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You are confined only by the walls you build yourself. It's time to take the reins.

TAKE THE REINS is proud to announce...

RIZ STORY with TogethermenT Films, as Cinematographer and Production Company for TAKE THE REINS.

Riz Story is President and Founder of TogethermenT Films in Hollywood, California. Story was called "a true Renaissance man" by Billboard Magazine in reference to his wide array of talents, including musician, composer, record producer, writer, filmmaker, and the list goes on. To read Riz's full biography and view his credits, visit www.imdb.me/rizstory

And check out the trailer for Riz Story’s upcoming film, ‘A Winter Rose' - with great performances by Kimberly Whalen, Billy Zane, Paul Sorvino, Robert Miano, Theresa Russell and Taryn Manning. www.youtube.com/watch?v=EN3DCfrslzM 

NEW REWARD TIER

THE OFFICIAL TAKE THE REINS T-SHIRT — 'Vulnerable is sexy’ — designed exclusively for our campaign. Only available on Kickstarter through the $75 reward tier!

Artist: Bert Rotundo
Artist: Bert Rotundo

TAKE THE REINS - a short film

TAKE the REINS is BACK with a new and improved perspective!

With this campaign, I really hope to inspire people to take those scary risks when it comes to vulnerability. I think one of the biggest mistakes I made in the original campaign was that I’d talk about the value of opening up and exposing vulnerability… yet, for my part, I wasn’t “walking the walk” and opening up to my supporters, the way I was urging them to do. 

So, I decided to write a farewell statement, standing in the shoes of my film’s main character, Simone, just after she’s finished taking the fatal overdose that will ensure her death. The clock is ticking away the minutes before the drugs fully take hold. I put myself in this place and from there, I started writing.

It was a very difficult and confronting challenge. I wrote down the words that felt to me, in that moment, the most unreservedly raw and truthful words I could find… not to mention, terrifying to put on paper. And although, mercifully, I’ve never had to endure anything like the rapid, physical deterioration Simone’s body went through; the truth of the letter is very much my own, and these words spoken from my soul. 

Walking the walk begins with a single step.


THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS

Simone decides to end her own life by swallowing the entire buffet of designer drugs stored in her medicine cabinet. As the last pill disappears down her throat, Simone picks up a pen, and begins to write… her ending. 

SIMONE’S LAST SUPPER

Excerpts from the farewell statement. 

Christmas was always a day I looked forward to, for months beforehand. And now? Now, it’s probably the most painful day of the year. I miss my Dad so much. I miss my family. For a few years, I managed to detach myself from the sadness of being so far away. But after a while, it’s hard to ignore that suffocating emptiness. It comes rushing in most violently on days like Christmas Day. 

The thing that saddens me most about leaving this way… is knowing that once it’s over; once I’ve exhaled my breath of life for the very last time and the curtain closes on my insignificant, little life… it’s likely to be days—perhaps weeks—before anyone even notices I’m gone. And that... makes me so, incredibly sad… and though it galls me, I only feel more justified in my decision.

I have been holding myself hostage for almost four months. The sharp point of my own knife is what holds me there. I’m screaming and screaming… and no one hears. That silent cry – whose silence is reserved only for those on the outside – while deafening me into submission on the inside. Praying that somebody will hear me and come to my rescue. As the weeks and months go by, and the unanswered cry for help lingers like an increasingly heavy fog; that knife’s luster reminds me that its razor-edged blade is drawing nearer and nearer to my skin-covered throat. Please don’t call my bluff this time. Not today. Not now. 

No, no. No. Absolutely not. I wish I could. I really do. But the truth is, I am too proud and too damn stubborn to turn back now. Oh won’t somebody see beyond my shield? This shield I disguise as "independence.” It's too late. Must wrap this message up now. And say goodbye. 

Even if it is only to a computer screen.

Not to worry. I'm sure... everything will be better in the morning. After a good night’s sleep. — Or so I’m told.

As the red curtain begins its descent on my life's GRAND FINALE, I have a profound realization. I finally, see it all so clearly... The truth is that, this whole time, there was only ever one person in my family who didn’t truly love me… it was that same person I’ve been desperately waiting for, to come to my salvation.
Me. It was only ever me, the whole time! 

I wish I hadn't waited. Problem was, my ego was convinced for too long that the things I wanted most in life, should somehow automatically be indebted to me by the universe.

Luckily, a nasty argument with a beautiful friend of mine, slapped that right out of me. The rudest awakening I've had in years. But, it turned out to be exactly what I didn’t know I needed… and it’s sad; he’ll never know how grateful I am. I really piss myself off sometimes. I mean, this whole time, it's been me turning my back on the world. Not the other way ‘round. Too much time wasted feeling bitter.

Bitterness… useless fucking emotion.

