WTWYAB Film Festival Fund
We are proud to present the official trailer for our first short film!
"Welcome to Where You've Always Been"
'Welcome to Where You've Always Been' is a story about a champion spoken word poet named Devyn Duncan who has everything, but is blind to the blessings around him. He must find a way to overcome his depression and demons before his overwhelming desire to end his life wins the battle. He turns to alcohol to cope with the pain while hiding his suicidal thoughts from his wife, but she has a secret of her own which could change everything.
When You Are Everything but Believe You Are Nothing…
'Welcome to Where You’ve Always Been’.
The film is now complete and the festival circuit is in stride! We have already been accepted into 10 film festivals with many more awaiting judging. We have won 2 awards thus far including the Best Leading Actor Award for Justin Sandler at the California Women's Film Festival! When we began this process in the summer of 2015, we launched a very successful fundraising campaign in order to create a production budget to shoot the film. As we began submitting and getting accepted into film festivals, we quickly realized that the film festival circuit also costs a considerable amount of money.
Now that we have completed the film itself, we must see it through to the end. This means attending every festival we screen at for the next year... This is where you get the media, publicity, and create the relatonships that will not only get your film seen and recognized, but also where future opportunities are created. Our film tackles the issues of depression and suicide. The biggest inspiration for us to get this film out is so that it can be an inspiration to those in need... a light to shine the path for anyone struggling with depression. We plan to save lives... at the very least to give hope. And that means getting this film in front of as many audiences as possible, including screenings at treatment and youth centers. If we get into a festival and cannot attend, that means we won't be present for interviews, we won't be part of Q&As and filmmaker panels, and we won't be present for awards ceremonies. In other words, attending the festivals is crucial to the success of this film and it's message.
Along with attending the festivals, we need to print up posters, fliers, mail DVDs & Blu-Rays, and for some festivals order DCPs (Digital Cinema Package). All this = VERY expensive.
We are not just asking for simple handouts. We are willing to work hard in exchange for your donation. Therefore we are going to offer perks throughout this campaign. We are happy to accept donations of any size... even $1! However, if you would like to choose a perk, please check out some of the packages below.
It is with great gratitude and thanks for your support! Our mission is to keep creating the opportunity to continue making littlefilmsBIGmessages.com - short films to inspire hope to everyone.
Justin & Mary Lou Sandler
Song: "Descending" by Rick Hale
Shortly after wrapping our very successful, year-long film festival tour (21 festival appearances & 4 awards), we were getting ready to start filling your perks as well as putting together a distribution plan for the film. And then in April, our lives were turned upside-down. A large mass was found in my chest, pushing into my heart. After 2 weeks of major testing, we got the diagnosis on May 4th that I had an aggressive germ cell tumor… a very rare form of cancer. As a new and unexpected cancer patient, Mary Lou also found herself in a new role solely as my caregiver. On May 9th I began intense chemotherapy where I had to live at UCLA hospital for a week at a time in order to receive a 24 hour/day chemo regimen. It was very successful in shrinking the tumor down to a small dead mass, but that mass needed to come out. On August 4th I had an intense open chest surgery to remove the dead mass. It was stuck to and had damaged my heart, lung, 2 major veins, and the nerve that controls the diaphragm and breathing of my right lung. They successfully got everything out, but it left behind some major damage. After a week in the ICU, I was able to come home and start the recovery process. The good news is that the pathology reports came back with all clear margins and as of last week’s blood tests, we can now say that I am cancer free! It has been a very rough but amazing journey. I couldn’t have done it without Mary Lou by my side, without our family and friends, our communities, and of course without my team of doctors. I have learned so much as I chose to embrace this cancer from the beginning and get passed it through love. Now that I am on the other side, I am scarred, skinny, weak, and mostly still hairless (tho it is starting to grow back). I have a very long road to recovery ahead of me, but I am alive and very grateful. Mary Lou and I have documented the entire journey through videos. Please visit my YouTube channel to watch it all unfold: http://www.youtube.com/justinjsandler
Now, on to some very exciting news… “Welcome to Where You’ve Always Been” has received distribution! We are signing a 3 year contract to appear in rotation on a cable/satellite network called Shorts TV. This will appear in America as well as several other countries around the world. Once we have an official launch date, we will share it with you so that you can find it on your local carrier. And furthermore, we now have our own studio account with Amazon and we will be simultaneously launching our film on Amazon Prime! We are creating a platform where people around the world can see the film as well as be able to showcase the amazing work of our actors and crew. We feel that Shorts TV and Amazon Prime will be a fantastic home for our film and we are excited to share it with the world.
