New Orleans, Louisiana | Film Short

Drama, Horror

Zandashé Brown

1 Campaigns | Louisiana, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $20,747 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

274 supporters | followers

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BENEDICTION is a reflection of the suffocating grief that so many of us have collectively endured this past year and the many ways we've tried to remedy it. This is a timely and cathartic story about endurance, healing, and spirit.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

Zandashé Brown is a writer/director born-and-bred in Louisiana with a filmmaking praxis rooted in catharsis, who pulls from an ever-fluctuating spiritual practice and a rural southern heritage to tell stories about Black Femmes undergoing their own emotional excavations.

The Story

Image: Idella Johnson seen by Lee Laa Ray Guillory for BENEDICTION

BENEDICTION is a Southern Gothic horror film that follows Rosalee, a troubled woman traveling through the south, who is lured into a rural Black Baptist church by an ad she finds for a faith-healing ceremony. But when the service transforms itself into a different form of ritual, Rosalee questions who the healing is really for.

The original intention was to tell a story about the tireless, repetitive burden of healing in a time where strength and resilience felt like a curse. But somewhere down the line, my subconscious engineered a fantasy about letting go and giving in to your emotions despite the costs. Benediction is the story of a woman granting herself permission to buckle under the weight of her grief for the first time and being met with an uncanny, euphoric relief.

This is also a meditation around the Black Southern Baptist Church that raised me. I wanted to acknowledge the ways that healing has been embedded into Black American culture, namely through its spiritual traditions. So this film is a nuanced look at the Black Church that takes into account its contradictions as much as it pays homage to the ways it has served as a home and community for the emotionally displaced. Through it, I hope others feel seen and validated. That the hopelessness that so many of us have felt this past year in the midst of so much turmoil can be lovingly constructed into something necessary and truthful.

-Zandashé Brown, writer/director

What We Need

"$20,000 for a short film?" The $20,000 that we're hoping to raise through this campaign will get us through production and most of our post-production needs. Find a more detailed breakdown of those numbers on our WishList.

"Can you call in favors?" We certainly can and we certainly have already. This team is made up of an incredibly talented, supportive, and likely burnt-out community of filmmakers and artists who believe in this project and the director's vision. They are devoting so much uncompensated time and energy into this work already, as we all try to find our footing at the tail end (or in the middle, still?) of a global pandemic.

And speaking of global pandemics, it's worth noting that so many of us were sustained by storytelling and storytellers over this time. We watched more television and film than ever before. This reminds us that film is an important cultural medium and we want to ensure that we are compensating the time and efforts of those that make new voices and new stories a possibility. 

And trust, we plan on making this $20,000 stretch - it pays our cast and crew for their time on a 4-day shoot and the days leading up to it, covers some location fees and needs for the art department, the cost of a church band and choir that can bring down the house, equipment rentals, and even some visual effects work.

So we hope you'll play a part in helping us meet our goal, and maybe even surpassing it


Image: Zandashé Brown seen by Lee Laa Ray Guillory for BENEDICTION

Where We Are

In fall of 2020, BENEDICTION was one of five projects selected for the Tribeca Chanel Through Her Lens Women's Mentorship Program. We were fortunate to receive mentorship and guidance from some of the most talented and influential women working in the industry and honored to have  Tribeca and Chanel supporting the project.

We're currently in the pre-production phase with a goal of shooting the film in late July of this summer, which is right around the corner. We're finalizing the last of our key department heads as this campaign begins and can't wait to share updates with you all about who they are. 

In addition to managing this campaign, we're also scouting and locking in our locations and scheduling our first production meetings. This is a space for us to really dream up how we can best bring this project to life, and it's all fueled by the passion and excitement of a gifted group of collaborators based mostly right here in New Orleans. This feels like a community endeavor in many ways and we hope to expand that community to include you during the length of this campaign.

You can expect to get glimpses into our pre-production process along the way along with some other content our team will be rolling out that explores the film's themes, aesthetics, and personality: southernness, catharsis, spirituality, improvisation, and much more that we can't wait to share with you.

We are taking pandemic safety very seriously in our production process. We will request that any cast and crew members that have not been vaccinated to get Covid tested within 48 hours of our shooting dates. We will have PPE accessible on set for everyone. If the current situation with the pandemic changes and it becomes unsafe to shoot, we will reschedule accordingly. The health and safety of our crew is of the uptmost importance. 


Image: Idella Johnson seen by Lee Laa Ray Guillory for BENEDICTION

Where We're Headed

Your investment in this film goes far beyond the completion of this project. We see BENEDICTION as a crucial stepping stone that can take this director and members of her team into the next phase of their careers as artists and open up a world of possibilities that were not previously available. 

