16-year old Jordan Coleman is already creating a buzz in the film industry. Like most teens, Coleman loves to travel, play video games, attend sporting events and watch movies. He is an honor roll student and athlete. But what sets this teen apart from others his age is that Coleman is also a nationally-renowned filmmaker. Having already won several prestigious film awards, Coleman is set to premiere his latest film, Payin’ the Price, in Baltimore on Feb. 24, 2012 from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the Set the Captives Free Outreach Center. In Payin’ the Price, Coleman tackles the harsh reality of teen dating violence.
I had the opportunity to interview Jordan Coleman and am pleased to share what this young man had to say about his films, his life and his family.
LP: What inspired you to produce the movie, Payin’ the Price?
JC: I was inspired by the 2009 Chris Brown and Rihanna incident. I didn’t have an opinion on who was right or wrong, but I was raised not to hit girls. So naturally, I was surprised when people were saying Chris Brown did nothing wrong. Everyone had an opinion. Whether I was at school, at the barber shop or with my friends, everyone had an opinion about it. It was the first time I had ever heard about dating violence and the same goes for most kids who were in the 8th grade at that time. I googled teen dating violence and learned that 1 in 3 teens are affected by it in some kind of way. I knew I wanted to make a film about it.
LP: Who is your target audience for this movie?
JC: My target audience [for this film include] teens, parents and teachers.
LP: What message do you hope movie goers will gain by watching the movie?
JC: More than people taking away one message, I want the film to spark a conversation about teen dating violence. I want kids (girls and boys) who are experiencing teen dating violence to speak up and get out, which is the name of my film tour. My website www.speakupandgetout.com offers help and information to teens. Dating violence is not just physical, it’s also mental like when someone tries to control you.
LP: What impact do you hope this movie will have on teens in Baltimore?
JC: First, I want teens, parents and educators in Baltimore to open up and talk about teen dating violence. I hope teens enjoy the film and they think it’s a realistic portrayal of our generation. Most importantly, I want teens and younger kids to know that I am just an average kid with big dreams and if I can make films, they can too. I was able to get my mom and grandparents to help me financially. Everyone might not be able to do that, but everyone has a video on their cell phone or on their camera. It may be a lot harder to make a film with a cellphone or camera, but it’s not impossible.
LP: What type of responses have you received from teens around the nation?
JC: Most of the teens who’ve seen my film really like it. I’ve gotten some new friends on Facebook and Twitter, but sometimes the audience’s response to my film surprises [me]. I was at a screening recently and the audience supported the bad guy more than the victim. In a conversation after the movie, they said she was lying. That shocked me, but it opened up the conversation for others to get involved, and we had a good dialogue going.
LP: What type of response have you received from adults regarding this movie?
JC: Parents and dating violence experts seems to be happy that I made the film. Most parents don’t want to admit it, but teens have a great influence on each other. Sometimes a teen will be more willing to talk to another teen or take advice from another teen than their own parents because we are all in the same boat. My friends come to me for advice all the time. I don’t know all the answers and sometimes I go to my mom and get advice for my friends. The key is that parents have to have a good relationship with their kids. My mom and me are very close, and I don’t think there is anything we can’t talk about. She’s always honest with me, even when I don’t want the truth. She is my reality check.
LP: What do you feel is the significance, if any, of you as a young Black male producing this particular movie?
JC: Well, I am proud of myself for doing something positive and for trying to make a difference in the world. I don’t know if there is a significance based on my race or not, but I am proud to be a young Black male who is trying to do the right thing in life. My grandfather recently passed away. He was a father figure to me. He taught me everything about being a good person and working hard to reach a goal. He grew up poor … never knew his father, but he didn’t settle for the life he experienced as a child. He wanted more, so he became a police officer and retired Lieutenant of Detectives of the Prosecutor’s Office. He helped a lot of people. In our community, he was loved and respected. He was the man. One day, I would like to be the man in the same way that my grandfather was.
LP: How can people support your latest film effort?
JC: People can help the film by following me on Twitter @filmmakerjordan, liking my film on Facebook, spreading the word about my trailer on YouTube and most importantly, by booking screenings of my film. I am on a mission to get the word out about my film.
LP: What inspired you to become a filmmaker?
JC: When I was 10 years old, I was the voice of Tyrone the Moose on the Backyardigans [a cartoon that aired on Nickelodeon]. I got paid to do the voice, but my mom said I couldn’t keep all the money … I wanted to buy sneakers and video games, but mom said I had to use the money to help make a positive contribution to my community. I thought she was crazy, but it was the best thing I ever did. I made my first film Say It Loud. It was about the importance of education for African-American boys. [The film] had interviews with Kobe Bryant, Ludacris, Master P, Michael Strahan, Rev. Al Sharpton and other famous black men. The film did very well. I made it because I’ve always done well in school and was in advanced classes, but there were never a lot of African-American boys in my classes. I wanted to make a movie to encourage boys who look like me that school is cool.
LP: What steps have you taken to prepare for the discipline of film making?
JC: I am not always disciplined because I am a teen, a normal teen. What helps me is that I worked on a cartoon. I did commercials and modeled at a young age. [Those experiences] helped me to be patient and have discipline because there is a lot of sitting around on the set.
When I was in elementary school, I went to my grandparents’ house every day after school and they had a routine for me. We had a snack. I did homework, watched TV, and went to practice for whatever sport I was playing. Then, my mom came home from work and picked me up. So, having a routine helped me to be disciplined. I try to use that same discipline with everything I do. It’s about having my priorities in the right order. My first priority is my school work, then film work, then sports and staying normal by being with my friends.
I write an outline for my films which is about 25 pages, and then my mother helps me figure out the twists and turns. I add the dialogue, and my mom goes in and corrects all the characters and English. Then, I go behind her and add some slang and then mom writes the screenplay. I go through it again and make sure the screenplay will entertain, enlighten and educate the teen audience.
My 10-year-old brother, Justin, is part of the process, too. He has an opinion about everything. He’s more like a 30-year-old, so he is very helpful. He came up with the title Payin’ The Price and the tagline: A Love So Good It Hurts. I think he’s been here before. Justin is an old soul. He’s also working on a script for a short film we are going to do together about bullying.
LP: What are your life goals? Where do you see yourself in five years?
JC: I am a junior in high school, right now. I graduate next year and will go to college. I am looking at American University, Syracuse, University of Pennsylvania, University of Maryland, Emerson College and California State University – Berkley. I’d like to major in communications and film. Then, enter a film program in grad school. But while I am in school, I plan to continue making films over my summer breaks.
My goal is to make a film every two years. I just wrapped up a script for my third film, Just In Case. It’s about sexting, high school football and Hollywood. All of my films will have a social message or include problems in the society that affect teens.
- CLICK HERE to R.S.V.P. to attend the premiere of Payin’ the Price on Feb. 24, 2012 at Set the Captives Free Outreach Center from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m.
- Visit http://speakupandgetout.com/ for more details regarding how you can join the discussion about teen dating violence.