INSPIRATION - "MYTHS OVER MIAMI"
In 1997 the Miami New Times published a non-fiction article about the homeless children in Miami, titled Myths Over Miami. A reporter went around the shelters to ask children questions, one of which was “What religious beliefs do you have?” What she discovered would go on to become one of the most viral articles in journalism history.
The homeless children in Miami, in every single shelter, did not believe in any religion that anyone else knew of. Instead, they believed in a powerful new creation story, spread by word of mouth amongst the children. They believed that God was no longer God. God had been kicked out of the kingdom of heaven, replaced by an evil deity – La Llorona – who is so scary, the children say, that even the devil is afraid of her.
La Llorona rules over the children’s lives, delighting in their misery and misfortune. When they’re hungry at night, La Llorona smiles. When a drive-by shooting hurts one of them or their family, La Llorona laughs. La Llorona causes their parents to walk around in a haze, and if you’re unlucky enough to be marked by La Llorona, she’ll drive you to end your own life. But there is hope. A secret goddess, who lives in the ocean, has the power to save the children from La Llorona. She is known only as the Blue Lady – and if the children ever spoke her true name, she will appear right then and there to save the children from anything, even death.
By the end of the journalist's writing, the myth of the blue lady had spread beyond Miami, all the way into the South and even further to Northern parts of the country. Though the details change, it is known to all of the children that one day, one of them will go on a journey to find the Blue Lady’s real name…. and will save them all.
A QUICK NOTE ABOUT STORY RIGHTS
We have full permission and cooperation from the Miami New Times to make our film. This isn't the first time a film based on the article was attempted; back in 2000, Disney-Touchstone optioned the rights to the story to make a full-fledged Hollywood feature. That film project ended up falling through, allowing us to create our film with permission from the Miami New Times. Now that we're firmly in the driver seat we're committed to making the best film possible and bringing the words of this article, and of the homeless youth community in Miami, to a screen near you.
OUR FILM, THE EPIC OF HERSHEY
A young boy named Hershey, who lives in the homeless shelters of New York City, goes on a journey to find the Blue Lady’s real name. His journey leads him on a quest to face the unknown – and ultimately has him at the bottom of the Hudson river, where, in a moment of near death, he accidentally speaks the Blue Lady’s true name, and is saved by her.
On his way back from the journey he crosses over a bridge, to return home triumphantly to his friends and family - now convinced that he can save them all with his new knowledge of the Blue Lady’s name. But along his way he meets an older man, who has recently become homeless, as he stands precariously on the edge of the bridge. The man and Hershey have a conversation – and this conversation, along with flashbacks from Hershey’s perspective, is the subject of our film.
BRINGING IT FULL CIRCLE
This is not the first time the children's story has been tried for the big screen. Around 2002, Disney/Touchstone optioned the rights to the article to reimagine it as a horror film, with Clive Barker (Hellraiser, Candyman) attached to direct. The deal ended up not going through, and nothing film-wise has been done with the article despite it being extremely popular online, having been featured in over 1,000 blogs and on the front page of Reddit multiple times.
We hope to change that.
We also hope to bring awareness back to the community that the story came from. The article originated in the homeless youth community of Miami, and once the film is finished we're bringing it there for them to see. We're planning to organize a screening of THE EPIC OF HERSHEY, along with other short films, for children in the Miami-Dade homeless community.
We're also working with a national charity that is focused on helping homeless children, and will be posting updates on this crucial part of the campaign soon. As we make progress throughout the Kickstarter campaign we'll be posting updates on the progress we're making.
We're very excited to have this opportunity!
THE CAST OF THE FILM
MELIKI HURD is an 11 year old native of Brooklyn, New York. When he was just three years old he showed a great interest in performing arts and six months later he and his mother relocated to Los Angeles so he could take acting classes and pursue other opportunities. This Fall Meliki will be entering the 6th grade class of the Professional Performing Arts School in New York, where he is excited to embrace a new journey while learning his craft. Meliki's most recent projects include Disney XD's “Laugh My Butt Off” promo commercial, Great Caesar's “Don’t Ask Me Why” music video, and “Kensho at the Bedfellow”, an independent film. In Meliki’s words working in the arts “makes me feel free”.
ERIC ROBERTS is an Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated actor who has appeared in over 350 films and television shows during his 37-year acting career. His first notable performance came in KING OF GYPSIES (1978), for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Acting Debut. His breakout role came in STAR 80 (1984), which earned a nomination for the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. He then went on earn wide acclaim for his role of Buck McGeehy in RUNAWAY TRAIN (1986), where he was nominated for both the Academy Award and Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor. Roberts is best known recently for his roles in THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) and THE EXPENDABLES (2010).
WHERE YOUR DONATIONS GO
Funding will help us create the most accurate representation of the story, partly by way of allowing us access to amazing locations: filming in schools in order to recreate homeless shelters, filming on a NYC bridge to capture the powerful conversation between Hershey and Ted, and lastly filming underwater sequences in a controlled water environment.
