebird, we have three different legs of our stool, so to speak. The commercial work is very much rooted in working with other socially conscious brands. Then we have the feature-length project we’re working on [Trace The Line] and a lot of our own content. The third piece Bravebird is working on pioneering is a development program for the next generation of filmmakers. So, we want to create a nonprofit that will have e-learning and apprenticeship: help people identify what they want to specialize in film, and then bring them onto our film sets eventually.

Tone Madison: Oh, wow. That’s very ambitious.

Alex Miranda Cruz: I used to play baseball—[Laughs] I’ve had several lives. I played four years in college, and I played in the Caribbean semi-pro. So I’m familiar with the farm system kind of model. My father was also a professional baseball player. What I’m trying to develop is a similar model of minor-to-major league where we’re recruiting young talent, getting them experience, teaching them the ropes. When they’re ready, [we can] hire them into professional gigs. By doing so, we’re also diversifying talent in roles of director, writer, editor, cinematographer.

Tone Madison: I feel like this could be a separate interview entirely. [Laughs]

Alex Miranda Cruz: It’s a big dream, but Trace The Line is the first step.

Trace The Line production photo by Mike Gorski

Trace The Line production photo by Mike Gorski

Tone Madison: I’d like to tease out a bit more detail about the film, particularly its genesis and how and when you wrote the screenplay for it. The plot on your site is somewhat vague, but it essentially outlines a loose narrative about a relationship between a poet and artist during the pandemic. What more would you like potential audiences to know about characters and its setting in Madison?

Alex Miranda Cruz: With the script, we’ve been really intentional in not leaning into tropes. And so we’ve had to strike down several tropes during our drafting [process]. Sometimes there were tropes that we didn’t spot right away until we re-read it. I do want to preserve some of the character arcs so as to not give away too much of the story. But, in summary, what we have are two artists trying to understand the world around them during this crazy year while practicing physical distancing. Even in that, we were very intentional not to say “social distance,” because it is more of a physical distancing. We are trying to create a narrative that would allow us to film 6 feet apart the whole time. That’s actually a big part of the story—showing the space between the two characters. Another thing we’re trying to do is communicate a new way to visualize intimacy without having to show touch.

Noel Miranda: Maybe backing up [a bit]… At the beginning of this year, Bravebird had its largest pipeline of work laid out. In mid-March, when the pandemic really hit, and things started to shut down, we lost all of our work overnight. And so, that not only impacted us, but we have a large freelancer network, and all of them lost work as well. During that time when we would have been working, Alex had this story come to him, and felt compelled to do a movie. So, we thought [about] how we could do that—support the freelancers and create our own work. But also do it in a safe way. Most of Hollywood is still on hiatus and not filming. We really thought long and hard about how we could craft a story that would allow us to accomplish all of those things.

Alex Miranda Cruz: The two main characters are Asa and Eva. Asa is played by Matthew Charles Bogart, a young African-American poet in Madison. He competes [in slams], and recently self-published a series of his poems, called You Can Not Burn The Sun. The film features a lot of his poetry, and he actually [created] several pieces for the film as well. They’re very specific to some of the scenes. Matthew is playing a fictionalized version of himself in the role of Asa, because so much of the character that I wrote is based [on Matthew]. The other protagonist is Eva. She’s played by Brooke Leland, who recently graduated from UW-Madison art school. She had to graduate during COVID-19, so we felt bummed out for her since she spent so much energy and time [in the program]. But she’s an incredible visual artist, painter, printmaker. She’s actually commissioning original pieces for the film as well. So, I think that’s unique. The main actors are creating the art that we’re depicting. The artwork is another character in itself, and it’s another vehicle that we’re using to show how these two characters are wrestling with the year of 2020. They communicate it through their art.

One of Asa’s character arcs is the progression of his poems. I’m taking the viewer from darkness into light. And so, with Asa, he basically begins the film in a state of survival, constantly being bombarded by the pangs of Western dominance. I’m trying to depict how many young Black men have felt in this country through Asa. In the early parts of the film, we’re showing this fatigue and discouragement. On top of that, we have civil unrest and the pandemic. The film starts in that state of sorrow and questioning. It’s broken up into four acts; the first act is entitled “Why?” Asa is wrestling with [internal questions]: “Why is this happening? How do I understand all this?”

