FACING EAST is a feature film about a Mormon family who reevaluates their lives and beliefs after the suicide of their gay son.
Facing East is a feature length narrative film that sheds light on an important subject. Just as we think our society is becoming more tolerant and inclusive, our hopes are dashed as we hear about another young gay person, drowning in shame and despair, taking their own life. Nowhere is this shame and despair more acute than among LGBT youth raised in religious homes. Repeatedly told directly and subliminally that God hates them, that they can change the very person that they are, that they are sinners, many see no escape other than death.
Facing East tells the story of a family dealing with this exact tragedy, and through their journey of discovery we see hope for ourselves, our families, our community, our world.
Facing East began as a stage play, by Carol Lynn Pearson, which premiered in Salt Lake City, later travelled to New York and San Francisco, and has since been performed at theater companies across the country. Facing East was honored by the Association for Mormon Letters as the best Mormon-themed play of 2007 “for its compassion, its even-handed wisdom and its tragic power.”
"Some theater is good drama. Some drama is important theater. Facing East is both." -- nytheater.com
"This compact, emotional epic doesn't bear even the slightest trace of exploitation: only truth, simply and beautifully told." -- talkingbroadway.com
We are all so close to this issue. We've all been tormented as we've watched good people struggle and families torn apart. We've all seen how gay children (or husbands, wives, fathers, mothers) from religious families struggle along a trail that has few reliable markers. The unique thing about the story of Facing East, is that it provides those markers, without condemning or degrading. Though about religious people, it is not a religious film, and has found support from both the LDS as well as LGBT community. Facing East has the potential to be a bridge between two very different communities.
Facing East is directed by Tony nominated Broadway actor (Hair, Priscilla: Queen of the Desert), and independent film director (Sons of Provo) Will Swenson. Will's personal biography as a Utah raised former Mormon and effective gay rights activist make him the perfect voice for this delicate subject. Will and his wife, Audra McDonald, were recently honored by PFLAG for their efforts to promote marriage equality with the 2012 Straight for Equality in Entertainment Award.
Guinevere Turner (Go Fish, American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page), one of the most prominent voices in LGBT cinema, has adapted Carol Lynn's stage play into a wonderful screenplay.
With this extraordinary team in place, we are now prepared to shoot Facing East in late 2013. While most of our funding is in place through equity investment, it will not be available until our preproduction period in Fall 2013. We need a bit extra to bring us to that point, so we are turning to you. The amount we are raising now is to fund some script rewrites, continue casting, pay for some legal and accounting necessities, and prep for production.
Are you excited by character driven, independent cinema? Do you long for a day when no one will feel that suicide is their only escape? Please support this amazing, important project.
For a more lengthy story synopsis please see Frequently Asked Questions, at the bottom of the page.
Kickstarter is an online fundraising platform that allows creators like us to make cool projects through direct support from everyday people like you. However, Kickstarter is an all or nothing proposition. If we don't hit the fundraising goal by our deadline, your credit card will not be charged, and we will not get any money at all. Please don't let that happen!
Join us in making Facing East a reality by contributing before it's too late! In exchange for your pledge, you'll receive sweet rewards depending on how much you contribute. All payments are processed through Amazon.com.
Here’s how you can help us make Facing East through Kickstarter:
- Hit the “Back This Project” button.
- Enter your pledge amount & select your reward.
- Confirm payment via Amazon.com.
- Tell your friends about us! (optional but highly recommended)
We are in the process of casting some truly extraordinary actors for this great project. In fact, we do have some "Name" actors unofficially attached and are working our schedules around theirs. Sadly, we can't post publicly who they are, but ask us in private and we'll tell you more. The one thing we CAN tell you about is that Broadway superstar Audra McDonald will appear in a supporting role.
You show us so much love by supporting us, we can't help but return the favor. We've worked hard to find truly unique and satisfying rewards for your generosity. Here are a few example, but be sure to check the side bar for the full list.
