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Pregnant and Dying's video poster

Pregnant and Dying is a short, experimental film about Elma, a young woman who is both pregnant and dying. Read more

Brooklyn, NY Shorts
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This project was successfully funded on December 23, 2011.

Pregnant and Dying is a short, experimental film about Elma, a young woman who is both pregnant and dying.

Brooklyn, NY Shorts
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About this project

So What is This Film All About?

Pregnant and Dying is a short, experimental film that was born through musings about my own body; its potential and its potential failure. While we can exert a finite amount of control over our corporal fate, ultimately we are powerless to fight our physical self. I am making this film as I wrestle with these ideas.

Yeah, Ok. But What is This Film Actually About? And What the Heck Will it Look Like?

It is about a young woman named Elma, who finds herself at the doctor's office both pregnant and dying. She soon learns that her body is not her own when her family - bereft and confounded by the seemingly paradoxical circumstances - claims rights to the fetus growing inside her. Reality very quickly transforms into something less recognizable, as Elma and her family wrestle over questions of what we owe to each other in extraordinary situations.

The film explores those moments in life when something irreversible happens - a death sentence, a baby gestating past the possibility of abortion. These moments of inevitability have the power to alter our perception of reality. It is that sense of the 'hyper-real' - when things are closer to the surface, more vivid, a little warped - that I am trying to capture in Pregnant and Dying.

To do this, the film will be shot almost entirely in front of a screen with images projected from the rear side - an aesthetic inspired by the photographer Cindy Sherman's Rear Screen Projection photo series. This technique creates bold, static images that place us in a 'real' space, while at the same time makes visible the ways this 'reality' is manufactured.

Similar again to Sherman's own work, I will be playing all seven characters in the film, transforming myself with highly detailed costumes and makeup. Elma is the only character who is stripped bare, naked and with very minimal makeup, as it is her body that is the site of contention.

Can I See the Film Before I Decide to Donate to the Project?

No! The film has not yet been shot. However, we (myself, along with the project's Cinematographer, Jordan Levie, and Editor, Jesse Ruuttila) made the above Kickstarter video with the film's style and sense of humor in mind as a way to give you at least a little taste of how Pregnant and Dying might feel and look.

We will be shooting the film the last weekend of January, will be editing shortly after that, and if all goes according to plan, we will organize a screening by the spring or early summer of 2012.

In the meantime, I'll give away the big secret by showing you the script from the first scene of the film:

ELMA faces the camera. She is naked. She is always naked. She is breathing heavily. We see her belly rise up and down. She is listening very hard.

DOCTOR (offscreen) It's a very good thing you saw me. I'd like to say this baby saved your life. Unfortunately, there's still nothing I can do. Lucky for you, it's a slow death. Lucky for the baby. Very lucky for the baby.

ELMA I'm pregnant

CUT TO: DOCTOR in profile. He wears a white doctor's coat and a Charlie Chaplin glass/mustache combination. HIS hair is slicked back. HE is listening very hard.

DOCTOR Yes. But we've found some complications. We ran some tests. You must have noticed that.

CUT TO: ELMA and DOCTOR, back and forth as they each speak.

ELMA Did I pass?

DOCTOR What's your definition of failure?

ELMA So I'm pregnant.

DOCTOR Yes. And you're dying. I am so sorry.

ELMA I'm pregnant.

DOCTOR Yes. And the baby is doing just fine.

ELMA That's nice.

Oh Gosh This Film Sounds So Good! I Can't Wait to Support it! By the Way, What am I Supporting Exactly?

  • Paying the crew $100/day for three 12 hours days. Plus an extra $200 stipend for all the extra prep work that happens outside the shoot = $1600
  • Feeding everyone working on the film (most of whom have generously volunteered their time). 3 meals a day for 12 hour days = $15/day. $15 x 8 people x 3 days = $360
  • Renting out a space big enough to use the rear screen projection (about 30 ft. in length) for 3 days will come to about $600
  • Renting a projector and screen for 3 days at $400/day = $1200
  • The remaining $240 will go towards buying costumes and props

What Happens if You Don't Make Your Goal?

We get none of it! Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing donation model, so your credit card won't get charged unless we make our goal of $4000 in 30 days.

Oh No! How Can I Help You Make Your Goal?

After you have donated yourself (and it's very true that every little donation counts, so don't be shy about giving only what you can), SPREAD THE WORD! Link us on to your Facebook, tweet us, send out emails to your friends and family with a link to our page, call up your grandma, and take out a large two-page spread in the newspaper!

Is it Possible to Exceed Your Goal?

Oh gosh yes and that would be amazing! This fundraising goal is only going towards the actual shoot. Anything over this amount will go towards our post-production and screening.

Can I Ask You One More Quick Question?


Who  Are You Guys?

Rachel Garber Cole (Writer, Director, Producer, Actor) is a filmmaker, performer and theater-maker. She teaches children these same disciplines, and you can find more of her work at

Jordan Levie (Director of Photography) is a cinematographer and filmmaker. He studied film at Tufts University in Boston and now works professionally as assistant cameraman on commercials, TV shows and feature films. Find out more about him and his photography at

Jesse Ruuttila (Editor) is a filmmaker, writer and actor. Most recently he worked as co-producer, associate editor, and cameraman on the award-winning documentary ELEVATE. Ruuttila is also the director and co-writer of the web series John and Molly Get Along.


Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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