Meet with the North Philly Family Featured at the Must-See Documentary “Quest”
Filmmaker Jonathan Olshefski followed the Raineys . The result is this Friday a heart-rending masterpiece that debuts at the Ritz.
That is roughly how long cameras followed the Raineys, ” a North Philly family that’s at once both familiar and amazing at Quest, also a documentary film debuting at the Ritz on Friday.
The notable biopic follows the Raineys because they increase, hurt, treat, love, fight, teach and learn, starting with the start of Obama’s presidency and finishing after Trump’s election. Director Jon Olshefski uses the political arena to frame a delicate peek into the life span of a family navigating issues of race, class, gun violence, child-rearing, marriage, along with neighborhood strife.
Possibly most important, Quest lets North Philly to shape its own narrative — an opportunity that, since the family will say, is rarely afforded to its own residents, who are more often visited by the mainstream press for tales of chaos and bloodshed.
I sat down with three individuals behind the job: Olshefski, a Temple grad; Christopher“Quest” Rainey, the film’s namesake anda caring dad who conducts North Philly’s EverQuest Recordings studio; along with Patricia “PJ” Rainey, the springy daughter of Quest and Christine’a “Ma Quest” Rainey.
So how did you find each other?
Olshefski: In 2005, I started teaching a photography class to adults from [North Philly]. In spring of 2006, one of my pupils was like, “My brother runs on a hip-hop studio out of his home, if you want to meet him.” So we walked down the street and knocked on the door, and Quest opens up and sees me.
Quest: First of all, I see a white man in my area. Our neighborhood has not been gentrified or anything like that mostly just men and women live there. When somebody of another race knocks on the door, you assume it’s a cop or a bank collector or something. But when I saw Jonathan, I thought, “What exactly does this man need?”
To make a long story short, he came in, met a few of the men and that’s pretty much how we began. He attracted a visual impact . We did not have some way to include pictures therefore Jonathan attracted that flair . And the studio was there to help the men [in the area] — to provide them something to do and prevent them.
I wish to return into the studio. But Jon, first, attended Temple the introduction?
Olshefski: I grew up in Pittsburgh but proceeded to Philly in 2000 to visit Temple, and I fell in love with this city. I wished to make positive contributions to town. I had been working building and doing art stuff as soon as I met with these men. I learned [Quest’s] paper course and studio, and now that I found myself in that. It started out with … a photo essay of their working life versus the creative life. And that’s just how things got started — that I slept over at the house and sleeping at the studio. I jump onto the newspaper route, would get up at 3 in the morning and also do this photo thing dozen.
Hear the studio and I wanted out of a photo endeavor to a documentary film to see that the motion. After a year and a half, I was just like, “Let us do a brief little documentary.” And it went on longer than we believed.
Why would you wish to focus on North Philly? What did you need people to see about the area?
Quest: We need people to see North Philly besides the violence they show on the news.
That is something different for us, although you know, we’ve already been in the spotlight in our own lives. It is amazing. Scary at exactly the same time, but fantastic. We have been so many different areas to show our film off. To see unique communities that have nothing in common with ours relate to their own situation and know what is happening … it opens their eyes. Like individuals would tell us they were of North Philly, when this project began, I would hear so many stories about North Philly. And I would sit there with a puzzled look on my face. It was just horrifying stories, but once they watch the movie, it’s just like “Oh my god.” Really, it was nothing like they thought. We’re really glad about that.
Olshefski: For me, making films is about making friends. It is a way. My experience in the area was in this location where people take care of one another. [The film] began with, “Hey, how can I donate and hang out with people?” And then it took us into a much of cooperating, like level.
Quest: He’s definitely loved. We call him Peter Parker. This is his nickname for us at the studio.
OK, let us go back the studio. Music has a powerful presence in this film. What type of role will the studio play in this area and in the documentary ?
Quest: The studio will there be to market friendship. People come from all walks of life. From everywhere. Your crooks or squads, gang signals along with your CB4 mobsters or anything — you know when these guys hit the studio, so everybody is just EverQuest, focusing on helping each other. Having discussions. Building pow-wows. Someone may come there, and rather than rapping they may talk you know we are trying to focus on the person’s problem. So it’s really a recovery place.
