The Giving Box

Fairhope, Alabama | Film Short

Drama, Fantasy

Chad Kirtland

1 Campaigns | Alabama, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $8,140 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

71 supporters | followers

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The Giving Box is a short film about true happiness and what it means to share that joy with others. At a time when our world seems filled with turmoil and discontent, we could all use a heartfelt film that celebrates joy and sharing.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

In The Giving Box, happiness recognizes no labels. As such, our cast represents a mix of ages, genders, races, and social classes. Our crew includes several women who work full-time in media, as well as local youth who we've invited to gain hands-on filmmaking experience.

The Story

A stranger arrives in a small town with a mysterious box. In a series of encounters with the locals, he pulls from the box items that make people happy: music, food, art, memories, etc. But, a jealous orphan steals the box, only to find that she can’t make it work. The stranger teaches the orphan the secret of true happiness, and they both receive their most sought-after gifts.

Based loosely on the Zen koan “What is hidden inside the empty box,” The Giving Box is a meditation on what brings us true happiness and what it means to share that joy with others. Like all Zen riddles, this one has no answer. Or, maybe it has infinite answers; one for each of us. You decide.

 Why This Now?

Sometimes we need a reminder about happiness. Especially these days. I was at a film festival one weekend, and it occurred to me that all of the films I saw were full of despair, discontent, and tragedy. Harrowing documentaries detailing war and bigotry. Narrative features about sad, disconnected people. Shorts full of animated violence. Of course, the evening news is no better. 

Don't get me wrong, I love films full of real-life drama. I applaud documentaries that unflinchingly expose the underbelly of our society. But, I feel the time is right to tell a simple, joyful story that celebrates our spirit of sharing and wonder.

My hope is that The Giving Box will remind viewers that, no matter how troubling things appear, the true nature of happiness remains in our hearts.


 What Kind of Film Is It?

The Giving Box contains no dialogue, but rather relies on action, emotion, and music to tell its story. We're using Balkan gypsy music for the score. We're shooting in the idyllic, waterside village of Fairhope. I certainly didn't set out to do so, but now it seems I'm making an Eastern-European art film...straight out of lower Alabama.  


 Who Am I? (not another Zen koan)

I've spent my entire career creating content. Print, digital, video, whatever. These days I run a video  production company and produce the national TV show Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford. I  wrote, directed, and produced a documentary about Orange Beach, Alabama, titled Life Is Better Here. I produced and directed a 24-part travel series called Southern Journeys, which explores the food, music and people of the Gulf Coast. I've produced scores of commercial projects for companies of all sizes. I've written 75% of several feature films still hidden in a desk drawer. This is the first time I've worked with live birds.  


Tim Arnold and I have been talking about making movies since we looked like this... 

That was 30 years ago. I went this way, and he went that way. Life happened in between. The talking never stopped, but we never got around to making those movies together.

Now Tim has returned to the South, and the talking has taken on a different tone. It's time to make those boyhood dreams reality. I'm thrilled that Tim jumped on board the moment I commited to making The Giving Box.  Thanks, brother. I hope this the first of many collaborations to come.  


Thanks for reading this far down the page. And, thanks for your support. I hope you will find as much joy in this project as I do.  



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

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Camera, Lenses & Such

Costs $850

I have a fancy iPhone, but a pro camera w prime lenses & a matte box will make us look legit.


Costs $300

Misc production props, inc. the choreographed release of white doves. Yup...doves. Intrigued?

Craft Services

Costs $600

Two days of vittles for cast and crew. Chik-Fil-A is a fave. And, coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Film Festival Entries

Costs $500

Film fest entry fees. But, not the snobby ones. Only the cool ones where we have a chance.


Costs $100

Assorted finery from Goodwill and other upmarket purveyors. Plus, one fly chapeau.


Costs $1,000

Without dialogue, music is extremely important. You might even say it plays an instrumental role.

Permit & Police

Costs $1,400

The city requires a filming permit. And, police supervision. I guess we look like the rowdy type.


Costs $500

Nathan and Sophia deserve some compensation. Besides the global notoriety, that is.


Costs $1,400

They're all rock stars. Volunteer rock stars. How about a little something for their efforts?

Photos & PR

Costs $250

A skywriter, a bunch of MySpace ads, and some nifty pamphlets. We gotta fill the seats somehow.

Post Production

Costs $950

Color correction. Sound design. Editing. It takes a lot to make a masterpiece from our mess.

About This Team

Chad Kirtland - Writer, Director

As the VP of Production at 3 Echoes Productions in Mobile, Alabama, Chad serves as a producer of the nationally syndicated TV show Today's Homeowner with Danny Lipford and has produced scores of commercial videos for national clients. Chad wrote, directed and produced the documentary Life Is Better Here, which chronicles the history of Orange Beach, Alabama. He also produced and directed the 24-part online travel series Southern Journeys. Chad serves as the marketing director for the Fairhope Film Festival, a role he has held since the event began six years ago. When not obsessing about video, Chad refurbishes vintage guitar pedals, chases speckled trout, and grows tomatoes. He also makes a mean gumbo.


Tim Arnold - Producer

A "jack of all trades" in the film world, Tim has been an editor, producer, director and writer (even sometimes actor). Leaving college with an engineering degree, he spent 15 years in Hollywood as a journeyman/freelance editor and a self-taught filmmaker. His short film Great Poets Die… premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and won the Best New Orleans Film Award at the New Orleans Film Festival. Tim now lives in Auburn, Alabama, with his wife and two sons and a horse named Chivo. 

Kris Skoda - Director of Photography


Kris, a Mobile, Alabama-based director of photography, has been working in film and video for nine years. Kris has worked on a variety of film, TV and commercial projects, including the feature films Convergence, Raiders! the Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made, Nigel and Oscar VS the Sasquatch, Full Moon Inc, and Infinity Girls. He has also worked a number of short films, commercials and music videos.


Dusty Bias - Assistant Director

Dusty has written and directed several feature films. His debut, Prairie Love, garnered critical acclaim at Sundance. And, his most recent feature, The Great and the Small, won the Audience Choice Award at the Sonoma Film Festival and is currently in distribution. Dusty lives near the Gulf of Mexico, just in case he needs to escape quickly. He hopes to one day be recognized for his talents as an exotic dancer.


Nathan Smith - Actor, The Stranger


Born in Mobile, Alabama, Nathan recently co-starred on Syfy’s MISSISSIPPI RIVER SHARKS as Sherriff Hurley and the 2nd season finale of PREACHER; as well as, MURDEROUS AFFAIRS. In the upcoming movie release QUAL HOLLOW, he plays Sheriff Landon, one of the lead characters. He’s enjoyed a reoccurring spot on American Horror Story: Freakshow as The Lion Tamer and appeared on TV shows like CBS’s ZOO. Nathan has done stunts in movies such as RAGE with Nicolas Cage, PERFECT WEAPON, and USS INDIANAPOLIS.  When he’s not acting on screen, he enjoys voice-acting for commercials and narrations.  He’s also a comic artist who illustrates the story for Inverse Press’s Last Ride for Horsemen… a steampunk version of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.


Sophia Kirtland - Actor, The Orphan

Sophia is a fourth-grader with many interests. In addition to acting, she plays violin, does gymnastics, and bakes. Her dream is to compete on Food Network's Kids Baking Championship. After that, she plans to become a doctor. 

Current Team