Compton seniors compete for $40,000
COMPTON—Eight lucky seniors from Compton High School are now eligible to win a $40,000 scholarship thanks to Free Throw founder Court Crandall. Free Throw is not only a charity but also a documentary meant to motivate Compton’s senior class to think about their future and get excited about college.
“I wanted to create a documentary that shows a different side of Compton that people aren’t used to seeing and hearing. I wanted to dispel some of those stereotypes,” said Crandall, who also serves as the creative director of the marketing firm WONGDOODY.
Here’s how the project will work: On Friday, March 11, the Free Throw team showed up at Compton High School and randomly choose eight students out of 80 with a GPA of 3.0 or better. While those students will participate in a free throw basketball contest on March 25, they will also be filmed along the way. The winner will receive a $40,000 college scholarship and the other seven students will each receive $1,000.
The Free Throw crew began filming at the selection on March 11 and will shoot over the days leading up to the final contest on March 25. The plan is to have the documentary completed by September in time to enter it into the Sundance Film Festival, said Free Throw spokesperson Jennifer Cody.
“The participants are shockingly excited — they are teenagers. I was just in the initial interviews,” said Crandall, director of “Free Throw.” “They have appreciation of what they’ve been through to get to this stage and believe in themselves … they value opportunity at a level most kids their age don’t.”
The students that were chosen include: Efren Arellano, Donald Dotson, Omar Guzman, Arturo Mendez, Victory Holley, Elisabed Cervantes, Allen Guel and Diana Ramirez. About half them have college plans to attend San Diego State University, University of Nevada Las Vegas, Cal State Long Beach and Cal State Northridge. The remaining four students are still determining their college plans.
Crandall’s motivation behind the project has stemmed from his son, Chase Crandall, 15. Residents of Manhattan Beach, Chase has been playing basketball with other students in Compton from a young age. “He and I realized the different opportunities between the two communities. We wanted to give them a chance they might not have otherwise,” Crandall said.
And what better channel than basketball — a “unifying device” as Crandall likes to call it. “There are lines that divide people — money, race, etc.— it’s cool to make this one line (the free throw line) and pull everyone together.
“I hope it will be a positive thing where basketball can serve as a vehicle to get a message out. The Free Throw project is just a way to create drama and highlight the positive things people in the community are doing rather than some rap video from 20 years ago,” said Crandall.
While those involved believe the program will not only open eyes outside of Compton they also think it will instill values in these local students. “Being able to reward our top academic achievers with the chance to compete for this scholarship helps us reinforce the message that hard work and dedication in school pays off. In this case, it could literally pay off,” said Compton High School Principal Jesse Jones. “Working with Court on this documentary will help others outside of our school see what great kids we have here.”
Already an accomplished author and screenwriter, having written the first screenplay of “Old School,” Crandall is more than ready for this new challenge. For more information, visit http://freethrowmovie.com.