One of my clients is Downing-Clark Hope Center and Academy, a special school and boarding home for teen and pre-teen girls in the Atlanta area rescued from sex trafficking. This is a topic that has been near and dear to my heart ever since I created this PSA for another client, Street GRACE. It’s been used by numerous churches and non-profits to illustrate the horrific statistics happening right in our backyard. It was actually this PSA that led Downing-Clark to me.
Downing-Clark wanted a video they can use in their fundraising efforts. Something that would move people, but also show the hope they offer. So we came up with a unique film concept. Inspired by the film “Sliding Doors,” I wrote a script that displayed two possibilities for a teen girl caught in the sex trade. One in which Downing-Clark exists, and one in which Downing-Clark doesn’t exist.
Let me just say, it was a lot easier to write than to shoot and edit. I did an early rough-cut to get feedback. Were people “getting it” or were they confused? Were they inspired to learn more about Downing-Clark? Based on that initial set of feedback, I revised the film and came up with this version 1.
I wanted to make a film that was more narrative in feel as opposed to a traditional PSA. The filmmaker and storyteller in me wanted this one to work. But ultimately the client decided that what was needed was something more straight-forward in presenting who they were and getting people to learn more. Unfortunately, many people were not getting it without a second or third viewing (and some not at all). That may be great if this were a stand alone indie film. But when it needs to help raise money, that wouldn’t do. So I revised the film, and blended the narrative with the PSA approach. Based on the client’s ecstatic reaction and additional follow-up feedback from their board , I think we made the right decision.
Below is the final official release version. Huge, huge thanks to LensProToGo for supplying us with a 5D Mark III and Zacuto gear, and to that amazing composer Tony Anderson for his contribution to the cause. Also, many thanks to the volunteer cast and crew who gave so sacrificially of their time and talent to help such a worthy cause; and to the parents of the actors who let their non-professional daughters play in some provocative roles.
Sometimes in order to best serve your client, you have to put your muse in the corner. No matter how much the inner artist in you wants to go all existential and meta.
What say you? Did we make the right choice?
If you are moved by this cause, I would encourage you to spread the word and help Downing-Clark re-open their doors.