By Ian Round

Filmmakers Blayre Pichon and Toroes Thomas believe the mainstream media erases the history and culture associated with Mardi Gras, equating it with drunken revelers on Bourbon Street. That is not real Mardi Gras, they say.

“Mardi Gras is about family. It’s the epitome of the celebration of New Orleans,” Pichon (left, in the courtesy photo above) said. “We want to talk about things that have been suppressed by the media.”

Pichon and Thomas have begun a fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo for a feature-length documentary, titled The People of Mardi Gras. They’ve asked for $15,000 and received $695 as of time of publication, but are going to New Orleans on Nov. 3 no matter what.

Both filmmakers are from Maryland and graduated from Morgan State University, where they met. The two have made a handful of shorter films in various genres, but The People of Mardi Gras is their first feature-length documentary. Pichon’s resume includes a trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she made a short film on NBA player Bismack Biyombo’s community service efforts in his native country. Thomas has also had the opportunity to film abroad, including in Africa, China, and the Dominican Republic, according to information on the filmmakers’ IndieGoGo page.

Pichon’s family is from New Orleans and moved to Calvert County when she was a baby. Though half a continent away, her family stayed connected to its roots.

“I grew up on the East Coast, but on those back roads of Lusby, the Pichon house was Southern,” she says in the promotional video on the IndieGoGo page for the film. “My daddy used to say, ‘y’all need to know y’all people, you gotta know where you came from.’”

Though Pichon and her family visited New Orleans every summer throughout her childhood, her first Mardi Gras was in 2013. Her younger brother has not yet seen the city during the holiday, and she said the film will be loosely based on that experience as it unfolds.

Thomas said this documentary will include a mix of storytelling techniques; they will narrate, but the characters will tell their own stories as well. He said they will shoot from the moment they arrive until after Mardi Gras, and will begin the editing process next fall. They will begin with Pichon’s family and then branch out.

“We really want to go in and get deep into the city to see how the communities are involved,” Thomas said. “We want to show a behind-the-scenes look at Mardi Gras, like real Mardi Gras.”

This story was originally published by, on Oct. 27, 2016.