Rewards are delivered at different times. Most rewards will be sent in early 2013, but copies of the finished film or poster, for example, will not be available until 2014.
Will Swenson (director): As a Tony nominated actor, award winning independent film director, former Mormon pop culture icon and dedicated equal rights activist, Will is uniquely qualified to bring this powerful story to the screen. He understands both worlds represented in the film, and the diverse audience that will benefit from its production.
Will grew up in a Utah Mormon theater family and his first brush with stardom came as the lead in the surprisingly popular Mormon themed film The Singles Ward which grossed $1.25 million from a very limited audience. In 2005, Will wrote, directed and starred in the award-winning feature satire Sons of Provo. After achieving stardom in the bizarre world of Mormon film he left for Broadway, leaving his affiliation with the LDS faith behind. He is best known on stage for his Tony nominated role of Burger in the revival of Hair, and as Tick/Mitzy in the recent Pricilla Queen of the Desert. Other Broadway and off-Broadway credits include Rock of Ages (originating the role of Stacee Jaxx), Camelot, Slugbearersof Kayrol Island, 110 in the Shade, Lestat, Brooklyn, Miss Saigon, Adrift in Macao, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Kept, and Once Upon a Time in New Jersey. Television and film acting credits include the forthcoming Gods Behaving Badly, The Good Wife, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Six Degrees, All My Children, Guiding Light and As the World Turns.
For the past several years Will has been active in the fight for marriage equality and gay rights. He and his wife, Audra McDonald, were recently honored by PFLAG with their annual Straight for Equality in Entertainment award.
Guinevere Turner (screenwriter): Guinevere is a writer, director and actor who has worked in film and TV since her 1994 debut film and Sundance Film Festival hit Go Fish. Go Fish was among the first films to treat a lesbian romance in a positive light, and one of the first films about lesbians to have a high profile sale at Sundance and to receive a significant theatrical release. She went on to act in several films, including The Watermelon Woman, Chasing Amy, and Treasure Island. Eventually she teamed up with Mary Harron to write the cult classic American Psycho starring Christian Bale in the role that launched his career. Turner and Harron later reteamed to make The Notorious Bettie Page, a biopic about the celebrated pinup girl and the world that surrounded her, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. She was a staff writer and story editor on Showtime’s award winning lesbian themed seriesThe L Word, and she played a recurring character on that show. She has written and directed five short films, two of which showed at Sundance. She is the head mentor at LA’s long-running gay and lesbian film festival Outfest’s Screenwriting Fellowship.
Carol Lynn Pearson (playwright/screenwriter): A professional writer for decades, Pearson’s autobiography, Goodbye, I Love You, tells the story of her marriage to a homosexual man, their divorce, ongoing friendship, and her caring for him as he died of AIDS. Featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning, America and in People Magazine, she has become an icon to many thousands of gay people and their families for her powerful work to end the tragic collision between religion and homosexuality - causing Rabbi Harold Kushner (author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People) to say,“Thank you, Carol Lynn Pearson, for reminding us that the task of any religion is to teach us whom we’re required to love, not whom we’re entitled to hate.” Pearson’s one woman play Mother Wove the Morning earned an award from “Booklist” as “one of the top 25 videos of the year” and two of her children’s plays were commissioned by Robert Redford’s Sundance Summer Theatre. Her many award-winning books have had a combined sale of over 800,000 and many of her poems have been widely reprinted in such places as the Ann Landers column, Chicken Soup for the Soul, as well as several college literary textbooks.
Jason Kennedy (casting director): Jason currently casts, alongside Susan Bluestein, the popular CBS series NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles. For more than 10 years, Jason has worked on a wide variety of projects, ranging from drama and comedy series and pilots to features and miniseries. Some previous projects include BBC & HBO's Emmy winning House of Saddam, SyFy's drama The Dresden Files, CW & WB's Reba, Dawson’s Creek, Living With Fran and Run of the House, plus feature films that include Cursed, PU-239, A Little Thing Called Murder and Elizabethtown.
