Dear friends, present and future, near and far,
I find myself in a position to ask for your support. On August 1st, I hope to begin production on my third feature film, I USED BE DARKER.
It’s a project I’m very proud of, my first co-written screenplay, featuring more awesome Baltimore locations, an amazing cast, and many of the same creative talent responsible for my first two features, HAMILTON (2006) and PUTTY HILL (2011).
Once again, this production will be shot 100% in Maryland by my long-time collaborator Jeremy Saulnier. I'm pleased to be working with Steve Holmgren (UnionDocs) and Eric Bannat (The Wire), and welcoming producers Amy Dotson (SWEETHEARTS OF THE PRISON RODEO) and Nashville-based Ryan Zacarias (Nomadic Independence Pictures) to the team.
Here’s the synopsis:
When Taryn, a Northern Irish runaway, finds herself pregnant in Ocean City, MD, she seeks refuge with American relatives in Baltimore. But Aunt Kim and her husband, Bill, have problems of their own: they’re trying to handle the end of their marriage gracefully for the sake of their daughter Abby, just home from her first year of college. What follows is a story of family revelations, people finding each other and letting each other go, looking for love where they’ve found it before and, when that doesn’t work, figuring out where they might find it next.
My co-writer, Amy Belk, and I wanted to tell an honest story about divorce, each of us having gone through it ourselves. We wanted to honor our experience, what we learned about how complex and full of life even the dying of a marriage is, how it is a beginning as much as it is an ending, for the couple concerned, and also for the people whose lives they touch.
It was equally important that the story not be narrow in scope. What really amazes us about relationships is how everything is happening all at once: the community, the family, changes when two people separate, but it does not stop, even for a second, having troubles and triumphs of its own.
How to tell it right? How to account for melody and harmony, discord and resolution, improvised riffs and aching silences?
Music plays an important part in this film. Pinned to Amy’s bulletin board is a little scrap of paper asking the question: When you are uncertain about what your heart feels, do you sing songs that help you transcend the need for certainty? We wrote the parts of Bill and Kim as working musicians because we wanted them to embody this in an active, creative way. We tailored the roles for Ned Oldham and Kim Taylor because their music and presence do so powerfully.
Several drafts in, we discovered Hannah Gross and Deragh Campbell, young actors whose relationship in the real world mirrored that of Abby and Taryn in a way that got us really excited. Their screen tests were explosive. Their understanding of their characters was uncanny from the start, nuanced and deep.
We believe that with the cast and crew assembled, I USED TO BE DARKERwill be a visually and sonically beautiful, emotionally powerful film. We hope it will inspire new ways of seeing the most difficult aspects of relating, that it will be a reflection of life on screen provoking thought, presenting possibility and providing hope.
Our total production costs are just over $100,000. If we can raise $40K or more with your support, coupled with first-money-in from private equity investors, we can keep the cameras rolling through August and get DARKER in the can. We are confident that if we are on a healthy pace toward reaching our goal by month's end, we can begin shooting and ultimately reach our goal when this campaign expires, mid-way through production.
I was overwhelmed with the amount of community as well as national and international support we received with our last campaign. The ask is higher in this case, as it reflects our project's needs, but we've created a variety of exciting incentives we hope you can connect with.
The magic of this project is in the collaboration that will occur when all our talent is assembled in Baltimore the first week of August. I sincerely hope you will join us in the effort to bring it all to life.
Let’s Don’t Stop,