Documentary Website: www.kingofoakstreet.com
Documentary filmmakers and long-time fans of New Orleans culture, George Hamilton and Andrew Scott, had seen Frenchy paint live all over town, and approached him about capturing it on film. But it wasn’t until they visited his gallery and saw the scene surrounding him – musicians, artists, friends, and strangers drawn in by this captivating character from Boston – that they realized not only was Frenchy talented, but he had a story to tell.
Overtures were made and discussions begun, but nothing came of it until one day in August 2005 Frenchy called to say he’d been named King of Oak Street, the reigning king of the annual Mid-Summer Mardi Gras (the Mardi Gras for the locals), and that the film crew had better get down there within 5 days to begin the documentary. Little did anyone know it would also turn out to be the fateful weekend of Hurricane Katrina.
The crew returned to New Orleans numerous times, and went on the road with Frenchy to do benefits for displaced artists and musicians. Over the course of two years, the filmmakers’ love and admiration for New Orleanians and the Oak Street community grew even more, and the film became not just a story of Frenchy and his recovery, but of New Orleans’ rebirth as well. Along the way in King Of Oak Street, you’ll meet Crescent City musical royalty, and experience the sights, sounds and smells of America’s most unique city. We hope you’ll gain an understanding of what drew Frenchy here, why he’s never leaving, and why the city itself cannot be forgotten.
When it came time for narration, Frenchy suggested longtime WWOZ fixture and counter-cultural icon, the legendary John Sinclair (of John Lennon and MC5 fame), who was more than happy to participate, having been a frequent performer at the Frenchy gallery. The filmmakers were thrilled to have John lend his inimitable voice and perspective to the project.
In August 2008, three years to the day of beginning filming, a special “cast and crew” screening was held at the Maple Leaf.