Duane Andersen (producer): Duane produced Dave Boyle’s award winning films Daylight Savings and Surrogate Valentine, which premiered at SXSW Film Festival in 2011 and 2012. He and Boyle previously collaborated on festival favorites White on Rice and Big Dreams Little Tokyo. He is currently in production on Tyler Measom and Justin Weinstein’s documentary An Honest Liar: The James Randi Story. He also produced Kevin Barker’s Last Kind Words (starring Brad Dourif), Moon Molson’s Sundance short Crazy Beats Strong Every Time, Rich Wong and H.P. Mendoza’s Yes, We’re Open, and Juan Cardarelli and Eric Levy’s Congratulations starring Brian Dietzen and Debra Jo Rupp. In 2013 Duane will make his feature film directorial debut with Superpowerless.
Emily Pearson (producer): Emily is one of the producers on the documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition that took the 2010 Sundance Film Festival by storm. She worked for years as Managing Director of Main Street Movie Company and helped produce the company’s filmStates of Grace.Emily has been a professional actor for years with credits includingTaking 5, Brigham City, Evil Angel,Beverly Hills 90210,Touched By An AngelandSaved By The Bell. She received a double nomination (Best Actress in a Musical) by the Connecticut Critics Circle for her roles as Carrie in Carousel and Mitzie in Over Here! She also co-authored the book Fuzzy Red Bathrobeand is the author of the children’s book Ordinary Mary’s Extraordinary Deedand the memoir Dancing With Crazy.
James Duke Mason (executive producer): James is an actor, producer and LGBT advocate. He is the son of Go-Go's lead singer Belinda Carlisle and producer Morgan Mason, and the grandson of the late British actor James Mason. Since January 2012 he has served on the Board of Directors of OUTFEST, the youngest member to be appointed in the organization's 30-year history. He has been selected for inclusion on various lists, including as part of The Advocate's "Forty Under 40", Out Magazine's "Out 100", and AfterElton.com's "Hot 100" (in 2011 and 2012). Earlier this year he co-starred with Wendie Malick in the comedy What Happens Next, and next year he will begin shooting on the thriller Disappear Here.
Are you interested in doing more to help secure Facing East's funding and production? If so, please contact Duane at email@example.com.
Emily's blog: Dancing with Crazy
Duane's blog: Low, Ultra-low and No
Will's homepage: http://willswenson.com/
Carol Lynn's homepage: http://www.clpearson.com/
A NOTE ON SHIPPING
You will receive things at different times. Bracelets, T-shirts, etc will arrive early next year, as will most of the "limited" items. Items such as a DVD of the finished film won't arrive until the film is done in 2014 (insert sad face here). For international shipments prices are higher because we have to send things out twice, therefore doubling our shipping expense.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Our biggest challenge is to get the word out about this amazing project. You can help by just forwarding this page to your friends and family. The interest we build here will help as the film is released. Your enthusiasm will change perceptions and save families.
We will try to get T-shirts and Hoodies to you by Christmas, but make no guarantees. Other reward (such as posters, cd's, etc) may also come in time for the Holidays, but again may come a bit later. Thanks for the patience... the time required to receive money from Kickstarter, order the items, then ship them during holiday postal traffic makes it unpredictable.
Most of our rewards will be available shortly after the holiday season, but some of the rewards, such as the actual DVD copies of the movie will not be available until after the film is made. The film is scheduled to go into production Fall of 2013, so we imagine the film will be available no sooner than late 2014. It is not uncommon for delays to occur in production due to schedules, funding, weather, and other issues. We will continually update all of our supporters of all of our progress or any setbacks, and allow you to participate in the excitement of the film's production, post production and release through emails, tweets, and Facebook updates.
Absolutely! The more the merrier. Just let us know how many people you want to bring when we coordinate it. We're easy.
Facing East refers to how in most Christian (and other) faiths people are buried with their feet facing east, so that come resurrection morning they will rise facing the risen Lord.
