Three weeks after the debut of The Milk Effect, a 10-minute documentary about the legacy of Harvey Milk, people are still talking about what a powerful film it was. They’re also talking about the filmmaker, someone who is all of 15 years old.
“It means a lot that people are moved by my film,” Max Geschwind, a Fairfax High School freshman, told Patch. “If I’m able to make people cry, I think it’s a pretty good film and worth watching.”
In the film Geschwind interviews West Hollywood’s five City Concilmembers, as well as the four candidates in the state’s 50th Assembly District race, asking about the impact the nation’s first openly gay elected official had upon them and upon America. Their responses are heartfelt and sincere, capturing the essence of how Harvey Milk changed the nation.
Capping off the film, Geschwind got some of his fellow Fairfax High students to recite one of Milk’s most famous speeches, creating a poignant reminder of how future generations are affected by the past.
Most of those Fairfax students who participated were unaware of the man who was assassinated in November 1978, surprised to learn of what he accomplished 35 years ago.
“That’s a large part of why I made the film,” said Geschwind who admits he’d never heard of Harvey Milk until 2008’s Milk starring Sean Penn. “He’s an icon. People should know about him.”
A film enthusiast and a political junkie, Geschwind has been volunteering in City Hall since last summer. When he was asked to serve on a planning committee for the city’s Harvey Milk Day observance, inspiration hit. Soon he was combining his two passions to make the film in a mere four weeks time, serving both as producer and director.
His mother Jackie Geschwind, who also had never heard of Harvey Milk until the 2008 film, never had any doubts her son could put together a movie in such a short time.
“I told him to go for it. I knew he could do it,” said Jackie Geschwind who moved her family to West Hollywood three years ago from Western Massachusetts. “And I’m really proud of what he did.”
Making a film isn’t the only thing Max Geschwind has accomplished recently. On June 1, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa presented him with a 3rd place trophy for his essay “Celebrating our Past - Shaping the Future,” an entry in the city’s LGBT Heritage Month youth writing contest.
Now that The Milk Effect’s world premier is behind him, Geschwind is busy trying to raise funds to get the film into film festivals around the country and/or to rent a local theater for a screening so it will be eligible for Oscar consideration. People can donate to this cause by clicking here.