This is installment #11 of Shadow And Act’s #ShortFilmShoutout series.

Anyone who has gone through the college admissions process knows it can be tedious and arduous, encompassing standardized tests and financial aid applications. But no part of the process is perhaps more anxiety-inducing than the college essay. The short film Drive Slow encapsulates the feeling of writing that dreaded essay, as seen through the lens of a Black teenager.

Written and directed by Terrence Thompson, Drive Slow centers around Zach (Damon Williams), a softspoken teenager from the South Side of Chicago as he attempts to complete his college essays. When one of the essay questions is about how his environment has shaped his view of the world, Zach begins to ponder about his life on the South Side of Chicago.

While Zach sees the essay as a potential chance to erode the stigmas attached to the South Side of Chicago, others around him suggest he become complacent in order to further his chances at getting into a great college.

Produced by the film education nonprofit Film Spirit Media, Runaway Train and Endangered Peace Productions, Drive Slow captures Thompson’s skill at approaching societal issues impacting the Black community without being disjointed or heavy-handed. Thompson humanizes the South Side of Chicago and cleverly uses the college essay to discuss topics such as gentrification, how news media paints certain neighborhoods and the disparity between Black and white students in the education system.

Watch Thompson’s riveting short film below:


Photo:  Terrence Thompson