Seven Questions with Baron Davis, Clippers Guard and 'Crips & Bloods' Filmmaker

LA has a diverse cast of characters. Whether it's the characters with stirring stories or interesting occupations or the people who are just simply characters, this town has them all. In an effort to get to know some of those characters a little better, we've created "Seven Questions with..." If you have a suggestion for a future Seven Questions subject send us an email.

Today's subject is Baron Davis.

A Los Angeles native, Baron was a McDonalds All-American basketball player at Crossroads High School in Santa Monica and a First Team All-American at UCLA who went on to become a two-time NBA All-Star. After 10 seasons in the league with stops in Charlotte/New Orleans and Golden State, Baron decided to come back home, signing with the Clippers last summer.

Baron's success reaches beyond the basketball court. He created Team Play, a non-profit foundation for underprivileged kids, served as a spokesman for LA’s Best, and after-school mentoring program, addressed the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington D.C. and set up a program where $2 from ever point scored during the 2006-07 season went to victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

His most recent venture off the court is in the film industry. Crips & Bloods: Made in America, a gripping and gritty film about the 40 year-old rivalry between South LA's two most notorious gangs directed by Stacy Peralta (Dogtown and Z-Boys), is the first feature documentary released by Baron's production company, Verso Entertainment. The film is available on DVD today.

Thanks to the help of Docurama Films /NewVideo, LAist had the opportunity to interview Baron via email. We talked about the film, the gangs, the playoffs and a little about the Clippers. Baron also gave us the heads up on what's next for his filmmaking career.

1) How involved were you with the making of this film?
I didn’t want this to be a project that just had my name attached to it…I worked closely with Stacy (Peralta) on everything from interviews to editing. I want this film to be a call to action for everyone. I had two goals for being a part of this, the first to show people why we have gangs in our inner cities, and the second, I wanted to show people what we can do to resolve these problems. Until we stop looking at these kids as monsters, we will never break the cycle of gang violence.

2) The Bloods and Crips have been the subject of many films and documentaries, what do you think separates your film from the rest?
There is no false reality to this film. There is no glorification of gangs, the film provides real-life examples of the problems within the South Central community, and gives credence to the fact that changes must be made. If the threat of incarceration were enough, then the violence would have stopped long ago. This film gives such an accurate portrayal of what the problems are, and what the solutions can be.

3) Growing up in LA, how much were the Bloods and Crips a presence in your life?
They affected my life and how much I value other lives as well. Having been involved and seeing it from all levels, it was important to take the road less traveled to do things that might inspire the youth of today and show them that there are other options if you work hard and put your mind to achieving goals.

4) The film has garnered great reviews, how proud are you of the response the film has received? Where does this rank to with all of the things you've accomplished in your life on the basketball court?
I’m extremely proud of the film, and I think Stacy Peralta did an amazing job in directing this project. But I know my work isn’t done. This film didn’t put and end to gang violence, but if it helps create awareness for the problems and helps push for more funding for intervention programs, then I will feel like its a step in the right direction.

5) We've seen fellow current and retired NBA players like Elton Brand, Magic Johnson and Carmelo Anthony producing films. Did you turn to any of your peers for advice when you were getting started in the industry? What drew you to working in the film industry? What's next for you as a movie producer?
I’m always asking people for advice….you’re never too old to learn and with some of the connections I’ve made, its been a great way to get advice from people who have been in this business a lot longer than me. I’ve always been a huge fan of movies.

Ever since I was a little kid I watched movies of all genres, and the process of making a film always interested me.

Our next project in the works is a docu-drama about Sonny Vaccaro, the man behind the beginning of multi-million dollar shoe deals for athletes. HBO has signed on, and James Gandolfini will play Sonny in the film. I’m really excited about this, it’s a story that not a lot of people know about, but they’ll definitely find it interesting.”

6) How difficult is it to balance basketball from your ambitions in the movie business?
I feel like I can maintain a balance - basketball is always my number one focus, and I leave the majority of business on a day-to-day basis to those who are in the office everyday. Having other interests I’m involved in is a good outlet for me, and I want to make sure I can maintain a successful career off the court when my playing days are over.

If you look at our daily schedule - even if we’re practicing 5 hours a day, that still leaves a lot of hours in the day for things outside of basketball…I can’t just stay in the house the rest of the day. My charitable interests are extremely important to me, and I want to ensure that many of the relationships I have made during my career will last throughout my life and not just while I play - because many people can be a part of the work I’d like to do within the South Central community.

7a) When you aren't in the playoffs like this season, how much time do you spend watching the games? If so, what has impressed you the most about this post-season?
I don’t make it a point to watch every game, but of course some of these games I’ve seen and I think its an exciting time for the NBA. A lot of the series’ have been close, and theyre really putting on a show for the fans. Its great to see some of the young point guards like Rajon Rondo and Aaron Brooks take over for their teams and play at such a high level.

7b) What do you think the Clippers need to do this off-season to become a playoff team in 2010?
I’m going to do my best to be a part of the puzzle that turns this franchise around. My teammates and I all have the same goals and are working hard in the off-season to get better, be in great shape, and continue to improve our individual games, which will only help the team Good things take time - not every team can do what the Celtics did last year and go from worst to first. As great as that would have been, we’re still a work in progress. Just because it hasn’t come together in the first season doesn’t mean it isn’t going to happen.