Brad Pruitt, who spent a chunk of his childhood living in Milwaukee, received his first camera at age eight. Although as a young adult he attempted to work in finance and landed a job at the Chicago Board of Trade, Pruitt realized his true passion rests in music, art and film.
In 2007, Pruitt filmed "Mark My Words," a documentary that chronicles a day in the life of Milwaukee poets. The film explores the power of the spoken word and its ability to transform people and community.
"Mark My Words" is currently in its final post-production stage and will possibly screen at the Milwaukee Film festival this fall.
"After years of working on social issues, I wanted to do a project that still dealt with social issues but also appealed to the artist in me," says Pruitt. "This is a documentary about poets, but it's an ode to artists in general, from saxophonists to film editors."
The poets in the film are Shelly Davis, Muhibb Dyer, K-Love, Tonya Harris, Autumn Blaze, Dasha Kelly, Kwabena Antoine Nixon, Tina "Ms Jazzi" Pulley Nixon and Dan Vaughn. All of the poets are from Milwaukee, except the Chicago-based K-Love.
In 2000, Pruitt collaborated with Janet Fitch on a three-part series on gun violence called "Guns, Grief and Grace in America." Pruitt and Fitch co-wrote, produced and directed the series that takes an in-depth look at gun violence in the United States from a local, state and national perspective.
In 2002, Pruitt won his first Emmy by co-directing "In the Net," a made-for-TV film that received two Emmys. The following year, he and "In The Net" co-director Jim Friedman joined forces again with "Skin Complex," which earned five Emmys, including one for Outstanding Achievement in Direction. "Skin Complex" also earned a Telly Award in 2003.
In 2005, Pruitt created "Starting With Me," a film that highlights community building by working through issues like race, class, communication and respect. It was completed in 2006, and won two Telly Awards in 2007.
"Mark My Words" addresses issues that Pruitt feels strongly about, including non-artists' misconceptions of artists' lives, as well as Milwaukee's inability to recognize and showcase local talent.
"Through this film, I wanted to show how being an artist is a passionate and a calling. These are often times people who have a day job, a mortgage and family, and yet, they come to this venue, set up, break down, wake up for work the next morning, and all because of that passion and calling," he says.
Pruitt is one of a diverse group of industry professionals and public officials who took action when Wisconsin's film office closed in 2005 and helped to create a task force that led to the founding of Film Wisconsin, a public / private coalition dedicated to developing and promoting multi-media production in Wisconsin. Today, Pruitt is on the board of Film Wisconsin as a founding member.
"Like a lot of small and medium markets, we have identity issues in Milwaukee," says Pruitt. "We don't recognize our talent, and I find that a lot of this talent isn't realized until an artist leaves."
Pruitt says living outside of Milwaukee helped him to appreciate the city's offerings. For example, he said it wasn't until he moved back to the East Side that he realized how amazing it is to live near a large body of water.
"There are obvious social concerns here, but the city has a lot of the intrinsic value," he says.
Although Pruitt wrote and directed the film himself, he sees "Mark My Words" as a collaborative effort between himself, the poets and scores of others people including camera people, graphic designers and more.
"It's a very, very, very low budget project, and one of the things I am most proud of is the amount of donated time, effort and talents to this project," he says.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.