Exit Strategy: From Scared to Sacred

Austin, Texas | Film Feature

Documentary

Wendy Corn

1 Campaigns | Texas, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $34,884 for production phase 2. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

184 supporters | followers

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"Exit Strategy" seeks to bring the death positive conversation and movement to a broader audience, dispelling some of the stereotypes, fears, and taboo approaches by normalizing the topic and offering perspectives and tools for families & individuals as we face record numbers of death.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

I'm a filmmaker who looked for answers in"the system" being my mother's caretaker in 2020. In a time of uncertainty, I searched for rituals & tools to work with grief, aging, and dying and on to get an EOL Doula certificate. Now I seek to equip others w/ this knowledge, sharing in an inventive way.

The Story

Something isn’t right with the way we’re dying in Western culture. What if we had death all wrong? We’re disappointed with how death has been happening. What if we could course correct while there’s still time? Death/losing loved ones is the #1 fear in the world right now–but does it need to be? Human beings (and our beloved animals) have been dying since the beginning of time, so when did we start running from it?

Before funeral homes, the family was involved in creating and carrying out deathcare arrangements, but currently, we’ve institutionalized one of the most important rites of passage in our culture: Death. Families are relieved to regain power when it comes to making decisions based on their loved one’s final wishes rather than being grief-stricken and handing it over to an undertaker. The undertaker who has traditionally come to take away a body, saying, “We’ll take care of it,” is an outdated model.

It was Franz Kafka that said, “The meaning of life is that it ends.”

When we deny the fact that we will die one day, it denies us the ability to live fully as well. There is so much beauty in befriending death:

It allows us to truly understand the value of this day.
It allows us to understand the value of compassion and presence.
It empowers us to find our purpose in life.
It allows us to live authentically.
We hope to make the idea of dying and death less scary and more sacred.

SCOPE OF FILM: WHY DO WE NEED A NEW APPROACH?

Western culture is in denial—we don’t talk about death, and then we’re faced with it. We’re starting to take control of how end-of-life is recognized with a new approach to an outdated paradigm. Baby Boomers are now the oldest population, a huge demographic shift. Boomers were the first to have birth doulas and now they want death doulas. They want to do it their way. Traditionally our culture sees death as a failure e.g. ‘fighting cancer” or “losing the battle.” It’s a war against the inevitable. Fear of the unknown.

Saying goodbye to the physical form of those we love will always have an element of heaviness and sadness, but what if we reshaped our perspective of death in a positive way?

Exit Strategy introduces an umbrella for what is considered death positive and explores:

Alternative disposition methods include natural green burials, NOR, becoming a tree (WeTranscend.com), and Aquamation to name a few.



Death literacy platform bevival.com “Meet the imaginative daredevils who are challenging our relationship with our mortality, helping to inform a future that has yet to arrive.”

Death Cafes: started in London by Jon Underwood (d.2017) in 2011, are now recognized worldwide as a safe, supportive space to have stimulating discussions on all topics death-related with a small group of friendly, like-minded people. According to US News & World Report, COVID caused an increase of 17% more deaths in 2020 than the previous year.

Music thanatology i.e. Swan Songs’  musical last wishes for the dying.

Death tech: The most mysterious human event is now merging with the digital frontier. free online tools and apps help to take away the fear of death and dying and assist end-of-life decision-making i.e., what to do with your physical corpse and material assets.

Exploring the mainstream presence of the death space. Now it’s everywhere: videos, social media, blogs, websites, podcasts, and TV shows including Amy Poehler’s  “Swedish Death Cleaning”, Netflix’s “Buried by the Bernards” documentaries like “Alternative Endings: Six Ways to Die in America” (Check out the Dying to Know FF in upstate NY August 2023 https://d2kusa.com

The film also highlights the desire of younger generations to be a part of redefining the future of the death space by expanding transparency and removing “gatekeepers.”

We should all be so blessed to have a “good death.” What does that entail? These are the quality conversations we’re cultivating with the dying and their families: Asking what their dying wishes are in advance, having legacy interview projects, obituary writing, Celebration of Life music choices, story-telling, nourishing food, and humor.

The film shines a light on the metamorphosis where end-of-life and death options are being rediscovered and redefined. The film aims to normalize end-of-life (EOL) and death conversations, burial options, and transparency around corpse disposition to overcome our cultural fears and celebrate lives lived and passed. The film's subjects, leaders in the death positive movement, guide us on a physical and metaphysical journey.

We are currently in production and have filmed many engaging interviews with interesting perspectives now are entering the next phase —ready to weave the story with an editor. We will see what other footage is still needed. This campaign will help secure and pay for an editor and other post-production needs including animation which is mandatory for this project to get to the next stage.

Once the film is finished, it will premiere and run a film festival circuit and the goal is to be picked up for distribution and be available on a streaming platform.

Beyond contributing financially, you can help us by sharing the campaign (liking, following on social FB & IG) with people you know including:

EOL Doulas
Funeral Industry/Hospice care
Senior Retirement Communities  
Jewish communities 
Estate Planners
Grief counselors 
Medical workers
People with aging parents
people who have lost loved ones and pets
People who would resonate with this subject matter

Once the project is ready to be viewed, or programmed in festivals, you will be updated via this platform with details. The best way for you to get involved is to like and share widely on your social channels and word of mouth. The more people see the mission of this film, it will move, touch and inspire them to donate. This film can only be realized by getting funding. Thank you for your support!