We're a group of Southern filmmakers of varying lived experiences that uniquely fuel the work we create. And as indebted as we are to this mystical, giving, complicated place that we call the South, living and working here creates barriers to opportunities for filmmakers who are harboring a plethora of stories like this one that have never graced the screen.

What is your understanding of a Southern Story? Who does it include?

Because traditionally, portrayals of the South in the media don't, and can't, contain the breadth of who we are. Our fullness.

Part of Zandashé's work as a director, and her day job, is rooted in amplifying the voices of Southern-born and Southern-based storytellers like herself. Peruse the New Orleans Film Society's South Summit recordings and you might start to understand what we mean her (and you'll be very glad we sent you.)

So by investing in this project, you not only invest in a film and a career but a movement of southern storytelling from creators who have lived the experiences to tell it. 

André Benjamin might have said it best, after all:

"The South got somethin' to say."


Image: Idella Johnson seen by Lee Laa Ray Guillory for BENEDICTION


Director's Artist Statement

Image: Zandashé Brown seen by Lee Laa Ray Guillory

I am the eldest of Orelia Northern’s eighteen grandchildren; a child of Rosedale, Louisiana, and of the tribe of women there who raised me. I credit them for my deep affection for tradition, memory, and the southern story.

With guidance from Afro-diasporic spiritualities (particularly those rooted in the American South), I believe in a deification of human emotion at its highest intensities. Through self-excavation, I’m drawn to potent fear, grief, rage, and euphoria. I believe in cultivating space to honor and venerate the most indigestible and intangible things that we hold inside us; that in doing this, one gains fulfilling access to their most intimate and otherworldly selves. 

Thus my filmmaking praxis is rooted in catharsis and pulls from my ever-fluctuating spiritual practice and the mysticism of my rural Southern Louisiana heritage to tell stories about Black Femmes undergoing their own emotional excavations. My hope is that this work can be restorative for myself and those who experience it.


-Zandashé Brown



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

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

On-Screen Talent

Costs $3,500

With a lead, 2 supporting actors, a band, choir, and church full of extras, we'll make $4k stretch.


Costs $2,500

Securing a church interior, exterior, and a sound stage for an important scene.

Crew + Set Operations

Costs $3,500

That's Grips, Crafty, DIT, and all the tools those good folks need to do their jobs.


Costs $2,800

Gotta have one of those. And all that comes with it.

Art Department

Costs $2,000

Hair & Makeup, Wardrobe, Production Design are crucial to a project like this one.

Set Lighting

Costs $1,200

Somebody's gotta construct that beautiful stained-glass window effect.

Facilities and Transportation

Costs $1,000

It has come to our attention that we can't fit all the equipment and cast in the director's Ford.

Sound Recording

Costs $1,000

50% of the viewing experience for a fraction of the budget price. Wild, right?

Production Staff

Costs $2,000

The team of Assistant Directors, Script Supervisors, and PA's that help us make our day.

Insurance and PPE

Costs $500

Just in case.

About This Team

Zandashé Brown, Director

Based in New Orleans, Zandashé Brown is a writer/director born-and-bred in and inspired by southern Louisiana. Her work raises a Black femme lens to the tradition of southern gothic horror. Zandashé’s directorial debut, BLOOD RUNS DOWN, was one of five projects selected for the New Orleans Tricentennial Incubator Grant in 2018 and has gone on to screen at dozens of festivals in the US and abroad.

Her short film in development, BENEDICTION, was one of five projects selected for the 2020 Through Her Lens: Tribeca Chanel Women's Filmmaker Program. Zandashé’s past narrative and documentary work has been supported by Kickstarter, Create Louisiana, the New Orleans Video Access Center, and the New Orleans Film Society where she now programs for the Academy-Award Qualifying New Orleans Film Festival and serves as Artist Engagement and Programming Manager.


Kelsey Scult, Producer

Kelsey Scult is a New Orleans-based filmmaker and multidisciplinary artist. Her work explores the femme processing of inherited memory, the psychic untangling of intimate partner violence and the physical intersection of desire and decay. She most recently produced the feature film, Ma Belle, My Beauty, a romantic drama that takes queer characters from New Orleans to southern France in a polyamorous whirlwind. The film world premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival and was acquired for North American distribution by Good Deed Entertainment. Kelsey is also one of the organizers of the New Orleans contemporary art fair Lucky and is currently pursuing her MFA in Film at the University of New Orleans.


Current Team