An Act of Terror

Charlotte, Mecklenburg County | Film Short

Drama, History

Ashley Brim Riddle

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $18,135 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

122 supporters | followers

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16 year-old Virginia Christian was one of countless African Americans to be persecuted by a racist legal system in the Jim Crow South. History repeats itself because stories like hers disappear. Let's break the cycle! Join us in bringing this important piece of American history to life!

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

AN ACT OF TERROR puts a young black woman's truth front and center. Virgie will irrefutably be SEEN, and she will have a voice today when she couldn't in her time. Women behind the camera: Writers, Director, Producer, Editor, Production Designer, Casting Directors, Make-up, Hair, Costumes, & Stunts

The Story

Based on a true story, AN ACT OF TERROR explores the ongoing oppression of the African American community at the hands of  the criminal justice system. In the Jim Crow South, Virginia Christian, a 16-year-old African American maid, dreams of a better life for herself. Those dreams are shattered when she is attacked by her white employer setting off a series of tragic events that end in Virginia being tried for murder.

Virginia Christian is a 16-year-old African American girl living in the Jim Crow South. She left school at 13 when her mother became paralyzed. She works as a maid for several white women, including Ida Belote. Virgie works hard, is plainspoken, and craves independence in the way all 16-year-old girls do.

Mary Church Terrell, 48, is a founding member of the NAACP and the President of the National Association of Colored Women. She is idealistic, determined and entirely devoted to her organization’s commitment to “life as we climb.”  

Ida Belote is a 51-year-old widow and mother of eight, mostly grown, children. Since the passing of her husband, Ida’s life has been difficult and lonely. She’s become bitter and suspicious, taking the brunt of her frustrations out on her maid, Virginia.


Charlotte Christian is Virginia’s mother. Since becoming paralyzed, her daughter has cared her for but she still runs the house. She has raised her children to be honest and hardworking. Her love for her husband, Henry, her sister, Harriett, and her children sustains her family through tough times.


Harriett Christian is Virginia’s aunt and Charlotte’s younger sister. Harriett works in a factory and encourages the women in her family to take advantage of new job opportunities outside of domestic work. Virgie looks up to her modern, savvy aunt.


I want to make this film because, until recently, Virginia Christian’s story had been relegated to a footnote. Notable mainly because she was legally executed, not lynched by an angry white mob. I hope telling her story starts a conversation about the shameful parts of our history: Jim Crow, lynching, the era of racial terror between reconstruction and WWII, and how they relate to the problems we have today: mass incarceration, racial bias in sentencing, and police shootings of unarmed African Americans. Parts we do not discuss or learn about in school. Until we acknowledge the fact that our institutions were built on a narrative of racial difference, nothing will change and there will be no equality.  

I know that once you are confronted with Virginia Christian’s story you can no longer pretend to be innocent. So the question becomes how are you going to live with what you know? What are you going to do about it?

Picture a world of “h’aint” green and cornflower blue. The worn hems and dusty shoes of the working poor at the turn of the century. Choirs of cicadas and hymns hum as feet tread the dirt road from the “other” side of the tracks. Virginia Christian, “Virgie," is a sixteen-year-old African American girl in the Jim Crow South.


Our story is told from Virginia’s point of view. We want to plant the audience firmly in her shoes. A hand-held camera will keep the lens subjective. When Mary Church Terrell, the President of the National Association of Colored Women, comes to visit Virgie in prison, we shift to Terrell’s point of view and give Virgie the space to tell us the brutal truth—her race determined her fate.


Our story is about a grave injustice that takes place in the past but resonates in the present. By keeping the production design, costuming and dialogue simple, we will create a somewhat “timeless” look for the period (while working in the vocabulary of pre-war America).


Our proposed budget is $49,900 but we only need $42,000 to pay for production. We've already raised $30,000 through private donations, but need your help to raise the rest!  


Our $12 020 goal is the absolute minimum we need to raise for production.  

If we raise $13 500 we'll be able to cover the costs of running our campaign!

If we raise $15 000 we'll be able to cover editing costs!

If we raise $16 000 we'll be able to pay for our original score!

If we raise $17 000 we'll be able to pay for our sound design and our mix!

If we raise $18 000 we'll be able to cover film festival submissions and promotion ensuring Virginia's story will reach the largest possible audience.


