Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 2, 2011.

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Mysterious Prison is a feature film about homelessness in Washington D.C that is presented as a mosaic of vignettes and interviews.

Hello Friends, Family, and potential contributors,

My name is William David Ashton. I am a filmmaker here in Washington D.C. For the last two years I have been developing my fourth film, a project titled Mysterious Prison. Now it’s time to turn this dream into reality. Some of you might be familiar with my last film, Dirty Milk (It is still in post-production, if you were curious). For those of you unfamiliar with me or my work, I attached a teaser trailer for it below.

Mysterious Prison will be fourth film and by far my biggest, both in scope and ambition. It is a film about homeless and poverty here in the District. As I stated in the above video, it is not a sympathy piece, nor is it a political or religious propaganda film. To put it simply, it is an honest look at the world through the eyes of someone who is homeless. No sugarcoating, just an honest portrayal of those people in this circumstance of extreme poverty. I have spent the last three months hanging out in DC parks, shelters, soup kitchens, churches and street corners making dialogue with people living this lifestyle. I have met people from every economic, social, educational, racial and ethnic background you can imagine.

Now I want to tell their stories, and I need your help. Films, as you well know, are very expensive projects to undertake. Though I do take a minimalist approach to filmmaking, and use my resources to the best of my ability, I simply don’t have the funds to make a project of this magnitude come to fruition. I need your help to make this thing happen.

I understand people don’t want to throw their money blindly into the wind, so to make things easier, and to help you understand where I am coming from, I laid out the film by answering the six basic questions: what, who, when, where, why and how.

What is Mysterious Prison and what is my money going towards? Mysterious Prison is a film about homeless people. I will present the film as four individual vignettes, or episodes. Each fictional episode will focus on a different homeless person of a different age and background. Punctuating each narrative will be segments of interviews with homeless people that I have been compiling over the last three months. I feel by combining the elements of a fictional movie with that of a documentary, I will be able to create something really unique and powerful. The film will have a run time of somewhere around 1 hourand 15 minutes, so a shorter feature film, if you will.

If we reach our goal of $3,000, those donations will be used to cover all the basic expenses of our film production including transportation costs, equipment rentals, filming permits, food for cast and crew as well as some compnesation for my cast and crew for all their hard work and effort. I consider these the bare necessities; the absolute necessary expenses we need covered to get this thing off the ground. It is does not include potential post-production costs, better quality equipment for the camera, memory cards, promotional/PR costs and other small miscellaneous expenses.

Who is involved?
I am the writer, director, and main producer of the project, but I am surrounded by an incredible crew of individuals that are highly experienced and equally dedicated to making this project a reality. Those people include cinematographer Tyler Colin Perry, Arnold Jones, Samm Iverson, Brian Jackson and Jerry Griffith.

The ensemble cast features a slew of incredibly talented local actors including veterans Maria Callier (Reunion), Betty Entzminger, Brian Jackson (Smoke and Mirrors), Stephen Leventhal (Lives and Deaths of the Poets), James Lewis (The Wire), Evan Mack (They Came From the Sky), Sam Repshas (Ultrasonic), David White (Ladder 49), as well as newcomers Habib Eko, Tray Gyamfi, Paris Jackson, Lee Lowder, Patrick Pansoy, Kurt Rams, and Jessica Silver. I myself also make a cameo in one scene, if no one has any qualms.

When will this be filmed?
We hope to begin principal photography either the second or third weekend of October.

Where will this take place?
Mysterious Prison is a film about the people and culture of D.C. so, naturally, filming will primarily take place on location in Washington, though a few small scenes will be shot at select places in Arlington, VA, which is located on the border of the city. I have spent many hours location scouting in DC to find locations that are equally unique and as they are beautiful.  

Why make this movie and why support this project?My goal in making this film is twofold.

First and foremost, it is to help shine a different light on homeless people by giving them a voice and platform to tell their stories. Like I stated previously, my intention is not to draw sympathy for them, but rather to help show that homelessness is an important issue in this country that should not be swept under a rug, and that homeless people are as diverse and unique as anyone else. There are many reasons that not only lead people to become homeless; there are many reasons that keep them there as well. Unfortunately, our society has created many stigmas, and passed many judgments, on people suffering this misfortune. This film is not a solution to these problems, just an attempt to take people outside of their comfort zones; to look at things a little differently, even if only for a short while.

Secondly, my goal is to tell a great story. So many of the movies we see today are bland, or cliché, or regurgitations of some old plot or storyline. I feel that we need more moving that are trying to push the envelope to be different and unique, and to take risks. This is my attempt to do so.

In terms of why you should support this project, there are numerous possible reasons. Maybe you are an advocate for the homeless, or someone extremely sympathetic to their plight. Maybe you want to support independent film or local filmmakers. Maybe you are simply a friend or family member that wants to lend a helping hand. Whatever your reason, know that 100% of your donation will go toward making this film as great as possible.

How are you going to make this happen? With your financial help, an incredible amount of hard work and dedication from me and my cast and crew, and generally just the love and support of my friends and family, I feel an amazing movie can be made. Oh, and the help of the beautiful Canon 7D with L-series lenses.

So there you have it. When Mysterious Prison is complete I plan to have a big premier for all friends, family and supporters of the film. I also plan to submit it to as many film festivals as possible. Thanks for taking the time to check out my film project. If you have more questions feel free to ask. I will conclude this message with a quote from Bobby Kennedy that has been very inspiring to me.

"But we can perhaps remember, if only for a time, that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short moment of life; that they seek, as do we, nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and in happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.
Surely, this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely, we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men, and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our own hearts brothers and countrymen once again."

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,
-David

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd46PWMnqKI

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