Shining in the Dark is a horror story that explores the intersection of disability, grief and tentacles. Join us in the haunted world of the mind's eye, as a blind projectionist at an old-school movie-house mourns for her daughter and faces the darkness closing in around her.
Mission StatementAs a visually impaired creator that tells stories about disability through a horror lens, I am crafting an authentic experience of terror through the eyes of someone who sees differently, while also creating a safe set that uses time and resources accessibly and effectively.
About The Project
(Image: A poster for Shining in the Dark, featuring projectors casting light behind the text SHINING IN THE DARK, with tattered red movie theatre seats below)
Note: Additional Audio Description information is included under the MEDIA tab.
Shining in the Dark is a Disability-forward surreal horror short (and currently a quarter-finalist in the ScreenCraft Film Fund competition) that tells the story of a blind projectionist and her memories of her dead daughter. The story revolves around Rowe, who lost her daughter two years ago. Set solely in the projection booth and the movie theatre below, the film starts with techniques from movies like The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, exploring what the world looks like through Rowe’s eyes, while also unfurling horrors from her mind’s eye. Very few films have ever attempted to show the way that blind people actually see, hallucinate, and dream, and this film is unique in its approach as both a horror story and a glimpse of a world you've never seen before.
All contributions are tax-deductible because we are partnering with the 501(c)3 non-profit, Ride the Omnibus, Inc., parked at the intersection of pop culture and social justice.
WHAT'S THE STORY, MORNING GLORY?
(Image: A blurred image of a young girl leaning her head on her arm as she stares straight ahead at a reflected light, taken from Kryzystof Kieslowski's Three Colors: Blue)
The audience watches Rowe deteriorate slowly as she continues to mourn her dead daughter. She holds on to her daughter's octopus fidget toy, obsessively twirling the tentacles. Rowe sees her daughter smiling at her, even while conversing with her coworker, Joseph. While her co-worker Joseph worries about her, she deeply resents his concern, rejecting it as a sign of his ableism. When Joseph reveals that he also can see Ayla, Rowe suddenly realizes that this is a haunting and not a hallucination. Grappling with her grief, and held by Joseph, Rowe finally decides once and for all that she wants to live. However, Ayla needs her mother and will not let her go.
WHO ARE YOU TO TELL THIS STORY?
(Image: A shadowy headshot of writer/director Ariel Baska, a pleasantly plump blonde woman in a green sweater, with a mannequin hand on her shoulder, against a background of a bookcase swathed in pink)
The film is written and directed by a visually impaired, queer, multiply disabled filmmaker, podcaster, and author, Ariel Baska, whose previous horror film, Our First Priority, won the Disability Advocacy Award from Superfest Disability Film Festival, and will be playing at FrightFest UK in London, one of the premier genre film festivals in the world. She presented at SXSW in 2022 about the state of accessibility in the film and television industry.
HOW ARE YOU SHOOTING THIS?
(Image: A yellow, diamond-shaped sign proclaiming "SAFETY FIRST" against a background of blue sky)
Since the death of Halyna Hutchins on a film set last year, more people than ever have become aware of the extremely unsafe practices throughout the film and television industry. Our set aims to be different. We value safety and accessibility, both because it is the right thing to do and because it makes a difference in the quality of the film. We will have a PAC (production accessibility coordinator), someone who improves communication and safety for all. The entire structure of both the shoot and the shooting day will be different, giving cast and crew the necessary time and space to create in the unique ways that only they can. Because of the risks posed by the pandemic, we will take every possible precaution. We will have a COVID safety officer, and will be working with a limited crew on set and testing regularly on-site to create the safest possible space for our creators.
WHO IS INVOLVED?
(Image: A 3x3 graphic of crew members, from left to right and top to bottom: Adam Stovall, Andee Arches, Samantha Rachel Smith, Nick Walker Grimshaw, Nasreen Alkhateeb, Jeffrey Chance, Maegan Philmore, Steve Nerangis, Camila Franco Ribeiro Gomide)
Our cast and crew is a diverse team that includes many queer, Disabled, and BIPOC creators. We are proud to bring together a team that looks at life through a different lens for this unique horror story. Click on THE TEAM to find out more!
WHERE ARE YOU SHOOTING THIS?
(Image: A VIP room with oversized chairs, the carpet from The Shining, and many posters on the walls, of every genre and description)
We are shooting the entire film inside a working movie theatre, and will be featuring both the projection booth in operation, as well as the screens below. Our location is the beautiful Alamo Drafthouse Winchester, which has one of the creepiest and loveliest projection spaces in the state of Virginia.
(Image: A dark, shadowed desk area inside the Alamo's projection booth. Wall-to-wall posters hang over a desk littered with papers, while projectors stand in the corner)
WHY DO YOU NEED MY SUPPORT?