We can afford to film with some of the best equipment on the market, and have budgeted a camera package that includes either a RED Epic (The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier) or an ARRI Alexa (Gravity, Skyfall, Iron Man 3). We'll also be using a professionally modified GoPro capable of accepting different lenses, in order to capture the underwater sequences.
SPECIAL FX / POST PRODUCTION
See below for details!
THE TEAM MAKING IT HAPPEN
Douglas has been writing since he was 15 years old, when he took home Best Writer for the state of Kansas by the National Young Authors Competition in 2006. An alum of Sarah Lawrence College's creative writing and film program, Douglas has directed commercials and music videos since graduating, for bands such as Duran Duran, Big Tree, and, most recently, Great Caesar. His work has been featured on Upworthy, ThinkProgress, and The Advocate.
As an award-winning producer, Aliki is committed to creating projects that make a difference for the world to see. Many of these are developed through the production company she founded in 2010, Adiuvo Productions. Under her guidance, Adiuvo Productions have garnered many awards for films and commercials in Los Angeles, New York, Berlin, Cannes, and in her hometown of Athens, Greece. Aliki's goal is to continue making powerful films with strong messages that deeply influence their audiences and have a worldwide impact, as well as breath taking commercials for TV and the web.
Cohlie has worked with Douglas as a cinematographer on every single one of his projects (including this year's earlier Kickstarter success story Don't Ask Me Why, video below). Originally a magician/mime, Cohlie brings a flair for capturing intense, stunning visuals with some of the best cameras on the market today.
Jeremiah Kipp's directing credits include THE SADIST starring Tom Savini, MASTERMIND starring Chris Sarandon, THE POD starring Larry Fessenden, CONTACT (commissioned by Sinister Six annual screening series), THE DAYS GOD SLEPT (Best Director-HorrorHound 2014), CRESTFALLEN, THE CHRISTMAS PARTY (Cannes and Clermont-Ferrand), EASY PREY (commissioned by NYC's annual VisionFest), DROOL (commissioned by Mandragoras Art Space), SNAPSHOT and THE APARTMENT (commissioned by Canon to premiere their XL2 at DV Expo 2004). Assistant director credits include I SELL THE DEAD starring Dominic Monaghan, SOMEWHERE TONIGHT starring John Turturro, ONE NIGHT starring Melissa Leo, CRUSH (HBO), HALF OF HER (PBS) and the Sundance Award-winning MAN (dir: Myna Joseph).
Kimberly is a NYC based designer, with an MFA from Mason Gross School of The Arts at Rutgers University. Recent design credits: Kensho At The Bedfellow (Feature film) directed by Bradley Raider, Co-Operation (Web Series) Directed by Andy Ferguson and Steve O’Reilly, Luv, and The Seafarer (The Schoolhouse Theatre) directed by Pamela Moller Kareman.
An extremely talented special fx make-up and prosthetics designer, Sue begun her career as a semi-finalist of SyFy's Face-Off special FX tv show. Sue's work has since gone viral, having been featured on AMC's The Walking Dead, and in promotional videos for horror films such as The Last Exorcism II.
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP
Filmmaking is an expensive endeavor and in order to cover cast/crew wages, location fees, and equipment we need your help. We have several extensive underwater sequences to create, and shooting on a bridge won't be easy or free either. Also, since we're working exclusively with a professional cast and crew we need to cover their wages in order to bring this film to life.
Thank you for reading through our Kickstarter campaign. This project means the world to us, and your pledge will make a difference not just for our film but also for kids just like Hershey. This campaign is not just about making a short film, its about bringing awareness to the plight of homeless children in this country, who exist in a world of survival and struggle that may seem as alien to us as the idea of a goddess living in an ocean.
We know that budgets are tight for many, so if you'd like to support the project but can't make a financial contribution you can join our team by sharing this campaign with as many people as possible. Under the pitch video are some easy share buttons, and you can always copy/paste the url into Facebook, Twitter, emails, and text messages.
Kickstarter Campaign Manager - Ryan Strandjord
Social Media Manager - Kevin Ross
Monster Design/Illustration - Morgan O. Shay
Storyboard Illustration - Damien Lopez
Poster - Melody T. Newcomb
The Miami New Times
Eric and Eliza Roberts
The Miami-Dade Homeless Community
The New York City Homeless Community
Yasmine Calil, for putting up with me while making this campaign happen!
MATCH DONATION TO NO KID HUNGRY
ARTICLES ON THE EPIC OF HERSHEY
MORE ARTWORK FROM THE ARTICLE
Risks and challenges
Making a film is never an easy task.
There are endless details that need to be worked out and it takes a whole team of people to make that happen. Thankfully, we've been there before, and so has the team we've assembled. This experience is essential because we understand what needs to be planned prior to shooting, and puts us in a position to succeed the moment we step onto set.
Many of the details regarding locations, schedules, equipment, and so on have already been figured out. There will be more challenges ahead, but we're ready and eager to take them on. All we need now is your support to make this dream a reality. Thank you.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)