One night Brooklyn filmmaker Keith Miller was out walking his dog when a young man named Shannon Harper stopped him and said, “Hey, that’s my dog.” Though initially skeptical, a long argument revealed that Keith’s dog was in fact Shannon’s lost puppy Prince (since re-named William). Struck by the complexities of race, class, and love that fueled their conversation, the next day Keith asked Shannon if he’d make a movie about the experience. Shannon wasn’t sure what to make of it but was intrigued enough to agree, and playing themselves, dog included, the short film PRINCE/WILLIAM premiered at the Rooftop Film Festival in the summer of 2010.
From that collaboration, Miller expanded on a range of true experiences, creating WELCOME TO PINE HILL with Harper as his star. Shooting long, improvised takes with an eclectic cast of both emerging talent and real people in a three-camera vérité style, PINE HILL follows Shannon Harper in a breakthrough performance as himself — a recently-reformed drug dealer on an odyssey from the crack house backyards of Brooklyn to the mountains of Upstate, NY, seeking transformation, transcendence, and freedom.
Shannon Harper is a Midtown claims adjuster by day and Williamsburg bouncer by night. He’s just begun to clean up his life when he learns earth-shattering news that compels him to return to the people and places of his past and experience life beyond the pavement. Whether settling old debts, reconnecting with his mother, or visiting former friends, Shannon is a quiet presence, and the film is an intimate window into the authentic cracks of light that fill his life. Longing to leave his concrete confines, Shannon travels upstate to Pine Hill where, alone in the unfettered wilderness, he finally experiences the freedom he seeks.