Jacob's Ladder

Tacoma, Washington | Film Short


Donovan Wilson

1 Campaigns | Washington, United States

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This campaign raised $5,500 for post-production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

47 supporters | followers

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This film explores the twin struggle and tragedy of the opioid epidemic and the homelessness crisis affecting our city and cities like it across the country. Not only does it attempt to transmit a message of hope it also forces the audience to think twice about the people suffering in our community.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

The primary goal of this project is to produce a sense of hope and empathy in the audience. I also want the audience to consider what home means to them and to remember the people who have helped them in tough situations. In the end I want people to believe that there is hope in every situation.

The Story

Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium viscosum)

Mary Vaux Walcott1937


Jacob’s Ladder is a story about a young man experiencing homelessness who is compelled to seek help after having a vivid dream.


I am raising $5500 to complete my film called "Jacob's Ladder". Funds will go toward the cost of post-production and festival submissions. Please choose a level of support that you are comfortable with and please share this with your friends and acquaintances. If nothing else please click the blue heart at the top of the page to follow the project. 1000 follows unlocks free rewards for the project!

Synopsis (A brief overview of the story's main plot points):

Jacob is wandering in the morning. A woman in blue passes him and looks at him. Meanwhile, his mother has been driving around looking for him as she often does. She sees him and walks up to him. They have a conversation. She prays for him. She gives him cash. He wanders off. He buys drugs with the money. He uses the drugs and after he passes out he has a wild dream where no one can see him. In his dream, he loses control and takes off his clothes shouting at a group of tourists. All the while in his dream a woman is calling out to him. He goes to her but the world turns upside down. He crawls with all his strength to the woman and finally sits at her side. She comforts him with a blanket. When he awakes he goes in search of a phone to call his mother but is immediately almost hit by a car! The woman in his dream, the same woman he crossed paths with in the beginning, is there in the street. She pulls him to the sidewalk, gives him her phone and Jacob calls his mother.


The theme of this story is that no matter how deep we are in despair God can use our own bad decisions to lead us to a place where we can choose help. I am inspired by stories that try to transcend their primary elements, plot, character, and setting to bring the viewer to a new understanding beyond the sum of its parts. I like to think of this story as a parable. Parables use common elements to describe mysterious truths. As a Christian, I believe Jesus provides the Holy Spirit to help us. This story is about how the Holy Spirit intervenes in ways that are mysterious and amazing.


The idea began with a vision I had of a man who fell asleep next to the water in a marina and woke up into a dream where everyone he encountered was separated from him by a large pane of glass. I put the story down for a time and many weeks later I was inspired to pick it up again and use it as part of a larger story about homelessness and drug addiction. I see many people throughout my day living and working in Tacoma, Washington, living on the streets and using drugs. I often observe them from my office window and wonder how they ended up on the streets. I see people who I know were once strong but now are burdened by drugs, mental illness, and lack of shelter.

Film still

After researching how the opioid epidemic is affecting cities across the country I tried to develop a story that would bring a message of hope. As I was working on the story I knew I wanted to include a vivid dream. When I mentioned this to a friend he said “Jacob’s Ladder”. I assumed he was referring to the 80’s horror film but I immediately thought of the biblical story. I read the bible story and felt like there were a lot of parallels to the story I was telling. So I decided to incorporate the bible story more into what I was writing. In the end, both stories relate to God’s presence in our lives and his ability to help us when we are in need. 

Film still

Why me?

I am a new director who has been slowly learning how to tell stories through the medium of film. I am inspired by great films through the ages that can bring together meaningful stories, strong characters, and deep insight into the world we live in. After many years of searching for my path in life and trying many different things, I realized after watching films by Agnes Varda, and Akira Kurosawa that I needed to learn how to use film to tell stories with the same power and artistry that they did.

Making movies incorporates so many things that I love, art, literature, drama, and technology and it can be enjoyed as entertainment or as art. It is a multi-faceted and complex combination of skill and planning and execution. It incorporates teamwork and collaboration. I’ve had the honor to work with some of the best filmmakers in Tacoma. This project “Jacob’s Ladder” is my second ambitious short film to include a paid cast and crew. Producing my first short film called “Aidan” was one of the best experiences in my life and it made me realize how magical and satisfying it was to see a film come to life after so much writing and planning.


