Luke Eberl walked into the caged-in, deserted freedom of speech zone outside Denver’s Pepsi Center on Wednesday. The only object that occupied the parking lot was a schedule for Monday’s protests — not really what he wanted.
The independent filmmaker from Los Angeles has been in Denver since Thursday documenting the Democratic National Convention on a grant from a Buddhist organization that wants to tell the story of the DNC’s Meditation ’08 events.
But the thing that really interests the former Boulder resident is the political culture in the streets.
He didn’t bother with credentials to the Pepsi Center. He sticks to downtown Denver, covering everything from the crazy to the calm.
He brings his crew into abandoned parking lots to show that protesters don’t follow city directions, and he jumps in front of rioters as they swarm the streets of LoDo this week.
Monday, after the leader of a conspiracy theory group chased a Fox News reporter down Colfax Avenue at a protest, Denver police detained Eberl and his film crew for more than an hour.
“It’s actually a relief to not be in the middle of a riot right now,” he told his dad, Dennis Eberl, who is helping him with the project, later Wednesday as they filmed a line of peaceful protesters.
But the peaceful protests are not without excitement for Eberl. He loves everything that is politics – from small political demonstrations to interviewing influential political figures.
“There’s an electricity in this city that’s just amazing,” he said. “It’s like a little politics summer camp right now. . We’re kind of showing it as it really happens in the street.”
The days covering the DNC for Eberl and his crew are not short or easy. They get up at 7 a.m. to drive from Boulder to Denver, and stay up until midnight shooting and editing video.
Tuesday, the heads on his video camera broke, forcing him to run around Denver making phone calls to camera rental companies to find the best deal — $225 for the cheapest one.
But in the end, it’s all worth it to him for the colorful shots he gets of protesters and Denver’s political community.
“It’s like making films where I have all the cash for the best costumes and sets,” he said. “I’m gonna have withdrawals when this is over.”
Eberl also acts and makes fiction films. He played the character of Lucas Elliot in Clint Eastwood’s “Letters from Iwojima.”
His feature, “Choose Connor,” will open in select cities this fall.
News Managing Editor Aaron Hedge can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.