Crowdsourcing Mornings Stuff

Crowdsourcing Mornings: Take Me Home

Welcome to the Crowdsourcing Mornings segment!  Every weekday morning, Geek Alabama talks about and features one crowdsourcing project from crowdsourcing sites such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and others.  The hope with Crowdsourcing Mornings is to feature and help a project be successful and reach its fundraising goal.  Please enjoy today’s featured project!

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Anna inefficiently plants a dead zinnia in the ground but her motor skills slow her down. She is a 33 year old Asian adoptee with an Intellectual/Developmental Disability, who lives with her white 80 year old mother in Midland Florida. The two are reliant on each other: they shower together and dress each other. It is poetic and ironic, yet a totally normal mother daughter team.

When Mom slips and falls, Anna calls her older sister Molly in New York, also an Asian adoptee. Without the language to be believed, Anna is brushed aside. She Facetimes again and this time her inconsolable tears get Molly’s attention. She sees that Mom is unresponsive – having passed in her favorite armchair.

This sudden change turns Anna’s quiet life upside down. Molly arrives and is immediately engulfed in a futile struggle for information, while Anna’s world is deconstructed.

Anna’s obsessive collections are thrown in the trash during Molly’s mission to clear out the foreclosed home. Anna tries to voice what she wants to keep, but Molly is resentful of the mess their mother left behind. Anna offers up Mom’s old shoes as a way to remember her. This moment of kindness opens up a space for Anna and Molly to talk about time, family and death.

Without Guardianship or HIPPA, Molly must plead with doctors to get the complicated instructions for Anna’s seizure meds. Anna finally reveals the instructions from her fanny pack, but she is brushed aside again by Molly who again assumes Anna is inept. It’s all too much, and the sisters break down from the tension. In this sadness, Anna sees the bigger picture – Molly is grieving just like she is. With straightforward effortless empathy, Anna offers words – a memory. Molly is surprised at how poetic and clear Anna is. Suddenly, Molly realizes that Anna is quoting a childhood song and the sisters break out into laughter! Joy becomes the most important way of caretaking.

Learning more about death, Anna offers Mom’s old things to the neighbors, sharing the memory of her mother. She clears the boxes in the garage on her own, accepting the change. She understands her sister’s pain and makes her a little meal. The caregiving tables have turned.

Molly packs the last box with important paperwork. Anna opens her fanny pack and puts the paperwork that Molly previously disregarded into the box. It is all the medical information Molly has been searching for! Molly is ashamed not to have listened to her sister and realizes that she hasn’t recognized Anna’s abilities. The uncertainty for the sisters’ future independence remains but they are now a team against all odds. Together, they watch the dinky fireworks from their yard as Anna seedheads the dead zinnia into the earth.

TAKE ME HOME captures a moment of fear for people who worry about how their lives will change without a plan for their siblings who cannot live on their own. I think most about my youngest sibling Anna, who has an Intellectual Developmental Disability and how the world isn’t made for her.

In this story Anna must find a way to communicate self-agency while her sister packs up her home to move her out. Both sisters are learning how to mourn and change and compromise. And the only way they can move forward is if they can understand each other, but Anna’s verbal skills are underdeveloped. How can they transcend language?

So many people’s lives are altered the moment a parent dies, but even more so when they inherit their sibling’s needs. It is a sudden learning curve to figure out the bureaucracy for a disabled sibling. Best practice is to honor and empower self-direction, but how do we weigh each person’s independence? Anna wants her own home but in reality there is a 15K+ person wait for Assisted Living in most states and the cost is exorbitant. The film does not solve this problem, but gets the characters through the overwhelming in-between moment, with a hope that they can find a way to co-exist as independent adults.

The story is told in gestures and unspoken moments. The dialogue reveals conflicting intentions and is often delivered to the character’s self rather than their scene partner. The sisters are alone together until the end. I like to think of the blocking as metaphoric choreography, to consider power and subconscious within the action. My approach is visually inspired by Chloe Zhao, Lulu Wang, and Terrance Malik.

All actors are unique, but for this film I must consider each performer’s strengths and what a safe environment feels like from their perspective. This information will guide the schedule, lighting and time we allow to find authentic moments. The actor playing Molly is almost a second director who will help guide Anna in her performance. She will have the freedom to improvise within the scene to help hit the scene’s objective. The process seems similar to Chloe Zhao’s The Rider which casts real people, one with an I/DD.

TAKE ME HOME is about two Asian Adoptees but it is not heavy handed with adoptee trauma; rather it accepts the adopted family as its own unique balancing act. The family responsibilities are overwhelming and unique but it is a universal story.

In the end we are left with a sense of hope. Anna understands how to share, how to remember, and how to move forward. It is what we all strive for in these intense moment of change. The cul de sac community reflects a world where we are all facing similar challenges. The dinky fireworks reflect a forgotten America, and the Zinnia’s seeds reference a regrowth, a rebirth.

As of July 7th, this project has raised $8,100 of their $12,000 goal. This project has 57 days left to raise the $12,000 or it will not be funded. For a pledge of $25, you will get a digital screening of the film.  For a pledge of $100, you will get a digital screening and a digital Q&A with the producer and cast.  To learn more and to pledge money, go to: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tmh2022/take-me-home-2?

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