Park Heights native Sheldon Candis always knew he wanted to write a loosely autobiographical screenplay about a boy and his drug-dealing uncle. But it wasn’t until a conversation with David Simon that the project took off. “I told him my uncle was a big figure in the ’80s, but doubt he had ever heard of him,” he says. “When I said his name was Vernon Collins, he couldn’t believe it.” Turns out, Simon had written many articles in The Sun about convicted drug dealer Collins (who was also the inspiration for Wee-Bey in The Wire). “After that, I called my writing partner Justin Wilson,” he says. “I said, ‘Now this is what makes the story special.’” Thus began the eight-year process of creating LUV, a coming-of-age story, set and filmed in Baltimore, about 11-year-old Woody (Michael Rainey Jr.) spending the day with his ex-convict Uncle Vincent (Common) and getting exposed to a world of violence. “I wanted to present Baltimore from a child’s point of view,” he says. LUV was accepted to the Sundance Film Festival and comes out on DVD April 2. “Many people were moved, and it didn’t matter that it was all African-Americans in the film,” he says. “It’s about a child losing his innocence, and that happens to all of us.”
A Baltimore-born filmmaker releases his first feature.
Issue date: March, 2013