An emerging Bronx manuscript writer and filmmaker is working on a new project thanks to a grant from a local arts organization.
Nahshon Ratcliff, a 38-year-old Bronx resident, is currently shooting a short film, titled ‘Shooting Range’, after he was awarded a grant from the Bronx Council on the Arts.
Ratcliff was born in Altadena, CA, and graduated from John Muir High School in Pasadena.
After graduating high school, Ratcliff attended California State University in Los Angeles for two semesters with movie stars Jaleel White, who played Steve Urkel on Family Matters and Lark Voorhies, who played Lisa Turtle on Saved by the Bell.
On a summer night in 1997, Nahshon saw his life flash before his eyes when he was the victim of a violent assault, after picking up a stranger, Ricky Marshall, on Santa Monica Boulevard while traveling from Long Beach to Hollywood.
After returning to the car from buying beer at a local 7-11, Marshall allegedly began punching Ratcliff in the head and attempted to handcuff him, before shoving a .38 Special revolver in Ratcliff’s mouth.
After moving the gun from his mouth, Ratcliff tussled with Marshall to try to take the weapon from him, or at least empty the gun clip, he recalled.
In the process, Ratcliff suffered a gunshot wound to the arm while Marshall was shot in the leg.
According to Ratcliff, Marshall’s assault on him was a result of his sexual orientation, even though Ratcliff, who identifies mostly as a male but also as a female, had informed Marshall that he was gay at the beginning of their encounter that night.
Soon after, Marshall, who was found not guilty in the Ratcliff assault, was jailed for raping a 14-year-old girl.
The experience took its toll on Nahshon - as he was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder after the incident.
To escape his struggles with depression, Ratcliff entered street prostitution for ten years, before moving to New York City in 2012, and eventually the Bronx in 2013, where he hoped for a new start as a filmmaker.
Before moving to NYC, Ratcliff began writing the manuscript of ‘Shooting Range’, which reflects on his life-altering experience as well as being a victim of hate crimes and other incidents that occurred in his life as a result of his sexual orientation and him being transgender.
The title ‘Shooting Range’ originated from when Marshall had the gun in Ratcliff’s mouth and asked him if he had ever been to a shooting range.
Nahshon’s goal was to, one day, transform the manuscript into a short film.
In 2014, Ratcliff’s luck began to change for the better, when he received the $3,000 Bronx Council on the Arts grant for his short film, which he hopes to have released by next fall.
“This is a very exciting project - a project that will tell a great story,” said Ellen Pollan, Bronx Council on the Arts’ deputy director. “Nahshon is an articulate, passionate individual and a great writer who has a story that people will want to hear, especially if they’ve been through similar experiences to his and have felt misunderstood. Nahshon is just one of many artists that this organization helps and supports - and we are very proud of that process.”
“My previous experience (being assaulted) was frightening and troubling at the time - but in the long run it made me a smarter person and taught me many life lessons,” said Nahshon, who read an excerpt of ‘Shooting Range’ at the Bronx Literary Festival last May as well as at the Bronx Academy of the Arts and Dance.
“Most of all, it made me a more determined and motivated individual, and after accomplishing my lifelong dream of moving back to New York, I must say that I could have never imagined the amount of support I would have received from the community, and I thank them for helping me share my life story”.