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A feminist psychological thriller set in Big Sur, CA by Sophia Takal. Starring Mackenzie Davis & Caitlin FitzGerald.
A feminist psychological thriller set in Big Sur, CA by Sophia Takal. Starring Mackenzie Davis & Caitlin FitzGerald.
357 backers pledged $22,483 to help bring this project to life.

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The Movie

ALWAYS SHINE is a psychological thriller about two friends, Anna and Beth, both actresses living in Los Angeles, who take a weekend trip to Big Sur to reconnect. Once alone, however, the two women's suppressed jealousy and deep-seated rage eventually rise to the surface in this haunting examination of obsession, fame and femininity. 

The film is premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival this April!!!

Femininity

Growing up, I constantly struggled with the idea that I was "too much." At school students and teachers would routinely tell me to "calm down" in what now seems like an attempt to force me to conform to a more comfortable and acceptable idea of femininity. Every now and then, an adult would reassure me that people wouldn't always be so put off by my outgoing, occasionally confrontational style. As the years passed, however, I remained hard pressed to find companions that embraced me for who I was. 

In reaction, I swung wildly between attempting to curb my extroversion by affecting a shy deferential demeanor and rebelliously clinging to my naturally strong personality. Struggling to settle into a suitable identity, I wavered between the desire to self-actualize and the yearning to behave in the "lady-like" manner that i believed others expected from me. 

My inability to reconcile my instinctual self with the more "conventional" mode of femininity condoned by our popular culture filled me with a bewildering array of conflicting emotions. On the one hand, I despised the mainstream media that promoted such limited notions of womanhood; on the other, I longed to be a part of that culture. I lashed out at men that seemed to demand a more traditional version of femininity, even as I fervently pined for their approval. I vilified other women that played into these oppressive conceptions, while simultaneously berating myself for not being one of those women. 

I'm still sorting out my confusion but I have now resolved to embrace my own particular brand of femininity -- I am settling into myself, finding strength through filmmaking.

ALWAYS SHINE is an exploration of these contradictions and confining notions of femininity and the toll it can take on a woman's psyche. 

Big Sur

Big Sur plays a crucial role in ALWAYS SHINE. It's a magnificent, quiet place, far away from the superficial, celebrity-obsessed world of Los Angeles, where the two women cannot hide from their natural impulses and base feelings -- a place where the silence only makes their inner demons louder.

The team. 

We have a great cast & crew!

Mackenzie Davis plays Anna. Mackenzie is currently starring in the critically-acclaimed AMC series HALT & CATCH FIRE. She was recently seen in the Oscar-nominated Ridley Scott film THE MARTIAN. She's also starred in Drake Doremus' feature film BREATHE IN alongside Guy Pearce, Amy Ryan, and Felicity Jones as well as WHAT IF opposite Adam Driver. Mackenzie recently wrapped IZZY GETS THE FUCK ACROSS TOWN which marked her debut as a producer.

Caitlin FitzGerald plays Beth. Caitlin currently appears on the Showtime series MASTERS OF SEX, opposite Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. She just filmed two back to back films: Giancarlo Espositos’ film THIS IS YOUR DEATH opposite, Esposito and Famke Janssen and the Netflix film MERCY, opposite James Wolk for writer/director Chris Sparling. Caitlin was last seen in the indie comedy ADULT BEGINNERS opposite Nick Kroll, Rose Byrne and Bobby Cannavale for producer Mark Duplass and director Ross Katz. The film premiered at the 2014 Toronto Film Festival and IndieWire named Caitlin one of their "13 Actors to Watch Out for in Toronto.” Caitlin broke out in Universal's IT'S COMPLICATED, in which she played Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin's eldest daughter and John Krasinski's fiancé. She also appeared in Whit Stillman's DAMSELS IN DISTRESS for Sony Pictures Classics and in Ang Lee's TAKING WOODSTOCK for Focus Features.

