D’Angelo “D’Lo” Louis (second to right) directed and wrote the film “Shoebox” (Courtesy Photo)

Proximity creative executive D’Angelo “D’Lo” Louis shows the power of decisions through his short film “Shoebox.” The short film follows a teenage drug dealer whose mother tries to explain to him the impact of making right or wrong decisions through the letters she sends him.

This is the first project that Louis has directed; Louis wanted to write an authentic story. A recurring aspect of the film is the use of mirrors.

“I feel like when you look in a mirror, you’re looking at your truth,” Louis said. “I’m doing it to show the person I was and the person I am now.”

“Shoebox” originated from a frustrating moment for Louis while he was working as a cultural consultant for a project.

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“They weren’t listening to me and I got upset and said “forget it, I’m just gonna write my own script,”” Louis said. “What happened from there was like what story do I really want to tell? Forget about what everybody wants to hear.”

Louis has been with Proximity since 2019. Throughout his time there, he learned how to discern the qualities of intriguing scripts; this knowledge aided him as he wrote the script for the short film.

Louis talks with main actor in the short film “Shoebox” (Courtesy Photo)

“We’re just gathering stuff from Hollywood, from … agents and everything, all these scripts,” Louis said. “You’re that filter between the company and the outside world.”

When writing “Shoebox,” Louis started from the end of his story and wrote his way to the beginning.

“I was like “How can I create a character that gets up to that point?” Me studying and thinking about a character’s arc,” Louis said. “You’re taught to beat up on your character … and then within your third act, you show this is how he climbs this mountain or gets around this obstacle.”

Throughout his career, Louis consistently asked questions to get a better understanding of the industry. “Shoebox” producer and USC professor Jamari Perry admired his drive for knowledge.

“[Louis] has a very transparent and a very inquisitive personality,” Perry said. “If he doesn’t know something, he is willing to ask a question. He doesn’t wait for somebody to tell him.”

Scene from the short film “Shoebox” (Courtesy Photo)

While Perry helped him create a budget for “Shoebox,” they worked out several aspects of the film.

“We did a lot of rewriting, getting it right,” Perry said. “I think one consistent thing about that is that everybody believed in [Louis’] ability to make this happen.”

Louis and Proximity founder Ryan Coogler are childhood friends, Louis was released from being incarcerated around the time Proximity started. Coogler asked Louis if he wanted to be his assistant. From there, Louis worked on several projects dealing with film and music; he then became a junior executive for Proximity.

Louis noted how the set of “Shoebox” felt like a family atmosphere. From the actors to the cinematographers, the environment was diverse and caring.

“A lot of people kept telling me “that’s one of the best sets I’ve worked on,”” Louis said. “We had one mission here and that’s to make a project and everybody has a role to play.”