(Image: A before and after photo of visual effects. On the left, half of a woman's body is visible in simple gray clothes against a blue background. On the right, her other half is visible with a glowing orb of light and radiating clouds of blue, arcing toward an object in the distance, taken from Captain Marvel)
We are crowd-funding now so that we can begin the work of pre-visualization and storyboarding knowing we have the funds to support our cast and crew. We are taking our time with the pre-production process to use resources as effectively as possible, but to do that, we need to raise the money to pay everyone fairly. Several factors make it necessary to raise more money, specifically:
- Authentic Casting - to cast the character of Rowe, we need to widen our net to include actors from both coasts, which means increased costs for both travel and lodging.
- Accessibility - to tell this story the right way, we need to employ a PAC, a production accessibility coordinator, who can improve everything about our process. Taking our time to perfect our craft while working safely takes money.
- Practical Effects - to scare the living daylights out of audiences, we need to incorporate practical effects, to represent how Rowe sees differently, and the very unique horrors she sees in her mind's eye. This requires a Practical Effects Supervisor, and the sculpting of creatures (oh yes!).
- Digital Effects - to portray the supernatural elements in the film, we need to add VFX that add an otherworldly feeling to some of our practical effects and images.
HOW ELSE CAN I SUPPORT THIS CAMPAIGN?
(Image: The ASL handshape for "love" in abstract black and white, with the text "Share the Love" underneath)
Even if you don't have the means to spring for one of our fabulous incentives, it would mean so much to us if you could please share our campaign within your circle and encourage others to do so as well. Sample tweets and messages are below, or give your own reasons for why you support this project. Either way, we love that you want to share the love!
- Check out this campaign for a female-directed horror short set inside an actual movie theatre! https://seedandspark.com/fund/shininginthedark
- This sounds great - a film about how blind people see, told as a horror story - check it out! https://seedandspark.com/fund/shininginthedark
- A diverse team of creators telling a unique story about disability - worth a look! https://seedandspark.com/fund/shininginthedark
(Image: Brackets enclose the text: "Thank you for reading" - "you" is in bold)
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
Ariel Baska, writer/director
Ariel Baska is an award-winning multiply disabled horror and documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and author. She has spoken at SXSW, won scholarships from Sundance, and is a fellow of the 2022 RespectAbility Lab. Her horror short, Our First Priority, won the Disability Advocacy Award at the BAFTA-qualifying Superfest Disability Film Festival, and played at FrightFest UK along with venues from Berlin to London to Mumbai. Her first animated short, she's never been a bird before, produced with the Northwest Film Forum, was featured at the Engauge Experimental Film Festival in Seattle. She recently produced the documentary, Mike Mignola: Drawing Monsters, about the creator of Hellboy, which premiered at the Chattanooga Film Festival.
Her podcast, Ride the Omnibus, parked at the intersection of pop culture and social justice, often features noted horror filmmakers and critics. Additionally, she regularly presents on the topic of Disability and Horror, with engagements and publications through Cine-Excess and Final Girls Berlin. She hosts a monthly discussion for filmmakers interested in accessibility with the Gotham. She is a member of Women in Film, the Gotham, IDA, the National Press Club, D-Word, FWD-Docs, and the Northwest Film Forum.
Nasreen Alkhateeb, cinematographer
Nasreen Alkhateeb is an Emmy award-winning Cinematographer whose work amplifies under-represented voices. Her ability to motivate audiences is a direct result of being part of multiple marginalized groups: Multi-heritage, Black, Iraqi,1st generation, raised Muslim, LGBTQ and Disabled, chronic pain and neurodiverse. In 2020, Nasreen was chosen as the Lead Cinematographer for Kamala Harris' successful Vice Presidential campaign, and Oprah's EMMY winning series Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. She Executive Produced East of the River that screened the Tribeca Film Festival, and directed campaigns for NASA and the Women’s March, with an emphasis on BIPOC voices. In addition to being the Director of Photography on two narrative films highlighting LGBTQ and Disabled lead characters, Nasreen was honored as Cinematographer of the Year by NASA for her work in the Arctic. In 2021, Nasreen directed a mini-series about the first Disabled astronauts, and was Director of Photography of the Apple+ show “Dear…” with Billy Porter. In 2022, Nasreen was the Director of Photography for the six part docu-series about the first Black women who impacted the fashion industry, executive produced by Iman. Alumna of the Sundance Accessible Futures Intensive, The Disruptors Fellowship, the RespectAbility Fellowship, mentee of the American Society of Cinematographers Vision Mentorship Program, given the Wild Card award by NASA peers, Forbes described her as “breaking barriers.”
Nasreen has participated in the SUNDANCE Film Festival and developed programing for AFI DOCS, the Nantucket Film Festival, the Brooklyn International Film Festival, CINE, TIVA, and the EMMYS. She is a fellow of The Disruptors, a fellow of Sundance’s Accessible Futures Intensive, a fellow of the RespectAbility Lab, a fellow of the WIF Creative Circle, and a Visions fellow of the American Society of Cinematographers.
