Jenks has been pushed to the brink by a system that does not care about him. Desperate for life-saving medicine, he resorts to robbing a small-town drug store. But when he injures a mysterious woman involved in a black market pharmacy, his attempts to save her life may end up jeopardizing his own.
Mission StatementThe problem of unattainable healthcare has been an issue for years, especially in the South. Don’t Die started as a lean crime thriller, but as the script developed, resonant ideas weaved their way in. We’re excited for an opportunity to craft a cinematic story that’s both entertaining and relevant.
About The Project
Several acres of hunting land in a small Tennessee town, complete with a big red barn, a herd of cattle, a vast stretch of woods, a lovely little farmhouse…and a super creepy basement.
It all belongs to a good friend of ours in the film industry—and it was graciously offered up as a location to shoot a movie.
This was our meal ticket. After spending years developing, writing, and rewriting a feature script that was ultimately just out of our monetary reach, we were sick of sitting around waiting to shoot a film. We had to do something. We had to scale it all back until the budget and the workload became manageable for a small crew in Alabama.
And then it became something we didn’t expect.
We started with a simple premise: that creepy basement. Someone had to be trapped down there, and when they got out, there had to be something waiting to face them down. But what would that be? Cannibals would be messy (and expensive). Cults are too trendy. Big gnarly monsters are…awesome, actually, but also very expensive. Vampires? Zombies? It all felt too common, or too lofty.
But a pharmacy? A suspiciously altruistic black-market operation in the Appalachian wilderness determined to help the helpless…even if it means making unspeakable sacrifices? That feels different. Topical, even. At a time when it feels like the world is on fire, sometimes we forget that our country is full of people with medical conditions that they can’t afford to address.
A premise like this would check all of the boxes for us. It’s a topic that has weighed on our minds as friends and family members undergo medical treatments, but of course, it’s universal. Who among us hasn’t been overwhelmed by medical bills, or one bad day away from unaffordable treatments? It’s the sort of premise that allows for entertainment in the moment as well as a larger, lingering conversation.
Now we have to go and make the damn thing. (Reader: This is where you come in.)
As the first Alabamians to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Seed & Spark (it’s true, look it up), we knew they’d be the best platform for our film. Because we’re not asking for handouts—we’re building a team. If you contribute to our campaign and help make Don’t Die a reality, guess what? You’re along for this ride with us, from station to station, until we reach the end of the track.
The film industry is unpredictable, but here’s what we can promise you: We’re going to assemble a team of Third Coast all-stars for this film. We’re talking cast and crew who’ve worked on films that premiered at Sundance and TIFF, films that landed on Netflix and HBO and Hulu, even films that were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. (Yes, that’s “films,” plural.) And once we’re done, we aim to have a film worthy of standing next to all their previous laurels and credits.
(And we plan on keeping our people safe, too. We’re keeping our cast and crew small to stay within all COVID-19 protocols, and if it’s still not safe to shoot on our proposed dates, we’ll wait. Imagine the irony of a film about pharmaceuticals where our workers get sick.)
The train has already left the station, folks. We’ve scheduled our shooting dates, we’ve begun assembling our team, and we’ve got a plan to obtain all the funding we’ll need. This campaign won’t cover the entire budget, but it will cover a significant amount—and if all goes well in the beginning, we’ve got plenty of stretch goals to implement.
We hope you’ll take this opportunity to join our team. Stay safe, y’all.
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About This Team
Benjamin Stark's acclaimed films have screened at over 40 film festivals and cover a wide range of genres. After directing a number of a shorts in college, Ben made the leap into feature filmmaking with a microbudget noir thriller, THE NOCTURNAL THIRD (2011). Film Threat praised the film for having "a great look, captivating characters, and tight writing." Ben worked with Oscar nominee Eric Roberts (THE DARK KNIGHT) on the religious thriller short DEAD SATURDAY (2015) to create a blistering performance opposite exciting newcomer Kurt Krause (HIDDEN FIGURES). Ben’s latest work includes a trilogy of award-winning hip-hop music videos for rising artist King Kwofi. In his alter ego as a corporate video producer, Ben has over a decade of experience working on projects with clients that include NASA and the National Parks Service.
Jeremy Burgess is an award-winning screenwriter with more than a decade of experience. His first feature screenplay, WE TAKE CARE OF OUR OWN, was named a finalist for Best Horror Feature Screenplay at the Nashville Film Festival. As a writer and producer, Jeremy's film festival credits include Slamdance, Cucalorus, Indie Memphis, the Portland Film Festival, and the Austin Music Video Festival. As a copywriter by day, Jeremy has written content for national brands like Valvoline, DoorDash, and the Southeastern Conference as well as local campaigns like Alabama Gulf Seafood, for which he won a National ADDY Award. Jeremy lives in Birmingham, AL with his pit bull, Jessica.
Colby Leopard is an international independent film and television producer from Brooklyn, NY, currently residing in Birmingham, AL, and works as a producer for Alabama Public Television, Alabama's PBS affiliate. He specializes in marketing, publicity, distribution, and digital media, and has worked on dozens of indie films over his career with indie powerhouse FilmNation Entertainment. Credits include Denis Villeneuve’s eight-time Academy Award nominee ARRIVAL, Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon’s THE BIG SICK, and Academy Award winner ROOM starring Brie Larson.