We hope to screen AN ACT OF TERROR at film festivals in 2018 after which time we will release it to the public online. We will make it available for educational institutions and museums who may be interested in featuring this this little known piece of American history in their curricula.


When you contribute to our campaign you are supporting a film that:  


• Increases representation on screen by creating COMPLEX ROLES for women of color. Nearly all of the speaking roles in AAoT are for African American women.

• Values DIVERSITY behind the camera.

• Encourages REFLECTION and ACTION.  


We believe that FILMS can CHANGE the world. And we're not the only ones.  


In the 2014 documentary Life Itself, the legendary film critic Roger Ebert said, “The purpose of civilization and growth is to be able to reach out and empathize a little bit with other people and for me, the movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears.”


Join us in our endeavor to examine our nation's past in hope of building a future where we all enjoy the same freedom.



Be sure to follow us here on Seed&Spark, but also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And encourage your friends to follow us too!



Tell you friends, family, colleagues, and neighbors about Virginia Christian. Share our posts, campaign page, and our backer updates!



Regular visits to our Seed&Spark page keep you in the know AND increase our chances of being featured on the site!

You have fiscal sponsorship through The Chimaera Project? Does that mean my pledge is tax-deductible?

It does! Minus the retail value of the incentives you receive. In-kind donations are eligible for tax deductions too! At the end of the campaign we will send you a tax receipt for your contribution.


Why are you using Seed&Spark instead of some other platform?

We ❤️  Seed&Spark because they share our commitment to diversity and inclusivity in front of AND behind the camera. And #100DaysOfDiversity couldn't be a fit for our campaign.


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


Costs $1,332

Props authenticate this period tale. Help our talent touch a piece of history.


Costs $1,096

A gifted sound mixer with the best gear means we will spend more time in post DESIGNING the sound than correcting it.

Background Artists

Costs $320

We need a lot of people to pack the courtroom.

Cast Travel

Costs $1,523

We need to bring two of our actors to Charlotte from New York--that means flights, cars and hotel rooms.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Hair & Make-up

Costs $480

We have a great team who will bring our actors' looks all the way back to 1912.


Costs $3,655

The Alexa has the best range in the business. We need an Alexa Mini, lenses & an Easy Rig.


Costs $1,664

Hats! Vests! Aprons! Dressing all of our actors & background artists in period clothing is essential to creating our world.

Crafty & Catering

Costs $1,350

There are a lot of mouths to feed on a set. Our Queen of Crafty Elizabeth Orr is the BEST in the business and a ray of SUNSHINE!

G-Technology Drives

Costs $600

Check the chip! Reliable drives are essential for data storage.

About This Team

Ashley Brim Riddle, Director and Co-writer 

Ashley Brim Riddle is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker.  She currently serves as Assistant Producer on the Showtime series HOMELAND. This January she returned to the set of Homeland to shadow Director/Executive Producer Lesli Linka Glatter for the Season 6 finale.


Ashley’s short film SWIPED premiered at the 2015 Catalina Film Festival. She is preparing to direct her second short film AN ACT OF TERROR in May.

Recently, Ashley was chosen for the 2017 Ryan Murphy Television Directing Mentorship Program.

Rachel Rush, Co-writer

Rachel Rush is a freelance writer and filmmaker.  Rachel attended the University of Miami’s School of Communication where she produced her first short film, FAMILIA, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication with a focus in Motion Pictures.  

Rachel lives in Los Angeles where she works as a Writers’ Assistant for Ryan Murphy Television.  She is currently developing a feature-length screenplay.


Chris Riddle, Producer

Chris Riddle is a producer, filmmaker, and assistant director.  Chris got his start working on independent features and shorts in North Carolina.  He has produced 5 short films including Ashley's first short SWIPED.  Chris works as an Assistant Director in Los Angeles and recently won a Directors Guild Award as a member of the VEEP Season 5 directing team.  



Elizabeth A. Lyons, Producer

Elizabeth A. Lyons has received numerous international accolades for her short film and television work.  Her professional background includes working with such companies as National Geographic, Fine Films, Showtime Networks, and with Netflix as an associate producer on the award-winning, original series HOUSE OF CARDS.

