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How Jon Alston Went From NFL Player to Social Justice

Jon Alston

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Long earlier than he grew to become one of many hottest stars in Hollywood, Michael B. Jordan (“Creed,” “Black Panther”) gained raves for his portrayal of the advanced Dillon Lions quarterback Vince Howard on the acclaimed NBC drama “Friday Night Lights.” His character’s scrappy, inspiring journey from a troubled household to a triumphant success story was not misplaced on Jon Alston, an NFL linebacker-soon-to-be-filmmaker, who was touring a rocky highway of his personal.

So a decade later, when Alston’s award-winning brief movie “Augustus” was chosen for the current Social Justice Now Film Festival — the place Michael B. Jordan serves as co-ambassador — the coincidence was, nicely, a landing. Jordan’s movies “Just Mercy” and “Fruitvale Station” opened the Festival on the Paramount Drive-In Theater, kicking off a slate of digital screenings that explored themes of racial inequalities.

Alston performed faculty soccer at Stanford earlier than being drafted by the St. Louis Rams within the third spherical of the 2006 NFL draft. After 5 seasons of enjoying for the Rams, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Alston retired when he sustained 4 concussions in lower than one yr.

He then determined to pursue his true ardour: movie. Alston poured his financial savings into making his first function movie, “Red Butterfly,” a romantic drama that premiered on the St. Louis International Film Festival in 2015.

Encouraged by constructive evaluations, Alston left behind the life of a professional athlete for good. He enrolled in USC Film School and studied filmmaking. It was fairly an abrupt change.

“Red Butterfly was costly; I gave up everything I had to complete it and to really invest in the transformation from athlete to filmmaker,” Alston defined to TheWrap. “I wrote the pilot that got me signed while my apartment in St. Louis was in foreclosure. Then I went back to college in 2016. I slept in my car for two weeks until I could get student housing, as I couldn’t afford anywhere else to stay. I did well in school. Then I moved to L.A. for grad school [USC School of Cinematic Arts] and slept on my best friend’s couch for months.”

Hard work in movie faculty meant that Alston wouldn’t be destined for couch-surfing too lengthy: his expertise, soccer expertise and acclaimed debut with “Red Butterfly” led him to a screenwriter gig within the writers’ room on the Greg Berlanti-produced CW sequence “All American” whereas he was nonetheless in movie faculty.

“I made ‘Augustus’ during ‘All American’s’ July 4th holiday in 2019,” stated Alston – a unprecedented feat, given the East Coast location shoot, intensive solid, small crew, advanced narrative, beautiful cinematography and complicated mise en scene.

A visually beautiful and emotionally riveting dreamscape, “Augustus” gained Directorial Discovery Grand Prize on the Rhode Island Film Festival and earned a number of wins on the St. Louis Filmmakers Showcase. It is a finalist on the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (Academy qualifier) and an official choice within the Diversity at Cannes Short Film Showcase.

Augustus chronicles Frederick Douglass’s (author/actor Ayinde Howell) wrenching alternative to face up for his rights, as he imagines a future United States by which slavery evolves into systemic racial injustice. Trayvon Martin, Emmet Till and Michael Brown hang-out and reverberate via the movie. Augustus is empowering in its wrestle for freedom, justice and Douglass’s private integrity, and inspirational in pursuit of training: “My education,” says Douglass, “is my salvation.”

Alston’s creative digital camera fluidly dissolves the current and the previous (Douglass describes his desires as “always the same; I see our people in the same struggle – I can never save my son.”) Alston has an distinctive eye for framing his dream sequences and a powerful, distinctive POV.

He defined that his objective is to…

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