I (Sophia Takal) directed the film. The first feature I directed, GREEN, premiered at SXSW where it won the Emerging Female Filmmaker award. It went on to play other festivals, win other awards and was nominated for a Gotham Award. It's distributed by Factory 25. I also produced and acted in Lawrence Michael Levine's feature films GABI ON THE ROOF IN JULY featuring Amy Seimetz, Kate Lyn Sheil and Lena Dunham and WILD CANARIES (SXSW '14) starring Alia Shawkat, Kevin Corrigan, Annie Parisse and Jason Ritter. I've acted in other movies, too, like Joe Swanberg's ALL THE LIGHT IN THE SKY and THE ZONE; Ti West's V/H/S; Dan Schechter's SUPPORTING CHARACTERS, John Slattery's GOD'S POCKET and Zach Weintraub's INTERNATIONAL SIGN FOR CHOKING. 

Lawrence Michael Levine wrote the script & produced the film. Lawrence's past films include WILD CANARIES (SXSW '14) distributed by IFC Films, GABI ON THE ROOF IN JULY and TERRITORY. He produced and starred in my first feature, GREEN (SXSW '11) and produced Jay DiPietro's PETER & VANDY (Sundance '09). He also acted in V/H/S/2, Joe Swanberg's THE ZONE and Onur Tukel's RICHARD'S WEDDING. 

Mark Schwartzbard is the director of photography. Mark studied film at Ithaca College, then moved to New York and spent a decade working as a camera assistant on films including Woody Allen’s “Hollywood Ending,” and Martin Scorsese’s “The Departed,” as well as “Little Children,” “Rent,” “Hitch,” “Pollock,” and, the most fun of all, “Borat,” which led to work as a camera operator on director Larry Charles’ next few projects, including “Religulous” and “Brüno”. As DP, Mark has shot fourteen narrative feature films including Rick Alverson's THE COMEDY, Lawrence Michael Levine's WILD CANARIES and Demetri Martin's DEAN. He also shot Aziz Ansari's Netflix series MASTER OF NONE and the Showtime series LA LA LAND.

Zach Clark is the editor.

Michael Montes is the composer. 

We shot the movie, now what?

ALWAYS SHINE is picture locked but we still have a lot more to do in order to finish the film before it premieres at Tribeca this April! 

Your donation would help me: 

  • Complete the sound design
  • Finish the score
  • & the color correction
  • Etc etc etc!!!!

Risks and challenges

we already took a lot of risks making this movie (mountain lions, poison ivy) and we're almost done! your donation will help us make sure the movie is the best it can be and ready in time for our world premiere!

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Support

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    Pledge US$ 1 or more About $1.00

    A Social Media Shout Out

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    + Big Sur Guide, a downloadable list of our favorite hikes, restaurants and hidden spots we discovered while shooting in Big Sur

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    + Always Shine Inspiration Guide, a downloadable list of films, music, photos and texts that inspired us

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    + digital download of ALWAYS SHINE (when commercially available) !!!

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    + LIMITED EDITION handmade Female Filmmaker Coloring Book! Learn about the great female filmmakers throughout history while having fun coloring!

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    + Digital Downloads of Sophia & Larry's past films GREEN & GABI ON THE ROOF IN JULY + a couple never before seen shorts!

    + Downloadable ALWAYS SHINE, GREEN & GABI ON THE ROOF IN JULY posters

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    + Signed Limited Edition BluRays of GABI ON THE ROOF IN JULY, GREEN & ALWAYS SHINE (when commercially available)

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    + Signed 11x17 posters of GREEN, GABI ON THE ROOF IN JULY & ALWAYS SHINE

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    + A Big Sur Care Package, which includes the best books, films, cookbooks and other surprises from Big Sur put together by Sophia, Caitlin and Mackenzie.

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    + A Feminist Care Package, which includes inspiring feminist books, films, and other products put together by Sophia, Caitlin and Mackenzie.

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    + Big Sur AND Feminist Care Packages

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About $500

    + Sophia & her sister Marisa (caterer on Always Shine & owner of A Neighbor Cooking) will cater dinner for you & up to 7 guests (LA locals only)!!

    (this reward will not be combined with higher level rewards)

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    + 2 tickets to the theatrical premiere of ALWAYS SHINE in NYC (travel/accommodations not provided)

    + 2 tickets to after party

    + Dinner with members of cast & crew

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    + 4 tickets to a private screening of ALWAYS SHINE in BIG SUR!!! (transportation/accommodations not included)

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    + 2 night accommodations in Big Sur for the private screening!

    + Dinner in Big Sur with cast & crew

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Funding period

- (30 days)