@heretodaymovie - "You Okay? Ask Someone Today!"

Are You Okay? ...  No, really, are you? 

My name is Meredith Grace Dabney.  I am a 16-year-old actor, writer, and filmmaker, and I believe this is one of the simplest, most significant, and truly life-changing questions we can ask. 

This past year I wrote, starred in, and served as an associate producer on a film titled, "HERE TODAY."  With the help of my acting coach, Erik Lingvall (Catapult Acting Studios, Atlanta), I had the incredible opportunity to experience professional filmmaking through seasoned industry professionals Erica Arvold (Director/Producer) and Isaac Deitz (Director of Photography) along with a truly amazing cast and crew on this project.  

Description of Project:  HERE TODAY follows a high school girl as she struggles to find her own identity with a new group of friends.  In the process, they discover that together, their choices have an impact beyond what they ever imagined. This universally autobiographical tale, which I originally wrote at the age of 14, is a reminder of vulnerability, life’s connections and most importantly that words and actions, however small, affect everyone and everything.

My sincere desire for creating this film is to be a voice for people, friends, and loved ones who are in that dark mindset, to speak as a voice of encouragement, love, and to educate on the topics of suicide, anxiety, depression, and self-worth. Most importantly, to serve as a reminder that wherever you may be on your journey in life, you are valid.  Every single action, word, and encounter you have has an everlasting impact and truly does matter. 

The facts: The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) reports that “in 2018, suicide was the second-leading cause of death among those ages 10-24.” This means the only thing that killed more teenagers was unintentional deaths such as car crashes, homicide, or drug overdoses. This is a fact. It is our reality. My wish is for us to work together to change this horrible truth.

To share some of my personal story,  I have had many friends approach me with thoughts of suicide, depression, cutting, and the feeling that no one cares. My response is instinctively, "I care. You are valued and loved." As a result of these experiences, I felt a strong urge that someone needed to be a voice for these groups of people so others can respond in a positive manner, rather than negatively affecting those that are already in a dark place.

My hope for HERE TODAY is that both those that are in a space of dark thoughts, and those that have emerged from the heavy waters, will be reminded of the impact of their words and actions, but most importantly, the impact of them being alive.  Imagine how the world could change if every day, we each asked someone, "Are You Okay?"

We have been working hard on this project for a while already and have professionally produce, cast, film, and edit the movie.  At this point, we are ready to focus on getting this special film and its important message out to the world via marketing/distribution, Film Festivals, and other community outreach initiatives and educational events.  So, the bottom line is that we have already worked very hard to get the film to this point, and need your help to raise the additional money needed to now get the film's powerful message out to the world with the goal of making a huge difference in the lives of so many! 

We are encouraged and excited about the response we have received so far to our film, and it has already received a number of international accolades, recognitions, and awards - here are a few highlights:

Best Young Filmmaker (Top Shorts Film Festival)
Best First Time Director (Indie Short Festival)
Best Original Story (Independent Shorts Award - LA)
Best Inspirational Film (Oniros Film Awards - Italy)
Official Selection (Virginia Film Festival)
Online Winner (Lift-Off Festival, Australia, Berlin, London)
Best Acting Ensemble (IndieX Film Festival)

And here are a few articles and interviews about HERE TODAY that have appeared in the press recently:

(1)  Her Campus, January 15th, 2020 (UVMS (unique monthly viewers): 38 Million): 

(2)   JeJune Magazine, February 5th, 2020: 

Our goal is to put finishing touches on the film as soon as possible, then get it out to as many people and groups as possible, to spread the important message that not only do your “words and actions matter,” but “your PRESENCE matters!” Most importantly, we are hopeful we can find a way to reach the largest audience possible and encourage people to care about each other, be more present (aka Here Today), and reach out to others with a simple, "Are You Okay?"  Our goal is to bring the film and its important message to schools, youth groups, adults, and other community groups across the country and the world and to start a movement based in empathy and love for one another! #heretodayyouokay

We estimate that a screening of HERE TODAY will average around $200 (with venue rental and travel being the biggest variables).  With this in mind, our goal is to implement 50 such screenings across the country and world.  So, whether you can donate $200 to sponsor a single screening, or MORE, or LESS, I promise that ANY amount you can contribute will all go towards our efforts to spread this important message by sharing the film with groups of people everywhere we can.

