Akron Public Schools has inked a deal with a New York City production company to document the first year of the LeBron James-backed I Promise School.

The school board approved an agreement this week with Blowback Productions to produce a feature-length documentary "capturing the successes, struggles and endeavors" of students.

Blowback, founded in 1988 by independent filmmaker Marc Levin, has produced more than 20 films, including "Baltimore Rising," "Cadillac Records," "SLAM" and "WhiteBoyz." Many of its projects have focused on race, drugs and crime.

The I Promise School, a partnership between the LeBron James Family Foundation and Akron Public Schools, opened in late July and is designed to help at-risk children with a curriculum focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Filming already has started at the school.

The school district provided a copy of the 13-page agreement to the Beacon Journal/Ohio.com on Wednesday. The deal doesn't involve any money for the district, other than Blowback paying normal rental and facility fees in some cases.

Under the agreement, the film will premiere in Akron. It doesn't mention a specific venue or when the documentary will be completed or released.

It's unclear whether the film has a name. Blowback didn't respond Wednesday morning to an email seeking comment and the agreement doesn't spell out a working title.

The foundation declined to comment, saying a formal announcement would come later.

The agreement indicates that the film will spotlight students, as opposed to teachers. It says the goal is to show a "year in the life of the school with the hope of creating a multifaceted and nuanced portrait of the students and their endeavor to achieve academic and innovative excellence."

In the film, the school must be referred to as "the I Promise School at the Akron Public Schools" or "IPS at APS," according to the deal. It also prohibits the producer from making any defamatory or disparaging remarks about the school district, and allows the superintendent and other school leaders to preview the final version.

Producers agreed to listen to, "in good faith," any concerns from the district about the film before it's released, but the district doesn't have any "right of approval over any element of the content or any aspect of the film." The documentary makers also are required to receive signed consent and release forms from students and adults shown in the documentary.

The deal bars Blowback from filming in bathrooms, locker rooms, health offices, a sensory room, and at meetings about students with special educational needs.

School Board President Patrick Bravo couldn't be reached for comment.

Oscar-winning director Morgan Spurlock had been connected with the documentary, but his agreement was terminated last year after he admitted that he may have raped a date in college and settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a female assistant.

 

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.