I've been wondering when we'd start seeing stories like this. With the insane amount of content they can consume, the endless filmmaking tutorials online, the most accessible, affordable and advanced cameras for rent, the softwares to learn from any age - this new generation should be the most technically sound filmmakers ever. Being creative and artistic filmmakers is another question.
"put all of my money into my shorts growing up. That's why I didn't travel that much" I thought this part was weird. He's a teenager? Travelling?
I didn't read where all the gear came from. Maybe some was school? You CAN make a gritty indy short for 50k nowadays if it's a simple enough film and it's mostly you and your friends doing it film-school style like this and you get some grants - and of course the perks i listed at the top.
How did he get Wendell Pierce? That's a legit actor. You only put The Wire, but he's been in so much.
The story of how this film got made isn't impressive or that noteworthy. Tons of filmmakers have crowd funded, got some connections, grants, mentors, worked in the trenches, even got quality actors - BUT they rarely work out, AND you don't get many other shots at getting those people to work for free again, or people to fund you again etc. You also don't always have the right people around you, or the right mentors or experienced actors bringing correct wisdom. Good film requires so many ingredients to mix correctly. We won't know how it would've turned out if he had edited it himself without the mentorship, but then again others have failed in those regards.
The REAL story here is the talent this kid had to tell a good story. Being that young and having the wisdom and focus is crazy impressive (i wonder if his family is well off and he's getting a good education which may be his advantage - just speculating). Either way it's an accomplishment.