But another thing that we’re trying to do, too, and this is a critical part of the movie, is depicting a Black man who ends up finding his peace. And that’s something I’ve wanted to do from the very beginning: show a Black man who is experiencing peace. The film shows that journey, arriving at a state of peace, even though there’s all this adversity happening around him. Eva’s character is very complex, because we quickly noted that the story could turn into a white savior trope in which Eva would save Asa from his dark place or hopelessness and then turn into this weird love story. I just didn’t feel like it was going to be the right story to tell now. With Eva, we want to represent the disengaged observer who transforms into a person open and ready to engage with the communities around her not as a savior but as a friend, listener, and supporter. More importantly, doing the work internally.

So, we want to show both these characters coming to a point where they realize the responsibility they each bear over their own life, and what that means. Shine the light into the dark corners of their minds, hearts, spirits, and psyche. Address things that need to be named. For Asa’s character, we’re showing a man who is carrying a big burden on his own, which is not sustainable. We’re asking questions through the art form, and through their lives. Is that burden preventing the character from pursuing a vision that goes beyond the burden? With Eva’s character, we’re trying to show, as I’m calling it, the “disengaged observer,” a term that was coined by [Martin] Heidegger. And it’s this idea of existentialism, of all these people walking among us who aren’t really engaging with what it is to be human […] What does it mean to live in this world around others? So we want to show Eva along this journey of being present […], going from apathy to empathy, from a bystander who views people as resources to a participant in life showing reverence and care for others. How does she come to this point? We show her walking through the doors of transformation, but we don’t show the details of what that transformation looks like. We don’t want to prescribe what success looks like, and leave that open for the viewer to decide for themselves. That’s the work they need to do, and it may look different from you and I.

Trace The Line production photo by Sarah Sabouri

Trace The Line production photo by Sarah Sabouri

Tone Madison: You initially seemed a bit reticent to reveal details, but after going through the character arc and trajectory, I’m realizing this is an incredibly deep film.

Alex Miranda Cruz: It’s been so fun to explore these characters with our writing team, [which] is incredibly diverse. It was me, Greg Hatton (who’s our African-American cinematographer), and two women: my wife Noel Miranda, and one of our actors, Arielle Harmon (who’s also helping with production). There was also Emily Murphy, but she also had to step out due to a family situation. At one point, we had three women and two men in the writers room. Between the five of us, we were really able to create a simple, but deep story with a lot of subtext. […]  We really wanted to authentically depict the language of the Black and white communities [as well as] the emotions.

Tone Madison: Just a bit of a note I had from your promotional video: it looked like you had shot some scenes or at least some footage around 200 Block of State Street during the Black Lives Matter protests in June. Is that going to factor into the film?

Alex Miranda Cruz: Yeah, it’s interesting you ask that. I have been filming during the effects of COVID, and then I was filming the protests as well. Matthew [Charles Bogart], our lead actor, actually, was at many of the protests on the front lines. He was maced and tear-gassed in real life. So, he’s been there watching and observing the whole thing. That is depicted a lot in the film—a combination of archival footage from others and people we know, as well as footage I’ve acquired with my crew. That’s why this film blurs the line between documentary and narrative.

Some additional Wisconsin shooting locations include Middleton and Fitchburg, Cross Plains (Indian Lake), Mt. Horeb (Military Ridge), and Dane (near Waunakee).

Tone Madison: What are some specific cinematic influences that you’ve harnessed for this feature? Maybe some of them come from other mediums, as your own resumé may attest to. I’m curious to know more about the proposed length of the film and a little bit more about its style.

Alex Miranda Cruz: We’re anticipating possibly around an hour and a half. It could actually be more; there is a lot of [aforementioned] footage I’ve acquired. […] I would say our visual inspirations come from Gordon Parks’ photography. We invested in vintage lenses to make the film. Although we’re filming on a high-end camera, we’re filming with Leica lenses made by Walter Mandler, one of their top engineers at the time. These lenses range from 1974 to 1976, and we managed to source a kit that’s in pristine condition from Australia. It gives a unique look that feels a bit like Gordon Parks.

Another inspiration would be If Beale Street Could Talk, from two years ago, and Moonlight (2016), [both] by Barry Jenkins. Also, the works of Terrence Malick, specifically The Tree Of Life (2010) and The New World (2005). So, there’s a strong presence of one’s environment. And we [heavily feature] the city and nature dynamic through both characters. There’s [also] a film called I Am Cuba (1964), [directed] by Mikhail Kalatozov, and Sergey Urusevsky [cinematographer]. Have you seen that?

Tone Madison: Yes, it screened at the UW-Cinematheque a couple years ago.

