Following the tragic death of Oscar-nominated filmmaker John Singleton, we decided to revisit some of his finest work in the shape of pioneering film Boyz n the Hood.
Singleton, who tragically passed away at the age of 51 following a stroke, broke through the Hollywood obstacles that faced him in the early ’90s and created a majorly cultural significant feature film about life growing up in the South Central area of Los Angeles, California.
The film, which broke down barriers and tackled supremely difficult topics such as living in poverty, the racial divide in America and the rising problems of black-on-black crime in less affluent neighbourhoods. Boyz n the Hood made the conversation about inner-city gang violence a national topic, a subject that, until that point, remained mainly a local urban issue.
The film, which tells the story of Tre who is sent to live with his father, Furious Styles, begins to understand how tough life will be living in the South Central area of Los Angeles. “Although his hard-nosed father instils proper values and respect in him, and his devout girlfriend Brandi teaches him about faith,” the official synopsis reads. “Tre’s friends Doughboy and Ricky don’t have the same kind of support and are drawn into the neighbourhood’s booming drug and gang culture, with increasingly tragic results.”
The script, written by a then 22-year-old Singleton fresh out of the U.S.C. film school, was passed along to Amy Pascal, who was then a production vice-president at Columbia in order to get some major backing for the project. Pascal, believing in the script, had executive Frank Price in her sights: “Normally anything to be given to me for weekend reading would have been brought up in the regular Friday morning staff meeting,” Price said in an interview with Atlantic.
“This script was not presented in that meeting. I suspect Amy feared that the project would be shot down by other staffers’ comments, which is why she asked to see me in a separate meeting late that afternoon.”
Singleton had purposely made Boyz n the Hood true to his home, remaining loyal to the representation of living in these kind of neighbourhoods. Upon reading the script Ice Cube, one of the founding fathers of gangsta rap and the person lined up for the role of Doughboy, said: “Damn, they’re actually going to make a movie about how we grew up,” in an interview with Vanity Fair. “Oh, shit,” he added. “He was for real. He wasn’t lying. He’s going to do a movie. This kid is no bullshit.”
Singleton was for real and, if Boyz n the Hood can be labelled anything at all, then ‘real’ is the best way to do it.
Below, enjoy a short documentary detailing ‘the untold story’ behind the film’s making with an insight into the minds that made it happen: