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On Your Radar: DOPE
by Karen Pecota

Written and directed by Rick Famuyima

In his latest feature film DOPE,  filmmaker Rick Famuyima uses his screenplay to describe the realities of how a group of high school geeks survive in their Los Angeles hood--a drug infested, gang-run ghetto. Famuyima creatively combines traditional theater, a musical-style and comedic dialogue to make a point that smart kids exist in all walks of life and do not need to bow down to the stronghold of a negative environment. Famuyima's characters are challenged to rise above being bullied by thugs who rule their city.

High School students Malcomb (Shameik Moore), Jib (Tony Revolori) and Diggy (Kiersey Clemons) are best friends. They are also noted geeks among their school peers. Teased as the smart kids, brainy children and goody-two-shoes.Their goals are set on higher ground: to graduate from high school, get out of their environment alive, and attend a university.

In an attempt to make an impression on a poplar girl Nakia (Zoe Kravitz) in his class, Malcomb convinces his friends to go with him to an underground party on an invite from Nakia.  A place normally they would never appear. As luck would have it the three are at the wrong place at the wrong time and narrowly escape getting arrested at a drug raid. The three are in the middle of a drug deal gone bad. Among the chaos they split up and run for their lives.

Malcomb had taken his backpack to the party but in order to look cool he had ditched it behind the bar for safe keeping. Making sure he did not leave his laptop behind that was inside his backpack Malcomb goes to great lengths to retrieve his backpack before escaping the clutches of the police. Once home, Malcomb checks to see if his laptop is safe. He is shocked to find a mother-load of drugs someone had added to his school supplies. Frightened. Malcomb tells Jib and Diggy and asks for advice.

Malcomb, Jib and Diggy evaluate the situation. Knowing if Malcomb gets caught with the dope under strange circumstances he can kiss his scholarship money for college good-bye. It's not a clear cut situation to simply go to the police because they cannot be trusted. The three need help. They need advice from adults whom they respect. Malcomb, Jib and Diggy start to ask around for advice concealing the real reason of their inquiry for their own safety.

Recognizing those they revered all had a something to hide, they conclude the safest thing for them to do is to find a way to get rid of the drugs where there would be no trace back to the them. The high school geek squad devises a foolproof plan to sell the drugs using their chemistry lab rights and bit-coin. Foolproof? Well, not exactly if anyone could work the system to their advantage, Malcomb, Jib and Diggy were the students to do it. Their crime-fighting adventure begins in the lab because they got...DOPE.