Alex Miranda Cruz: Oh, wonderful. So, as you know, that film is poetic in its cinematography and the language. We’re also doing very similar styles.

Tone Madison: I’m a big fan of Malick’s The New World. I think that’s underrated in his canon. The Tree Of Life and Days Of Heaven (1978) get a lot of attention, but The New World is amazing. 

Alex Miranda Cruz: You just gave me goosebumps. That’s exactly how I feel, too. I have it here in my collection. I had to rewatch it over and over again.

Tone Madison: I’d like to return to something Noel mentioned at the beginning about your coining or pioneering this term of “cinema dignité,” which is kind of a clever play on cinema vérité (or reality). It seems like a natural extension of vérité, because the intention is to be more culturally inclusive and representative of America in general. In particular, there’s an overrepresentation of straight white male experiences in the film industry, especially in comedy and romantic comedies, I guess, even though Trace The Line is far removed from that. Could you talk about how you are implementing cinema dignité in the cast and crew for Trace The Line?

Alex Miranda Cruz: Grant, I just wanted to say you hit it right on the head with cinema dignité. [Laughs] At one point, I was saying it was [derived] from [and inspired by] the 1960s movement. One thing that Noel and I have articulated is—a lot of the reasons why the narratives aren’t pushing the needle or innovating is because they’re being made by one demographic and one gender, mostly, in Hollywood. They keep perpetuating the same stories. With my experience as a professional actor, and going to film school, and then to creative development, I recognized that later in life. This is one of the main reasons people keep getting cast-typed, and why they keep relying on savior tropes. They do it blatantly. To me, it’s so obvious. And it’s because they don’t have Black and brown writers. Or directors or cinematographers who are diverse. I mean, it wasn’t until Arrival (2016) when we saw the first African-American cinematographer be nominated for an Academy Award [Bradford Young]. And he didn’t win.

Noel and I were tired of seeing diverse communities pushed out or not being taken seriously. The dehumanization of people, and not just for people of color. Lack of women. It wasn’t until 2019 that Ann Sarnoff became the first CEO of one of the top studios [Warner Bros.] The first woman in 100 years [since 1923]. That just happened last summer. That’s how bad it is. And so the way we’re implementing cinema dignité—we need to create a methodology, a framework to change the way we produce stories. We don’t want to rely on the way Hollywood does it. It’s led to stereotypes and to a term in psychology called “symbolic annihilation” where entire peoples are not even represented in film. Or if they are represented, it’s in stereotypes. That was my experience. For 15 years, as a professional actor, I was cast-typed as a delinquent or gang member. I just know there’s so much more to the story. So, what Bravebird has done is create opportunities to have more diversity built from top-to-bottom and bottom-up. When you look at our team, we’re incredibly diverse. […] For this project, we’re [have] more than 50% women crew members. We also have over 60% diversity. Our production designer and his team are First Nation; they’re Ho-Chunk and Ojibwe. Our cinematographer is African-American, and our writing team is super diverse: Black, white, Asian, Latinx, Native. […] It’s that diversity of the team that is making our storytelling so rich, because those perspectives are behind the camera and in the writing and editing rooms.

Noel Miranda: To distill cinema dignité concisely, it’s this idea that the way you make a story matters. Our focus on who tells the story makes a big difference. The pillars of cinema dignité are ethics, or why are we telling the story. Making sure we’re inclusive. If we’re representing anyone or any culture on-screen, that culture needs to be heavily involved in the creative process. The goal of the story itself is to empower communities, and it’s done at that same quality that a studio would. But the process is completely different, and the intention is different. That really distinguishes what we do.

Alex Miranda Cruz: I don’t understand why Peter Farrelly could do Green Book [2019 Best Picture winner]. It was told well, and looks beautiful, but they [also] have these stupid scenes that make me cringe. Are you telling me that Don Shirley didn’t know how to eat chicken, for real? That’s literally a scene in the movie. Viggo Mortinssen’s character [“Tony Lip”]’s teaching Mahershala Ali’s character [Shirley] how to be a Black man. That has to stop. It’s so Hollywood.

Tone Madison: Actually, coincidentally, my following question is about the Academy’s new standards for representation and inclusion. And, at the end of this question, I was going to reference Green Book in jest. [Laughs] So, you’re reading my mind.