Kiah Amara, producer and production accessibility coordinator
Originally from the rural Midwest, Kiah Amara is a bi-coastal filmmaker, Production Accessibility Coordinator, educator, and media industry activist. Their work focuses on identity, fluidity, commonality, misconception, and all things “deviant from normal." Kiah is a proud Queer Neurodiverse Enby Spoonie (UCTD, if you’re curious).
With a background in Disability Art and Education, their extensive work with Nonprofits — Penguin Project, Red Kite, Co/Lab, Actionplay, The JCC Manhattan (ReelAbilities), RespectAbility — guides their industry and advocacy work to prioritize ease, intersectional awareness, and Disability Justice. They founded IndieVISIBLE in 2018, as a way to provide freeing spaces for Disabled artists and knowledge for non-disabled peers with a shared aim of crafting a more inclusive and compassionate industry that prioritizes Accessibility for All.
Recent work includes PAC work on AppleTV+’s Best Foot Forward and WarnerMedia’s Access Talent Spotlight, consulting on shows like Blue’s Clues and Rosie’s Rules, leading Accessibility trainings for studios, projects, and production companies in the USA and abroad, and producing NY’s first Film and TV Accessibility Summit along with a feature in development at IndieVISIBLE.
They are a recipient of the 2020 and 2021 Dance/NYC Disability, Dance, and Social Justice Fellowship and a 2021 RespectAbility National Leadership Fellow.
Ana Andrea Arches, producer
Andee Arches is an award-winning Filipino director, cinematographer, producer, and DJ based in Richmond, Virginia. She is known for her work with television series such as Ghost Nation, The Rev, and High on the Hog. She has worked on many productions in a variety of roles, winning awards for her work as director and cinematographer on the short "Self-Help." As the director of the WRIR Film and Video department, she has managed countless video productions, while also directing an ongoing documentary and impact campaign for the Virginia Friends of Mali.
Steve Nerangis, producer
Steve Nerangis is an award-winning writer, director, and producer, known primarily for his music documentary projects. Steve is a partner with Varla Dogwood Films, and a co-owner of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Winchester, VA. Steve started working on documentaries with the 2016 film Can't Stop the Show: The Return of KIX. He co-directed and edited the film, which followed the rock band KIX as they recorded their first album in almost 20 years. Released on Loud & Proud Records, the documentary reached #1 on the Billboard Music DVD charts. Steve went on to produce and edit the award-winning shorts A Mother's Will, Just Like Will, and (The Making of) Please Don't Make Me Play Piano Man, a mockumentary which he also directed, which won numerous awards at local and national festivals.
Maegan La Trese Philmore, producer
Maegan La Trese Philmore is a director, producer and activist based in Inglewood, California. Her narrative and documentary shorts have been selected to be a part of the following festivals: Los Angeles Black Film Festival, Awareness Film Festival, the Collaborative Filmmakers Challenge, Imagine This Film Festival, Film Girl Film Festival, and The DisOrient Asian Film Festival. She just launched her production company Hudson Philmore which specializes in womanist, queer, BIPOC, all abilities & sizes, unscripted and scripted content. Hudson Philmore wants to make stories that challenge the exclusion in Hollywood the same way Angela Davis challenges the prison industrial complex.
Her day job is at Paramount, formerly ViacomCBS, where she is Director of Production overseeing the physical production of movies of the week for Comedy Central, VH1, and MTV. Previously, she was a Production Executive at the National Football League and YouTube Originals. An alumna of Mount Holyoke College, she also has worked on the hit shows Naked and Afraid, the NAACP Image Award winning Welcome to Sweetie Pies and the three-time Emmy Winner Freedom Riders. Hudson Philmore is finishing its run at Film Festivals with DOMestication, a short documentary, and just wrapped production on the short film Agents of Change: Project Polymer, which featured an all-Trans cast. Maegan volunteers her time with LA Compost and Color of Change. She is the most devoted “titi” to her nephew Tre.
Adam Stovall, producer
Adam Stovall is an award-winning NYC-based filmmaker who made his feature debut as writer, director, and producer with the 2020 haunting rom-com, A Ghost Waits, which took the top prizes at ScreamFest and FrightFest before being picked up for US and UK distribution by Arrow. As a producer, he worked on the award-winning horror short, Our First Priority, and in 2022, spoke at SXSW on the topic of accessibility in the film and television industry. Before stepping into the director’s chair, Adam was a working film journalist for years, serving as Contributing Editor at Creative Screenwriting Magazine and Contributing Writer at IndieWire and The Hollywood Reporter. He then transitioned into production, working on set for shows on NBC and TLC, as well as the Gravitas Ventures feature Split. Outside of features, he directs audio books, including the Earphone Award-winning ‘7 1/2 Lessons About the Brain’ (Brilliance Audio).