Suggested social posts: 

All of you should know about this upcoming documentary in production “Exit Strategy: From Scared to Sacred” Please consider making a gift of whatever you are comfortable with toward this film becoming a reality! Please like and follow them on social (FB & IG)and on Seed & Spark.  

Wishlist

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

RT ATX Travel for Cinematographer & Consultant

Costs $1,900

Future interviews with Swan Songs, musical last wishes, Morbid Curiosity & Death Cafes

Travel Expenses

Costs $1,644

Travel expenses: Planes trains, subways, taxis, and Airbnb while in NY filming.

Travel

Costs $2,555

pitch video shoot & meals [includes film location + covid-safe accommodations for cast & crew.

Zoom device rental

Costs $23

Filming in ATX. Reimbursement.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Adobe Motion Graphics

Costs $2,000

motion graphics

Audio jungle

Costs $60

royalty-free music

External Hard Drive x 2

Costs $180

2 external lacee hard drives for media storage.

archival footage

Costs $2,000

Archival or stock footage

Production Crew

Costs $16,000

For Cinematographer & Director

Post-production costs

Costs $2,250

Post-production & ADDITIONAL expenses

PR & Film Festival Submissions

Costs $1,000

Festivals are the best way to have industry folk see our work and network for the next projects.

Transcription services

Costs $400

To keep accurate transcripts of subject interviews

Apple Computer

Costs $6,000

video editing, motion graphics, speed, horsepower, and memory.

Film Editor

Costs $5,000

To cover a work in progress reel for future fundraising to complete this project.

About This Team

Director/Producer Wendy R. Corn is an award-winning documentary filmmaker whose films have been featured at SXSW and other festivals. Her films have addressed spirituality and community on topics such as death, laughter, Judaism, and community song circles. Wendy produced an annual teen 24-hr. filmmaking event called “Lights, Camera, Chutzpah" underwritten by the Austin Jewish Film Festival. She has been a part of the SXSW Photography Crew as a photographer & crew chief. Wendy conceived, produced, cast, and shot the award-winning "Praise HA!", a documentary about laughter as a healer, which included Wavy Gravy, and Patch Adams amongst others. She produced and helped program the Avignon/New York Film Festival, and has worked on various other film festivals (New Directors/New Films, NYFF, Shorts International, NY Comedy, New York Women in Film and Television) in management and programming.  She has also been in front of the camera as a location reporter. She has worked for media and film departments at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Miramax Films, and MTV Networks and is a published writer and photographer. In 2021, she got certified as an End of Life Doula through the University of Vermont, one of their largest enrollments to date.

Co-Producer Trish Dalton is a Brooklyn-based, award-winning film director/producer whose work has been broadcast on HBO, Time Warner, PBS, and Ovation after screening at many film festivals, including SXSW, Miami International, Boston Independent, Denver Starz, Nashville, True/False, DOC NYC, Full Frame, and Tribeca. Trish is driven by a love of people and discovery, and a commitment to environmental and social justice, several of her documentaries have been used to as tools for change. 

Her recent HBO Sports documentary, STUDENT ATHLETE, encouraged legislative change at the federal and state level to protect college athletes' rights. Other topics have shone a light on personal stories related to immigration, the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, factory farming, and poor nutrition. Trish also specializes in creating informative and mission-driven content for brands, non-profits, and governments, garnering such notable clients as Capital One Spark, Conde Nast, Pepsi, Nike, illy, Cole Haan, Microsoft, Kashi, The Global Ocean Commission, and the Presidency of Senegal.

Director of Photography and Video Editor, Matthew Vonesh is a filmmaker and photographer from Gainesville, Florida. Matthew produces multimedia work for non-profits, education, and small businesses. His documentary work often focuses on human interest stories and creating death positive narratives that celebrate the humanness of storytelling around the people who have passed away and the ones who cared for them. Matthew also started “The Calling Hours” (thecallinghours.co) with his partner William Heath, as a death concierge service that companions families during the end-of-life process, archiving stories and providing creative audio/visual tech solutions for a variety of sacred ceremonies. 

Animation Yuliya Lanina is an interdisciplinary artist whose work exists at the intersection of visual art, performance, and technological innovation, exploring social issues like trauma, sexuality, loss, and motherhood. Born in Moscow, Lanina arrived in New York as a political refugee. There she established herself as a pioneering artist on the cutting edge of combining digital technologies with handmade media. She creates alternate realities in her works—ones based on sexuality, trauma, fetishism, death, and identity.


Lanina’s honors include Fulbright (Vienna, Austria), Headlands Art Center (CA), and Yaddo Colony (NY). Exhibitions include SXSW (TX), Seoul Art Museum (Korea), SIGGRAPH (Japan), 798 Beijing Biennial (China), Cleveland Institute of Art (OH), Museum Ludwig (Germany), and Moscow Museum of Modern Art (Russia).  Her recent solo show at Xposed gallery on New York’s The High Line was viewed by more than 1,000 people per day over three weeks.

Current Team

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