Alex Miranda Cruz: [Laughs] That’s hilarious. I have nothing against Peter Farrelly. I think if a Black director did the film, it would be a different story, and there would be a shift in focus. And that’s what we’re trying to do with Bravebird—empower diverse communities to tell their stories. We’re taking a whole bunch of people who no one thought could make a movie, and they’re the ones doing it. And it’s happening in Madison and not in Hollywood. Right here in our backyard with no money. We’re doing it, because we know we can, and know we can do better. I have nothing against film schools, but what I’m saying is that with Bravebird, we’re really trying to connect with our communities. This is a real community-engaging endeavor. Unfortunately, even with all the technological developments that have lowered the cost of filmmaking, [the entry level into film is] still incredibly high. The way the system works is someone refers you to USC, because they went to USC or their family did. They just throw in a word, and you get in. Then you get in on the set and start making your way up, because you know someone. But how does Matthew Charles [Bogart], who grew up in a small Wisconsin town, get there with no connections to the film industry? Who can afford to go to USC? It’s a lot more than UW-Madison. Then, there’s film equipment. Noel and I have put everything into building our own equipment. We’ve invested [over] $10,000 in just the camera. It’s just ridiculous sometimes. And so we want to create a bridge of authentic storytelling, helping diverse communities be involved in the filmmaking process and to tell these stories right.

Noel Miranda: When it comes to the Oscars’ diversity criteria, I think it’s an interesting time. It’s clear that Hollywood hasn’t changed, and hasn’t changed for awhile. I would say I’m cautiously optimistic. We would hope this would happen organically, because having diversity at the table ultimately makes for a better story and more engaging experience for the audience. But it hasn’t happened organically in that industry for a lot of different reasons. This is a first step, and it remains to be seen how effective it will be.

Tone Madison: That’s true. They don’t go into effect until 2024, and the films only have to meet two of the four criteria or categories to be eligible. So, it’s not like it’s incredibly strict or draconian measures or anything like that. 

Trace The Line production photo by Sarah Sabouri

Trace The Line production photo by Sarah Sabouri

Tone Madison: Speaking about the production itself, are you looking for volunteers to help with that at all? How can people support Trace The Line while you’re currently making it?

Noel Miranda: With COVID precautions, we have a pretty distinct group in our cast and crew. We’re trying to create our own bubble, so to speak. We’ll typically have less than 10 people on set at a time. The main way people can continue to be engaged with what we’re doing is through virtual events. We [had] one, “Behind The Seen,” on Sept 22, which can now be viewed here. So, we’re having a series either virtually or on our social media channels, and people can follow our progress there. We envision being in the film festival circuit in May [of 2021]. We do have a newsletter for regular updates about how we’re doing. We hope to share a lot of the behind-the-scenes. There are so many interesting aspects of filming in general and trying to film during a pandemic in a safe way.

Alex Miranda Cruz: We’re not backed by billions [of dollars] like studios are in Hollywood. We’ve partnered with Arts Wisconsin, a nonprofit, so we can raise funds to pay the cast and crew and also help distribute the film into the festival circuit. That’s another way people can engage in addition to the events that we [hold]. You can go to the Arts Wisconsin website and search “Trace The Line,” and it’ll have all the information there.

Tone Madison: I do remember reading a bit on your site on your partnership with Arts Wisconsin, so thanks for elaborating. But, you can’t have—maybe it’s a silly question for me to ask about volunteers, ha. You’re right; it’s not advised or realistic, especially if you’re working with a crew of under 10 people.

Alex Miranda Cruz: Yeah, it’s been challenging with COVID. We’re really doing what we can to keep [everyone] safe. I don’t know if I was being unreasonable, but I asked the cast and crew to create a bubble for ourselves, kind of like the NBA did, for the next four weeks [of filming]. Let’s just stay in our bubble, and finish the film as safely as we can [during these 10-, 12-hour days]. But, that being said, we are very collaborative. There are many ways others can volunteer and help us that don’t compromise the COVID standards.

Noel Miranda: There’s a lot we’re doing online. Grant writing is another way people could be involved. In addition to paying attention via socials and online events, we want this film to be a conversation starter and to prompt people to take things to the next level. It’s not just a movie; it’s the beginning of a movement. So, we’re working with local and national organizations to figure out how we can share resources with people after the film and how to encourage them to take whatever they learned from the film and go deeper with it. That’s very much in the works, and we’d be happy to share more once we have more of an idea what groups we’ll be partnering with.

Tone Madison: Yeah, I would say my consciousness or awareness of certain social issues has come through film. And I admire your effort here to craft this film with sort of an [organic prompt for recognizing change.]

