‘Chaining Day’ Highlights Youth Violence
Chris Bailey had been listening to Tupac for years. He loved the beats, the energy and the overall sound of the music since he was around 10 years old and “probably too young to be even listening” to the hip-hop great.
But it wasn’t until Bailey became a teenager that he started to closely pay attention to the lyrics. One line in particular from a song titled “Young N*ggaz” became forever etched in his memory.
“I want to dedicate this one to Robert ‘Yummy’ Sandifer and all the other lil’ young n*ggas that’s in a rush to be gangsters.”
Who is Robert ‘Yummy’ Sandifer?, Bailey thought.
Little did Bailey know, that Sandifer, whose name was once plastered across the cover of a 1994 issue of Time magazine, would inspire him to create a movie that would take a delicate, but harsh look into the youth violence that plagues our communities.
Bailey delved into the life of the 11-year-old Chicagoan murdered by members of his gang 20 years ago, and the result was Chaining Day.
We chatted with 26-year-old Bailey, the writer and producer of Chaining Day, and learned all about his experience and thoughts on saving our youth before the streets take them – like they took Sandifer. Find out what the filmmaker had to say, and check out the trailer for the 10-minute movie, which premiered at the LA Film Fest this year, at the end of the post.
JET: How would you describe Chaining Day?
Chris Bailey: Chaining Day is about a young boy, who commits an accidental murder. It causes a stir in the community and forces him to choose between the loyalty of the gang he belongs to and the remainder of what’s left of his innocence by turning himself into the police. It’s inspired by the Robert Sandifer story. It’s not directly Robert’s story, but it was inspired by it.
JET: When I hear Chaining Day, I think of a song from J. Cole’s last album. How’d you come up with the title for your movie?
CB: It was definitely an inspiration in writing this story. He’s one of my favorite artists and someone who I think embodies the spirit of Tupac. But it’s also actually an extension of Roc-A-Fella back when Jay Z and Dame Dash were together. When they got a new artist on the label, they would give them their chain and it would be called “chaining day.” You get your chain and it made everything official. You’re a part of the crew. I thought that concept was so powerful. The chain is such a representation of making it. That’s what people are attracted to – the power that it has and how it motivates people to do things.
JET: What types of challenges did you face in creating this project?
CB: The biggest challenge was probably just the limited amount of time. The film was produced through a program that I’m in called Project Impulse, which is a diversity fellowship with Film Independent. They select shorts every year to put in production. They give us almost a month to turn everything around. That was a difficult process. It’s already hard enough to try to make a film, but we had a lot of help.
JET: What’s been your greatest satisfaction?
CB: Prior to even going into production, we were auditioning people who would come in and tell me “I really appreciate you doing this story. I’m from Chicago.” His [Sandifer] story was such a big deal and meant so much to so many people. That feeling for me was amazing. It really started sinking in at that point…When you’re writing it, you’re not exactly sure what you’re gaining. But when you get that type of response from people, I think that’s a beautiful thing. I think that’s been my biggest satisfaction – people knowing and people caring.
JET: When people walk out of theaters after seeing your film, what messages do you want them to leave with?
CB: I want them to leave the theater with a mindset that youth and violence, especially gang violence, is a very current issue in this country. I want people to make that relevant and see what they can do to get more involved and put more attention on the youth. I want to inspire them to do something about the violence they see going on in their neighborhoods. In a world that isn’t shown all the time where young boys are being conditioned to become men before they’re ready, it’s important to show the harsh realities of that.
About Najja Parker
Najja Parker is a skilled multimedia journalist. Her work has been featured in various publications, such as SecondCityStyle.com and ChicagoTalks.org. She holds a BA in English and Theater from Spelman College and an MA in Journalism from Columbia College Chicago. When she’s not writing, you can find her playing in nail polish, creating some of the trendiest and coolest nail art designs. Check out her nail blog at NailsbyNajja.tumblr.com and follow her at @NajjaNotes.