All memories start with “I clearly remember it was…,” and this one is no different. I clearly remember the night my mother opened the front door as I approached after getting stood up at the high school football game. I was rather morose as I looked up at her. But that moroseness turned to trauma, as I realized I was staring up at a woman who was covered in bruises. Everywhere I looked she was covered; wrists, neck, face. I couldn’t believe she was standing. Moreover, I couldn’t believe that this was my mother; my beautiful, slip of a powerful woman, mother. And I clearly remember my ugly soul of a father – lying back in his recliner, totally at peace with himself for what he had just done. Meanwhile, a volcano was erupting inside of me.
I knew there had been terrible arguments, but this was the first time I had seen anything like this. Then I stop and think maybe I had seen something, but I was probably too engrossed in being a dysfunctional teenager to notice.
This was a horrible scene. Me standing on the porch with my mouth dropped open in anger, fear, and confusion. All the previous issues of being stood up vanished. My reset button was pushed. Especially when, with her next breath, she whispered to me “Don’t say anything.”
And I didn’t, for twenty-five years. I never spoke to him again after that night except a yes or no to avoid any further repercussions. My mom was able to leave, safely and successfully, although he had stolen most of her money. And we struggled for a while until she found her feet again.
I always went back to that “Don’t say anything.”
And it took me twenty-five years to decide to say something. Something like that weighs heavily on your soul, especially for an aspiring writer, because all we want to DO is say things. Constantly.
There are so many stories like ours, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We read about the domestic violence incidents every day and shake our heads in disbelief. Why don’t they just leave? Everyone asks this and everyone knows the answer is not black and white. And the process to make it happen is not simple as ‘just leaving’.
As time went on, I felt I needed to say something – both about my experience and taking into account the experiences of others. I’ve always felt it is better to speak up than lose our instinct and our right to do so. The fact that DV is still happening, and continuing to crush spirits and impoverish lives is cause enough to speak up. And it is the reason for making my short film.
I wrote All Things Hidden as a feature idea decades ago, put it away (as you do) and returned to it back in 2008 when a friend was having a short film contest. I challenged myself to shrink it down into a 10 page idea and came in 2nd place. It was my first screenplay contest ever. I continued to work on improving it and keeping the short format because I did not want it to be another exploitation of a DV situation. I wanted it to have an emotional, visual and spiritual impact without overdoing the theme.
It has taken years for this to happen, but we are shooting at the end of August. And it is an emotional roller-coaster, not only re-visiting that past, but in trying to raise funds to be able to pay my amazing team who will put it together. This film will reach around the world. It is written in a way as to inspire hope, courage, redemption, vindication, healing, and strength to overcome personal obstacles. Almost everyone involved with ATH has had experience with DV on different levels.
In All Things Hidden, we find our heroine, Dannie Turner, has hit an emotional roadblock in life. She decides to return to her childhood home to confront her tragic past that has held her in its emotional vice for so long. Her presence re-awakens memories, and we see through her eyes as a young girl, the events that led up to the one thing Dannie has never been able to forgive herself for.
This script deals with the social justice issue of domestic violence with integrity and honesty. It is from my memory. Nothing is sugar-coated, but at the same time the DV itself is not the main character in the film – it is the ramifications of it on the characters. We find our current society reflected in the situation Dannie is living in. And it is in the characters that we find ourselves, or even people that we know, struggling with a tragic situation.
We want ATH to be a beacon, a call to action, to be a visual and emotional reminder of what impact our actions will leave behind. And we should be asking ourselves how proud are we of what that impact is? Can we find a way to heal ourselves a little bit from trauma experienced? Can we inspire ourselves to face obstacles renewed? Can we make a choice to stop destroying lives by our violence when we are face to face with it or have we become too numb and the burden of healing falls entirely upon the victim?
Thank you for reading.
ATH screenwriter & executive producer, Persephone Vandegrift
If you would like more information about the raw story behind All Things Hidden, check out the phone interview with Indie Chicks & Seph:
You can keep up tabs on ATH project via our FB page.
We have until August 16th to raise our funds via IndieGoGo here.
If you would like information on Seph’s other creative projects, you can find it here.
Not just another deity wandering around Olympus, Persephone Vandegrift (aka Seph), is a slightly human playwright, fiction & poetry author, and screenwriter. Not always in that order. Currently in pre-pro for her 1st award winning short script All Things Hidden filming in Seattle 2012. Her short play, It’s Not Really Suicide, Is It? dealing with the effect of PTSD, war & suicide on two friends, debuted in May at Double XX Fest in Seattle and is currently being adapted for film.
Past theatre credits include classical adaptation – Revenge and Sorrow in Thebes, short plays A Little Nightmare Before Your Christmas, Return of Helen (of Sparta), Be Careful What You Wish For, and The Ticket.
She is currently co-writing a TV series with Dawn Kelly of Not So Silent Partner Productions, and re-writing historical spec script Death of a Mortal Woman, and supernatural chiller The Curse of Mercy Wood, sci-fi/fantasy The Secret of Banrion Wood, and rom/dram/com The Water King.
Seph and lead ATH actress Julianne Christie have formed Tura Lura Films & Pitch the Bitch Productions in order to write, direct and produce more roles for women via the TV, film and stage. When she’s not wandering around the Underworld, Seph can be found via persephone.v.writes at gmail.com, turalurafilms at gmail.com, on Twitter @Persephwrites or languishing on the banks of the River Styx.