Storytellers often hope their stories will have an impact on the audience; that the viewer will be enlightened or enraged, moved or motivated by the work.Filmmaker Jonathan Olshefski, SMC ’04, TFM ’11, wants that for his documentary, Quest: The Fury and The Sound. But even before the film intimately following North Philadelphian Christopher “Quest” Rainey and his family is released, Olshefski admits, it’s already had an impact on one person: himself.
A decade of work will do that.
For the past nine years, Olshefski has documented Quest—who operates the home-based neighborhood rap studio Everquest—as he mentors and unites community members. Olshefski has also captured Quest’s family life by filming both happiness and hardship.
With the help of a $100,000 MacArthur Foundation grant announced in January, Olshefski is gearing up to bring those experiences to viewers in a feature-length film; the project was one of 19 awarded grants from more than 500 applications. He said the money will help push the film into post-production and to a possible 2017 release.
The MacArthur award follows other assistance—including being accepted into the Independent Filmmaker Project mentoring program—that has signaled support for the documentary after Olshefski spent many years engrossed in the project with no budget or team. (He now has a producer and an editor.)“A chance encounter”Filming began after Olshefski met the Raineys through what he described as a “chance encounter.” While working construction and practicing photojournalism on the side, Olshefski was volunteering with a North Philadelphia photography program. One participant would eventually introduce Olshefski to his brother, Quest.
“Before it’s a movie, it’s a relationship.”
— Jonathan Olshefski, SMC ’04, TFM ’11
Olshefski was soon taking photos of Quest’s rap studio and becoming mesmerized by the do-it-yourself ethos of the operation. Equally compelling as Quest’s passion for music was his commitment to providing for his family by …