Alex Miranda Cruz: There are only like 25 people working on the film, but on set, there are maybe 12. But there are a lot of people helping behind-the-scenes with branding and marketing, even with developing a treatment, grant-writing. I feel like the bigger community we can build, the stronger we will be. As you know, making a feature-length film is not easy. And I don’t know everything. [Laughs] So, learning from others is welcome. And that is very much cinema dignité.

Tone Madison: That’s a great lead-in to my next question, which pertains to other filmmakers, whether they’re here in Madison or maybe in Milwaukee, who you’d like to call attention to. As a part “B” to that, do you envision a greater collaboration in your future with Bravebird?

Alex Miranda Cruz: There’s a filmmaker in Milwaukee named Luis Vazquez, who has a company called Mighty Introvert, and I love what he’s doing. He’s making a series of videos on the history of Milwaukee for his channel, Authentic Pivots. He did it with like two people. The talent that’s in this state is just incredible. There are so many people out here who could do amazing things if they have support [of a] community. We’ve also met other dynamic creatives like Izzy Lugo and Quentin Allums of Urban Misfits. They were introduced to use through a graduate student at UW Madison, Hannah Barton. My hope is that Trace The Line will show [who’s here] and what’s possible in Madison. [We want to] create a stronger community for filmmakers to come together and unite. My experience in Wisconsin has been mixed. When I first came here as a creative director, I found it very hard to get into the film community, and I don’t really know the reasons for that. There were some groups that were already solidified, and they just operated within that same group for many years. I’ve heard similar tales coming from Milwaukee. I was able to connect with Luis through Eugenia Podesta of Synergy Coworking. There is so much rich talent in this state and we have just started to find each other.

One thing we’re trying to say is that these are valuable people, and they’re telling valuable stories, and deserve to be paid. So, equity has been a big part of all of this. That’s why I’m trying to raise all these funds, and why I set out to make a movie. So many of my freelance community members lost all their work in 2020. These are people with families, and their main source of income was freelance work. I was like, “Well, let’s make our own project, then. Let’s tell our own story.” I’m hoping we’ll be able to raise funds so we can give it back to the community. Right now, Noel and I have poured so much of our own finances into this, and we’re giving it all to our community, because we want to try to help them get through the next month so we can make this film and keep our freelance community intact. I’d hate to not be able to work with them anymore. It’s been this interesting and weird time. This film has been like do-or-die for a lot of us. But we’re really happy we get to make it.

We’re looking for a lot of new talent. One example is Amadou Kromah, who has an acting role [as Ahmed] in Trace The Line. But I see a lot of talent in him as a cinematographer. I believe he just turned 20. I’ve been following his photography work here in Madison for 2 years now. He’s not a filmmaker yet, but I have been hiring him for Bravebird projects to try to get him ready for that cinematographer role.

Tone Madison: To sort of nurture his natural ability?

Alex Miranda Cruz: Yeah, to get hands-on [experience]. He already has a great eye, but he just needs a little support. I don’t know why there hasn’t been a lot of that in Madison. The film scene in Madison is just small. It’s not a big film city, in my opinion. And it’s just hard to kind of find one another, I guess.

Tone Madison: I think a lot of the film scene in Madison is isolated to the university and academic work.

Alex Miranda Cruz: That makes sense. Amadou isn’t in college; he doesn’t go to UW-Madison, so he wouldn’t be connected to it. So, he wouldn’t be connected to it in any other way if it wasn’t for us [offering that opportunity]. Obviously, we’re just one small company, so I hope others will do that as well.

Tone Madison: In looking ahead into the heart of this decade, the 2020s, what other projects do you loosely have in mind, if you’re planning that far ahead?

Alex Miranda Cruz: Right after [Trace The Line], I’m supposed to endeavor on a pretty big project in three cities (Milwaukee, New Orleans, and Washington, D.C.) for transformative justice, a documentary series, for a production company based in D.C. That would be really exciting if it pans out, although I am a little scared to be in D.C. during this time. It’ll be depicting how families are transforming justice in their communities. I can’t share too much more as this project is in development, but I am collaborating with Director Kristin Adair of Unchained to bring her vision to life through story and cinematography.

Then, there is another incredible project along the lines of transformative justice, but from a mass incarceration angle, with a strong Wisconsin focus. We’ll see if that comes through. I’ve also been [intently] working on something very special for the last year. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to direct it, but it’s an important project to me. It has to do with the depictions of Natives from South and Central America. That’s going to be my next big thing, but it’ll be a long journey.

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