Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Teen's Film Tackles Dating Abuse

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Teen's Film Tackles Dating Abuse

Article excerpt

While fans and critics alike were aghast last week when Rihanna released two songs with Chris Brown, the former boyfriend who had abused her, Jordan Coleman was not surprised.

"It makes sense that they're back together," said Coleman, a budding filmmaker who sat in his Hackensack living room on Saturday in slippers and a blue fleece. "Because the one that loves the abuser usually goes back. Even though that is not the smartest or the safest thing to do -- they usually go back."

Coleman, a junior at Hackensack High School, is becoming a national voice for teen social issues. His second film, which is about teen dating violence was inspired by the 2009 assault incident between Brown and Rihanna.

"Payin' the Price" was featured on Saturday at the Hackensack African American Civic Association's First Annual Black History Arts and Film Festival. Earlier that day, Coleman had just returned from Baltimore, where he screened the film for an audience of 700.

Coleman -- a dimpled 16-year-old with a lean, muscular build -- is already a veteran at directing people twice his age.

He created his first film in the eighth grade, "Say it Loud," about the importance of education, aimed at African-American boys, and included interviews with basketball star Kobe Bryant and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. He self-funded the project from earnings made playing the voice of Tyrone the Moose on the Nick Jr. animated show "The Backyardigans."

For his most recent work, Coleman's mom, Chrisena, cashed out her 401(k) to help fund it. "I have $500 left in my retirement fund," she said. His mom, a former crime and entertainment reporter at the Daily News, took a buyout in 2009 to devote herself full time to helping her son make films and raising her family as a single parent. She has another son, Justin, 10.

People told her she was crazy for investing so much in her son. "I believe in him," she said. "If you see greatness in your child, you have to nurture it."

"Payin' the Price," a 77-minute feature, was shot over 11 days in Bergen County on a $125,000 budget. "I needed to get to football practice," Coleman said of the quick schedule.

He hired a professional cameraperson, actors and editors. …

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