Q&A With ‘The New Direction’ Documentary Director Oscar De Leon

by on Apr 13, 2017

Feature photo by Kaytlin Dargen

The long-awaited “The New Direction” documentary is only a week away and the music venue’s fans are counting down the days. Produced by Chamber Six Media, the documentary follows the birth of a small, DIY music venue, The New Direction, in Fargo to its eventual demise five years later in October of last year.

The New Direction Exterior

Photo special to Fargo Monthly

Premiering at the Fargo Theatre Friday, April 21 at 9 p.m., the film details a year-long period that captures the lives it inspired and the community it fostered. We talked with Director Oscar De Leon about the documentary, its year-long filming process and everything revolving The New Direction.


Fargo Monthly: Tell us why you decided to film a documentary about The New Direction?

Oscar De Leon: “As a teenager, I remember going to a handful of shows at the location back when it was called The Red Raven. As the years passed by I kept hearing about Jack (who I only knew tangentially) and his success with taking over the location and starting his own music venue. I thought that would make a cool story and contacted him wondering if we could cover his music festival which was celebrating it’s fifth anniversary. Originally, the piece was only going to be about 5-7 minutes long since I just wanted to make more people aware that cool stuff like this was happening, literally, beneath our feet in Fargo of all places.”


Tell us about Chamber Six Media’s journey from deciding to do a documentary to it getting premiered at the Fargo Theatre.

“The journey from beginning to end was incredible. I had never done a documentary before and thought I’d give it a shot. Everything was done independently and in our free time and only really had our wits to guide us. As I mentioned before, our initially intention was to tell a story about success and have it reflect the creativity that so many young artists have in Fargo but we were quickly taken for a ride when, in the middle of the edit, we found out that the venue was closing. The announcement of it closing was sort of a shock to us so we scrapped what we had been working on and decided to tell the entire history of the venue and follow it until it closed.

New Direction Fest 2017

Photo by Kaytlin Dargen

“We filmed the final shows and started working on an edit again and after a few months we got news that the sixth anniversary of the music festival was going to be celebrated at The Aquarium. We decided to cover one night of that festival and saw it as a perfect and hopeful ending to the film. After mulling over some ideas for how we’d present it we decided it’d be best to make an event out of it and are now premiering it for everyone at The Fargo Theatre.”

Who was all involved and helped in filming the documentary?

“The documentary is being produced by my small production company, Chamber Six Media, which consists of myself, Kevin Ackley, Chris Parsons and our frequent collaborator Joe Medina. The film heavily relied on the narrative voice of the people involved with the upkeep and day-to-day running of the venue, which consists of people like Jack Stenerson, Paige Herrmann, Tim Kjelshus, Ryan Hoffart, among others.”

New Direction Fest 2017

Photo by Kaytlin Dargen

Was there any struggles or roadblocks that you and others involved have to overcome?

“When making a film, the biggest obstacle is the execution of your vision. As independent filmmakers, we are severely limited in how we can shoot, when we can shoot and how much time we can dedicate to the craft while still living semi-successful lives. One of the biggest challenges we faced was making sure we could tell a coherent and emotional story without manipulating the viewer or distorting any of the truth.”


What was your year-long process when filming?

“Most of the archival stuff that we found we got from just scurrying around on the internet and finding relics hidden away in deep, deep posts. We also contacted several people that could possibly help us out and they did.”

New Direction Fest 2017

Photo by Kaytlin Dargen

Did you uncover anything about The New Direction that you didn’t expect to learn?

“I think the biggest thing I took away from this, which I wasn’t expecting, was just how incredibly supporting the scene around The New Direction is. That venue was filled full of wonderful, beautiful souls that are bright eyed and hopeful and support art with every ounce of conviction that flows through their blood. I really mean it. I was never part of that particular group but seeing the tears, the shouting and the pure, raw emotion of a room full of young people screaming lyrics at the top of their lungs is incredibly moving. The energy contained in the walls of that small basement really held that place up, I believe.

How to you feel The New Direction impacted the community? When it closed, how do you feel that it affected you and the Fargo-Moorhead area?

“The New Direction was a great place for young people. It really was a sanctuary for like minded, individualistic kids to be able to go, hang out and bond over commonalities. I think it’s a real shame that the place doesn’t exist anymore, especially since nothing like it exists in our area. It was the only all-ages venue in the Fargo-Moorhead area and losing something like that really affects the young artists we desperately need.”

New Direction Fest 2017

Photo by Kaytlin Dargen

How do you hope your documentary will influence the community?

“First and foremost, I hope I summed up their story effectively for them. It’s really hard to take 5+ years of experience and condense it into 33 minutes. I also hope that a larger, older audience sees the film and is surprised by the amount of passion existed in a small venue and how important it was for the youth of this city.


Future plans with the documentary after the Fargo Theatre premier?

“After the premiere, we plan on taking the documentary to a few film festivals and hopefully gaining appreciation across the country.”

Crowd Singing at New Direction Fest

Photo by Kaytlin Dargen

Tell me about Chamber Six Media. Who’s all involved? Is there any other past productions you’ve created or in the process of besides “The New Direction” documentary?

“Chamber Six Media was started back in 2014 with my friends Kevin Ackley and Chris Parsons. We are all insanely in love with film. Chris and Kevin both went to film school and I sort of did my own independent thing from a while before we decided to join forces and do whatever we are interested in.


“We do podcasts, video series, film weddings, short films and now this documentary. We really just do whatever is creatively fulfilling for us as well as offer our services to help tell your story, which is often weddings. We have several projects lined up in the future, most notably being a short film festival we are hoping to get off the ground by this fall. We are driven by ambition, if you couldn’t tell already. ”

The premier is at the Fargo Theatre Friday, April 21 at 9 p.m. 

Tickets are still available at Orange Records (641 1st Ave. N, Fargo) for $3.



Fargo Theatre
314 Broadway N, Fargo