Tell My Family I Love Them

Kansas City, Missouri | Film Short

Drama, Comedy

Erik Harken

1 Campaigns | Kansas, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $7,000 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

81 supporters | followers

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Thomas, an egocentric teenage boy, is hyper focused on his track career and on challenging his single mother. With a family tragedy he is forced to reevaluate his entire world, especially the relationships in his life.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

Tell My Family I Love Them includes a diverse cast and crew. It shows the story of a multiracial lower-class family coming together in a time of tragedy. We are focused on accurately portraying grief, love, and loss in a way that can connect with audiences from all walks of life.

The Story

Hello! My name is Erik Harken, I'm the director of this short and a film student at the University of Kansas. Please feel free to look for information about my upcoming project below! I will personally answer any questions you may have about this project by email as well. You can reach me at [email protected]




Tell My Family I Love Them shows the fleeting moments of a 4th of July weekend when high school athlete Thomas Higgins loses his older brother in a multi-fatal car accident. As Thomas processes the immediate grief of tragedy, he must come to terms with the strained relationships he has created as a result of his past behavior.




Growing up during the rise of social media I’ve seen a shift in the way people connect with each other. We talk about the highlights and the good times yet sometimes these interactions feel fake and lacking in vulnerability. Above all else, Tell My Family I Love Them is about being vulnerable.


I lost my older brother at the age of 17 and in the same accident my best friend lost his brother. Our families came together to grieve and heal, and in the process, formed incredibly meaningful relationships that we might not have otherwise. So for me, this story is my way of expressing my utmost vulnerability on a topic that I know all too well yet rarely every talk about.


I was forced into a life-changing, painful, and horribly uncomfortable position at a young age. Although I will never get the chance to let my brother know what he meant to me, I have learned to live with new compassion going forward, even if all that means is simply telling my family I love them.




While this is a story rooted in a very personal experience, many of the themes such as love, loss and taking relationships for-granted are universal. These themes don’t always even mean losing a family member. Sometimes we grieve over break-ups, traumatic experiences; sometimes life just feels hard and confusing.


My hope and goal with this project is to deeply connect with as many people as possible. I want this film to be a reminder that things can and will turn out okay, even if they’re never the same. Supporting this movie means supporting that idea; It gives me the chance to share something with everyone that could so easily be seen as negative, and making it positive.






Tell My Family I Love Them is honored to bring a seasoned veteran to the cast with Laura Kirk. Her excellence as an actress has stretched over 20 years, with her breakout hit occurring in 2001 as the lead of the critically acclaimed mockumentary Lisa Picard is Famous (Cannes). Laura starred in The Sublime and Beautiful (2014) and American Honey (2016, Cannes).




While Tell My Family I Love Them is Alex Leondedis’s debut on the silver screen, he’s shown an incredible eagerness to start what is surely a great career to come. Alex’s stage acting has extended productions put on by the likes of Bell Road Barn Players Project Playwright, KC Fringe, Olathe Civic Theatre Association, The Culture House, and many more.




Tell My Family I Love Them is ecstatic to have Lavel Schley on deck as the role of Mark. After working with Erik and film partner Gary Lange on their short titled Barriers, Lavel is back and ready to deliver another poignant, gritty performance.




David has enjoyed a diverse career with acting roles with Theatre in the Park, Kauffman Center, Bell Center, UMKC, and Kansas City Music Hall. David was in the Vetter Brothers Productions’ 2016 feature The Matchbreaker with can be seen on Netflix, NEVAH, LLC’s upcoming web series Play by Play, and has made several commercial appearances for national companies.




Tell My Family I Love Them was impressed with the energy that Carter displayed during auditions. Another new face to film, we saw a great deal of intuition in Carter’s acting decisions that will pair nicely with our mix of experienced and fresh faces.


VALERI BATES- Police Officer


Valeri is a Kansas City superstar-her experience in film, television, web series, and print has earned her work in some of KC’s most respected production companies and organizations, including but not limited to Boulevard Brewing Co., Hallmark, Simply KC and multiple Vetter Brothers productions. The daughter of a former officer, Valeri felt especially connected to this role and we’re very excited to have her.


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


Costs $200

We will be paying for food services for 5 meals from local establishments in KCMO and Lawrence.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0


Costs $1,200

Our cast is made up entirely of professional actors including some with union representation.


Costs $1,600

We've hired a profession sound mixer, gaffer, grip, A.D., UPM, and more to make this set run smooth.


Costs $400

Gas money, trash bags, coolers, tables, chairs, tents, equipment vans and more will add up fast

Ozarks Filming Location

Costs $400

The Ozarks are a key location for bringing the world of this story to life.

Film Processing

Costs $400

It costs nearly $50 to process and digitize one 4-minute roll of Kodak film. We'll be using ten.

About This Team



Erik Harken -Writer/Director


Jake Honer -Producer


Gary Lange -Director of Photography


Alex Lambdin -Sound Mixer


Sean East -Gaffer (Lighting)


Vic Dominguez -Assistant Director


Sarah Stowell -Script Supervisor


Lauren Sobchak- Unit Production Manager


Alyssa Beckman- Make-Up Artist


Colleen May- SFX Make-Up


Patrick Monroe- Grip


Tony Ontivaros- Grip


Current Team