Take Two

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by Alex Cohen & A Martínez

Tracing Oscar Grant's last day in 'Fruitvale Station'

by Take Two

Actor Michael B. Jordan, in a scene from the new film, "Fruitvale Station." Fruitvale Station

It was early in the morning on New Year's Day in 2009, a young man, Oscar Grant III, was shot in the back by a transit officer on the platform of Oakland's Fruitvale BART station. 

"Fruitvale Station," is 27-year-old writer/director Ryan Coogler's fictionalized account of Grant's last day. Coogler joins Take Two to talk about the what inspired him to make the film and how the Grant incident affected him personally.

Interview Highlights:

On why the shooting motivated him to make the film:
"It was all about humanity. I was in the Bay Area when the incident happened, and how everybody was introduced to it was video footage. Watching that footage of what happened to Oscar Grant brought everyone a little closer to the incident. It made us witness to it."

On how the Oscar Grant story affected him:
"For me, it triggered a variety of emotions, from frustration to shock to madness to helplessness. All these things were compounded because I felt close to Oscar. He was the same age as me, an African-American male from the East Bay area, his friends looked like my friends, he wore the same type of clothes I wore. I wanted to bring people in close proximity to Oscar and show them his relationships. Through those relationships, I hope that people will see a little of themselves in the character. I hope that the thought process in leaving that is people thinking about the way they treat the people they love and people they don't know."

On compiling Oscar Grant's last day:
His day was pretty simple. It was a really domestic day, which in many ways played to what we were trying to show. We wanted to show who he was through the lens of the people who mattered the most to him. In that hierarchy, it came to his daughter, his girlfriend and his mom. These three women in his life. 

On filming the scene depicting Grant's shooting:
"It was hard after seeing this man shot so many times, re-watching the cell phone video over and over. We tried to do our due diligence in terms of research. BART was very open to us with the project, they didn't want to be a blockade. They let us shoot in the actual facilities. It was a very difficult shoot. We had to shoot when the train wasn't running, so we had to break it up over three or four-hour days. We basically had from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m."

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