Specific Pictures
Specific Pictures | documentary films & multimedia
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Tagline_This Home Won't Break

The Trailer

The Story

As a teenager, Daisy watched her sister get shot to death in the driveway of her family’s house, and Max was in and out of gangs and prison before changing his life. Now they work as a team, intervening in street violence and gang disputes before they turn deadly – all while raising a new baby. But Max’s past brings the FBI to their door and he suddenly disappears into the federal prison system. And Daisy must fight – like never before – to save her family.

Set in the part of Los Angeles popularly known as South Central, Daisy and Max reveals the long shadows of mass incarceration and correctional control on families, and the lives of women who will risk everything to make their communities just a little safer.


2015, 53 minutes, English w/some Spanish

The Team


Daisy Gomez |Main Character

works as family preservation counselor in Los Angeles, where she has focused much of her career on working with youth and families affected by multi-generational gang involvement. A first-generation Mexican American, she has a Masters in Forensic Psychology and is currently studying for her doctorate in counseling.


Jennifer Maytorena Taylor | Director/Producer 

makes character-based films about real people with extraordinary stories, often with Latino themes and Spanish-language content. Jennifer’s previous films include the award-winning documentaries New Muslim Cool, Special Circumstance, Paulina, Home Front, Immigration Calculations, Ramadan Primetime, and many short films, web projects, and co-productions. Her work has been shown at venues such as the Sundance and Locarno Film Festivals, the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, the New York Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum, and by broadcasters such as PBS, Sundance Channel, and NHK-Japan. She has had fellowships at the Banff Centre for the Arts and Sundance Documentary Institute, and teaches production at the University of California, Santa Cruz.


Sandra Valde-Hansen | Director of Photography 

was recently named one of the “Generation Next” cinematographers by the International Cinematography Guild. As well as shooting documentaries for Al Jazeera America (Daisy and Max), PBS (Tales of Masked Men, Street Knowledge 2 College) and MTV (House of Style), Sandra has over fifteen independent feature credits. Collaborating with indie darling director Gregg Araki, Sandra lensed Kaboom, an official selection at the Cannes Film Festival and Sundance Film Festival. She then reteamed with Araki on another Sundance premiere feature, White Bird in a Blizzard, starring Shailene Woodley and Eva Green. Sandra teaches in at the American Film Institute, where she also earned an MFA.


Linda Peckham  | Editor 

is a freelance documentary editor in the Bay Area, cutting long form verite and character driven stories. Many of the award-winning documentaries she edits have social justice themes, and have been broadcast nationally and screened at festivals. She has a BA in Film and an MFA in Writing, has taught the art of editing and published film criticism essays.


Rachel Neubeck | Field Producer 

is a producer, director, editor and camera operator whose work spans television and sports, documentaries, commercials, and web series. Career highlights include: filming low-income kids as they perform at the White House for the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, following a man as he barters bacon across the country for the Oscar Meyer Great American Bacon Barter, and producing EPK videos from the largest outdoor water tank in the world for the feature film Against the Sun. Rachel currently works Fox Sports UFC as a staff producer, creating 30-minute features.


Stephen Talbot | Executive Producer 

has written and produced some 40 documentaries for PBS, including 10 films for the acclaimed public affairs series, FRONTLINE. He is also the creator and executive producer of the PBS music show, Sound Tracks: Music Without Borders. His work has won nearly every major broadcast award, including multiple Emmys, Peabodys and DuPonts.


Jesse Borrego | Narrator 

is known for his roles as Cruz Candelaria in Blood In Blood Out, Jesse V. Valesquez in Fame, Gael Ortega in 24, and George King in Dexter. Additional projects include La Mission, Mi Vida Loca, Follow Me Home, New York Stories, and Con Air, and the acclaimed ABC television series American Crime.


Amatus Sami-Ali | Composer 

is a designer, actor, singer and multi-instrumentalist and producer. Her debut EP Broken Compass has been featured on tastemaker blogs such as Pigeons and Planes, AfroPunk, Obscure Sound, Hollywood Playlist, OkayPlayer, and The Source. She recently completed sound design and scoring duties for the debut of Dominique Morrisseau’s Obie Award winning play Sunset Baby at Philip Seymour Hoffman’s award-winning, Labyrinth Theater Group. Amatus has also collaborated with artists Meshell Ndegeocello, Roy Hargrove, Andy Baldwin, and scored projects and performed for PBS, Georgia Shakespeare Festival and 651 Arts, and Rooftop Films.


Al Jazeera America

Daisy and Max was commissioned for Al Jazeera America Presents, an original series featuring provocative, timely documentaries and series from acclaimed filmmakers around the globe.


Al Jazeera America Presents airs nation-wide on Sunday nights at 10 EST/7 PST, with repeat broadcasts the following Saturdays at 10 EST/7PST and Video on Demand streaming for AJAM subscribers.


Al Jazeera America is available in more than 64 million homes in the U.S. on Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DirecTV Channel 347, Dish Network Channel 216, Verizon FiOS Channel 614 and AT&T U-Verse Channel 1219.


Headquartered in New York City with bureaus in 12 cities across the United States, Al Jazeera America carries an award-winning mix of live news, special programming, documentaries and more.


To find Al Jazeera America in your area, visit www.aljazeera.com/getajam

The Backstory

Daisy after the raid

Daisy and Max is not the film I had planned to make.

Originally, I had set out to explore the quest for the “American Dream” through Daisy and Max’s work in gang intervention in some of the most murderous parts of South Los Angeles, where mass incarceration and extreme correctional control only serve to perpetuate vicious cycles of lost opportunity and violence.


Max was a former gang member with a pretty rough past, and Daisy was a victim of gang violence who had become a mental health professional and was now studying for a doctorate in counseling.

Max holding Sarah

They had just had a baby named Sarah, and agreed to film with me over a summer. We were planning to explore how Daisy and Max balanced being new parents with working in a sometimes dangerous and often emotionally draining field – helping kids realize the simplest of dreams, of getting to adulthood alive.


But four days before we were set to start filming, Daisy texted me that our project was off. The FBI had just raided their house in the middle of the night, broken their door in, arrested Max on three-year old, minor drug charges – and then called the County social workers to take Sarah into what they called “protective custody.”

A few days later, we did start filming after all.

Daisy and Max both decided they had nothing to hide, and wanted their story told. My core crew and I (all women) spent every moment that we could with Daisy that summer – often filming but just as often simply being with her as she was coping with the terror of losing her family, and fighting to get Sarah back from a cold and confusing system.


We were never able to get Max on-camera because he had essentially disappeared once he was arrested, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons refused all my requests to film him after he started serving a lengthy sentence at a medium security prison.


Daisy took me to visit Max a couple of times as a family friend, and I finally got permission to visit the prison with a pen and paper for our only “official” interview. He and I talked on the phone and emailed several times too, and that was how I got the material to write the narration for the wonderful actor Jesse Borrego.


Ultimately I’m glad that Daisy, Max, Liz and all the other people in the film saw this project through. I had wanted to explore the resilience and full humanity of people who work every day make their world a little better, in the best ways they can, flaws and all. I hope we still did that with this story, despite the terrible turn of events that changed it.


– Jennifer Maytorena Taylor

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