Blood Rust is the fully formed introduction of a writer/director with a distinct and powerful voice. Dynamic direction and thoughtful cinematography will underscore a commanding script. Blood Rust grabs audiences by the throat and demands recognition. This vision is a force to be reckoned with.
Inclusion StatementOn all Brackish films, women comprise at least half the crew and people of color fill above the line leadership roles. We're proud to support and authentically represent Southern communities and we use our platform to support community empowerment organizations. We know rising tide lifts all boats.
About The Project
It’s been a year since Opal disappeared when she ambushes Joan at the library where Joan works. In a small town where gossip spreads like wildfire, Joan must bridle her volatile sister to prevent family secrets from destroying her hard-won reputation. Opal longs to reclaim their childhood bond, but old wounds still sting. Joan just wants Opal to apologize or leave. Quietly.
A cautionary fable about fractured sisterhood, Blood Rust is an unflinching but empathetic study of deeply faulted characters. It uproots stereotypes of Southern women, wading into moral discomfort with characters who blur the line between victim and perpetrator, selfishness and survival.
Blood Rust is both an indictment and a love letter to the Dirty South. It balances Southern Gothic theatricality (Tennessee Williams, Flannery O’Connor) with gritty realism (Wild, Winter’s Bone).
This photo, Amanda and Her Cousin Amy, Valdese, North Carolina, USA 1990 by Mary Ellen Mark, captures homeless girls in the American South.
The World of Blood Rust: Damascus, AL
The American South, paradoxically elemental and repressed, remains under-explored territory in film. Blood Rust speaks from an authentic, specific, Southern perspective. A survey of the fictional Damascus, Alabama, it looks beyond its characters to the environment that created them. With a story both locally true and universally resonant, Blood Rust explores the world of neglected and abused children, the ways they adapt, and the tragic cycle of trauma.
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About This Team
Hope Leigh Writer, Director, Actor (Opal)
An Alabama native, Hope received Tulane University’s Janice Torre Perky Award for Original Writing for her first play, Monopolis, which she also produced, directed, and in which she performed for her honors thesis. Blood Rust, Hope’s first screenplay, was a quarter-finalist at 2017’s Austin Film Festival Screenplay Competition.
Hope grew up onstage, performing in more than 30 productions before she turned 18. A proud SAG-AFTRA member, screen credits include national and regional commercials, major studio films and network television. Theatre highlights include Jessica in This Is Our Youth, Madame deTourvel in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and Penny in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog.
Hope’s first narrative short film writer/director effort, My Lethal Weapon, in which she also performed, was an official selection at the (Academy Award®-qualifying) Atlanta Film Festival (2018), Sidewalk Film Festival (2018), and Chattanooga Film Festival (2018), among others.
April Billingsley Actor (Joan)
A native of Atlanta, April Billingsley is an actress that you might know from the star-studded cast of “Last Vegas” where she plays a supporting role opposite Kevin Kline, Morgan Freeman, Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, and others; or from her recurring role as Barbara Langston in the ABC show, “Resurrection”. She has also appeared in “The Walking Dead”, "The Mentalist", "The Vampire Diaries”, “Constantine”, “Satisfaction" and "Drop Dead Diva.” Recently, she has been nominated for multiple, and won two best actress awards at various festivals for her starring role in the quirky independent feature, "The 12 Lives of Sissy Carlyle". Look for her next as she helms mysterious psychological thriller, “The Dark Red” directed by Dan Bush (The Signal). She is also one of the founding members of Atlanta based non-profit, "Act for a Change".
Chris Anthony Hamilton Director of Photography
Chris Anthony Hamilton is an award-winning Director and Cinematographer living in Atlanta, GA. With an education in film from Hofstra University, Chris honed his skills in New York City working with giants including Spike Lee, Ava DuVernay, Sesame Street and Ralph Lauren and has had the likes of such prolific people as Barack and Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey in front of his lens. His award-winning short films have screened at festivals internationally. Most recently he received the award for Best Director at the 2018 Black Women Film Network Short Film Festival. He may be most proud, though, of his eclectic karaoke repertoire which he’s happy to put on display at the wrap party.
Erin Day Production Designer
Erin began her journey into Film and TV in 2009 as an actress. She developed an interest in the production aspect and decided to venture behind the camera in 2014. Working as a Production Assistant on set and in office for 3 and a half years gave her the opportunity to build long-lasting connections and to learn the ins and outs of every department. Today Erin resides in Atlanta GA with her wife Lauren, their Yorkie Optimus Prime, and their Cat Dax. She is a proud member of the local 479 working as a Set Dresser & Props person. She is also still pursuing acting and is signed with Talent Direct Agency. In her downtime, she writes her own short films and has taken home two awards for her work as a writer. Her long term industry goal is to work as a Union Production Designer and/or Set Decorator.
Celisse Barrett Horse Wrangler, Stunt Coordinator
Celisse Barrett had been a performing on stage since she was 7 years old. She began her short professional music career which started at 14 when she attended Blake School of the Performing Arts, in Tampa Bay. She later turned her passion for horses into a profession and at 18 and signed on with Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede. Opportunities opened and received an offer to be a trick rider on a show for Walter Farley's Black Stallion Literacy Project. She went on hosting jousting tournaments while competing in the medieval skill games for Cavallo Equestrian Arts and performed for Cirque Ma’Ceo as a cossack rider. She's also been one of Austin Anderson's Texas Trick Riders. In 2009 she became a PATH intl instructor and began coaching those who needed adaptive and therapeutic services. She is the founder of Celisse's School of the Equestrian Arts 501c3 (CSEA) and creator and writer of Equestrian Chaos. She resides primarily in Mobile, Al, where she and her husband direct CSEA, an equestrian organization that serves over 600 special needs kids and adults each year. She trains all of her own horses and when they are not performing, whether they are used for film, circus or stunts, they are active, working therapy horses.