Laine faces expulsion from BYU with her graduation around the corner after her roommate hears her in bed with a woman and turns her into the Honor Code. Upon being invasively questioned, Laine is granted a troubling option to save her degree, forcing her to choose between her heart and her faith.
Inclusion StatementHONOR's creator is a lesbian and a former Mormon. Our cast features only women. Most of the limited content exploring the LGBTQ Mormon experience focuses on gay men. Our story is the one Lauren hadn't heard before her own - a young LDS lesbian grappling with two important parts of her identity.
About The Project
Hi everyone! Lauren here. Just wanted to first take a moment to thank you for visiting our campaign page.
I promised myself in January that 2019 would be the year I would make my first film. I have two degrees in Acting. The first is a Bachelor of Fine Arts from BYU, the second is a Master of Liberal Arts from the American Repertory Theatre's Institute at Harvard. Now, I have a ton of student debt and a story to tell. I have been stepping into other people’s stories for a while now. Stories have saved my life. We are all connected to each other through our stories, and it is now time to share one of my own.
The plot of Honor isn’t an exact replica of what happened to me, but it very well could have, and I spent my senior year at BYU terrified that it would. It did happen to some of my friends. And through writing this screenplay, I have connected with strangers who wound up in the Honor Code Office during their own time at BYU. In all of these voices – my own, my friends, the strangers with shared experiences – a common thread appeared from the memories. The pursuit of truth in the face of a system that would restrict and limit that exploration for the sake of conformity.
I am no longer a practicing Mormon. I chose to let go of the organization and the belief system I had structured around it because the option to date someone who excited me mattered to me. The option to fall in love without trying to suppress it and even share seasons of life with a partner mattered to me. I didn’t go to BYU knowing that I would want these things with women and not men. When I signed the Honor Code, I meant it. Yeah, I broke it. Later. When I learned. We’re supposed to learn during those years. About the world, about our fields of study, and about ourselves. I lived in fear the entire year of school that remained for me after my own discovery. I was so close to finishing, and could have lost it all. I know I broke the code I signed. I know they had the right to kick me out if someone turned me in. I had a close call, too. But all I wanted was a safe place to search for a new truth about who I was now that I had learned something about myself that contradicted the beliefs that were fundamental and important to me. It isn’t possible to do that in an honest way when you stand to be removed for that very pursuit. In HONOR, Laine faces the reality of my own fear. The film jerks us in time between the present in her Honor Code interrogation and in the recent past during night she spent with Maggie, an act of fear and an act of love side by side, as she is forced to respond to questions she doesn’t have all the answers for yet.
LGBTQ students have always been targeted by the Honor Code Office, from a full-on ban of enrolling or remaining enrolled in the 60s, to targeted entrapment schemes which led gay students to being treated with electroshock and/or vomiting aversion therapies through the 70s, to having nearly 80% of students refusing to live with an openly homosexual roommate in a poll taken in the 90s, to a ban on LGBTQ advocacy and coming out in the 2000s. Now, LGBTQ students are allowed to be out. However, their student organization (the very brave USGA) is banned from meeting on campus, any form of physical intimacy that gives expression to same-sex attraction (i.e. dating, holding hands, kissing) which would be allowed for unmarried heterosexual couples constitutes a violation of the Honor Code, as does “extreme” expressions of gender that contradict sex assigned at birth, such as a “female with a shaved head, or a male with long nails, brightly dyed hair, or makeup” according to instruction given to faculty in 2017.
I support the choice of any LGBTQ member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whether or not that choice takes them away from the Church as it did for me, or draws them closer. There is a sacrifice either way. My own beliefs and opinions about which sacrifice is the “honorable” way to be true to oneself will not be imposed on others who choose something different than I did. But I want to exist in a world where there is safety to explore that question in an earnest pursuit of truth without fearing retribution from one’s University.
If you watched our Pitch Video, you have a feel for the way we want to tell this story. We won’t shy away from Laine’s experience, the discomfort of her interrogation, the joys and the nerves of the “first time,” or the suffocating feeling of being trapped inside an identity puzzle with mismatching pieces. We were lucky enough to get a couple hours one afternoon with some equipment our DP had access to briefly to put the teaser together for you to see. Now, we need you to take us into production. We want you to help us take this story from our passion and yours out to the world. This story matters right now while students are currently pushing for change in the Honor Code Office at BYU, so that it can be a safer place for everyone who chooses to attend, no matter who they are, who they love, whether their faith is strong or in crisis.
We intend to submit Honor to festivals around the globe to give our film its initial screenings and broaden its audience. After Honor's festival run, we will look for the most effective way to distribute the film so it can reach those who need it the most.
