Experiencing Interruptions?

The Stones That The Builders Rejected (Short)

Jeffrey "Hot Sauce" Maxwell works for God.

For the last twenty odd years Jeff has dedicated his life to those at the bottom of the proverbial totem pole. Traveling in and out of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods, the Chicago Englewood native is on a mission. One he believes will be his last. The Stones That the Builders Rejected follows Jeff’s journey to transform Chicago’s failing Black communities.

Pacing himself as if he’s on borrowed time, the fast-talking charismatic founder of the Chicago Peace Initiative oozes authenticity. This works well with his intended audience: Chicago’s violent drill music generation.

In 1996, God gave his mother a message to deliver to him just before he began a three-and-a- half-year prison sentence. He knew it was true because it comported with a conversation he had with God days before the FBI knocked on his door. He hadn’t shared it with anyone. From her dimly lit suburban bungalow, his mother delivered the message to him: “God’s going to use you to raise up an army.”

Since his release from prison, Jeff has been on a mission to find his army, yet he’s struggled. Despite successfully ministering to young men within the county jail, soup kitchens and on street corners, he feels he has failed to fulfill his spiritual mandate. He later discovered this was due to his misguided efforts.

For years he proceeded under the assumption that his army would be made up of adults. Nonetheless, while speaking to a room full of young men in Chicago’s juvenile detention center, he reassessed his plans. A certain parable kept playing over and over in his head. It was the story about the stones that the builders rejected. Placing parables upon his spirit is one of the ways that God communicates with Jeff, and, for him, it confirmed that youths like the ones standing before him would be his army. The type of youths that many in their own communities see as threats. After he finished speaking to the previously indifferent brood, the young men could not suppress their enthusiasm. They wanted to know when he would be returning.

Jeff wants these young men, along with others of their ilk, to become his partners on a mission to transform Chicago’s Black network of communities. He wants to make Black communities thriving meccas— free of crime, conscious, healthy, and entrepreneurial. His risk of failure is high, and his opposition is strong. Nevertheless, Jeff knows he’ll have to transform these forgotten youth before he can transform his community.

  • Otis Dominique
  • Otis Dominique
  • Otis Dominique
  • Project Type:
  • Runtime:
    5 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    June 1, 2023
  • Production Budget:
    3,500 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
Director Biography - Otis Dominique

Otis Dominique is a filmmaker and criminal defense attorney born and raised on Chicago’s South Side. He is the writer, co-director and producer of the short film, Johnny’s Shoes (2016). He has also served as producer for the short films: This Too Shall Pass (2016) and Trombone Jones (2019). Over the past three years he has produced, directed and filmed principal photography for 8 documentary short films. He currently resides in Chicago and received his Juris Doctor from Northern Illinois University. When not filming or practicing law, he loves reading, playing classical guitar and spending time with his wife.

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Director Statement

I had been looking for a filmmaking project to purse for some time. By chance, I bumped into the film’s protagonist this summer. He and I attended college together but hadn’t seen each other in over 10 years. After catching up and hearing what he’d accomplished and what he was in the midst of creating, I felt I had something special.

Moreover, many of our African American communities are in urgent need of a new direction, hope and opportunity. Our young men are being eliminated and marginalized at an alarming rate. This film is a short version of what I plan to make into a feature length documentary. The Stones That The Builders Rejected attempts to speak directly to the issues that impact these young Black men and by extension has implications for the African American community at large. The young men in our communities are hungry for possibility. Our main character, Jeffrey Maxwell, is on the road to making the kind of difference, deep down, many of us wish we had the courage to do. He will serve as a muse for what’s possible for us all.