Exclusive: Movie Director Billy Corben Makes PSA About Teen Violence
South Florida Crime
NORTH MIAMI BEACH (CBS4) – A South Florida movie director known nationwide for films including “Cocaine Cowboys,” “Broke” and “The U” is making a Public Service Announcement aimed at curbing teen violence.
CBS4’s Peter D’Oench was invited exclusively inside the Great Southern Studios in North Miami Beach to watch Corben as he donated his time and equipment to develop the PSA that focuses on 15-year-old Aaron Willis.
“Regrettably there’s not a lot of survivors,” Corben told D’Oench. “A lot of young people are getting shot and killed almost on a daily basis. Here you have a survivor with a very real struggle and he puts a young face on an issue that young people are not supposed to be facing.”
“Here you are going to be having a very young man speaking to you about graphic violence, about seeing people dying and shot on the streets and hearing gunshots nearly every night,” Corben said.
“Children are supposed to be about hope and about progress and about the future and now they’re dealing in Miami on almost a daily basis with all of these adult issues. That’s what we’re trying to get across.”
Corben said he was asked by Miami City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones to make the PSA. They are looking for a sponsor and Corben hopes that it will be broadcast soon.
Aaron Willis is now wheelchair bound and paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the back on December 19th of last year while riding his bicycle in midtown Miami at Northwest 1st Avenue and 28th Street.
It happened at 8:20 p.m. Willis did not see who shot him and police have no description of the suspects. They are looking for the gunman and his driver who police say fled in an older model, White Nissan Maxima.
At the studio on Thursday, Willis told D’Oench, “I feel happy to be invited to be here. I feel it’s letting people know about gun violence and how people are getting shot for no reason. You see me in wheelchair. I feel I don’t know what happened.”
“What is the message here?” D’Oench asked Willis.
“If you all are fixing to shoot someone, why not go to war,” he said.
“Kids have got to put their guns down and do something different than pickup a gun,” said Katherine Beaton, Aaron’s mother.
“It was only 10 weeks ago that Aaron was walking and now he’s in a wheelchair because someone made poor choices,” said attorney Ronda Vangates, who has spearheading a fund drive for Aaron Willis and who is a friend of the family.
“So when you ask me about Aaron, I think he’s a hero because he is not afraid to share his story,” she said.
Vangates told D’Oench that while Willis was being home schooled, she hopes that he can return to Booker T.Washington High School where is a 9th grader after spring break.
Corben said, “I always say it’s not Miami or Your-ami. It’s OUR-ami. We are really all in this together. It’s all our community. So when you hear kids being shot or being killed on a weekly or even daily basis, many of the neighbors who are miles away don’t realize they realize they have a connection with that. But it still impacts us as a community.”
“We need to change that mentality that we are all separated and divided here in Miami,” he said. “It’s really our-Ami.”