Can a movie turn a troubled neighborhood around? Raleigh police officer Robert Wagner thinks it can – and he’s putting his heart, time, and talent into the project.
“Basically, I want to call all the churches together and say, let’s stand up together and do this,” he told me, “and let’s show the power of God together.”
In my blog last week I told you about Bragg N East, the faith-based motion picture Wagner has in development, set in Raleigh’s South Park community. Now, some more details about it.
The movie tells the story of Dae’Quan, a young boy growing up on the rough streets of the inner city. His life is impacted by drugs, gangs, and violence – until he reaches a crisis point as a young man that compels him to turn his life around.
Officer Wagner, who now serves on the Raleigh PD’s Community Policing Squad, believes Dae’Quan’s fictional story can be an inspiration for those whose similar stories are all too real.
“If it’s a person that’s contemplating going that route in life, I hope it's motivation not to. For a gang member or someone already in that lifestyle, just giving them hope and motivation to say there’s an opportunity for me to change and there’s a way out.”
Wagner emphasizes the movie is an independent production with no connection to the police department. To that end, he hopes to raise $750,000 and use mainly volunteer labor, with plans to begin filming in August.
“When we’re down there,” he says, “we’ll put up roadblocks and bring all the churches and community resources out there into the street. Flood it full of positive pressure, pushing that negative pressure out, ministering to people. And we won’t be there for one or two days. It’ll take six to eight weeks of filming. We’ll feed the homeless while we feed everyone else.”
And there’s more: “Some of the people in the neighborhood who don’t have jobs will come and work on the movie set. But in order to work on the movie set we’re going to make sure they go through the proper training so that when they’re done with this movie set they’ll have the opportunity to go out and get another job.”
Earlier this month, an informational meeting about Bragg N East was held at First Baptist Church of Garner and brought out nearly a hundred people eager to hear about the project and to volunteer. Wagner hopes to get other churches and individuals involved – and to pour the movie’s proceeds right back into the neighborhood.
“We’ll have the potential to reinvest in that community 3 to $15 million dollars, which can go in there and buy some of these boarded-up crack homes and build new homes for people, possibly owner-finance for them. We’ll be able to just change the face of that community.”
Wagner hopes to have Bragg N East ready for release by fall of next year. Check back here for updates.