And, if giving a monetary donation isn't an option for you right now, please consider one of the following ideas:

(1) Do you know of a group that can benefit from seeing HERE TODAY or have a place in mind for a private screening?  If so, please contact:  HereTodayYouO[email redacted]

(2) Do you have access to any in-kind items we need for our community outreach efforts? (ie: we always need food service items, printing and graphic design assistance, and travel and accommodations support (ie: rental car, frequent flyer miles, hotel points, etc)

(3) Can you help get the word out by following, liking, and/or sharing our information on social media?  We are on Facebook (Here Today Movie), Instagram and Twitter (@heretodaymovie).

(4) Can you commit to supporting our #heretodayyouokay campaign by asking someone each and every day, "Are You Okay?"   
"You Okay?  Ask Someone Today!”    

I am so thankful for your generosity in reading this and look forward to the opportunity to connect more. 

PLEASE HELP ME SAVE LIVES AND CHANGE THE WORLD through filmmaking, conversations, and by telling stories that need to be told!


With gratitude and appreciation,

Meredith Grace Dabney


In case you are interested in a bit more background, here’s a bit more about me, my life's mission, and my projects:

Meredith Grace Dabney is a 16-year-old actor, writer, and storyteller on a mission to “tell stories that need to be told.” As an actor equally in love with stage and screen, Meredith is best known for energetic performances and depth of character portrayals. A young actor with a large body of work, she has participated in an array of independent films and new media projects, and recently returned from the west coast where she shot 2 pilots. Committed to always exploring ways to make her acting more truthful, she trains regularly at Catapult Acting Studios (GA), Young Actors Workshop (CA), and Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop (AMAW). Meredith originally wrote “Here Today” when she was 14. When seasoned industry professional Erica Arvold expressed interest in a collaboration to showcase her own directing debut, Meredith began the film adaptation at age 15. Inspired by events in her own life and an over-riding feeling that she (and all of us) “relate to parts of both Katie and Abby,” the film has particular personal meaning. Often providing a sympathetic ear for friends in need, Meredith hopes to use her filmmaking to continue to address topics that need to be brought to light and discussed openly, and in the case of “Here Today,” her goal is to make a difference by reminding us all that our words and actions do indeed matter. Meredith has a number of original projects currently in development including a few shorts, a feature, an anthology, and a series. In addition to acting and creating content, items in the works include establishing her own production company (Astrabeta Creations, which will make its debut with the release of “Here Today”) and launching a non-profit which supports her creative mission.

Why I wrote HERE TODAY?

It is inherently important to let people know when you notice something, whatever it is, just say hi, ask if they're okay. Let them know someone cares. Everyone needs a reminder to connect. Reach out to people when you need too. Creating the space to know you are valid in whatever emotional, physical, mental state you're in is essential. Finally, knowing that every word you say, every action, and every single encounter with someone has an everlasting impact far beyond that single moment.

I'm in the firm belief that every part of my life rumbling in my unconscious for 15 years brought this to fruition. But to name a specific reason, I have had too many friends approach me with thoughts of suicide, depression, cutting, and the feeling that no one cares. And my response is instinctively that I care. I felt a strong urge that someone needed to be a voice for these people so everyone will respond in a positive manner rather than negatively affecting those that are already in a dark state. My desire for HERE TODAY is that both those that are in a space of dark thoughts, and those that have emerged from the heavy waters, will be reminded of the impact of their words and actions, but most importantly, the impact of them being alive.

Changing the world through ASTRABETA CREATIONS:

It seems that just about every day someone reaches out to me with their struggles, painful truths, and often thoughts of ending their life.  I am a person who friends feel they can talk to and choose to reach out to, especially in times of desperation and need. Since I too, have been in that dark place, perhaps they feel I can empathize with what they are going through.  This has happened so much and so often, that I decided to do something about it.

In an effort to give a voice to my friends and their journeys, I started writing scripts, making films, and started an organization, ASTRABETA CREATIONS, with a mission to address important social issues through filmmaking and to “tell stories that need to be told.” Our first project is a film, HERE TODAY, which deals with the topics of suicide, depression, and most importantly that “you are enough and valued just the way you are" and that "words and actions matter!"  The film is almost complete and our hope is to use the film to spread an important message while initiating important conversations. 

With ASTRABETA CREATIONS, I also have other projects in the works and I hope that future productions will continue to address youth and social issues in a positive way by starting conversations and helping to educate people about important issues.  My next project, which will begin shooting in February 2020 deals with the important topics of mental health, family dynamics, and the impact of one's social environment (ie: nature vs. nurture) and will be presented as a trilogy with a similar goal of a high quality, relatable film production and extensive outreach initiatives to reach wider audiences.


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Denise Fest Dabney 
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