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September 6, 2018
“Creek Don’t Rise” – How An Upcoming Lancaster Film Looks To Spark Conversation
David Godin and Rasha Clark, co-founders of Autopilot:Off content production company, are bringing New York caliber film to Lancaster County with their debut feature film, Creek Don’t Rise. This upcoming film has been a concept the married couple have been working on for years now, and they are looking forward to bringing this meaningful look into vulnerability, community, and belonging, to life.
We had the opportunity to sit down with these exciting young filmmakers to get an inside look at the film, why the themes are so crucial to current American society, and how you can help make Creek Don’t Rise a reality.
The Film: Connection & Belonging
Both David and Rasha emphasized their interest in exploring the idea of connection, and how belonging to a community is craved, and complicated, but often misplaced in the culture of the United States.
“For a few years now I’ve been obsessing on both a personal and intellectual level with the concept of American Community,” said David. “Something inside of me yearns for a stronger sense of community, of constant belonging, not something we have once a week or once a month.”
“I think that a lot of people in America right now are feeling that a sense of community is lacking,” added Rasha. “If we can work on community, build on that—then a lot of the things that are going on that we object to can begin to be solved.”
With their interest in this idea piqued, the film became a natural next step for the duo.
“We became very drawn to this idea of exploring communal belonging and isolation in the format of a feature film,” said David. “The story is fictional but is loosely based on real people we have gotten to know in Lancaster.”
Initially conceived as a documentary in 2016, the film has shifted to a fictional narrative featuring real life individuals portraying versions of themselves. David, who grew up in Lancaster County, was fascinated by how his hometown was turning into a refugee resettlement hub.
“As I began to interview and spend time with recently resettled and former refugees in Lancaster area, something hit me that I couldn’t shake,” said David. “I felt that these refugees, more than me, had a stronger sense of a communal belonging, a spirit of giving, and an affinity for nearly everyone they came into contact with.”
One pivotal discussion came when David had lunch with a young woman from Kenya.
“I told her about my feelings after spending time with the refugees I met. She said, ‘oh David, it makes a lot of sense to me how you’re feeling. In America, I feel you have all the best things. Best stores, best education, best cars, best things, but you have terrible communication. People don’t know how to talk or care for each other deeply as a community—outside just the family.”
In addition, one of the protagonists featured in the film, James, added that in African culture that feeling is called ‘togetherness’ and it is representative of a more collectivist culture.
“I think we have a lot to learn from our neighbors,” said Rasha. “There is something missing in the structure of our modern lives and we want to start discussions about that with this film.”
The film has been in the research and development phase for the last two and a half years, and is slated to begin filming in late spring of 2019. The anticipated premiere date is early 2020.
“After the meeting with the Kenyan woman I knew that I had to make this particular film,” said David. “To create a fictional, visual meditation on Community and Isolation through the lives of two real people from very different worlds going through the same core problem in my hometown of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.”
Here is the Film Logline: A former Sudanese refugee living in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, befriends a local woman with bipolar disorder. One entrenched in community, the other deeply isolated, they each cope with being restricted from seeing their children.
“Small town stories are the stories of all our lives, but without the ‘hustle and accessories’ of a faster paced environment,” said Rasha. “You can actually focus on the important things. There is less noise.”
The film is not specifically a refugee film. Instead, it uses the main characters and their lives as a canvas to paint the main themes of community and isolation, but also themes of cultural identity, mental health, freedom versus obligation, and gender-based societal expectations.
“I’m most excited to make a film that has a simple story about two people connecting through a shared vulnerability,” said David.
"I'm most excited to make a film that has a simple story about two people connecting through a shared vulnerability."
Lancaster: Hometown & Film Destination
David grew up in Landisville in West Hempfield Township. His parents still reside there next to the rolling hills of crops.
“To this day, the view of the five hundred-plus acre cornfield behind my parents’ house is probably the greatest sense of inspiration for me,” said David. “I remember when it used to snow and the backyard blended straight into the field. I used to go to the edge of the field and just feel this amazing sense of possibility, of space to dream, of vastness.”
Although Rasha did not grow up in the area, she has become interested in the diverse community.
“I am mixed of race and grew up overseas,” said Rasha. “And to see how diverse and varied Lancaster is makes me really excited about the future of America. There seems to be so much excitement around new experiences and being inclusive—it’s definitely contagious!”
David and Rasha look to turn Lancaster into a filming destination for more than just this film.
“Lancaster has so much to offer in terms of diverse filming climates, creative talent, access to major metro areas, and many other things” said Rasha. “The community already welcomes so many different types of artists, I think this would be an extension of that.”
The duo is excited to begin filming Creek Don’t Rise soon, with more feature films in the works that they also want to film in Lancaster County. They hope others will follow and tap into more small cities for filming instead of just the metropolitan hubs like Los Angeles and New York City.
“The Lancaster community is also an incredibly artistic and philanthropic place,” said David. “I think that is one key reason why the arts are really thriving in Lancaster.”
A Film For The Community
This film is being developed to spark a conversation, one that David and Rasha hope starts a shift in how the community views vulnerability, connection, and togetherness.
“Most importantly, Rasha and I can only hope that people watching our film will second guess the possibilities of creating new friendships in their adult lives,” said David. “I think as we grow older, we need to seek out friendships and relationships that are healthy where we feel we can be vulnerable and open.”
“We aren’t looking to create a Hollywood blockbuster or an escape from reality,” said Rasha. “We want to make a film that feels familiar, that maybe hones in on our feelings that the audience has felt but hasn’t been able to pinpoint. We want this film to be shared, discussed, debated—that is where we believe change starts.”
The film has a stellar team behind it, including David and Rasha. David thought it would be interesting to bring a non-American cinematographer to help see Lancaster in a completely different way. Pol Orpinell-Freixa is a cinematographer from Barcelona, Spain. In addition to Pol, Nil Tiberi from Istanbul, Turkey will be the sound mixer
“Pol is a very kind, spiritual person,” added David. “He’s also a visual mastermind. Nil is unbelievably talented and is the happiest person on set, always. My hope is that both of their perspectives add an overall richness to the details of the finished film!”
"We want this film to be shared, discussed, debated---that is where we believe change starts."
You can also be part of the experience by helping fund the film.
Creek Don’t Rise is fiscally sponsored by Creative Visions Foundation (CVF). CVF is a publicly supported 501c3, which supports Creative Activists who use the power of media and the arts to affect positive change in the world.
Each donation made to the film is one hundred percent tax deductible—and by helping fund this film you have the chance to help bring powerful discussions to the forefront of the community.
“A film can have a tremendous reach and can leave a lasting impact,” said Rasha. “I believe the message of this film is something that we need to be discussing and that people will want to share—and we want as many people to be a part of this as possible.”
Find out more on how you can donate here. The film looks to begin filming in 2019, with a premiere date later that year or 2020.
“We would love your help to put this film out there, together, which will hopefully encourage all of us to create stronger communities,” said Rasha. “Communities we feel belong to us and that we belong to.”
“For me, Creek Don’t Rise is a Lancaster, Pennsylvania film because I was a kid that dreamed of becoming a filmmaker while growing up here,” said David. “The people that live in Lancaster really understand the importance of the arts as a vital organ to the health of the community.”
Watch the mood reel below to see the visual aesthetic of the film and get a sense of how it will look and feel. For more information on the project, please contact Rasha here: firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also follow the film’s brand new instagram page: @creekdontrisefilm!