Skateboard Film Pits Overtown Against Sistrunk

Go behind the scenes of this hood war.

"Vogue!" he demands to Lunch Money, pointing a blade at his throat. Lunch complies.

"Catwalk!" he tells Chadd, who obligingly does a few turns in the briefs.

When Lunch Money snickers, Chadd asks innocently: "What? You don't like SpongeBob?"

Director Cess Silvera wrote his own ticket out of the ghetto by coming up with ideas for screenplays.
Deirdra Funcheon
Director Cess Silvera wrote his own ticket out of the ghetto by coming up with ideas for screenplays.

Despite being novice actors, the boys have great physical control and natural comedic timing that makes even the veterans on the set snort with laughter. They are, undeniably, charming.

"He is so good!" Silvera whispers deliciously about each of the young actors at one time or another. "He is so fuckin' good, yo!"

The boys come out of the bathroom and into the library lobby — in their underwear — to watch the take on the video monitors. Patrons stare. A librarian peeps over her glasses.

"We're in the library!" Silvera hisses at the boys. "They're going to think we're shooting a porno!" And so it goes: a long cycle of takes and breaks, of scripted laughs and organic ones, until the film finally wraps — at 4 in the morning.

Silvera swears the movie will be in theaters by February, but folks who have been in this business for a long time restrain their optimism. Cliff Charles, the director of photography, has worked on numerous jobs with Spike Lee. He's seen his share of great films get shelved owing to one Tinseltown roadblock or another. "I've learned not to have expectations," he says cautiously.

Still, everyone else dares to dream.

Lunch Money is off to make a record, Lunch Time, but he entertains visions of "G.E.D. — the series." Chadd is headed back to high school in Miramar — but looks forward to Red Rat helping him launch his music career. Stringbean is, of course, composing a resumé and getting his headshots ready. And neighborhood staple Kool-Aid is certain that after the movie hits the screen and his band comes together, "We'll be playing the Hard Rock for $7,000 a night, instead of $700."

For Silvera, there are still months of editing ahead and distribution to secure, but no matter what happens at the box office, to everyone who shared those hot summer days in Sistrunk, the movie feels like it is already a mighty success. And even the tale of what happened behind the scenes — that too is a pretty cool story. About friendship.

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