If at any time you ever felt that 18 minutes wasn’t enough time to do something that served meaning or purpose within a day, Dennis Chandler has successfully proved you wrong with his new project “Dear America.”
Chandler, heavily impacted by the senseless killing of Alton Sterling, found himself brainstorming on ways to bring his hurt to the forefront in a positive manner.
Dennis states, “I wanted to really gather, who I believe were influential people, not only in my life, but some people who are influential in other’s lives. I also wanted to give, people who would kind of bring a different state of opinion.”
In a string of vignettes, Chandler works to support the Black Lives Matter Movement by proposing solutions and highlighting some of the issues and injustices that African-Americans face. Bringing Dear America to the YouTube platform, Dennis and Executive Producer Elliott Lee created apiece, accessible to the masses that is expressive in the struggle of Blacks searching for equality in the land of the free.
Dear America advises the country to embrace love, reach out, and know your rights, amongst other hard-hitting plea’s. Lee states “It’s a visual letter to America if you will, but also black culture coming from African-Americans in our perspective.”
Both Dennis and Elliott, 2012 graduates of Virginia State University created the film in a quick span of two months to keep the current tragedies resulting from police brutality still fresh for their audience. “People’s names tend to become a hashtag, and then they get distracted by something else, so we wanted to pull something together within a good time frame, to make it really still relevant.
Traveling up and down the length of Virginia to obtain the footage, handling production costs production, even going as far as to drive feed the cast and crew whenever necessary, Dennis believes it was his obligation as creator and director. “A lot of it was funded from me, but we also had contributions from people on the team, but I felt as though because it was my project, and that I put so much emphasis on it, that I shouldn’t ask people to put in as much. I passionately think you have to lead by example.” Dennis also states that he will make no money from the project. “Absolutely zero dollars was profited off of this whole thing, if anything I’m in the negative.”
Both Chandler and his Executive Producer Elliott, are not only partners for Dear America, but best friends since their first year at VSU. Elliott Lee, a commercial producer, did not hesitate to come in and help when the idea was presented. Elliott states, “What I could hear in his voice was a passion behind him wanting to produce this video.”
“I felt this was an opportunity to make his vision shine through. I could like see through his heart, I don’t mean to sound corny or anything. I really like helping people out, not as a charity case, but people who have all the right intentions, just need a little extra help to make it happen.”
Sleep deprivation, hunger, and countless other perils were defeated in the process of making Chandler’s dream for Dear America to come true. The short film is now available for viewing, and according to Dennis, in the name of the uprise for African-Americans, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”