Moving Stories: Videos from the American South

“I Shouldn’t Be Here …”


Crew & Credits

Video by
Adams & Spearman

Alan Spearman - Director
Cinematographer, Co-Writer
Mark Adams – Cinematographer
Chris Dean – Co-Writer

Run Time: 5:04
Release Date: 12/12/15


This short film — “As I Am” —  first appeared in late 2012, thanks to The Commercial Appeal, Memphis’ daily newspaper, which underwrote it as part of a special project called “Memphis Poverty: What Obama Didn’t See” — a deep and thoughtful journalistic examination of poverty in the city.

A year earlier, President Barack Obama had visited Memphis’ Booker T. Washington High School to deliver its commencement address. The student chosen to introduce the president that day was Chris Dean, who later became the subject, the writer and the heart of this film. The film came together during Dean’s 2012 internship at the The Commercial Appeal, where he worked with one of the newspaper’s photojournalists and filmmakers, Alan Spearman.

Spearman and cinematographer Mark Adams spent eight weeks with Dean, walking around his neighborhood, recording his observations about the place that is his home, the surroundings in which the young man grew up.