In 1995, an indie film was released worldwide, becoming a cult classic in time. When Kids first came out in cinemas, everyone was talking about it, and by that, I’m not just referring to movie audiences and film buffs. The film created a storm of controversy, given the many themes and disturbing moments shown throughout. These include sexual acts, violence, profanity, drugs, alcohol, and intense scenes. Kids (1995) was filmed in a documentary style, making the film look highly realistic as it follows various teenagers.
Twenty- six years after Kids was released, We Were Once Kids looks at the original cast in the present day and takes a deep dive into various facts, trivia and how the film came to be. Many viewers have often wondered how a movie like Kids ever got made in the first place, given its themes and content. Others have pondered how these young actors got leading roles that required them to do such horrifying things on-screen. However, before we learn about the cast in the present day, we get a chance to fully understand their life before these young kids become actors in a highly successful film.
We Were Once Kids includes plenty of interviews that were conducted in the past and present. These include Hamilton Harris, Harold Hunter, Jamal Simmons, Priscilla Forsyth, Peter Bici, Javier Nunez, and Jon Abrahams. We learn that once upon a time, New York City had at least fifty-six thousand homeless men and children wandering the streets. During this time, the cast of Kids lived in poverty and on the streets. Before they were hired for Kids, they were living a life of skating and hanging around local places. Skating, smoking, and drinking alcohol allowed these young kids to escape their present lives and distract them from thinking about their future, which wasn’t looking good.
One day, an older man named Larry Clark began hanging around the young kids and was even spotted photographing and filming them. Earning acceptance in the skateboard community, Larry would even offer weed to the young kids while at the same time copying their fashion sense and learning about their style and way of life. Soon, it was revealed that Larry Clark was a film director looking for his next big idea. At first, he was interested in making a skateboarding film but soon came up with a concept that would change cinema forever.
Director Larry Clark and a nineteen-year-old co-writer, Harmony Korine, decided to create a film focusing on kids in their teen years crashing through life without supervision. Casting calls were made, and small sums of money were offered to those who accepted. The cast would consist of kids who couldn’t afford a meal. Starring in a motion picture feature gave many of them hopes and dreams for their future. While making the film, the kid actors would go with the flow and become careless. Many scenes include the cast being high, drunk, and doing various sexual acts. However, for the cast who starred in the film, the impact and consequences were more significant than anyone expected. Some had their eyes on the prize of possible fame and considered that perhaps they had hit the big time. Ultimately, Kids cost one and a half million dollars USD to make and would later gross a total of twenty-two million.
Overall, while I’ve never seen the film Kids (1994), We Were Once Kids is a documentary that takes a deep dive into the lives of the film’s main cast before their fame. We get to learn about their lives before their fame, the entire experience of making Kids, and the shocking and heartbreaking aftermath. This is another well-made documentary from Eddie Martin that successfully includes footage from both past and present. The pacing is great, as are the impressive cuts and edits. Given the themes, there are plenty of touching and sad moments. Loaded with great trivia and fascinating details, this feature left me feeling significantly impacted and heavy-hearted.
We Were Once Kids (2021) is Available in Australian Cineams from June 1st!