Many Schenectady residents remember the name Eddie Stanley.
The 15-year-old Schenectady High School sophomore was a promising basketball player on the varsity team who was killed in 2011 after being shot five times at a Mont Pleasant house party. A Brooklyn man was subsequently convicted of killing him.
More than a decade later, Stanley’s story will be told through a short film that director Prince Sprauve hopes will bring healing and provide an opportunity for the community to come together.
“This film is going to shake a lot of people,” Sprauve said. “That’s what I’m hoping it’s going to do. But it’s also, I feel, going to bring a lot of healing. Because now we get to talk about it. How are we going to heal from something that we can’t talk about?”
Sprauve, who runs Quiet on Set Productions, is working in collaboration with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady and Schenectady County Connects on the film, which has been funded by a New York State gun violence prevention grant.
The filmmaker previously worked with teens at the Boys & Girls Clubs on other film projects and last year, Shane Bargy, the clubs’ executive director, approached Sprauve about creating a film highlighting issues of gun violence in the community, working with local teens and young adults to produce it.
It seemed like the right time to focus on Stanley’s story. Stanley’s father had first approached Sprauve with the idea of making a film several years ago but at that time, Sprauve was working on “Cradle,” a feature on the intricate issues surrounding teen pregnancy, and couldn’t take on and come up with funding for another project.
Finally, everything lined up.
The film, which is titled “The Last Shot [The Story of Eddie Stanley]” focuses on what Stanley did the day he died, including missing a basketball game in New York City, being dropped off at home, going to a house party on Bridge Street, the ensuing shooting and the fallout from it.
“What I’m doing is a recap of what happened to Eddie that day. I had to track his movements that whole day,” Sprauve said.
In doing research for the film, he interviewed Stanley’s parents, his basketball coach, his teammates, friends and people who were at the party that night. Those interviews and conversations helped in writing the script but they also confirmed the need for a space to talk about trauma in the wake of gun violence.
“Gun violence is very high but the key is that we don’t have a space to say ‘That hurt me’ because, in our neighborhood, trauma is just forgotten about,” Sprauve said. “Even when Eddie Stanley died, everybody that went through that . . . there [were] no resources . . . no reaching out. There’s no therapy, there’s none of that.”
“The people I’ve interviewed, it really has affected their lives in ways that we couldn’t even imagine, mentally, socially, emotionally,” Sprauve said.
Some, like Tyasia Hogan, who was Stanley’s girlfriend, spoke with Sprauve about how they’ve never been able to heal from the emotional trauma of that night.
“When I hear these types of stories it just makes me say, ‘Man how have we forgotten about these people?’ We just forgot about them and it really broke my heart,” Sprauve said.
Some of the people he interviewed will be playing themselves or other characters in the film. Stanley’s father will be playing himself. Two of Stanley’s friends, Corey Joye and Jallah Tarver, will be playing Tyrone Gates (the character who kills Stanley in the script) and Stanley, respectively.
“For these two people to come together and play significant roles, it’s not easy,” Sprauve said.
Last fall, through the Boys & Girls Clubs, around 10 local teens started working with Sprauve as production assistants. Several young adults have also been hired through Schenectady County Connects to assist with the film. They’ve been meeting to work on “The Last Shot” regularly since October.
“Prince is masterful working with teenagers,” said Bargy. “He’s very, very good at that. He connects with them, they respect him.”
“It’s an amazing thing that these young people are experiencing right now. It’s not an everyday occurrence that you get to go from point A to point Z learning how to create and shoot a film, let alone a film that we think is going to be of incredible importance in this community and others,” Bargy said.
“We’ve read through the script, they’ve met [Eddie’s] father,” Sprauve said. “They’ve been able to see the whole process just unfold and the idea was not just to teach them about the filmmaking portion but to also teach them why picking up guns is dangerous, what you should be prepared for if you ever took that route . . . that’s what this film is about. It’s about educating our young people because our teens are dealing with real stuff.”
Starting this week, they’re going to be filming at several locations around Schenectady. The party scene will be filmed at the same house that Stanley was shot in. They’ll also be filming in a local hospital and a courtroom to capture the legal fallout of that night.
Just like “Cradle,” Sprauve’s plan isn’t to shy away from the harsh realities of the story.
“We’re showing the real deal . . . what happened that day; the drinking, the smoking, the partying, what really goes on. Because we can’t change anything if we can’t address what’s real,” Sprauve said.
During a recent interview, he credited Bargy for being on board with giving him and the team creative license.
“Shane has been very supportive . . . they opened up their facilities, anything that we’ve needed and one thing that I do respect that Shane has done is he’s allowed us to create this through our lenses and I think that’s key,” Sprauve said.
“We want this story told in a truthful way because we think that the truth is going to be the only thing that brings people to the conclusion that enough is enough,” Bargy said.
According to New York state data, from 2012 to 2021, 26 people in the City of Schenectady have been killed by gun violence and nearly 200 have been injured in shooting incidents.
“It is not a new problem. It was a problem even when I was growing up in Schenectady . . . it’s different now but there was violence and there were guns. It’s a problem that desperately needs a solution and we think this is part of the solution.”
As another part of the solution, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Schenectady has also hired teens to work with younger club members as ambassadors on gun violence prevention projects.
“The Last Shot” will be around 15-20 minutes long. Plans are still in the works for a premiere but Sprauve hopes it will include community discussions, especially with those involved in creating the film.
“By addressing these types of issues . . . we can create a healthier space for our kids to thrive,” Sprauve said. “This is not just in [this] community; this stuff is going to hit the school districts, it’s going to hit the other side of town that may not be connected to Hamilton Hill or this type of community . . . it’s going to let everybody know that, it’s going to take all of us.”
It’s also going to help Stanley’s story live on.
A few months ago, Sprauve asked people on Facebook to share their memories of Stanley and who he was. Many commented and Sprauve said that Stanley’s mother, Tanisha, often checked the post and read the memories that people wrote, reflecting on how loved her son was.
“Even though her son is gone, his life is still making an impact. Now his story is about to affect thousands,” Sprauve said.