This is the third installment in our series of snapshots of locals on the Venice Beach boardwalk, featuring jewelry shop owner Fred Opuki and talent agent Bob Dixon. Click here to see Part 1 and Part 2.

Fred Opuki sells handmade African jewelry in Venice Beach.

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LARB A.V. INTERN Jared Zook learned a crucial lesson when he first got to LA: if you don’t have a car, befriend someone who does. The resourceful Zook, in seeking a suitable subject for his next film project, seized upon a buddy who drove to Venice three times a week, and Zook was quickly drawn to the strange world of the beach and the boardwalk.

Over the course of two months, Zook compiled over a dozen interviews, and LARB A.V. has chosen six to publish, which we’ll release over the next two weeks. We’re calling it First Takes, a series of unrehearsed, intimate portraits of locals on the Venice boardwalk. Zook and the A.V. team agreed that it was crucial to find a diverse set of voices, and our chosen six include a hip-hop preacher, an immigrant skateboarder, a talent agent, a bookstore owner, a photographer, and an African jewelry vendor. Each subject offers a glimpse into their world, and together they make up a lively ecosystem on the boardwalk. Together they tell a broad story of the Venice boardwalk, and share different perspectives on some of the hot topics in the neighborhood, including Venice’s history and its current gentrification.

Above all, the draw for Zook was in the process. “I’ve wanted to do a man-on-the-street style documentary for a while,” he says, something he hadn’t really done despite an impressive body of commercial and music video work. He was excited and nervous to approach strangers, and learned quickly that it was tougher than it seemed. “It ended up being much more challenging than I imagined. It’s not too difficult once you break that initial wall, but it’s intimidating and awkward at first.”

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Bob Dixon is the founder of 7 Artist Management (7AM), representing photography, video and mixed media arts.

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