There are heroes among us every day. I like to think that after the recent natural disaster that devastated our islands. We know this now more than ever. We need these people, the heroes. While some of us retreat into the shadows when the going gets tough, they bravely step out into the light in order to effect change and to make a difference.
In the Andes mountains of Peru, between mudslides and murder, tension and poverty, a group of orphaned boys aged 8 to 28 have built homemade, rickety go-karts from salvaged pieces of wood to become the only emergency responders in a land that otherwise has little hope. They ride these go-karts down roads that hug mountain cliffsides to work as mechanics and lifesavers for stranded truckers. Their story is captured in the documentary “Los Bomberos (The Little Firemen),” by local filmmaker and director Quincy Perkins.
Despite the terrorizing conditions he encountered, Quincy captured brief moments of the boys’ innocence. One scene shows a little fireman dancing in the frame of a doorway before happily enjoying a dinner of fried fish at the table with his family. Another has a group of friends giggling at a wrinkled-up, newspaper cutout of a girl in a bikini. Even at the big city premier of the documentary, Quincy remembers them tossing popcorn at each other and laughing.
These snapshots of childhood are an important contrast to their cruel reality. We can learn a lot from them, that heroes are people just like you and me. The only difference is that they choose to make a difference instead of waiting for something to happen. Just like Quincy. To him, “film is an agent for change” and that’s exactly what “Little Firemen” is. The documentary is available for download on Amazon Video and is worth the 65 minutes of sub-titles. The pictures alone will compel you to reconsider your priorities.
I don’t mean to make this so much about the “Little Firemen” or to make this a humanitarian mission, but it would not be fair to write about Quincy without letting you see a little bit into his heart.
“Someone in Peru told me about them over a dinner. I was down there working on another project and heard about these kids. So, then I raised funds to go down and find them and film them,” he said. “They are like my family now.”
There is so much that he has accomplished. He worked in the Galapagos Islands as the national parks communications director. A once-in-a-lifetime adventure led to his “lucky break” in show business after serendipitously meeting Russell Crowe in Puerto Ayoro on Santa Cruz Island.
“He walked into a pizza place I was at and I was like, I know this guy,” he said. “So, I approached him and said ‘do we know each other,’ not realizing at first who he was.”
Either way, it worked. Quincy went on to become the personal translator for the movie “Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World,” before moving to Los Angeles to work with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Productions.
Quincy has brought all of his hard-earned experience to Key West, where he is director of development, including marketing and set direction, for the Key West Film Festival. The festival, which will run Nov. 15-19, focuses on capturing “Key West’s essence: creativity, diversity, sustainability and beauty.” Quincy The festival will announce its official program and this year’s selected films at the Waterfront Brewery today (Oct. 12) to a few discerning critics you may have heard of such as The New York Times and Rolling Stone Magazine as well as the curious public.
Quincy’s debut narrative, feature-length film and latest project, “Love in Youth,” will make its premier on the last day of the festival at the historic San Carlos Institute Theater. The movie was shot in Key West and involved 40 local businesses over eight months. Similar to but possibly more refined than the shocking 1990s indie cult flick “Kids,” this “very raw” head turner of two high school kids caught in a web of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, will have some people rising to their feet while others are left to squirm in their seats. I’ve watched the trailer on Vimeo and if “Love in Youth” is anything like “Little Firemen” it will be another example of Quincy’s fine filmmaking.
Quincy didn’t go to school for writing or directing. He is self-taught and driven. His degree in linguistics from Hobart and William Smith College in Finger Lakes, N.Y., is a far cry from the direction he is going these days.
He is back to living in his hometown where he finds the “best of stories.” Secondly, he is pushing the limits and is aiming high. He is ready to make bigger movies. As he continues to explore his talent, I hope that we can continue to see the honesty that I find in his films