Chicken Bones

New Orleans, Louisiana | Film Short

Drama, Global Celebration

Abby Waters

1 Campaigns | Pennsylvania, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $13,510 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

111 supporters | followers

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With a storm threatening, Rita, a bitter and elderly Italian, navigates her south Louisiana assisted living home seeking a forbidden cigarette as the winds blow in faces from her past. By highlighting the region's complexities, the film reveals the human urgency of its environmental concerns.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

As a filmmaker and educator, my work is driven by a deep commitment to connections and preservation. Drawing on hidden or forgotten realities of the Delta and South Louisiana, I aim to connect scattered windows into a larger, shared truth in order to express the complexities of the region's culture.

The Story

Life's a bitch and then you suck the marrow dry."

Rita's favorite mode of travel: The Wheelchair


Inspired by the life of my [Director, Abby Waters] grandmother, Chicken Bones is the wistful, sometimes magical, story of a bitter Italian crone from South Louisiana (Rita Caterinahanging to life by a pure thread of spite as she spends the evening in assisted living, hunting down a forbidden cigarette all with the threat of a hurricane approaching. Rita navigates the obstacles of her own memory as much as the hurdles surrounding her: fights with other "inmates" (as she calls them) over her offensive and flatulent poodle, run-ins with angry old men who hold her in debt, and the watchful eyes of caregivers diligently trying to manage the chaos - meanwhile, the storm blows in faces from her past and the opportunity for a different kind of relief.


My [Director, Abby Waters] grandmother, Rita Katherine, lived a long life as an Italian-American in New Orleans. Though raised by working-class and illiterate parents, the environment gave her the cultural education to write in English, converse in French, curse in Italian, teach Spanish, pray in Latin, and insult in Yiddish. Her life is a testament to the particular diversity that has made New Orleans' culture so paradoxically cosmopolitan and pastoral.

Photographic imagining of Rita with her favorite fowl

And yet, not many people know the depths of the diverse history of New Orleans and fewer still, know of the unique experience of Sicilians in the city - the largest home to migrant Sicilians outside of New York during the 20th century and the birthplace of the tabooed term "mafia". The idea of the “Creole Italian" (a term used to describe Sicilian-New Orleanians) not only invokes a history of a singular food culture (I smell a muffaletta) but it also invokes important discussions about racial stratification (Italian-Americans were known to ignore Jim Crow laws), “créolité", and culture as it developed in New Orleans and South Louisiana.

It is a strange and absurd fact that the original Rita Katherine (i.e. Rita Caterina) was dislocated from her home in New Orleans for good and destined to begin a steady decline in assisted living homes after a single, historical week in which two major hurricanes hit the region: Rita and Katrina. Dedicated to her, I hope the film raises awareness about life here in Louisiana and speaks to like-minded souls, the offensive and the fearlessly dissatisfied with life; those who will never let dogma keep them from the true spirit.

Portrait of the original Rita Katherine


With many meanings, a dynamic conception of the term "creole" is important to a conversation on pluralistic societies as they have become the framework of the modern world. And this reality begs the question, "How do we maintain diversity in a globalizing populace as more and more people become dislocated and disoriented?" We believe that in sharing stories and discussing philosophies on the subject, such as those of the writers Chamoiseau, Bernabé, and Confiant who describe creoleness as a "kaleidoscopic totality", we may have insight into how we can open our vision of history to evoke continually diverse futures. In this discussion, Sicilians in the gulf south's particular experience of class mobility has been little explored, and yet, these shades provide further color to the continuous tapestry of America's history of race and privilege. Exposure to these stories and more will help us as we deconstruct reductive binaries and uplift singularities and uniqueness within our environment - which the term, terrapsychology, encapsulates simply as: how land informs the people. It is readily evident how the environmental conditions combined with cultural history make this place unique. As a result, Chicken Bones will evoke the rich canvas of South Louisiana’s diverse heritages that is epitomized within New Orleans and broadly manifested within the Delta region and include the often stratified racial disparities that have been designed within these systems.


Chicken Bones is the cornerstone work to complete Abby Waters’ Master's and fellowship at Temple University in Philadelphia. As part of this academic endeavor, Temple has pledged to loan approximately $100k worth of equipment and guidance from the University - while also having selected this film for special funding from the department! And still, these demonstrably concrete contributions are only a part of the overall story - we have a critical funding gap only you, dear reader, can fulfill. You represent our friends, our family, our networks, our neighbors, a Louisiana resident who cares about telling the stories of our culture, or a film fan who is curious about this kind of story being told - or some combination of these constituencies! Therefore we are asking you directly to participate in this story-telling process and give financially. These financial offerings are a crucial, culminating piece to help us get a full production crew, actors, and materials necessary to achieve the goal that has been worked on for the last 2 years. If we surpass the goal, we can improve compensation for our crew and actors, and utilize more resources to create an even better (short) film. But if the emotional pleas aren't enough to cajole ya to help get the film produced, shot, and released - don't worry, we have plenty of incentives for you generous saints. Check them out in the incentives section, follow us @chickenbonesshort on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, and Twitter, and watch this space for more relevant updates on getting this project delivered.

Where & When To See the Final Product:

Upon completion of production and post-production for our short film, you can expect to join us for a premiere in New Orleans for locals and stakeholders. Not in New Orleans? We gotchu boo, we'll be having a premiere in Philly for the Northerners and movie aficionados too. We will also be excited to share a list of more screenings and premieres as they are confirmed to happen across the country and internationally. Post-production is expected to be completed in April 2024, whence thereafter the premieres will be popping off!

