Shot on location in South Central and other L.A. locales, "Down for Life" evokes the city in all its stark contrasts of privilege and poverty, hope and despair. The screenplay, written by Jacobs and Trina Calderon, is based on a 2005 New York Times article, "Essays in Search of Happy Endings" by reporter Michael Winerip, about a class at Locke in which students were assigned to write about one day in their lives. The article cited the essay of one 15-year-old girl who was affiliated with a local gang and who described her bleak neighborhood life as well as a number of violent and even deadly incidents involving herself and her friends.
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Essays in Search of Happy Endings - The New York Times