Alex and Ruth McCormick are an upstanding Mormon couple who have done everything right. He is a well-known radio personality, “One-Minute Dad,” giving great ideas on how to be a good father. She is a mother who has sacrificed everything for her family and is determined to lead each of her three children into God’s “celestial kingdom”, where they will be together as a family for all eternity. Theirs is an ideal life. Except for one flaw, which has brought them now to a point of crisis.
Their gay son Andrew, who had not been “healed” from his homosexuality despite every effort, and who had for a year been living with a man that he loved, whom his parents refused to meet or acknowledge, has taken his own life in a flower bed beside the Salt Lake Mormon temple.
The funeral in a Mormon chapel speaks only of his achievements, his Eagle Scout award, his missionary service, his position as a cellist in the Utah Symphony Orchestra. And it speaks of God’s plan of salvation.
Alex, however, is not satisfied with the funeral... feeling it was a lie. Feeling he didn't know his son. He is desperate to understand what went wrong. Ruth, however, is relieved that her tortured boy is in God’s healing hands and feels the less said about unpleasant things, the better. But Alex, leaves the memorial reception, followed by his exasperated wife, to return to the cemetery, hoping for some closure.
Once they arrive, however, they discover Andrew's partner, Marcus, at the gravesite. Through Marcus' love and anger, Ruth and Alex come to know their son in a way they never had before, and they come to realize the part they played in Andrew’s despair and his terrible, final act.
Yes and no. Facing East first premiered as a play in Salt Lake City where it was honored by the Association for Mormon Letters as the best Mormon-themed play of 2007 “for its compassion, its even-handed wisdom and its tragic power.” The Deseret News wrote "Facing East cannot be simply categorized as "pro-gay" or "anti-Mormon." There are pro-and-con elements on all sides of this multifaceted sexual quagmire, and Pearson's eloquent, tightly written script manages to touch most of the bases. There is very little finger-pointing, but there is plenty of fodder for healthy debate."
Facing East is a fictional drama, realistically showing what thousands of religious families (Mormon or otherwise) who have gay family members have gone through and go through daily. The principle characters are all good but imperfect people. Through the story the parents, Alex and Ruth, learn their gay son's struggle to reconcile his sexuality with his faith. They also learn that their refusal to accept him after he leaves the church and moves in with his partner Marcus, contradicts the teachings of Christian love and family support that they have preached to him since he was a child.
Facing East is a drama and an entertainment, before it is advocacy, but through the story of Ruth and Alex the audience will hopefully learn that the people we love most, should never feel that our love is conditional on who they love.
So, while the film never comes out as an anti-Mormon statement, is does condemn outright the all too prevalent cultural attitude that LGBT people are to be shunned, refused, and ostracized. And we hope it may create a world where gay Mormons (and gay members of other faiths) NEVER feel that they can only find peace through suicide.
Since this was written the LDS church has released a new web site: http://www.mormonsandgays.org/ -- which emphasizes a lot of what Facing East is about. Facing East will hopefully help Mormons change their attitudes by showing struggles that families face in a dramatic and entertaining way. Thanks to this new web site we feel that Facing East has a chance of being supported within the mainstream LDS community -- where it's message has the potential to do the most good.
There is no way to answer that question, as we do not get to make the decision. We hope to premiere at one of the larger North American festivals: Sundance, Toronto, Tribeca, etc. but that is in the hands of the selection committees of each festival, and the competition is always very high. If you pledge for the reward of being an MVP at our festival, you will need to prepare to travel to the festival. You will, of course, be welcome at any festival screening near you, and we will make tickets available to you... however, only at the premiere can we guarantee the attendance of director and cast. So, please, if you pledge for VIP treatment at the festival premiere, know that we will give you the VIP treatment at whatever festival screening you choose to attend, but there may not be a big event such as an after party at any screening other than the premiere.
Travel and lodging to the premiere is NOT included. Thanks.