We are so proud…

…we have added, so far, 61 new team members, aka supporters, to this, the original Blue Bunny team, director Rick Walters, writer Jenni Prange Boran, producer Heather Pilder Olson and DP James Winters.

Not to mention 74 new followers on Seed & Spark and 337 followers on our Facebook page. Our campaign ends in 2 days and we have a daunting number of dollars to raise in order to benefit from any of the generous contributions that have been made thus far. It goes without saying that crowd-funding is a nerve-wracking emotional roller-coaster, but I’m pleased to report that, funded or not (and we DO still have two days!), there are many more highs than lows. Having built so much new interest and support in our project is thrilling, validating and humbling. We are so grateful! Stay tuned for our Plan B, should it come to that!

When Blue Bunny main character Shane, embittered and totally bereft of hope, says to Maria “Look around you. We’re in a place called the Serenity House and I don’t see God anywhere. What does that tell you?” her response “It tells me you need to look harder…”  seems fitting for the position in which we find ourselves. Never give up, and always look at the positives! We are so grateful for the team we have gathered, and look forward to continuing this process until we get this story on the screen.

Shane

And now, in just the final few days and hours of the Blue Bunny campaign, we take a closer look at our main character, Shane. Director Rick Walters could not have cast Shane more perfectly when he approached the incredible Anthony Phillips to read the part last August at the Destiny City Film Festival. It was fascinating to watch Anthony’s transformation. Once Shane’s words started coming out of Anthony’s mouth, his entire body language changed, his face darkened and his eyes became those of a young man who had spent the past six years in prison due to an incident for which he has yet been able to accept personal responsibility. As the writer, this metamorphosis was beyond satisfying and truly thrilling to witness. 

Shane, the “…entitled, embittered, young ex-con…” who is at the center of Blue Bunny has been released back into the cautiously optimistic arms of his mother Irene and his emotionally unavailable brother Donny. Having been convicted of criminal responsibility in the death of his six-year-old niece, attempting a fresh start with the girl’s grandmother and father is not an easy endeavor. Especially painful for those around him is his brazen attitude that it was somehow their fault that he was put in the position he was in those many years earlier, that he should not have been the one held responsible for the girl’s death. He has hardened himself and convinced himself of this bad hand he’s been dealt, because it’s a lot easier than dealing with the fact that his niece is gone. And he was there. And she was there because of him. And he couldn’t, didn’t, stop it.

Part of Shane’s parole program is to work in the backroom of the church thrift store that acts as something of a halfway house for ex-cons and those coming out of rehabilitation programs to find their way back to what is known as a normal life. The situation is nothing more than a tedious necessity for him. Something he’ll deal with begrudgingly until his ankle bracelet comes off. All that changes when Maria enters the scene. Her blind faith throws him for a loop, mainly because it is the first faith he’s ever seen in someone that he actually takes as genuine. And of all people, Maria should have lost her faith long ago. Finally he sees something he has to fight for, even if, on the surface, that something is getting a little Blue Bunny back where it belongs.

Thank you, once again, to Ben Slavens for the use of his images.

 

Maria

Just a few more days to go to raise the 80% needed to secure all the generous donations from our Blue Bunny campaign supporters. Thank you to everyone who has donated and shared and followed and supported our efforts! We hope that we are exhibiting grace under pressure, much like Blue Bunny’s Maria, read with an impressive balance of conflict and serenity by the incredible Eva Jane last August at the Destiny City Film Festival.

Maria, “…who looks like every painting of every sad Mother Mary you’ve ever seen, beautiful and devastating…” is the strongest representative for faith among Blue Bunny’s characters. She bends but doesn’t break under the most extreme pressure one can possibly imagine. She is the mirror image of Donny, both having lost children due to their own actions and choices, but Shane notices with a bewildered and fascinated curiosity the peace Maria has made with this circumstance. When that peace is threatened, Shane must make a choice whether or not to sacrifice his own freedom to preserve Maria’s faith, the blind like of which he has not witnessed before in his world. Of which he would like to witness more.

As always, thank you to Ben Slavens for the use of his beautiful photography.

Donny

We are getting into survival mode with just 9 days to reach 80% of our funding for the Blue Bunny campaign. Blue Bunny’s Donny knows about survival, having lived in a state of do or die most of his young life. Today we put Donny under the microscope, captured on stage last August at the Destiny City Film Festival by Shane Regan (below, left), whose quietly intense performance spoke more than words.

Donny has only one memory of his father. It involves a trip through the McDonald’s drive-thru, a Happy Meal, and a walk on the chilly waterfront of Port Angeles. No words were exchanged, as far as Donny can remember. Rocks were thrown into the water. His father took off his hat and put it on Donny’s head when the wind kicked up. Donny was 4. The next day his father was gone. Two days later, Donny’s baby brother Shane was born.