Honor is dedicated to the memory of Eric Samuelsen, a fierce leader in BYU's theatre department, a master of words and telling story, and an immovable rock and advocate for the LGBTQ student base of BYU and beyond. There are young people who alive today because of his encouragement and compassion in the face of institutionalized discrimination and shame.
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About This Team
Lauren Noll (Writer/Director/Laine) is a Los Angeles based actor with a Master’s Degree in Acting from the American Repertory Theatre/Moscow Art Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University. While at A.R.T., Lauren was a cast member of Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812, directed by this year’s Tony Award winner for directing Rachel Chavkin, which went on to a Broadway run and garnered several Tony nominations. Favorite theatre credits include Brie in A Small Group, Laura in The Glass Menagerie, Nora in A Doll House, and Chrissy in Hair. She can also be seen as the principal actor in Five Finger Death Punch’s video for their song “When the Seasons Change” which has over nine million views on YouTube. After graduating from Harvard, Lauren chose to move to Los Angeles to focus on TV and Film. Since arriving in LA, her curiosity around other roles in filmmaking led her to writing classes, and thus the birth of this film, Honor, loosely based around Lauren’s experiences, fears, and questions when she was an undergraduate at Brigham Young University. Honor is her debut as a writer/director.
Caitlin Combe (Producer) is from Ireland but was brought up in South East Asia. She graduated from Emerson College in December 2016 with a B.A. in Film Production. She works best when she is surrounded by creatives who are equally driven and invested as she is. She has previously spent time at Annapurna Pictures, FilmNation Entertainment, and Management 360. She has spent the past two years producing one of the worlds largest LGBTQ web series. With two seasons under her belt, a streamy award nomination, over 8 million views, and over 54,000 subscribers, this hit LGBT comedy has been described as "brutally honest and relatable" by Pride.com and "diverse and incredibly binge-worthy " by Into. Outside of freelance producing she works as the Private Event Lead for WeWork in Southern California. She is very excited and honored to be producing “Honor”.
Matthew Tompkins (Director of Photography) is a bi-coastal member of the ICG, based in both New York and Los Angeles. With a background in music videos, Matthew has worked for top artists like Ty Dolla $ign, Lizzo, Loren Gray, Ava Max, and recently received his first VMA Nomination for his work with Muse. Narratively, Matthew has explored a plethora of topics, focusing on bringing light to topics with inherent value and does his best to lend his voice to stories that need to be told. His work has screened in festivals such as Cannes, Tribeca, Orlando International and many, many more. With 8 years of cinematic experience Matthew is looking forward to helping explore the emotional minutia's of Honor and help shed a light on the content involved.
Jessica Mendez Siqueiros (Editor/Festival Consultant) is a Mexican-American writer/director & actress seeking to normalize complex & authentic narratives about the Southwest Mexican-American community through film. Her filmmaking style is highly cinematic and composed, described by Remezcla as "reclaiming a vision of storytelling often only associated with white creators". Her debut short film Pozole is an official selection of SIFF, LALIFF, Indy Shorts, Hamptons, Nashville and over 50 film festivals to date. The film took home the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short Film (Comedy) at Cinequest, qualifying for the 2020 Academy Awards. Selected as a director mentee in the AT&T Hello Lab Mentorship Program, she is currently directing her next short film under the guidance of Lena Waithe. Her editing work has been featured at some of the top film festivals in the world, including BFI London, New Orleans, Nashville, Encounters, Athens Int’l Film + Video Festival, and Outfest. She is an Alumni of LAByrinth Theatre Company’s Ensemble Workshop, and a proud member of SAG-AFTRA, AEA, The Alliance of Women Directors, Women in Film, and the Chicana Directors Initiative. She is also a participant in Women in Film’s inaugural INSIGHT program seeking to support women of color in Hollywood.
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Lily Richards (Maggie) is a Los Angeles based actress, writer, and director. She is the writer, director, and star of the hit web series "Twenty". With two seasons available on YouTube, Twenty has received a Streamy Award nomination for Best Indie Series, over 8 million views, 55,000 subscribers, and mentions in Forbes, The Hollywood Reporter, and Variety. Lily graduated from Emerson College in 2016 with a degree in acting and playwriting and has since starred in numerous plays and films. She recently starred in the regional premiere of, “A Small Group” at the Hudson Theatre and can be seen playing the title role in the Myles Yaksich short "Erin". She also voices the role of the infamous villain, The Tattered Woman in the popular science fiction podcast "The Far Meridian".
Gina Lohman (Sister Woodbury) has had the honor and privilege to have acted in over 50 plays. Her heart has always, and will always, belong to theatre.
She is a founding member and producer of the LA based theatre company, Player King Productions.
Be on the lookout for her in the Netflix film, Dolemite is My Name, starring Eddie Murphy and the soon-to-be released short film, The Exchange.