THE DARK PLACES
Six months ago I knew nothing about self harming. I had heard the term 'cutting' but assumed it was some sick fad, maybe a rebellious way to gain attention. I couldn't have been more wrong. I now understand that self harming is not a deviant call for attention but a desperate cry for help.
Inclusion StatementOver 2,000,000 young people of all genders, races, ethnicity, cultural traditions and religions become ensnared in the web of self harming yearly in the US alone. But self harming is a world wide epidemic, primarily among young people from adolescence to mid-20s.
About The Project
When I first received screenwriter/producer LeAnn Morris's script for The Dark Places, I knew nothing about self-harming / self-injury. I had heard the term 'cutting' but assumed it was some kind of odd fad, perhaps a way for young people to seek attention. I couldn't have been more wrong. Self-harming is not a call for attention, it's a cry for help! And the young are the most frequently affected.
Can you imagine a young person feeling so much pain inside that they take a sharp object and cut or stab or otherwise cause physical harm to themselves because, for some terrible reason even they don't understand, the act eases their internal pain? That relief, if it comes at all, is fleeting. Sadly, self-injury is often repeated over and over. The scars of the flesh will heal but the pain in the soul persists.
If that doesn't break your heart I'm not sure what will. The stories I've encountered in recent months have certainly broken my heart. As filmmakers of faith we believe in HOPE not just wishful thinking. This film is about the kind of Hope that carries us through and beyond the dark places.
Sarah, a young woman struggling with severe depression, has been caught in a nightmare of self harming, which she has used as a coping mechanism. Her mental health has deteriorated to the point where she has attempted suicide.
When we first meet Sarah she is lost in a forest of confusion and despair, has a profound sense of worthlessness and is desperate to gain control of her life. She feels alone, but there is a man, a loving FATHER reaching out and offering her a pathway to Hope.
As she struggles to take control of and eliminate the pain and fear that leaves her feeling lost and alone, Sarah rejects the man, this father, because she doesn't recognize who he is. Is he her parent...or a father figure...or is he even real?
Sarah isn't sure but she speaks of the man as someone she would like to know better. "He's kind of relentless" Sarah says. "In my mind he never stops chasing after me. And I don't mean in a bad kinda way. But when I'm in a dark place he's there to bring me out."
So...is he of flesh and blood, the father she has never known? Or is he much more?
Why This Story
"Let me know what you think of this six page script." That single sentence, and the attached script were the sum total of the email I received in early January 2019 from screenwriter / producer LeAnn Morris. Little did I know at the time that almost every day after until this present day I would spend talking about the story, working with LeAnn to further develop her compelling six page short script into the equally taught twelve pages it is today. Researching, reading, and most importantly listening to those caught up in self harming to gain a fuller understanding of why this story needs to be told has been months in pursuit for LeAnn and me.
Plain and simple, I have come to understand that The Dark Places is the most important film project I've been asked to be part of in my forty plus yeasrs in the industry.
I've learned that to many, self injury is about control. The act of harming, bleeding is an act that they control and by doing so the inner pain is numbed. But the numbing effect is short lived. And the scars that prove that statement become too numerous to hide. The scars will heal but the pain never will without help - without HOPE.
And that is why we are producing this movie. We believe there IS hope beyond the dark places and we need to tell this story.
NOTE: Our goal is to make a film that that will, after its festival run, be useful to mental health organizations, churches, support groups, etc. who can use this film as a tool in counseling clients who are struggling to be free of self-harming.
What We Have So Far
We knew all along that if we didn't have the right location we wouldn't be able to do the film. What a blessing to meet Kari and Paul Spaniel owners of Coyote Creek Cabin. Securing this location propelled the project forward. Kari and Paul share our passion for helping others find hope beyond the dark places.
We have a script that is currently nominated for Best Short Script at the upcoming Content19 Film and Media Summit.
We have a group of experienced, award winning professionals as the core of our team. I invite you to check out the TEAM tab
We're thrilled to have composer David Michael Hyde working on our team. David has TWO nominations for Best Original Music Score at the upcoming Content19 Film and Media Summit.