Donny knew his mother never wanted to make Donny feel like he was the man of the family, but even at such a young age he felt the self-imposed responsibility of replacing his father. He wanted to grow up faster than he could. This attempt at adulthood too early in life resulted in the birth of his daughter when he was just 15 years old. He had gotten what he had wished for, he was now in the adult world. He left school to work as a cashier at a gas station to support his daughter as well as his mother and, as a result, his little brother Shane. Six years later, tired of scraping by, he went back to school to get his mechanic’s certification.

Maybe it was an expectation that Shane feel the same drive for adulthood, the same sense of responsibility that Donny had at the age of 16, or maybe it was just plain desperation to get to class to take the test that would determine the status of his mechanic’s certificate, that inspired Donny to leave his daughter with Shane that night. It seemed reasonable at the time, Irene was supposed to arrive home just an hour later. Delayed when she ran into an old friend at the grocery store, Irene came home three hours later to an empty house. Donny came home an hour after that to flashing lights, tears in his mother’s eyes and a somber police officer whose face held the expression of a man about to deliver the worst news of his career.

Thank you to Ben Slavens for the use of his gorgeous photography.

 

Victor

With just 10 days to go to reach 80% funding for our Blue Bunny campaign we take a closer look today at the story’s antagonist, Victor, who was embodied on stage last August at the Destiny City Film Festival by gifted actor Don Taylor.

When writing a character like Victor, phrases like “you should love all your characters” and “there is no such thing as a true villain” sit on my shoulder and whisper in my ear to keep me from reverting to ‘types’ of people I have known in my life: the narcissistic control mongers who sometimes run places like the halfway house church thrift store in Blue Bunny. They seek out and take over positions of easily won command by virtue of the fact that those they are ‘helping’ have nowhere else to go. They prey. They are opportunists. But they are human and just as every hero must have his weakness, every villain must have something he loves and either wishes to gain or doesn’t want to lose. For Victor, that something is power.

Victor grew up an hour or so from Port Angeles in the smaller port town of Port Townsend. His father was the beloved Lutheran pastor at the Missouri Synod church in town, his mother a schoolteacher. Victor’s younger brother quickly overshadowed Victor’s mediocre performance in everything from sports to academics to friendships with peers. Once the brothers reached high school this disparate experience extended, naturally, to relationships with girls. Victor became withdrawn and quietly angry as he witnessed what felt like success after success at his brother’s hands.

After high school, a stint working on the ferry between Port Townsend and Whidbey Island ended in a clumsy attempt by Victor to woo a female co-worker. The incident could have led to legal action had the girl’s parents not attended Victor’s father’s church. Victor’s father gave Victor enough money to pack up and excuse himself from the situation. He managed to get him a job at the charity thrift store run by a sister Lutheran church in Port Angeles.

It didn’t take long for Victor to realize he had landed exactly where he needed to be. A new town, a place where no one knew about his brother, no one knew about the girl on the ferry, and an opportunity to rise to the top of an organization in which he could be the big fish in a little pond of souls who needed his help, at almost any cost.

 

Deb

Here we are with 11 days to go with our Blue Bunny campaign and we are keeping all of our fingers crossed for a miracle. Not everyone believes in miracles though. Take Deb, for example. Deb was brought to life on stage last August at the Destiny City Film Festival by the insanely creative and versatile Jen Page, who fleshed the character out with a truly complex sensitivity.

A lesser actor might have taken Deb for what she appears to be on the surface: a mid-thirties addict whose meth-damaged skin and yellowed teeth make her look twice her age, who is transparently bitter about still being alive, wishing she had been allowed to fall into the dark hole she’d gone down long ago. But Jen looked beyond that to the unseen. She found the part of Deb that, begrudgingly, remembers what it was to be happy, to feel safe.

Born and raised in Port Angeles, the first five years of Deb’s life are a patchwork of now blurry but cautiously bright memories of fishing with her father, gardening with her mother and afternoons setting up tea parties for imaginary friends in her backyard. The first year of school, kindergarten in the little brick schoolhouse that has since been replaced, was cozy and filled with creativity and security.

By the second year of school, though, she sensed, even at such a young age, her mother slipping away. Her mother’s depression-fueled addiction to pain killers sent Deb’s childhood spiraling out of control and set an ineradicable example for Deb: this is how to deal with pain.

Unlike her mother, though, Deb survived her suicide attempt. Deb is not sure why. Her reward of life is some sort of limbo, an existence sifting through the discarded property of others in the backroom of a church thrift store among other damaged souls hoping to get back to the real world. But Deb has no eyes on escape. The real world causes the pain for which there is only one solution. A brief connection with Shane challenges her resolve to stay cold and removed. But the appearance of Maria, beautiful and pure and open to the possibility of hope, reminds Deb that she is who she is and that, in her heart of hearts, she does not believe in miracles, and she does not believe that her second chance was anything more than a life sentence.

Many, many thanks to Ben Slavens for the beautiful photo.