Put Down the Guns and Shoot the Cameras
This article appeared in the Summer 2014 News from the Village.
As a high school senior, Vaughan Thorpe was arrested for robbery, trading his prom and graduation for a prison sentence. Thorpe was convicted as an adult and served on Riker’s Island alongside adult men. “I was literally attached to these men, and they could do anything they want. It was uncomfortable on so many levels. They take your pride from you first.”
Thorpe is now part of CV’s Harlem Justice Community Program, which helps youth on parole prepare for a future that doesn’t involve prison. Thorpe and others in the program filmed a documentary of their stories to help deter teens from making the same mistakes they made. When asked why he wanted to make this film, called One Last Chance, Thorpeshook his head, weary beyond his 22 years, and said, “I got tired. I got so tired.”
One of the young filmmakers, Cadeem Gibbs, started selling drugs for a gang when he was in middle school. He spent six years in “big boy jail” starting when he was only 16. As the breadwinner for his family, he was trapped, forced back onto the streets each time he attempted to return to school. Even after being shot, Gibbs walked away from the hospital back to his street corner. Gibbs hopes telling his story will educate other teens at risk of incarceration.
“I wanted to be part of the solution, not the problem,” Gibbs explained.
Addressing the large crowd gathered for the premier of the film, Thorpe, the 22-year old filmmaker and former prison inmate said, “The world would be a better place if more people picked up an 8mm lens and put the 9mm guns down.”
One Last Chance, which can be viewed at childrensvillage.org/one-last-chance, was filmed on the streets of Harlem. When asked how he selected the backdrop for his story, Thorpe said, “This isn’t a backdrop. This is my life. After I
leave here, I’m going back to that same backdrop – my home.”