Thanks to the Tacoma Arts Commission I have a new opportunity to produce a film based on my vision. After submitting my pitch to the commission I was awarded $4000 to make my movie. Knowing that $4000 was not enough to realize my vision I reached out to a family member who read the script and pledged $3200 more. In all we spent about $7500 on the production of this film. This included paying all my crew and actors as much as I could afford. Lining up locations, paying for permits, paying for food, and hiring extras took up the rest of the budget. To fulfill my obligation to the City of Tacoma and get paid the rest of my grant, I need to complete the film and screen it in Tacoma for free.

I believe this film and story deserve the highest quality equipment and skilled professionals to bring it to life. That is why I am raising another $5000 to pay a professional editor, colorist, sound mixer, and composer to finish the film right. My ambition for every film I create is that it screens at the Cannes Film Festival. This film needs to approach that level and the only way to do that is to pay professionals to bring it together. 

As the director, I have the vision and artistic ability to conduct my team to a powerful and high-quality piece of art. My last film “Aidan” was invited to 17 film festivals around the world. I believe “Jacob’s Ladder” has a clearer story and theme and for these reasons will have an even better chance of getting into a major festival. Maybe even Cannes! Your support will go directly to bring this important story to life.

Film Still

One last anecdote. An acquaintance of mine read the script and she was in tears on the phone telling me how much this story meant to her and how much hope she got from it. She told me that this story needs to be told. After that phone call, I decided to dedicate this film to her. That's my motivation. I hope this film can give to others what this woman got from it. So many people have been affected by opiates and homelessness. I look at this film as a prayer, a prayer for the people we see out there suffering. I believe that God is an amazing supernatural force that can bring anyone out of the most utter darkness. This film can help speak that message to others. 

Community Partners: 

The Tacoma Rescue Mission is on the front lines of supporting individuals and families on the streets who need shelter and assistance. 

The City of Tacoma through the 2023-2024 Tacoma Artists Initiative Program

Why you?

Quilt: 'Jacob's Ladder' or 'Triangles' Pattern


With your support, I will complete this short film to the highest possible standard. I will make it available for private online screening via a password-protected Vimeo link. I will also screen it publicly at the Grand Cinema in Tacoma for free. I am also open to other screening opportunities as long as they don’t conflict with film festival premiere requirements. A portion of your support will go toward marketing the film by submitting it to as many important film festivals as possible. I want as many people as possible to see it. After its premiere, it will be made public online for everyone to view. Any funds over my requested amount will go to improving the film in any way we can either by adding more editing hours or adding new shots.

Please follow my Seed and Spark page to bring visibility. Share it with your friends, family, coworkers, and company leadership and please support the project by pledging at a level you are comfortable with. Thank you for your support to bring this vision of hope to life and to the world. 


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


Costs $1,500

These funds will be used to pay for a professional editor's time to create a final cut of the film.


Costs $1,500

To hire a professional colorist to accurately and consistently apply the final color image.

Musical Score

Costs $1,500

These funds will go to paying for a professionally produced musical score to complement the film.

Film Festival Submission Fees

Costs $500

These funds will go toward submitting this film to approximately 10 film festivals

Post House Fees

Costs $500

These funds will go toward creating a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) and for creating subtitles.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

My name is Donovan Wilson and I am a filmmaker from Tacoma WA, USA. I write, direct, and produce my work with the help of friends and professionals alike. I have completed many short films and one short with a significant $15,000 budget called "Aidan" which went on to be selected for 17 film festivals worldwide including the Tacoma Film Festival and the NW Folklife Film Festival. While directing "Aidan" I managed the whole production from end to end and hired a professional crew and actors. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

I am interested in work that tries to move beyond pure entertainment and attempts to communicate beauty on a deep and meaningful level. I'm inspired by directors like Agnes Varda, Robert Bresson, Akira Kurosawa, Fritz Lang, Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, Kathryn Bigelow, and Denis Villeneuve. And the list keeps growing every day! 

Current Team