The idea of this story came from my own experience as a youngster growing up on the South Side of Chicago, where I was often the target of gang violence outside of my home. I, too, was the target of vicious and random acts of violence from my stepfather, he was a talented yet failed base guitarist who was addicted to cocaine.
I was an introverted, yet very imaginative child who often escaped my unpleasant surroundings by writing screenplays and transporting myself into the world of those stories. Overtime, as I became a teenage, escapism into those stories became increasingly difficult. My home became crowded with more children, the gangs became more violent, and I had nowhere to find safety and quiet to write and explore my imagination, until I found a dingy, dark hidden room within the basement which I envisioned as a cave.
My imagination came to life here like never before. But this soon ended, as my stepfather returned home from rehab and transformed my hidden room into a music room where he would use drugs and I became a target of a drive by shooting by the neighborhood gang. At this point, I had to take a stand to protect life, but more importantly, my dream. This meant standing up to the neighborhood gang and my stepfather. That is what I did.
This project is important because it captures the harsh reality that millions of African American boys are subjected within the inner-city communities across our nation. But more importantly, it is a story of how a young man who chose to fight back and not succumb to the pressures of his environment. This film will make people laugh, cry and root for a boy who was able to overcome formidable obstacles just to have the peace to pursue the life he wanted. This film will also show another side of the often negative images that many hold about black boys within the inner city. I am especially most qualified to tell this story because it is based on my own experience.
So, I bring a firsthand connection to this film. Moreover, I have a command of the details and emotions of this story that has enabled me to use to inspire hundreds of teenage students, teachers, and adults I have worked with over 17 years working in public education.
While this story is a very urban story, the visual approach will make it very unique. While it is similar to films like Boys In the Hood, but it included science fiction images like the ancestral plane, as Ali moves to and from his imagination. This makes the film more than just another urban movie, it makes it is an urban odyssey with quite a bit of science fiction. Because Ali is transported into his imagination throughout, the film will also feature a very layered film with a story with varied elements that connects and progress the story.