The 2011 documentary "Lift Up" tells stories of the aftermath from the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The film, a winner of several independent festival awards, is now available for online viewing.
Andrew Bly, a Milton native and co-founder of The Molecule, a New York City visual effects firm, produced "Lift Up."
Bly's first production, 2008's "Adventures for the Cure," followed three men on a cross-country bike ride as they raised funds for diabetes research and the construction of a Kenyan schoolhouse.
Milton native Andrew Bly produced “Lift Up,” a documentary that shows the aftermath of the 2010 Haitian earthquake. The film is available for streaming at liftupmovie.com.
"I do these [documentaries] on the side as passion projects," Bly said. "Too much time passes and there's not a side project going, you want to do something."
Bly, with co-directors Huguens Jean and Philip Knowlton, wanted to tell a different story about the Haitian disaster.
"Everyone was just worried about getting the footage of devastation and getting the really sad stuff," he said. "They weren't used to people coming in and just pointing the camera and saying 'Tell us your story, just tell us what you want to say' - after a while people really opened up."
"Lift Up" has elicited a positive response from those directly affected by the earthquake.
"We just found out that last Thursday (Jan. 12), the anniversary of the earthquake, national TV in Haiti aired ("Lift Up")," Bly said. "We started getting e-mails from all these different people, thanking us, saying they saw the documentary and it inspired them."
Bly performed his production responsibilities from a distance.
"I personally wasn't able to go on the trip because we were in the final season for 'Rescue Me,' " he said. "Traveling to a devastated area, you gotta worry about protections, when you're traveling somewhere where no one had ever been before."
The film crew was on the ground and shooting within two weeks of the disaster. The team approached the project with an open mind.
"We didn't set out with the story we were going to cover," Bly said. "(Jean, a Haitian native) was disappointed with what he'd seen on TV being here, because everything broadcast on TV here wasn't the Haiti that he knew. We wanted to go down and give the people a chance to tell their story without giving it that journalistic curve."
After graduating Milton Area High School in 2002, Bly spent a year at Full Sail University, Orlando, Fla., where he earned an associate degree in film, and then moved to New York City.
Bly scored an internship with a prominent music video production company, where he met Knowlton, then spent about a year with Brooklyn hip-hop trio Beastie Boys as a production coordinator. At the time, the group was making a video for every song on their album, "To the 5 Boroughs."
In 2005, Bly left the Beastie Boys to found The Molecule. Since then, the firm has worked on a number of television shows, including FX Network's "Rescue Me," their first large project, as well as "The League," "Louie," "Damages" and the upcoming NBC show "Smash."
"We're primarily a visual effects company, not the special effects," Bly said. "We'll work with productions early on, even in the script stages, to say 'yeah, this is how you shoot them' so we can do our work."
Bly's time in the film business has given him a first-hand perspective on celebrities and how they handle fame.
"J-Lo, U2, Puff Daddy, Eminem, they all have that Hollywood-type attitude, where there's a sea of entourage around them; everyone is waiting for just them," Bly said. "My time with the Beastie Boys was really refreshing. Adam (Yauch) would skateboard to the office every day after walking his daughter to school in the morning -they treated every single person that they worked with all at the same level." "Lift Up" is available for streaming at liftupmovie.com, and will be made available on Amazon, Netflix and Hulu in coming weeks.