My Dear God is a short film that follows a grieving woman in Southern Arkansas who must find the strength to spread her little sister’s ashes while navigating good Southern Christian folks with an opinion.
I come from a Southern grief-stricken family, full of creative people who struggle with their addictions and vices. My mother once asked me a question that my films, consciously or subconsciously, always come back to answer: “can you make a list of all the people you’ve known and loved who’ve died?” Filmmaking is a way to honor the dead, give grace to the living, and to spill the emotional truth on the screen.
I was raised in Little Rock, Arkansas, and it is imperative that we shoot in my home state. By capturing the landscapes and the people of Arkansas, I will not only celebrate where I am from on screen, but I intend to mythologize the stark southern landscape as an ever present character. MY DEAR GOD is a story that joins the physical and the spiritual in the landscape of southern Arkansas.
MY DEAR GOD is inspired by the death of my cousin who died at 20 years old. I helped unplug her from life support in 2013 and it was in that room that I began to question the meaning of souls and bodies. How could a body continue living without a soul? What happens to a soul when a body is gone? How does a family reckon with a loss so huge and so sudden? I was inspired to think about her death in narrative terms after conversations with my cousin, her sister. By tracing my cousin’s constant search for closure, the fictional story of MY DEAR GOD presented itself.
I intend to approach the film from a quiet Southern place. It is imperative that I present the American South without cliche or judgement, and tell the stories of the women who live there from my point of view. To highlight the opioid crisis that is a silent killer affecting families across America. MY DEAR GOD is a meditative piece that finds grace through grief and investigates the transcendent nature of losing someone, while also asking the question: are they really gone?
About the Characters
Key Players Making The Film
Tara Sheffer : Writer & Director
Tara Sheffer is a Southern filmmaker from Little Rock, Arkansas, living in New York City. She is committed to telling under represented stories with strong and complicated women with agency. After graduating with a BFA in Bard College, where she double majored in film and literature, she has worked as an associate producer of development pitching unscripted shows to networks, a true crime researcher, Scott Rudin’s assistant, and most recently as coordinator at the Department Of Motion Pictures, formally known as Court 13 Films. There, she coordinated many films including Reinaldo Marcus Green’s Sundance winning MONSTERS AND MEN, The Ross Brother’s Tribeca winning CONTEMPORARY COLOR and, most recently, Academy Award Nominated Benh Zeitlin’s WENDY.
Tara’s short film 13 PIECES OF THE UNIVERSE was the Official Selection of Indie Grits Film Festival (2014), Official Selection of the Little Rock Film Festival (2014): Nominated for Best Director, Official Selection of the Offshoot Film Festival (2014), Official Selection of the Indie Memphis Film Festival (2014), Official Selection of the Ozark Film Festival (2015): Winner of Best "Around Here,” and the Official Selection of the Eureka Springs Film Festival (2015): Winner of the Gold Award Best of Fest. She has just finished her newest short, GET GONE, about the nuance and choice of a woman leaving an abusive relationship.
Tara is now a directing MFA candidate and Tisch Scholar at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, Kanbar Institute of Film & Television Graduate Film. She is the recipient of the 2019 Sara Driver Film Production Award and participated in the 2019 Woman at Sundance Strategy Intensive.
Bianca Di Marco : Producer
A New Yorker by birth but Italian bred, Bianca is a producer and filmmaker passionate of all things visual. A graduate of King’s College London in film studies, Bianca cut her teeth in advertising and television commercial production in London, Rome and New York City, working with clients such as Beats by Dr Dre, Doritos, Mountain Dew, Ferragamo, Cadbury and Nivea. She also previously worked as a producer and creative director for music videos in London, creating content for artists such as Robbie Williams, White Lies, Paul Weller, and Ride.
Bianca is now a MFA candidate and Tisch Scholar at New York University Tisch School of the Arts, Kanbar Institute of Film & Television Graduate Film.
Catherine Rierson : Producer
Mark Thiedeman : Local Arkansas Producer
Mark Thiedeman lived and worked in New York for a decade before returning to the South to direct his first micro-budget feature. That film, LAST SUMMER, was hailed as "a masterpiece" by Filmmaker Magazine and was released domestically and internationally on various digital platforms after receiving enthusiastic reviews from The Hollywood Reporter, LA Weekly, indieWIRE, and others. He has been cited locally as "Arkansas' most compelling filmmaker" by the Arkansas Times, as well as "the most promising representative" of our local film scene. He was the recipient of an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Arkansas Arts Council, in support of his 2014 mid-length comedy "Sacred Hearts, Holy Souls," which was later awarded the Charles B. Pierce Award for Best Film Made in Arkansas at the Little Rock Film Festival. He studied at New York University and currently teaches at the University of Central Arkansas. His most recent film, the feature-length documentary KEVIN, was showcased as part of the Southern Documentary Fund's Fresh Docs series, highlighting works-in-progress by new filmmakers, and it is expected to be released in 2020.
Shelia Primm: Local Arkansas Fixer
The fact of the matter is that short films rarely make money. While there are networks of distribution that offer an increased chance of a short film making its money back, this should be not be thought of as an investment for the sake of earning a profit. An investment in this project is an investment in a young Southern filmmaker’s future. An investment with MY DEAR GOD is an experience of making a film—investors will be kept updated of developments from pre-production all the way through the film-festival circuit.
Even the cheapest films cost money. Your investment is needed for things such as: feeding the crew, transportation, props, costumes, renting equipment in Arkansas, sound mixing, color correction, and publicity, etc.
Investors shall receive the following credit:
Executive Producer: $4,000 +
Associate Producer: $1,000 - $4,000
Co-Producer: $250 - $1,000
Special Thanks: $1 - $250
(To arrange a mailed check, please use the Get In Contact box to the right.)
My Dear God is also looking for in-kind donations. If you are interested in donating catering, craft services, water, etc. please use the contact box and send us a note! We are willing to negotiate a credit, mirroring the above credits, for in-kind donations.
Tara is extremely passionate about including the community in the production. If you are an Arkansas native and are interested in working on the film, please send your resume to email@example.com with the subject: MY DEAR GOD FILM - ARKANSAS
All finances will be kept track of in Movie Magic Budgeting, the industry standard for budgeting software. Investors shall have access to these files as well as to statements from the account itself.
The following pages highlight how the money will be used and the locked schedule for production and post production.
INVEST IN MY DEAR GOD
Get In Contact With The Team For Inquiries, In-Kind Donations, and Resumes
35mm Location Photos Taken in Arkansas by Tara
These photos intend to capture tone and sense of place of the script, not specific locations or shots.