Patrick Meade Jones, Cinematographer

Patrick Meade Jones is a Los Angeles and New York based Cinematographer.  He attended The School of Film and Television at Loyola Marymount University and early in his career was twice awarded the Emerging Cinematographer Award by The International Cinematographers Guild. His 2014 feature, THIS LAST LONELY PLACE, won the Special Jury Cinematography Award at the New Port Beach Film Festival.  Recent film projects include WATERLILY JAGUAR, executive produced by Paul Thomas Anderson; WHITE ORCHID, funded by The Humphrey Bogart Estate; FLUIDIC, starring Katherine Waterston and Frankie Shaw, and HE DOES NOT WANT PEACE, starring David Strathairn and Lindsey Duncan. All are set for release in 2017. Patrick has also shot campaigns for Gucci, Airbnb, TOMS, Yamaha, Smirnoff, Philips, and IBM.

Gillian Albinski, Production Designer

Gillian has spent over 20 years creating environments that convey character and serve the needs of projects ranging from features and episodic TV to commercials and music videos as well as theatre and live events.  Her Art Department credits include HOMELAND, MAGIC MIKE XXL, GIFTED, SHOTS FIRED, and THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS.

Tonya Bludsworth, Corrigan & Johnston Casting

Corrigan & Johnston Casting (C&J Casting) has over 20 years experience, and works with Production Companies, Ad Agencies, and Producers throughout the U.S. casting for Films, Commercials, and Industrials. C&J focuses on finding amazing Southeast talent, working most recently on the film ASHBY (starring Mickey Rourke, Sarah Silverman, Emma Roberts and Nat Wolfe),  and THE TAKING OF DEBORAH LOGAN (starring Jill Larson and Anne Ramsay). For commercials, some of their clients include local and national companies such as Prudential Insurance, Coke, Planters Peanuts, Fiat, Subway, Bank of America, Harris Teeter and NASCAR.

Judy Henderson,  Henderson & Associates Casting

Judy Henderson has been honored by The Ross Reports as one of the top 20 US Film Casting Directors. Highlights include: Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting in a Drama Series for HOMELAND. Two Emmy nominations - Outstanding Casting in a Drama Series. 4 Artios Awards - Outstanding Achievement TV Series and Theatre Drama Casting. Artios nomination for Independent Film Feature Casting and 8 Artios nominations for Off Broadway Theatre Drama Casting. Select Film credits include Richard Linklater’s BEFORE SUNRISE and Michael Cuesta’s L.I.E. (6 Independent Spirit Award Nominations, Winner of Best Debut Performance Award).  Broadway credits include BAREFOOT IN THE PARK and ANNA KARENINA (4 Tony Nominations). Off-Broadway credits INVASION (Obie Award), LIE OF THE MIND (Artios Award), THE KID (5 Drama Desk Nominations) and HURLYBURLY (Artios Award).



Josh Daniel, Composer

Josh Daniel is native North Carolina singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose passion and enthusiasm are evident every time he takes the stage. Josh has performed hundreds of shows and been a band leader as well as a solo artist. His newest CD "Beat Up Radio" released in March 2017 was recorded in Tennessee with Grammy winning producer Jonathan Crone and features an outstanding lineup of guest musicians. In addition to performing live concerts with the likes of Gregg Allman, Levon Helm and The Wood Brothers, Josh has scored several short films as well as TV and radio commercials earning him an ADDY award in 2014.

Amy Bradshaw, Costume Designer

Amy Bradshaw has been working in costumes for film and television for 15 years. She worked as Assistant Costume Designer for the first two seasons of HOMELAND.  She has since worked as Costume Designer on pilots for CBS and Fox.  Among the indie fatures Amy has designed are the acclaimed FLANNEL PAJAMAS and KETTLE OF FISH.


Jennifer Badger, Stunt Coordinator

In the past year Jennifer Badger has worked as the stunt coordinator on multiple television series and features including the unlikely action comedy, PITCH PERFECT 3, the recent Ridley Scott telefilm, KILLING REAGAN, the series, COMPLICATIONS and SATISFACTION for AMC, GREENLEAF for OWN, and has served as the cover coordinator and weapons / fight choreographer for the FOX series, SLEEPY HOLLOW.  Jennifer has also coordinated the action sequences for director James Franco's new period feature, IN DUBIOUS BATTLE.  She is a four-time nominee for the World Stunt Awards, nominated for two SAG awards, and is the 2012 Winner of the Action Icon Award.


Current Team