Don’t be a testa dura!


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

Effects, Costumes, Set Design

Costs $1,500

It's less expensive to build a storm than deal with a real one, trust us!

Cash Pledge

Costs $0


Costs $1,500

About half the crew is local; Our goal is to build connections and inspire more collaboration with our very own homegrown tomatoes.

Meals and Crafty

Costs $2,500

A hungry crew causes revolt - help us avoid an outright rebellion so we can have a happy crew sucking the marrow dry, creating a happy set.


Costs $2,500

With over 100K of equipment for our use donated by Temple University, we will need travel costs to cover travel costs from Philly with crew.


Costs $500

We are organizing a month of workshops and a final "wrap up" crawfish boil in assisted living homes in Louisiana in exchange for location!


Costs $5,000

As an anti-exploitation production, a crew of 17 will be paid $500 each for the week of filming, with the Director providing matching funds.

About This Team

Abby Waters (aka Abigail Feinberg Rodriguez) is a native South Louisiana director, writer, and actress currently completing a fellowship and masters in filmmaking at Temple University. With a diverse background in French and Creole literature and history, as well as early career foundations in education and theater, she is poised to bring grassroots change to the screen.

Alia Josephine Fawaz is a multidisciplinary working artist captivated and exploring/southeast and south central coastal Louisiana for the past 15 years. Inspired by the undiscovered personal stories that create the diverse and rich tapestries of a tight-knit community.

Jen Low is an emerging film producer, and a student at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Always prepared and willing to learn, Jen is passionate about helping to create films that are meaningful and true to the human experience.

DJ is a jack of all trades. Having worked in international development and nonprofits, he switched to TV production as a prop designer.

Caroline Fourmy is an actress, singer, and coach living in New Orleans for the past 11 years. She is thrilled to be working with Abby and the team on such a delightful project. Follow her at

George Miller is an award-winning filmmaker from Tuscaloosa, AL and teaches film at Temple University. He is currently in post-production for his short film, “The Roar”, starring Clifton Powell and MyKey Cooper.

Ashe Rose has spent more than a decade serving customers in the hospitality and retail industries. This trained Chef-turned-PR pro spends her spare time loving her French Bulldog, nurturing her houseplants or treasure hunting at local estate sales and thrift shops.

Joseph “Swizzy” Colón is a Los Angeles native who spent 11 years in New Orleans. Bought to town by studies in Architecture, he couldn’t help but also pursue the realms of acting, directing, urban planning, latin dance, labor organizing, community engagement, and environmental activism. Catch him on Twitter & Tik Tok at @JC_Cali, or more professionally, on LinkedIn.

Ivan Maduro, our Venezuelan-born, Louisiana-raised storyteller, paints cinematic worlds with his passion for film lighting. He brings his diverse background and unique perspective to illuminate narratives with depth, warmth, and a touch of Southern charm.

Nick Shamblott is an award-winning director of photography from Baltimore, MD currently residing in Los Angeles, CA whose work has been featured in The New Orleans Film Festival, The Oxford International Film Festival, and The Chicago International Film Festival. His work is driven by a fascination of visual storytelling, light, and the fundamental scientific principles underlying visual design as his artistic and collaborative processes aim to illustrate stories - in a manner that is informed by a thoughtfully crafted visual vocabulary. His most recent narrative project Angels is currently streaming on Hulu.

Federico Mejía is a New Orleans native with over three years of experience as a freelance Video Assistant. He has worked on multiple projects through the greater New Orleans area and has also served as a DP for a number of music videos for local artist/bands. 

Elishia McAllister is a mother, community organizer, coalition builder, and multidisciplinary artist who has also worked as a high school educator for the past 8 years. They consider it their life’s work to aspire daily to leave a positive impact on all that they touch.

Alcides Franceschini is a 24-year-old graduate of Temple University who majored in Film & Media Arts and minored in General Business Studies. Alcides has a very serious passion for photography, documentary filmmaking, and finances. He wishes to put his own stamp on the industry with his unique spirit that translates wonderfully into his work as he is currently seeking to explore the possibilities that documentary filmmaking offers.

Mae Anglim is a college student at Muhlenberg College where she is studying theater and English. She has grown up in the city of New Orleans and loves being part of the theater and film community here. She is super excited to be part of this project, it is her first time working on the production side of things!

Spenser Spratlin is a Production Sound Mixer and College Educator based in Philadelphia, PA. Aside from Sound Mixing and Commercial Editing, Spenser is also an interactive artist and creative coder, who often gets lost in the weeds of technology.

Lex Lindell has a background in disaster relief and the maritime industry, but has always been passionate about the transformative power of makeup. She has been practicing it as a freelance art for years. As a lifelong believer in the magic of grandmas, she thrilled to be joining this production.

Steffan Pitzel is from Chicago, but he lives in New Orleans now. He makes music and movies, but he’d rather be in the ocean.  

With Collaboration and Support from:

  • First Grace United Methodist Church - New Orleans, LA
  • NAMI fx - Metairie, LA
  • Reposo Farm & Feeds - Folsom, LA
  • Temple University Graduate Program Department of Film and Media Arts - Philadelphia, PA

Current Team