And my daughter her generation is coming up today. She’s to school me on the area of music and the most recent hip hop. She is my ears into the street — plus an artist herself. She’s real particular about her music. This makes a difference when she moves to do projects and they see how delicate she’s using her own endeavors — they wish to be a part of what she’s doing, because she puts her whole heart into it. That is another generation directly now –23P. That is her rap name on SoundCloud.
PJ, what exactly was it like for you to observe the film? It is so romantic you for all, but you are the one growing up on cam. What was it like to watch yourself?
PJ: After I first saw it, the film made me reminiscence. Small certain facial responses that I created — they informed me of the stuff that I was thinking at that moment.
However, now I just feel like I am at a different location. This was where I had been earlier, and there have been so many changes because the film. My entire life changed in a way. It made me think differently from different men and women. And for men and women who see the film, I expect they see. Because that’s something that this world does not have. I mean it will have it, but it’s uncommon, you know? Within this particular generation.
In the start of the film, Quest and PJ discuss PJ’s curfew and how you fear for her safety at night. A couple of scenes later, PJ is struck by a bullet, and now she loses her attention. Both of these scenes communicate several kinds of injury. One form comes from being surrounded by violence, and the other is a effect of this violence. How did you influence?
PJ: Later [the shooting] — which was not revealed in the film — I began to think I had been a part of the surroundings. However, with all the movie and with the aid of my family, it felt as though I could go forward rather than just staying in one spot. I had been a product of this surroundings. I had been close-minded. I believed was amusing to see people, like people, and then my situation occurred, and that I knew what they went through. And I just hope men and women get that from the movie.
Politicians, should they see the movie, will see areas that are damaging like North Philadelphia from such as the absence of things that are constructive for kids to perform. I expect that politicians alter that. It is more than just music. We have a studio. We take action to help the community. But there is other stuff, and that I feel my age have a specific selection of professions, with the place we live in and the stuff that we are fed by them. I know how to get more money, if I came from somewhere else.
Quest: We want diversion facilities. We are in need of soccer courts. Business colleges. After-school apps, that teach you how you can save careers, start up, pay bills. They give us things to keep us quiet. In schools definitely need something else, I think.
There is a scene, following the shooting, when someone at a CeaseFire PA Rally after talks about how politicians and terrorists only return to North Philly for “soundbites.” Would you speak about it?
Quest: That is how it occurred when PJ got taken. A tragedy occurred. Individuals popped up, said “We promise you this. We promise you that.” Someone promised a trip to Disney World to PJ. So many things were thrown at us at the moment. We had been so confused about which way we must go for aid for PJ. And my wife and I really sat back and said, “Perhaps we ought to see how she recovers and gets back himself together.” And that I asked Jon, “Can you place this in the film?’ And he had been, as a buddy, unwilling — because do you really want that portion of the life out there?
I believed it would help. It is therapeutic for each of us because to see something traumatic like that and observe her recuperate … most people, once they recover, they do not wish to appear back on that part of their lives. However, I think that makes you a much more powerful person. You determine where you’re from and where you’re now. We did not need PJ to be the poster child for getting shot — we wanted this movie to be to help her and to help us conquer what occurred. Other people had other goals in mind. That is what we’re trying to escape from. We’re trying to let people know North Philly is living. We’re breathing. We.
This is really a decade of your life compressed into one hour and 45 minutes. Are there some sections of of your own life that we missed that you wish were included? And Jon, how did you decide what things to do include and what to leave out?
Quest: Yeah, we had a lot of dogs at the moment. C-Note, our dog, had litters that are back packs.
Olshefski: Yeah, there is even a scene in which C-Note is … running down following the truck [on a newspaper course] and [Quest is] crying “Go home! Go home!” There is so many fun moments, but in terms of storyline efficacy, you just wish to produce the movie tight and reachable, and you wish to leave people. But there is a lot [that’s not contained]. Quest rescued by a fire when he was two years old by children and saved his life.
There is all these stories. In relation to telling the story, everything has to add up, and now you look at the scenes that do three or four things simultaneously, although there is a lot of stuff that I think is beautiful. Youreveals anger or assigning that over something that’s maybe not cute and’re on the lookout but reveals strength or vulnerability. This has been difficult.
I looked for those quiet moments, I did not need to have a film. It had been about crafting a film. We are living. I wished to tell the story in a way that invites the viewer — whether you are a neighbor of North Philly, some random rich man in Park City, Utah, some farmer — you can see yourself in the film. These are the moments we’re searching for.
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