In Her Wake
In these tumultuous times, we felt that it was our responsibility as storytellers to tell a story that everyone could relate to. And what does everyone do? They die. And ultimately, if you can find a way to laugh at death, at any of the things that make us saddest, how freeing. What a relief.
100 Days of Optimism
Inclusion StatementAs artists, we understand the importance and impact of inclusion which is why we will prioritize diversity and look for all opportunities to further diversify our team!
About The Project
Dan and Angela first began dreaming up In Her Wake after they'd heard Mark Duplass’ speech at South by Southwest in 2015.
“The calvary isn’t coming,” he began, then noting that, “…No one can stop you from doing exactly what you want to do. If you can accept that the cavalry won’t come, and if you can be the cavalry, it gives you a chance to be happy.”
They realized that all that they'd ever wanted to do was tell stories, and they didn’t want to waste any more time waiting for opportunities to do so to come their way. So, they chose be their own calvary and committed to telling a story together.
As time went on, however, they came to realize that it couldn't just be any story. The world was growing bleaker around them and people were growing more hostile and afraid by the second, so, they understood that their storytelling was an opportunity not just for them, but for their audiences, as well. An opportunity to tell something universal, speak a story and a truth that anyone could relate to no matter who they were or where they came from. Something that happens to everyone. And, after a visit with Dan's ailing grandmother, he had a bit of an epiphany:
Fact is, everyone dies. And fact is, we don't talk about it all that often. And fact is, we definitely don't laugh about it nearly enough.
So, whereas they knew better than to assume that a story like this might change the world, they certainly aimed to build a kind of bridge with it. And so, In Her Wake began.
Ultimately, In Her Wake feels like what would happen if the duo from Skeleton Twins had a baby with the crew from The Big Chill, and you put them all in a Little Miss Sunshine-world.
It's a story of two dry-witted adult siblings, Jacob and Bec, doing their best to muscle their way through their mother's wake. They've been (understandably) inundated with the same litany of well-meaning, horribly sad condolences and quickly become desparate for a break. They try everything.
It doesn't go well.
So, they leave the rest of the mourners behind and go off to get a breath of fresh air with each other. They talk about every stupid thing that they can think of other than the wake, find varoius ways to entertain each other, but every so often, regardless of subject, the conversation always reminds them of their current reality.
And of course, it doesn't. So, what In Her Wake becomes is a struggle between finding the balance with what the wake currently is and what, in Jacob and Bec's humble opinion, it should be: a sloppy, drunken, fun celebration.
It is a dance of honoring death versus celebrating life and then, eventually, just embracing that gray area inbetween. It is recognizing that not only does everyone grieve, but everyone grieves differently. It is laughing in the face of something that would, otherwise, simply turn you into a puddle of yourself. It is tragedy that's not all absolute devastation, and comedy that's not all fun and games because, frankly, that's just how life is.
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About This Team
Angela is an alarmingly and earnestly effervescent Muppet of a human, and self-professed ham. A native of Western New York, she comes from a family of exceptionally smart, strong and sarcastic women. It's one of her largest bragging rights. She is dedicated to telling stories that are worthy of these women and that, incidentally, reflect who they are.
Dan talks way too much most of the time, has a great sense of humor, and luxurious hair. From Des Moines, Iowa (corn!), he loves understated stories that don't spell it out for you and require you to do some leg work. The unspoken things that a character doesn't say (but you know is going on in their head). Any story that is told honestly and intelligently is alright in his book.
No surprise, but both Angela Cristantello & Dan Hillaker are lifelong storytellers. They first met in Kansas City where she was acquiring her MFA in Acting, and he was doing theatre about town and dating some slick stage manager named Jaclyn. They had a knack for getting cast opposite one another as brother and sister and, in turn, very quickly developed a brotherly/sisterly relationship offstage.
Years passed and both Dan and Angela left Kansas City, she for NYC and he for LA. Dan married Jaclyn, who quickly chose to leave her stage management days behind in exchange for becoming a bidding producer for a major commercial production company (and, ergo, became even slicker).
Incidentally, Jaclyn is the line producer for In Her Wake. She is perfect. Like, generally speaking, she's just perfect, but most especially perfect as a line producer. She has her Masters in Stage Management so she loves being organized and anticipating problems, and she also hates excuses and stupid people.
While they were apart, Dan and Angela both slowly rediscovered their love of writing, something that they had each been incredibly passionate about since they were kids. The moment that Angela left NYC for LA herself, she and Dan instantly began talking about writing something together. And, after a great many writing sessions, an awful lot of pep talks and successfully plowing through no less than 80 cases of La Croix, In Her Wake was born.
And when it came time to finding their director for this thing, they immediately knew who they wanted for the job.
Kyle Hatley is one of the most vocal and ridiculously passionate people to have ever walked the face of the earth. Period. An accomplished theatre director/writer/actor and altogether badass force of nature (and, of course, dear friend and fellow artist from their Kansas City-days), Kyle was an easy and evident choice to direct this thing. In fact, this is (somehow) the first time that anyone has ever prodded him to direct a film and, in his words "It's about ****ing time someone asked me to." He is an undeniably dedicated storyteller who wholeheartedly believes in telling the truth. Incidentally, he's an honest to goodness actor's director and Angela & Dan are 175% the luckiest to have him on board.
When you're working on a massive project of any kind, it's important to compile a team that not only knows exactly how to work together but who, if you're lucky enough, actually loves each other. This is our In Her Wake-team. We believe that all of that love and familiarity and trust will undoubtedly come through in our final product and, man oh man, we just can't wait to share it with you.