A note from the director

I used to play the game “A” My Name Is with childhood friends at bedtime. In the dark, in hushed voices so our parents wouldn’t hear, we would take turns going through the alphabet: “‘A’ my name is Alice, my husband’s name is Andrew, we live in Alabama, and we sell apples.” Our minds would drift to foreign people, places and things until we eventually drifted to sleep.​

 

Imaginary play is a critical tool that children use to help them develop a greater understanding of the world and their place in it. Scout Finch, the main character in Harper Lee’s “To Kill A Mockingbird,” was an inspiration for the lead girl in my film, Grace. The way Lee took the complex issue of race and presented it through the eyes of a child helped make the topic accessible and honest. I chose to tackle death for two reasons. First, I watched my father battle and ultimately die from cancer when I was in high school; the subject is something I feel emotionally knowledgeable about. And second, I don't think death is talked about enough in the western world. People treat it as an option rather than an inevitability. By glancing at death through a sick child's eyes, I hope to open up the conversation.

 

We filmed in my hometown of Buffalo, NY in early December 2017 on the unused fourth floor of DeGraff Memorial Hospital. Our cinematographer Lara Aqel shot on an ARRI Alexa system with spherical cinema lenses. With the magisterial touch of our colorist, Benny Karas, the footage has a natural, softer, more muted pallet, similar to the look of Destin Daniel Cretton’s film, "Short Term 12."

Short Term 12 Trailer

In preparation for this project, I assisted on two other short film projects, including the IFP-fiscally sponsored “A Tree. A Rock. A Cloud.” directed by Karen Allen. I found the process fascinating as I collaborated in making the pieces of the ever-shifting puzzle fit. I have also traveled to several cancer units in pediatric hospitals. I assumed these visits would be depressing. And although it was sad to see the state of these children, I often found myself forgetting how ill they actually were. They told jokes, expressed aggravations over school, played games with each other and argued over toys. They were just normal kids. This innocence is the core essence I want to capture in my film, an innocence that gently tips into awareness.

What we plan to do
  • Submit to US and International Film Festivals as a Short Narrative Film

  • Submit to the Academy for Oscar consideration in the Short Narrative category in 2019

  • Look for possible Theatrical distribution and Cable or On-Line distribution opportunities