Video: M-A grad makes short film about police, race tensions


A viral Facebook post has become the subject of a two-minute film by Zachary Clarence, a Menlo-Atherton High School graduate (class of 2010) and former president of the school's drama club.

He grew up in Menlo Park and attended Laurel, Encinal, and Hillview schools before graduating from Menlo-Atherton High School in 2010 and earning a BFA from Boston University's School of Theatre in 2014.

Clarence, who now lives in Brooklyn, New York, said he was lamenting to a friend last month about the challenges of landing an acting job when the friend pointed out a Facebook post by Natasha Howell, who is black, that came from Massachusetts on July 8.

The post came at a time of heightened police-civilian tensions. Ms. Howell's post went live the day that five police officers were fatally shot in Dallas by Micah Xavier Johnson, a black 25-year-old, and days after police shootings of black men Alton Sterling on July 5 in Louisiana and Philando Castile on July 6 in Minnesota.

Her post described a conversation she had with a police officer at a convenience store, where both revealed they were grieving. The police officer reportedly told Ms. Howell, "I guess it's not easy being either of us right now, is it?"

Clarence decided to use the story described in the post as the basis of a short film.

Several days later (incidentally, on his 24th birthday), friends gathered to film the short movie. He wrote the two-page script, and directed and produced it with Maya Bar-Lev.

Watch the video, called "Feeling Hopeful," here.

Clarence calls his film company, made up of mostly friends and Boston University colleagues, "C-16 Productions," after the classroom number at M-A where the drama club used to meet.

"Our goal as a film company is to tell thought-provoking and heart-felt stories that encourage social and political change," he said. "I hope that people can recognize part of themselves in the film ...(and) that the film encourages communication and empathy."

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Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

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