Note: This short film contains subject matter relating to suicide. Please read and share cautiously. If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline online or via phone at 1-800-273-8255 (for the deaf and hard of hearing, contact 1-800-799-4889).
This is installment #13 of Shadow And Act’s #ShortFilmShoutout series.
A man struggling with his grief from the loss of his wife begins building a coffin for himself. His plan: to die by suicide. This is how the A Craftsman begins.
Sanford Jenkins, Jr. created this film as a student at the University of Southern California in 2017. The haunting story by Joel David Santner, Jenkins’ sensitive directing, plus the stellar cinematography by Tanmay Chowdhary and Madeline Leach, earned the film the 2017 Student Film Awards from the Directors Guild of America.
Marvin Gay stars as Herman, a man who lived as a woodworker who decides to use his craft for his own destruction. Leonard R. Garner Jr. and Shirley Jordan play the two people who find themselves intertwined in Herman’s pathway through grief. Garner plays Herman’s pastor, Samuel, who comes by his home to see about him since he’s missed several Sundays of service. Herman’s neighbor Meredith is played by Jordan; she finds curiosity in what she fears the most, death.
There’s also another character in the film that we don’t see; Herman’s late wife, Joyce. Her presence is felt in a poignant way, especially towards the end of the film, when Herman’s plans become upended.
To be clear, you must judge for yourself if you can watch this film (which is embedded below). Know your own mind and your triggers before clicking, since the film centers around suicidal ideation. But for those that do watch A Craftsman, you’ll find a sensitive look at how grief affects us in different, sometimes extreme ways. This is also a film that provides viewers a look at at the inner lives of older Black people. It’s rare to see a film, including short films, feature a cast made completely of older Black actors. It shows how much Hollywood has yet to explore when it comes to the emotional landscape of Black actors and viewers alike.
Photo credit: Sanford Jenkins, Jr.