A prolific Chicago based producer I know asked me why I was making this film, he didn’t want me to answer right there, he wanted me to be thinking about it. The why is important because it’s the fuel that helps you get through the process, when things get hard it pushes you to see things through. I watched an episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks, it’s like the Kardashians for men. This season they followed the Cleveland Browns and on one episode a player wanted his teammates to write down why they play football. He told them to write it down and post it somewhere they can see it, either in the bathroom mirror, on the ceiling above their bed. He wanted them to see it so they know why they’re doing all this. I didn’t think watching the Browns would be interesting, for one I’m a Niners fan, five super bowl titles mofos.
I’m shooting three shorts and a feature. It’s really ambitious but since I’ve moved to Chicago (actually the northwest suburbs) I’ve been surprised how much I love this city. There’s so much going on and the people are great but there’s one glaring issue, gang violence. There’s a tragedy every day and it’s usually on the south or west side. I feel like the kids there go through so much, it isn’t fair that in a city as great as Chicago has teenagers fearing they could be shot at any time. My wife worked for a non profit called Literature for All of Us, it’s a book group program that goes to at-risk high schools. She let me read their poems and most of them are about surviving the streets. A lot of them suffer from post-traumatic stress (PTSD) I hate that they have to go through that. I want them to see that even though that’s going on in their immediate environment there are opportunities for them.
My why is the next generation coming up, I want to inspire them to be great. I want them to know I have their back and I love them. I want people from the outside to understand what they go through and why they make the choices they make.
If we are a product of our environment maybe my films can shed light on this subject and cause people to help solve this issue. These are more than films, I want to spark a movement. Can you imagine a Chicago where our teens are safe in their neighborhoods and achieve the same kinds of educational success as their white counterparts? I can.