Independent Filmmaker’s latest project explores sisterhood and rebuilding community

Sandrel “Sanicole” Young is a local independent filmmaker who has recently screened “Smoking Gun.” PHOTO PROVIDED BY SANDREL YOUNG.
Sandrel “Sanicole” Young is a local independent filmmaker who has recently screened “Smoking Gun.” PHOTO PROVIDED BY SANDREL YOUNG.

 Independent Filmmaker’s latest project explores sisterhood and rebuilding community

By Tia Carol Jones

Sanicole’s godmother got her a camera when she was a senior year in high school, and it started her love affair with filmmaking. She used that camera to document the world around her. It led to her telling her mother that she wanted to study film. She went to Columbia College Chicago where she studied film and video.
Now Sanicole, who is also known as Sandrel Young, is in the process of entering her latest film, “Smoking Gun,” into film festivals. She screened the film at The Coop, located 2800 W. Van Buren, on Friday, May 27th.
“Smoking Gun” was inspired by conversations Sanicole had with her mother about being a Black woman in these times.  How love, the approach to careers and difference in the freedom women have now that they didn’t have in earlier times, as well as how the perception of life has changed over time.

Those conversations also included how Black women have been more driven to be independent and how women now think about relationships. The film about two women who see relationships with men and the journey of life, love and happiness differently.
“I think it’s a beautiful thing to see the evolution of women, to see strength in women from both generations. Just because we have to move different in two different eras doesn’t mean that we don’t pull from the same power,” she said.
Sanicole’s first narrative was “Loose Change,” which debuted at the Gene Siskel Film Center’s Black Harvest Film Festival. She was fresh out of college and was doing guerilla-style filmmaking and indie filmmaking. It was very organic.
Since then, Sanicole has also premiered “Side Effects,” “Textone,” “The What Factor,” and “Training Wheels,” which screened at 18 film festivals throughout the country. All of her films are wrapped in either love, community and family. Those are the three pillars of why she makes film.

“Smoking Gun” is different than the previous films in the way it explores women, how they move and how they think. It explores the elevation of women’s thought process, the forward movement toward family and how women are learning from generational curses and trying to break them. “Smoking Gun” was written specifically for Black women, to discuss, share perspectives about and engage in open conversation.
Sanicole was inspired by Bell Hook’s “The Will To Change: Men, Masculinity and Love.” In that book, Bell Hooks talks about patriarchy and how patriarchy has shaped the way people see men, relationships, marriage and family, and starts to break down the disparities within that. Sanicole started to connect with those themes in her own life. It was like the book mirrored some parts of Sanicole’s life.
Sanicole is grateful that some of her work has been aired on television. She has had people come up to her and say they have seen her films. She said it is always nice to have people acknowledge her work.
Sanicole wants people to know that the independent filmmaker is the underdog and needs financial support, everything they do requires resources, relationships and money, which can be a really big obstacle for the filmmaker that doesn’t have money or a strong platform financially.

Cameras are expensive.  Having adequate mentors in place to support would keep emerging independent filmmakers from making certain mistakes. Sanicole has been blessed to have people that were further along in their filmmaking careers give her advise and counsel her on the way to do things.  She acknowledges that mentor support is something that is lacking in the independent filmmaking community. “Independent filmmakers need you to support the product before it’s actually made,” she said.

For more information about Sanicole and her work, visit

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