There are hundreds of thousands of documentaries throughout the world – especially branded mini-docos, they’ve been a fad for a number of years. So many of them feel the same – different subjects, same kind of content. This one, directed by Elisha Smith-Leverock, doesn’t. It’s visually striking and exciting with a challenging and extremely interesting subject – a walk on the wild side, creatively and in its subject matter.
It’s the story of Bronx NY creative collective, Ghetto Gastro’s, founder, John Gray, as he designs his company’s first glassware collab in Murano, Venice – a collection that takes inspiration from Gray’s previous experiences with crack. “This is a story of transformation and growth—from crack pipes to glass art,” Elisha Smith-Leverock stated.
Gray calls himself “the dishwasher”, an unassuming title for a man who has played a significant role in transforming the art of catering. To make the film, Smith-Leverock travelled to Venice to meet Gray and the team of world-class glass artisans working on his kitchenware collaboration, Triple Beam Dream, a name which is shared by a Rick Ross and Nas’ 2012 coke ballad. The film is underscored by a music track featuring Solange.
“Just like Ghetto Gastro and Jon himself, Triple Beam Dream challenges peoples’ perceptions,” stated Smith-Leverock. “It’s a Trojan Horse. A meticulously hand-crafted, hyper-luxurious, carefully designed re-imagination of glassware that Jon used to cook crack with.”
All of Gray’s projects share the philosophy that real creativity can be found on the streets, not just front row seats. Whether it’s drugs, social injustice or prejudice, Gray’s collective has made a name for itself by taking destructive narratives and forging something precious from the pain. A deconstructed apple pie with a chalk body outline aimed to bring attention to the Black Lives Matter movement. Lines of crushed coconut served on a mirror reference cocaine culture. Gray’s partners and co-founders have created culinary works of art for both soup kitchens and tech execs.
“It’s not uncommon for luxury items to be appropriated from things that come from the streets,” Smith-Leverock explained. “It’s far rarer that you see these ideas pushing into the luxury space created by people who have actually lived this reality. Jon and Ghetto Gastro are challenging ideas about who gets to tell these stories.
“Triple Beam Dream manages to compound a lot of what Ghetto Gastro is about, as well as reflecting Jon’s personal journey. It’s subversive, disruptive, uplifting and transformative – all at the same time. Jon and Ghetto Gastro stuck to their philosophy behind the camera as well, specifically choosing to work with a woman of colour, creating more opportunities for our voices to be heard.”
Aside from her film work, Elisha Smith-Leverock is deeply committed to championing diversity both on- and off-screen, as an artist and the ambassador for Free The Work in Germany. She is represented by production company, Lief, in a roster which promotes and celebrates inclusivity with its fifteen uniquely diverse talents.
Sound Design: Ben Smith-Leverock-Esser
Colourist: Jack McGinty
VFX: Selam X
Video Commissioner: Katie Metcalfe (Nowness)