Remember Me


TYPE
: Narrative Short
GENRE: Horror
STATUS: Pre-Production

LOGLINE

After another unarmed black teen is killed by police, a wilting black man haunted by the victims of lynchings in America is forced to come to terms with his identity, rage and African war gods in a supernatural horror thriller.

SYNOPSIS

Bill is a chef who finds himself unable to keep any of his food from rotting.  He's the kind of black man who has distanced himself from race and culture to survive.  While he's haunted by victims of lynchings and police murders, he hasn't allowed the ghosts to affect him until one day another unarmed black teen is shot and killed at the hands of a police officer.  He can't shake the news and for some reason decides to commune with the spirits.

He takes in an unlikely roommate named Horace.  Over their short time together, Horace helps Bill reconnect to his culture and blackness.  Then, on the night the Police Officer is acquitted, Horace reveals that he is indeed a ghost from a lynching in 1906 that happened in Springfield, MO.  He recounts the story of how he was returning home to visit family on Easter when he was accused of raping a white woman.  A 6,000 person mob of men, women and children took sledgehammers to break him out of jail and lynch him and two other black men in the town square.  They burned their bodies and mutilated them for souvenirs. 

Old Woman Jo, the spirit of a slave who sold her soul for revenge against her master to Orisha Oya, a warrior goddess of change who can raise an army of the dead, reveals herself as the keeper of Horace's soul as well as many others.  Before Horace goes away, his last words to Bill are, “Remember me."  It is then that Bill, forever changed, offers his soul to Old Woman Jo and becomes possessed by Shango, a warrior god who wields the oshe -- a double-headed axe.  Reborn, Bill confronts the officer and hacks him to death with the oshe for justice.

ARTISTIC STATEMENT

Statement from writer, Ron McCants:

The first time I heard about lynching, I was 8 years old. I lived in Springfield, Missouri. I was told the story about three men who were lynched in 1906 by a mob at the town square. In 1996, we were about one of two hundred black families in Missouri’s third largest city. A Kenyan man was lynched near the town square and hung on a radio tower. That was the first time I realized that I could be lynched. I was 11 years old. It’s sad to me that REMEMBER ME is culturally and socially relevant in 2017. I hate seeing black people hung from trees and shot in the streets. I hate seeing police get away with beating us up or the media tearing down great men who take a stance. There is hatred towards black men and women that seek to shut us up during a time when we are required as Americans to speak out because we’re being unjustly killed by police in the streets and by our justice system. It’s unfair to me to see such hatred and vitriol towards athletes who exercise their right to kneel in protest to the killing of black people. It’s infuriating to see such opposition to the expression that Black Lives Matter. The mere fact that people feel the need to even question such a basic statement about the value of human life has fueled a movement and unmasked the true horror of racial prejudice and institutionalized racism. I want to do my part as best I can and that’s with my voice.

Statement from Director, Jesse Gustafson:

America is in a culture war. As artists, we cannot ignore this. We must use our voices to tell the stories of the marginalized and bring them into the fold of the great dream of America. It is not our job to preach. We must tell entertaining, well thought out and emotionally rooted stories that go beyond the political and tap into something deeper and more human. Only then can we be part of a cultural awakening where change can occur. REMEMBER ME is such a story. When Ron initially sent me the script I was blown away by its scathing, raw narrative and intense evocative imagery. It is impossible to read the script and not want to discuss it. It is deeply personal. Everything in it is intentional and has meaning. It has the madness of Werner Herzog told with the cool, deft hand of David Fincher. It is psychological horror at its most sophisticated. It is an honor to be able to bring my talents to such a powerful story and I cannot wait to see its potential realized. As the title of the film suggests, REMEMBER ME is and will be, impossible to forget.

KEY CREW

Jesse Gustafson - Director

Originally from Clearwater/St Petersburg, Florida Jesse enlisted in the US Army at age 17 and was deployed on a peacekeeping mission to Bosnia-Herzegovina. After the military, he attended the University of California Santa Barbara where he graduated with a BFA in Theater Performance and a BA Equivalent in Stage Directing. After graduating college, he moved to Bangkok, Thailand where he performed and directed for an English-speaking theater company. He left Thailand and moved to San Francisco where he worked at the Magic Theater and was the production manager for the 2003-2004 season, which included the world premiere of Dr. Faustus, written and directed by David Mamet. Jesse then moved to New York where he was awarded one of two directing residencies at the prestigious Off Broadway Theater, Playwrights Horizons. He has directed and performed in over 40 theatrical productions across the world. In 2010 he decided to pursue his love of storytelling and enrolled in the Masters of Fine Arts Film Program at Columbia University in New York City. His thesis film, DAY 39, premiered at the 2015 Columbia Film Festival at Lincoln Center in New York City and was a finalist at the 42nd Annual Student Academy Awards. In June of 2015 Jesse produced his first feature, VERA in New York City. The film will premier in 2016. In May of 2016 Jesse directed his first feature film, an action thriller called, Black Site Delta, starring Cam Gigandet. The film is currently streaming on Netflix.

Ron McCants - Writer

Ron’s a passionate family man with two princesses and has experience in financial planning, biotechnological engineering and business development. He focuses on writing comedy dramas that explore human experiences at the junction of crime and family, often fueled by dark secrets and deep shames. A multiple award-winning playwright, Ron’s had works developed and produced at La Jolla Playhouse, Company of Angels in Los Angeles, SoHo Theatre in London, Theater Masters in Aspen, and many others. Ron has nine siblings. He was raised in Springfield, Missouri, a community filled with churches and meth labs. Ron was drawn to the power of the written word in high school, when his father fell victim to a hate crime and joined a class action lawsuit. Instead of justice being served, Ron’s father lost his job and was himself prosecuted. Ron responded by writing an oratorical essay, “My Father’s a Liar and a Thief, but Aren’t All Our Fathers?” The school was up in arms, but Ron felt empowered speaking his truth. Driven by a belief that television can be transformative as well as entertaining, Ron is inspired to actively give voice to the lesser-heard, complex and still striving people like his father. Ron holds a B.A. in Engineering Sciences from Dartmouth College and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from the University of California, San Diego. He was selected as a Disney ABC Program Writer in 2016 and staffed on ABC’s Speechless.

Dan Sima - Producer

Dan was born in Romania and raised in Southern California by his single mother. He grew up with a love for film but started his career in business. After 7 years in Financial Services, an MBA from USC, and 4 and a half years on the business side of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, he now produces independent films. He's passionate about bringing narratives to life that cross cultural boundaries and give a voice to the voiceless. His first narrative short, MODERN SLAVE, which he co-wrote and produced, will be ready for film festival submissions in January 2018.

Carly Scott - Associate Producer

Carly grew up in Georgia, where she was raised by parents who made storytelling a part of everyday life.  Her father created adventure stories and narrated a new installment each day on the way to school. She spent summers with her grandparents in rural North Carolina, where it was common to spend evenings swapping colorful tales on neighbors’ porches.  After receiving a B.A. in English from Dartmouth College, Carly carried her love of storytelling into law school, where she developed a method for using her narrative voice to solve problems on behalf of underrepresented groups.  As an attorney, Carly continues to be passionate about stories surrounding social injustices, and seeing those stories take shape in film.

 

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