Always A Thorn

Los Angeles, California | Film Short

Drama, Crime

J.R. Griffin

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $19,442 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

184 supporters | followers

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"Always A Thorn" is a short film about Carter and D'Andre, two urban teens that are placed in the crosshairs for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. Our audience should support this project to help us prevent the normalizing of the epidemic of police violence against civilians.

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About The Project

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

Mission Statement

Always a Thorn takes a personal look at police shootings, challenging stereotypes on all sides. The project provides leadership and storytelling opportunities for people of color who have all been touched by the subject in the roles of writer, director and producers, as well as a diverse cast.

The Story

3 years ago a good friend of mine in the government told me that violence between police and civilians was going to escalate exponentially.

I thought she was crazy until I saw several of these incidents on the news. In every instance, the police were cleared of all charges. I couldn't bring myself to believe the shocking images I was watching captured on everyday cell phones. 


My heart broke and something changed inside me when footage surfaced of a young mentally challenged man was shot on his front door step in front of his own mother. I knew there was something I had to do to stop the killing of unarmed civilians by the police.

In September of 2011 I graduated valedictorian from The Los Angeles Film School with an major in film/television production. I then graduated from UCLA's film program majoring in Directing.

Being the nerd that I am, my world norm is science fiction/fantasy and thrillers. They’re a great escape from the everyday world, in a time of too much pain. I felt like directing a docu-drama wouldn’t be a true medium for me.

After seeing the flash flood of police violence over the past few years, I felt I had a responsibility to try and do something, if not for me, but for others out there, like my two teenage boys. In today’s crazy world, something could happen to them at any moment just as easily and quickly as it did to so many others. So I decided to write a screenplay.


I chose to write about this subject because the majority of police brutality victims are African American males, which I am. I was raised in San Diego, CA around a diverse group of people and family members. I was never really keen on the subject of racism and I joint the Armed Forces at the age of 18 and spent 13 years of my life serving in the military. There, we were all brothers in arms, and skin color didn't matter.

Now I’m choosing to produce this project, and put everything I have into it because I'm honestly not sure if/how the violence will stop. I’m not sure if I'll ever have a another chance to make something this powerful at a time when the world needs to see it most.


I've been trained in the ultimate medium of film, so it's my responsibility to put my skills to good use. For the first time, I’m looking at my favorite directors like Steven Spielberg and Kathryn Bigelow in a whole different light. They’re not just kick ass directors, but masters of their craft that use their voices to enlighten the world about difficult subject matters in an artistic way.


I wrote the “Always a Thorn” a couple years ago, I'm not sure if it was out of fear or uncertainty, but I put it to the wayside. I didn't believe I would be able to raise the money to make the film the way I wanted, in a manner I could be proud of.  After I got out of the military, I used some of my savings to option a feature script. My producer and mentor told me to shoot a small project while she was prepping all the development for the feature.

She forwarded me my old script “Always A Thorn,” told me to try crowdfunding, and not to be scared. I started showing the script off to some friends, and started looking for a producer to help me.

Through a popular woman in a film organization I received an email from a well versed p.g.a producer who really liked the script, was intrigued by my reel, and had faith in my project. A few days later I was approached by a social media manager that believed in the project too. She said she could help market the film so that it would get the audience it deserved. After meeting with these two amazing women I gained the confidence I needed to be able to raise the funds and make this film. So we put a game plan together and began to execute.

So here we go!

Notes from the Producer: Melissa Chapman

I was working in the full time digital production realm for a few years and needed a change of pace. At the end of last year I saw Oscar nominated films “Hidden Figures” and “Moonlight” within the same week. I remember leaving the theater and thinking “THESE are exactly the kind of projects I want to be involved in.”


At the beginning of this year I decided to take the plunge and leave the full time office production world and go freelance so I could work on more projects with a social justice impact. I got an email alert one day that a producer was needed on a social justice powered short film, and before I knew it, I was attached to the project.


This film is so important because police brutality is unfortunately on the rise. It’s become so common in fact, that news outlets have stopped reporting all of them due to the frequency. We can not normalize the killing of innocent people of color, and that’s why I decided to join the project.






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

Cash Pledge

Costs $0


Costs $1,000

Casting Director, auditioning, and paying our amazing actors!


Costs $2,500

Making the Magic Happen: Budget, a month of planning, pre-production & production.

Art Direction

Costs $1,250

Art Direction: Planning out how the scene's atmosphere will look and feel.

Lighting + G&E Crew

Costs $1,200

G&E Crew: Gear rentals we need to light our film and set the tone of the narrative.


Costs $555

Prop Guns will be used during the most important scenes of the movie, making sure they're safe.


Costs $800

Costumes & Wardrobe: Dressing our actors to fit their character. Cop uniform rental and more.

Makeup & Hair

Costs $500

Makeup & Hair: Making sure our actors have the right look for the part.

Camera Crew & Camera Rental

Costs $4,500

Camera Crew & Rental: Gear needed to shoot the film and make it look amazing!


Costs $800

Sound Mixer & Rentals: Capturing the actor's words in the best way possible.

Picture Vehicles

Costs $900

Police cars: Renting vehicles to accurately portray the film

Location Rental

Costs $1,300

Scouting & Renting Locations: Finding the best places to film the script that fit the narrative.


Costs $1,500

Editing the project: Time and labor spent editing all our footage down into a final presentation!


Costs $700

Composer for the film: Making the soundtrack to the narrative.

Production Insurance

Costs $1,500

Production Insurance: Keeping our cast & crew safe, and covering gear rentals.

Marketing & Advertising

Costs $1,200

Marketing, Advertising, & Festival Budget: Making sure to get the word out about the film!


Costs $1,500

Keeping our cast and crew fed and happy.

Hard Drives

Costs $350

We will need hard drives to store the footage of the film.

About This Team

Years of experience  combined in a group of expertly trained, diverse, and dynamic filmakers come together over a project that they all deeply believe in and have something to say.

Current Team