Playing the pivotal role of Sarah, a youing woman battling depression and self harming is Austin actress, singer/songwriter Bethany Becker. Bethany's audition captivated us and when we met in person, we knew we had a divine appointment.
What We Need From Contributors
Please see the WISH LIST section for a breakdown on how the money will be spent.
Check Out Our Location
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
Tommy G. Kendrick Dir/Prod/Actor of The Dark Places has been a professional actor for over 40 years, joining SAG & AFTRA, the actor's unions, in 1978. Over the years he has appeared opposite stars such as Dennis Quaid, Jack Black, Pierce Brosnan, Chuck Norris, Nicolas Cage and others and has worked with acclaimed film directors including Peter Berg, John Lee Hancock, Richard Linklater and many fine television directors as well. He was most recently seen in episodes of AMC's Fear The Walking Dead and The Son as well as taking leads in award winning shorts Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell and Matchstick Willie.
"The Dark Places" will be the fourth short film produced by award winning screenwriter/producer LeAnn Morris. The screenplay for this project is currently in nomination for Best Short Script at the upcoming Content19 Film Festival and Media Summit produced by Christian Media Assoc.
Other nominations at Content19 for LeAnn are: short film "Change of Plans"nominated for Best Short Film under 10 minutes, and Best Original Music Score (this film won Best Sci-Fi Short Film at Reel East Texas FF in 2017); also her script "More Precious" nominated for Best Feature Script, which was a finalist at the Nashville FF in 2014.
James Burgess was our 1st Choice to be Dir. of Photography on The Dark Places. Why?
James is an accomplished storyteller who weaves technical proﬁciency and artistic expression into decidedly poignant messages. James is able to produce striking and impressive images efﬁciently and artistically within the constraints of given budgets.
His work has received some of the industry’s most prestigious awards from such organizations as the International Film and TV Festival of New York, INTERCOM, CINE, Parents Choice, Houston International Film Festival, Telly Awards, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, Dove Foundation and the National Educational Media Network.
James's numerous productions have taken him to locations around the world: Australia, Brazil, China, Bulgaria, Ecuador, Ethiopia, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Philippine Islands, Romania, Russia, Scotland, Thailand, Uganda and Vietnam, as well as many locations in the United States and Canada.
David Michael Hyde is a contemporary composer and music producer for film, dance and digital media.
Born and raised in Austin, TX, David began his music education at age eleven playing trumpet and completed his first composition at thirteen. After earning his Electrical Engineering degree, David built his own audio studio and produced independent artists in the pop and contemporary worship genres.
He interned at recording studios, studied music theory, and completed composition and orchestration classes. After some powerful experiences composing for live theatre and digital media, he fell in love with film music again, and turned his focus to serving the visual and performing arts through lyrical and emotive scoring, programming and production.
Today, David continues to collaborate with filmmakers, choreographers and storytellers. He and his wife Lisa have been married 27 years and have two talented children, Rebecca and Justus.
Bethany Becker is a dedicated actress and a touring country/pop artist based in Austin, TX.
Not one to wait for 'the business' to come to her, in the Summer 2013, Bethany flew out to Nashville to write and record her first EP with Keith Follese (Tim McGraw, Martina McBride, Faith Hill), Adrienne Follese, and Liz Rose (Taylor Swift).
After landing multiple nominations for the Hollywood Music and Media Awards and various other competitions, Bethany finished her first full Nashville produced album (self titled, Bethany Becker) which includes the songs off her “Maybe More” EP as well as seven new songs created with the help of the incredible Jeff Pardo (Lady Antebellum, Matthew West, Colton Dixon).
Bethany works hard to make her music relatable, not just to other 21-year-old girls but to people of all ages and all walks of life. In addition to being relatable, it’s important to her that no parent ever feels like they have to cover their child’s ears at one of her shows. She is happy and proud to say that her album is 100% clean and safe for people of all ages as well.
Bethany wants everyone to know how excited and passionate she is for the opportunity to play the demanding role of Sarah in The Dark Places.
Travis Driver, seen above walking The Dark Places primary location with DP James Burgess is an accomplished set designer, make up man extraordinaire and director of theater and film. His creative contributions to this production are appreciated and highly valued.