Shooting victim’s movie script becomes reality

Local News

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — A teenager who was killed on May 11, wrote a script for a short film before his death. 14-year-old Elijha Booker was shot and killed earlier this year. His film is being shown at the Pens to Lens gala in Champaign this weekend. Filmmakers say it was a powerful way to continue Booker’s legacy.

It’s called “Work hard, play hard”. The 8-minute-movie tells a story about a struggling student who reaches out to his coach for help. Every movie comes with a message the writer wanted to send, but out of the 14 that will be shown tomorrow, this one carries a unique purpose.

“Any time you can put something positive out into the world, I think that’s a huge thing,” said director John Isberg.

Every author has an inspiration behind their stories. For Booker, it came from his experiences as a student.

“That was what drew me to his story because I thought… I used to teach middle school, and kids asking for help was a huge thing,” said Isberg.

His script was chosen by Isberg out of about 150 scripts to be made into a movie.

“Seeing what had happened to Elijha and then reading his story that he wrote, it just… I was like I can’t believe that this happened and he wrote this amazing story.”

Booker’s drama teacher Chris Taber helped Booker write it.

“He was all business. He would come in every day and get his chrome book out and start writing,” said Taber.

Taber also acted in the movie.

“His story is about a boy who doesn’t have success academincally in school but he’s on the basketball team, but he wasn’t going to be able to play on the team anymore, be in the big games, because of his age,” said Taber.

That character gets help from his coach, who acts as a mentor. Taber believes the story, in some small ways, mirrored Booker’s own. Although he won’t get to watch it himself, Isberg and Taber believe it’s something he would be proud of.

“You know it was pretty heartbreaking, and I just thought well, if we can give the family some positive memory of him, you know, and that it wasn’t just this moment, and maybe his legacy went on through his own words… it was really powerful,” said Isberg.

Booker’s father, Nevalle Booker, says it’s an awesome thing that Elijha’s script was chosen. He says he appreciates and loves each and every one of those taking part in it.

The Pens to Lens gala is this Saturday from 2 until 5 p.m. at the Virginia Theatre. Out of the 14 films that will be shown, seven are from students. The others are from local filmmakers.

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