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'Think Before You Shoot' say local anti-violence videographers

March 26, 2013|By Rachel Cromidas, @rachelcromidas | RedEye

Growing up on Chicago's West Side, with family in K-Town and Humboldt Park, Anthony Sturdivant said his memories of friends and relatives killed by gun fire are all too typical.

Like many Chicagoans appalled by the city's rising body count, Sturdivant, a 28-year-old video producer, wondered what messages could possibly reach potential shooters and convince them to stand down.

An answer to that question came to him in 2011, when he and two local videographers, Leon Kelsick and Dartise Johnson, decided to produce a series of anti-violence videos called "Think Before You Shoot."

So far the team has created three videos and on Saturday they will descend on the South Side's Bogan Park with a crew of actors and extras to shoot a fourth.

Set on Chicago's West Side, the previous videos take a look conflicts that escalate into shootings. But in each case, after a trigger is pulled, the action freezes and rewinds, giving the shooter a chance to reflect on what could happen if he makes a different choice.

In one video, the main character reflects on how he is having a bad day because a friend of his was recently killed. In the end, rather than pull a gun on a passerby, he starts a conversation.

"I wanted to show that the perpetrators, they can easily think before they attempt this heinous act," Sturdivant said. "A lot of times, it's in the heat of the moment, or a retaliation, that you make a decision that can impact your life or an innocent person. I wanted to show people that split-second difference."

Sturdivant has four younger siblings, ranging in age from 13 to 21, and he said he is motivated by the fear that they could be caught up in the violence. He is hoping the message will resonate with them and their peers.

"I want to make 'Think Before You Shoot' a household name," he said. "So instead of kids running around saying, 'Bang, bang,' they could say, 'Ah, think before you shoot.'"

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