“Drive Slow” preview at Free Spirit Media’s Focus event

Writer/filmmaker Ryan Thomas on the set of “Drive Slow” (photo: Qurissy Lopez)

Free Spirit Media’s Focus event at The Ivy Room on May 31 will feature “a lot of people and a chance to get together and reflect on a great year,” says Chelsea Corbin, FSM’s development & communication manager.

“It’s a big celebration of media in Chicago,” she adds, “specifically, the youth voice.”

One of the greatest causes for celebration will be a sneak peak at the film series Drive Slow, which was made by ten emerging filmmakers in Free Spirit’s Industry Pathways Certification program.

Corbin describes the group as “super talented.”

Drive Slow is the story of a middle class, African-American teenager from Chicago who deals with “disparate opinions, racist news narratives, and the threat of lingering danger” as he completes a 500-word essay about “how his environment influences his worldview” for a college application.

The film was written by 23-year-olds Ryan Thomas and Terrence Thompson during the twelve-week mentorship and training term offered by the Pathways program.

According to Thompson, who also directed, it is kind of like “the Freaks & Geeks of the south side.”

Writer/director Terrence Thompson (photo: qurissy lopez)

An elite group of vendors and suppliers from Chicago’s film industry helped the aspiring lensmasters get it done. Among them were Quriosity and The Mill, which assisted with post-production, and Keslow Cameras, which shared equipment and a camera package.

Additional partners for the Pathways Industry program include AbelCine, Black Apple Media, Bluelight Productions, Cinespace, Contexture Media Network, DePaul University, Gorgeous Within, IATSE 476 Studio Mechanics Union, IFP Chicago, Periscope, Runaway Train, Second City Sound and Stage 18 Chicago.

In order to be considered for the program, aspiring filmmakers must attend a number of Chicago Track events. The Chicago Track is a series of seminars and workshops in film and audio hosted by FSM, Young Chicago Authors and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

It was during one of these events that the filmmakers met representatives from Runaway Train, the Chicago-based development and production company that executive produced the film with Free Spirit Media and Endangered Media Productions.

According to Corbin, who came to Free Spirit Media three years ago by way of a teaching fellowship from Northwestern University’s public interest program, the young adults involved with the program are among the reasons she considers it “a great privilege to be part of the organization.”

“The questions that they ask are my favorite part,” she says. “A lot of times we project stereotypes on youth and what they care about. If you take the time to listen to what they have to say, it’s really nuanced and profound.”

Wednesday, May 31, 6-9 p.m. | The Ivy Room, 12 E. Ohio St.

For tickets and additional information, click here.

A preview screening of Drive Slow is also scheuled for the June 16 event — “New & Next, a celebration of the Chicago Track” — at the Chicago Cultural Center.


Drive Slow

Produced by Free Spirit Media in association with Runaway Train and Endangered Peace Productions

Executive producers

Lucia Palmarini

Alex Thompson


Locations Manager: Todd Hieggelke

Director of Photography: Zoe Lubeck

Music Supervision & Wardrobe: Raphael Nash

Co-Writer, 2nd AC, Assistant Editor: Ryan Thomas