Alone with Her Dolls

Chicago, Illinois | Film Short

Horror, Drama

Hannah Russell

1 Campaigns | Illinois, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $11,445 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

33 supporters | followers

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In 2020, my grandmother passed from COVID-19. After she passed, her immense handmade doll collection came to me. Now they live on in a terrifying interpretation of what could have been my grandmother's final days.

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

Hannah Russell is a female horror-writer dedicated to the monstrous feminine in its many forms. Working together with her Cinematographer, Thea Kinner, they choose to explore the many terrifying women around them and what forces push them to such alarming lengths.

The Story

My grandmother, Joan, and her youngest daughter, Brooke.


When I lost my aunt in 2020, I left my grandmother alone in her big house in Florida, which was filled with glass cases and handmade dolls. There were jesters and sprites and historical figures; there were also little golems of my family. Dolls in a chef's hat for my uncle, a cowboy get-up for my father, and a sweet little girl with red hair, just like my aunt. These dolls were with me my entire childhood and my grandmother used to whisper sweet nothings to them. I used to watch for the shine of their glass eyes in the dark of my room. 

Christmas with the Russell's

Joan and her elephant

After my grandmother passed within a year of my aunt's death, I began to have dreams about what my grandmother's last days could have been like: sick and alone in a home she once shared with her daughter, whom she loved and missed so much. My family has always been my biggest inspiration and luckily for me, they've always kept creepy hobbies. This story is an homage to Joan and Brooke Russell, whom I miss everyday. 

Joan visiting her first granddaughter (me!)

A young Brooke with something sweet


This is the story of Miriam, an elderly Jewish woman suffering from the loss of her own daughter. Miriam lives alone in an small apartment in Chicago's Ukrainian Village. The coming winter is pulling the ache from her heart into her bones and her long-time landlord, middle-aged Polish immigrant Fred, is worried for her. As Miriam obsesses over the doll she made of her daughter, she loses touch with reality, but perhaps so does the rest of the world. Is it Miriam's failing mind or the evil intent of a possessed doll that causes catastrophes around the apartment? 


With your help, these funds will go towards the actual production of this project: locations, props, set dressing, paying and feeding my cast and crew. It will also help ensure that everything is done in the safest possible way given the current COVID 19 pandemic. A portion of the funds will go to PPE, at-home tests, and a capable COVID officer on set to help protect the wonderful team working on this project. Upon completion, I will be so proud to share this project with all donors (via link) before our festival run and its wide release to the public. This production will culminate my Master's degree at Columbia College, but more importantly it will be a way for my grandmother's dolls to live on onscreen.

Please follow us at @alonewithherdollsfilm on Instagram for live updates and fun behind-the-scenes content!


Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

COVID Safety Protocols

Costs $900

To go toward paying a COVID officer to be present on set every day ($150/day), as well as PPE.

SFX Makeup

Costs $400

Help us make sure Miriam looks as sick as she feels!

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Miriam's Apartment

Costs $5,000

In order to secure the right rental, permits, and insurance for the location of the shoot.

Miriam's Things

Costs $6,000

Money to purchase safe practical effects materials and help Nick build a terrifying set.


Costs $1,200

Please help me feed cast and crew; they do so love to eat!

Cars for the Stars

Costs $500

Help make sure everyone can get to set safely and on time.

About This Team

Written, Directed, and Produced by HANNAH RUSSELL

HANNAH RUSSELL is a Director and Screenwriter based in Chicago with numerous shorts under her belt. Having written for a wide variety of genres, from children’s films to movies aimed at mature audiences, Hannah has found her niche in psychological thrillers, like her recent release In These Walls (2021). She also has extensive experience in Creative Consulting and Script Assessment and has worked with various organizations in that capacity, including the Great American Script Competition, the Chicago Comedy Film Festival, and the Chicago International Children's Film Festival. In 2022 she will release Living On, a short on fatherhood and grieving. She will also graduate with an MFA in Cinema and Television Directing from Columbia College Chicago upon the completion of her thesis film. 


Cinematopgraphy by THEA KINNER

THEA KINNER is a Chicago-based cinematographer, specializing in horror and suspense filmmaking. She is certified in both 16mm and 35mm film and is set to release her newest horror short film shot on 35mm, "11:47" in 2023. Having worked on films that involve extensive practical and visual effects, like her most recent release, Chasing Reality (2022), Thea has in-depth knowledge and experience of closely working with the production design and SFX departments, which will be particularly crucial for bringing some of the more challenging sequences of the "Alone with Her Dolls" screenplay to life. With her expansive skillset and a background in leadership and team building, Thea will once again be joining director Hannah Russell for a horror project (after their initial collaboration on In These Walls (2021)), before graduating Columbia College Chicago in the spring of 2022 with a BFA in Cinematography.


Production Design by NICHOLAS PALES

NICHOLAS PALES is a Production Designer and a current Production Design MFA Candidate at Columbia College Chicago, with over 4 years of experience of building sets, props, and costumes, focusing on specialty prop and set fabrication. Greatly inspired by monster-making and horror projects, he has always been passionate about bringing fiction into reality and is excited to get started on "Alone with Her Dolls." Having built numerous large-scale sets and intricate set decorations over the course of his career, Nicholas' expertise will be invaluable to creating the immersive horror aesthetic of the film.

Current Team