“Welcome to Where You’ve Always Been” has been an incredible experience from day one and you all have been a huge part of the film from the beginning. On behalf of Mary Lou and myself, thank you so much for believing in us, supporting us, and standing by our side throughout all of the ups and downs of both filmmaking and life. We have all grown tremendously and our mission of creating inspiring content is stronger than ever.
We want to thank you all for being so patient with us as we had hoped to fill perks last May and were not able to do so. Every day is still very physically challenging for me and emotionally challenging for both of us. But we will be fulfilling perks as soon as possible. Through this journey, we have been very inspired to start two ‘after cancer’ documentary films. Both films have been approved for 501(c)3 fiscal sponsorships. We start shooting in late October 2017 while traveling in an RV across the USA. We are very excited to share these two very inspiring and resourceful films with you, so stay tuned as well for big announcements to come.
We love you!
Justin & Mary Lou Sandler
This Thurs, 10/20 - Independent Family Film Festival @ Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. 4:30pm short film block followed by filmmaker Q&A. Tix only $10 avail here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/welcome-to-where-youve-always-been-tickets-27693779841
More info on the fest: http://iffilmfest.org/
Mon, 10/24 - REEL Recovery Film Festival @ Laemmle Cinema in North Hollywood. 1pm film block followed by filmmaker Q&A. Tix only $10 avail at the door. More info on the fest: http://reelrecoveryfilmfestival.org/
*This festival will also be traveling to Ft. Lauderdale, FL Nov 4-6 and then Denver, Houston, San Francisco, Vancouver B.C., & Las Vegas in 2017. Stay tuned for more info!
We will have a few more festival opportunities coming up including our newest addition, The Monarch Film Festival which will be in Pacific Grove, CA in December.
Thank you for your continued support!
Justin & Mary Lou Sandler
And speaking of the 19th film festival... we were just accepted into the BLOW-UP Chicago Art House Film Festival! This fest works a little different than most. Winners will be announced in mid-October. Until then, we are an official selection, but we are not sure yet if we will be screened during the festival itself as they only have enough programming time to play all of the winners. So keep your fingers crossed! This fest takes place Nov 3-7 in Chicago and we hope to be there in person!
In the meantime, if you wanna catch us on the big screen, here are the upcoming screenings & panels we will be doing...
Other Venice Film Festival - Sat, 10/8 @ 11am Block - Beyond Baroque Venice http://othervenicefilmfestival.com
GOA International Film Festival - Oct 2016 TBA - Goa, India www.marathichitrapatparivar.com
Awareness Film Festival - Speaking: Sun, 10/09 @ 3pm Mary Lou Sandler & Justin Sandler @ LA Live Regal Cinemas "Destigmatizing Mental Health through Film" Panel https://awarenessfestival.org/screening/panel4/
Screening: Mon, 10/10 @ 9pm Block - Regal Cinemas @ L.A. Live Downtown Los Angeles https://awarenessfestival.org/tickets-passes
Independent Family Film Festival - Thurs, 10/20 @ 4:45pm Block - Raleigh Studios Hollywood - Pickford Theater www.eventbrite.com/o/the-international-family-film-festival-6798715185
REEL Recovery Film Festival Los Angeles - Oct 24, 1pm - Laemmle NoHo Cinema http://reelrecoveryfilmfestival.org/
REEL Recovery Film Festival Ft. Lauderdale - Nov 4-6, 2016 - exact screening TBA - Gateway Cinema http://reelrecoveryfilmfestival.org/
REEL Recovery Film Festival Denver, Houston, San Francisco, Vancouver BC, Las Vegas - Screening times for 2017 TBA http://reelrecoveryfilmfestival.org/
Stay tuned for more info. And check out our newest Winner Laurel!