God, what I wouldn't give to have experienced riding that wave. The epiphany is that first domino, standing at the introduction of his long line of teammates. The dominos wait apprehensively, standing at attention. Until the epiphany domino… tips… and falls. And it does so, setting all life into motion.

One thing about life, 
I learned too late…

Life is the most unfathomably precious gift
we could ever hope to receive.

Don't spit in its face.

Social media promised us connection. Yet, how many of us feel alone, despite being surrounded by “friends”? This shocking true story will hold up a mirror to today’s society. With this film, I want more than anything to inspire more truth, connection and vulnerability in our world. 

Tomorrow never comes. So, go on and take the reins. 

If not now, when? 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” — Mark Twain

The allure and power of Facebook is the way it enables us to be social while sparing us all the embarrassing realities of society— the unanticipated revelations we make at parties, the uncomfortable pauses, and the spilled drinks etc. Instead, we have the ease and efficiency of a seemingly well-oiled, social machine. 

But at what cost?

On Christmas Day 2010, Simone Back, a depressed charity worker killed herself as Facebook users mocked a suicide note she left as her final status update, that read: "Took all my pills be dead soon so bye bye every one." Facebook "friends" of Simone Back responded with cruel messages. One user replied calling her a liar who “overdoses all the time" while another said it was "her choice."

More than half of Facebook users (and one out of every 13 people on Earth is a Facebook user) log on every day. Nearly half 18-to-34-year-olds check Facebook minutes after waking up, and 28% do so before getting out of bed. Facebook never takes a break. We never take a break. Simone Back died as her "friends" were mocking and laughing at her Facebook status. Some of whom lived within walking distance of her house. 

It makes you wonder if these people would be so bold as to repeat their words to the faces of Simone's parents. I highly doubt it. It’s so easy to bravely voice one’s opinion while hiding behind the shield of a computer screen. When did human beings decide to stop caring about each other? What kind of world are we creating for our future generations? When are we going to wake up and realize that we are all human beings, we are all here together, and we are all imperfect?

This film will address the desolate human disconnection that we self-generate with the fear of not being "perfect" or "normal" in society. When it's actually the imperfections that make us human... and vulnerable... and beautiful. 

A Facebook or Twitter connection is not the same as a bond. But loneliness is something that social media is not doing to us. We are doing it to ourselves. At the end of the day, we make the decisions about how we use the machines in our lives, and not the other way around. Every time we shop at the local grocery store, we are faced with a choice — we can buy our groceries from a machine or we can buy our groceries from a human being? Which do you choose?

“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” — Joseph Campbell

Now is the time to choose love and defy fear.

In the face of adversity will we stand up and allow ourselves to do what we need to, no matter what others may say or do. If you donate to this project you are not only helping me make this film but you are helping to spread a message to the world that will inspire vulnerability and human connection once again. We will send this message together. Will you take a stand with me?

 “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” — Joseph Campbell 

Photo by Caryn Waechter
Photo by Caryn Waechter


HOW KICKSTARTER WORKS

It’s easy! All you have to do is sign up for a free account with Kickstarter, pledge any amount you choose, and claim your reward. Donations are securely processed via Amazon Payments. Your donation amount will not be publicly displayed, and we receive your funds only if we meet the full $15,500 goal. If the goal is not reached by midnight on Christmas Eve 2013, your debit/credit card won’t get charged. If you’d rather not claim a reward, you are welcome simply to donate, and if you’d like to increase your donation at any point during the campaign, just sign in, come back to this page, and click the blue “Manage Your Donation” button to enter a new amount or choose a new incentive.

SHORT FILM PRODUCTION BUDGET: $15,500

• 3-4 day shoot
• Director of Photography - $1400
• Editor - $1300
• Sound Operator & Equipment - $1000
• Script Collaborator - $500
• Post-Production Color Correct - $500
• Post-Production Sound Design - $950
• Camera Crew - $1800
• Line Producer - $700
• Lead Male Actor - $850
• PA Crew - Credit. Possible deferred payment.
• Talent - Credit and copy. Possible deferred payment.
• Wardrobe, Hair and Makeup Fees - $1000
• Location & Production Design Fees - $1700
• Craft Services - $1500
• Film Festival Submissions - $1000
• Kickstarter & Amazon Payments Fees (8-10%)

 TOTAL: $15,500 

Photo by Caryn Waechter
Photo by Caryn Waechter

I’d like to thank Bert Rotundo for always being there for me, even through the most trying circumstances.

Crowdfunding Promotion - Universal Media Consultants - Philip Cardwell; Campaign Management - IndieFund.It - John-Michael Scott

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

As an actress, I’m used to being in front of the camera, but this will be my first project working both behind and in front of the camera.

Filmmaking is a whole new journey for me, so I look at the risks and challenges that arise as precious gifts. Because with each crisis averted, I learn a new lesson that I didn’t know before. I look forward to embracing this process as a pivotal experience in my artistic evolution.

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Funding period

- (27 days)