John Moody is a filmmaker, planner, and designer who uses film to understand people’s lived experiences and help them reimagine their physical environment. With a background in Hollywood (including four seasons on the set of New Girl) and a master’s degree from MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, John champions the idea that media and storytelling can serve as critical tools to illuminate complexity and contradiction, create empathy among disparate groups, and stimulate collective action. He channels this philosophy in his work with Invisible Cities Studio, a film-based planning and design studio.
“Redemption Square” actually began as my city planning thesis project (see https://dspace.mit.edu/handle/1721.1/104985 for the full scoop). My original goal with it was to show how you could use filmmaking to transform the process of designing urban environments – drawing on film’s ability to represent subjective perceptions, memories, and imaginations – but the version I’d made by the time I graduated in 2016 was still pretty unwatchable. This final version is the result of many more months of interviewing, refining, and collaborating with my stars/narrators, Lorraine and Lisa, to create an experience that we’re super proud of.
I really hope this film can help to expand conversations about LA’s public life to include stories that are normally left out of the design process. I also hope it inspires civic-minded people to embrace film beyond its ability to inform or entertain, but for its potential to get audiences to see themselves in faces and places that they never expected to.