Who is Arvel Chappell III?
My name is Arvel Chappell III. I am the writer/director of Compton: The Antwon Ross Story. It's an spiritually uplifting film about, redemption, perseverance and social mobility through flight. Not too many people know that Compton has an airport and it's my goal to take audiences above the streets of Compton to share in the freedom through flight with Antwon. I've spent a good amount of my life in Compton and have always wondered about the planes I'd see landing at the airport. Now as a filmmaker and pilot this film takes you into that world. This is a totally different type of film set in Compton. This is the real Compton... today. Check out the teaser trailer above to get a sense of what it's about and if you like what you see share, share and share again!
Come along for the ride
We are at the beginning stages of this film (talking to studios/production companies/financiers/talent) and I'm taking everyone along for the ride. Subscribe to the blog at www.comptontakesflight.com where you can get updates and also hear the podcast. This is an exciting project and it's gaining momentum. Subscribe now to be in on the making of this film... as it's actually happening from the beginning. I'm not even talking about the production I'm talking about all the stuff before you even get on set.
Who am I?
I'm just a dude who's passionate about cinema, aviation and science. This film combines everything I love but I'm not solely Antwon. Antwon is my cousin, friends, strangers I've met.... Everyone and even an allegory for the city itself. I spent a good portion of my childhood in Compton, I have family roots in Compton going back to the 1950s when my grandfather broke the color barriers and became the first African American to run for office. It's all that history... my history... my families history that has informed the writing of this film.
But who am I really?
Now I can bore you with the facts... where I grew up etc.. etc.. but I'd be boring myself too so here's a different approach... How about we get to who I am by what I believe. So here goes:
I believe that we're all here to create. So create already.... The technical barriers are in your head. You are connected to everyone so find the people you need to make it happen. We're all here to self actualize.... which is a fancy way to say that we strive to live up to our potential. I am a creator of many things and I get the most enjoyment out of creating things that impact emotions. I get off by creating many things but nothing as much as cinema. As a kid growing up in the 80s I was the official videographer for the family. My grandparents had a large over the shoulder VHS camcorder and at every family event I was operating it. That's really how it all started... home videos at Grandmas with the whole family. In High School there was no filmmaking class but I took photography and started writing poetry. Film was just a merger of two at first for me. Then in the early 2000s the computer revolution started and while in undergrad engineering school I started playing around editing in flash, final cut pro and adobe premiere. I made a bunch of films and almost failed engineering school one quarter because I was editing.... then I made like a million bad films...went to film festivals... had industry mentors.... then USC... etc. etc. It's been a long road to get here but the passion to create has driven me through it all.
2. giving back
I believe that we're here to impact and help others. We are social beings and people generally want to help others. We get caught up on our own hang ups and ego but most people feel good when they help others. I try to find a way to achieve this in everything I do and if I can't find a way I just don't do it. For example this film is about a kid from Compton who discovers aviation and it changes his life. The story in itself is uplifting, inspiring and aims to showcase aviation to a new audience. We could've stopped there but there's a couple of non profits we're teaming up with so that after the film is released we could use some of the proceeds to get kids flying. It's a small thing to do that will have a major impact on the community.
I believe in 100% ignorance. It sounds counter intuitive but being ignorant is actually smart. Admitting that you don't know allows for all kinds of opportunities to learn and for people to help you. In addition being ignorant allows you to make mistakes, retool and then try something else... in other words it allows for continuous improvement. This is exactly what scientists do and what democracy is supposed to be about... Assuming ignorance you try an idea and if it doesn't work you try something else. I don't know how everything will work out with this film and I'm ok with that. I'm ok with that because I know that if I try something that doesn't work then I just have to not do that again and try something else. Now that doesn't mean I don't prepare. I'm prepared like a mutha... but I'll admit when I don't know something or need help.
I believe in discipline. To have the courage to stick to it and not give up when things are hard. To have the discipline to do the hard work... the things you don't want to do... because you know there's a reward at the end. I learned this from sports. My parents had me in one sport or another from age 5... football, basketball, soccer etc. It seems silly now... being on the field and the coach yelling at you as if the game were life or death. Or struggling through a work out in order to run faster or jump higher. My track coach had the foresight to tell us that the discipline we were learning also applied in life. He was right. This one is obvious but tough in practice.
5. making mistakes
I believe in making mistakes because I'm going to do it anyways. Trying to be perfect just leads to depression (no one's perfect) and procrastination. Allowing myself to make mistakes really just ties back into all of the other beliefs. This one is important because I am a perfectionist by default and this belief reinforces every other one because it allows me to take action. Action is the most important thing in the world. It is the practice of creation so nothing should get in its way. I married my high school sweetheart and we got divorced. I patronized over the failure of my marriage for years and literarily lost years of my life agonizing over what went wrong and blaming myself. Some of the blaming was well deserved but I was too hard on myself (perfectionism at work)... I was a different person when we were together... that dude was a selfish immature punk and I'm glad he's gone. But I had to go through that to get to this. A guy with healthy relationships because he knows his boundaries and knows what he wants. Therefore he can be at peace and happy with everyone else who's around. Now give him a hug... Failures are the part of life that shape us into who we are meant to be. Both of us are better, fuller and more mature adults because of it... though it was traumatic at the time.
So there it is. The five beliefs that shape who I am. What are yours? How do they shape who you are? Subscribe to the blog to live the journey!
by: Arvel Chappell III