About this project
We're on the final stretch of the Kickstarter fundraising for editing the film. A generous donor has offered match funding if we reach £5000 by midnight on Wednesday BST. This means we'll reach our target. Can we do it?
Of all the 100's of photos I took at the asylum, this is one of my favorites, evoking the strangeness of the place - here used as a poster.
Characters from the film #1 29/05/13
Characters from the film #2 31/05/13
Characters from the film #3 03/06/13
Director's Diary Extract - 21.12.12 06/06/13
Dead When I Got Here
- Asylum from the Madness
Josué Rosales is recovering from 30 years of self-destruction. From being an illegal Mexican in the US; locked up in San Quentin with Charles Manson for murder; deported back to the streets of Juárez and finally arriving nearly dead in a mental asylum run by its own patients in the desert.
Assisted by patients employing empathy as the only means of survival, Josué transcended certain death by discovering compassion in his darkest hours. Six years later, Josué manages the asylum. Now it’s his job to give drugs to the sick; to help them walk; to assist in recovering from the same trauma he experienced while living on the streets of the world’s most violent city.
But for Josué something isn't complete: he shares a dream with someone he lost a long time ago.
Having been told her father was dead, Vanessa never gave up searching.
Trawling over the Internet in LA, she encounters Josué in a publicity trailer for this film. She hasn’t seen her father in 22 years.
The film maker arranges their meeting in Tijuana. The reunion offers Josué a chance to redeem his shattered past. His daughter can begin to forgive him. They can pick up the pieces and start again.
In 2011 I visited the Vision & Action mental asylum in Mexico run by its own patients. I’d been told that filming anywhere along the US/Mexican border was dangerous – especially in Juárez, murder capital of the world. The asylum is out in the desert, on the curdled fringe of that city and I figured it would be safer to film there than on the streets.
The asylum was founded 18 years ago by Pastor Galvan and he gave me his trust and complete access to the place. The people I met and filmed are all recovering from the trauma of living in Juárez where 8 people are murdered each day with impunity. These people manage the asylum with empathy and very little else. Not to be pitied – they set an example we can only hope to understand and emulate. We are to be humbled by their determination to survive.
I visited the asylum on two more occasions in 2012. I settled on Josué being the main character in the film because he was so reflective on his troubled past. In July 2012 his daughter emailed me. She lives in LA and had been told her father was dead. She wanted to know what he was doing in my publicity trailer on YouTube. She hadn’t seen him in 22 years. Suddenly the film had become a catalyst for reuniting a shattered family. In December 2012 I organized and filmed their reunion. I’m not sure about films changing the world but this family now has a brighter future.
This heartwarming story set in the harshest of places gives us hope that the world can be a better place. These people at the asylum have created their own promised land. I’m privileged to be able to give you a film that reflects their courage and compassion.
Mark Aitken (Producer/Director)
WHY DO WE NEED HELP?
We need funds for post-production. We have 73 hours of footage shot over four trips to Juárez, LA and Tijuana. Mark has produced, directed and filmed everything with assistance from 2 sound recordists. To date he’s funded everything himself – traveling back and forth from London with mounting debts to the tune of £17K ($26K).
Mark is a capable editor and he’s spent a lot of time cutting scenes for this film. But the experience of making films often gets in the way of finding the best material to tell the story. His experiences at the asylum were so intense that he’d like to put everything in. Sometimes there’s a good reason why directors need editors. What’s more, most of the film is in Spanish and unlike Mark, the editor understands every word.
WHERE YOUR MONEY GOES
Good editors and facilities need to be paid for and editing this film will take two months. This will cost £10k ($15k). Other costs include music composition and recording and ‘finishing’ costs such as subtitling, a sound mix, colour grade and production of a DVD. There will be two versions – one hour long for TV and one 90 minute for festivals and theatrical release.
Our target is set at £10K ($15K) because it’s better to eat bread and not be hungry than order caviar and starve. With Kickstarter it’s all or nothing so we need to reach that target. If we reach a higher figure then we’ll all be much closer to seeing Josué and his daughter reunited along with all the other amazing characters in the mental asylum in the most violent city in the world.
CAN WE EXCEED OUR GOAL?
Yes! In fact, as thrilled as we would be to reach our goal of £10,000 and as much as those funds will allow us to do, exceeding that amount will allow us to cover all completion costs.
All donors of £10 or more will receive a handwritten thankyou postcard in the post and a digital download of the Dead when I got here soundtrack if we exceed our goal.
HOW ELSE CAN I HELP?
Spreading the word is just as valuable as money, so if you think that this film is worth mentioning and seeing, please let your friends, family and colleagues know about this project. Spread the word by liking our FACEBOOK and following our TWITTER throughout June and paste links to this page in an email to all your friends.
GET IN TOUCH
You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or via www.deadwhenigothere.org
Risks and challenges
After the first visit to the asylum in 2011 Mark realized he needed to go back for more material. The film needed a story; it needed characters. Josué’s incredible life came into focus. Then his daughter got in touch and eventually Mark organized and filmed their reunion. That sealed the production and the greatest risks were overcome. With 73 hours of rushes we’re ready to start post-production.
Our team includes a very experienced editor, Ariadna Fatjo-Vilas with awards to her credit including The Act of Killing - http://theactofkilling.com/, an experienced composer, Mark Pilkington - http://www.thedeepriver.org/post/ and professional sound mixers and colour graders. All the dialogue has been translated and transcribed. Great care was taken during the shoot to achieve high quality sound and picture in high definition. The rushes have been loaded onto the editing computer. We’re all poised to complete the film.
Our schedule is to complete a rough cut by August, which will enable us to start submitting to film festivals. Final cut and finishing will be completed by October whereupon relevant donors will receive downloads and DVDs of the film. Festival, theatrical and TV Broadcasts will commence in 2014.
Mark has been making films independently for over 20 years. His work has been broadcast all over the world and he has won many awards. He also teaches film practice at Universities in London. Previous work can be found at www.thedeepriver.orgLearn about accountability on Kickstarter
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