Shelby filmmakers need investors

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The Hepburn Girls, the latest project from Ashley Raymer-Brown and Rachael Yeager, features local actors and settings from Shelby and Henry counties.

By Beth Herrinton-Hodge

Two award-winning Shelby county women have completed their second feature film, The Hepburn Girls, shot in and around Shelby County and using several familiar faces.

Ashley Raymer-Brown and Rachael Yeager donate a labor-of-love to their film production projects, from developing  scripts, selecting the actors and filming locations, shooting and editing the film and raising funds for production. Many of the expenses have been borne out of their pockets.

“We love this work,” Raymer-Brown said. “We put our heart and soul into it.”

And now they are looking for folks who might be willing to help them finish the project and get the film into theaters.

“We’ve set up an Indiegogo page to get the word out about our latest project and involve our friends and our community in helping us fund the last steps toward distribution,” Raymer-Brown said. “We’ve set a goal to raise twelve thousand dollars to complete the sound design and color grading, then we’ll be ready to hand it over to Joel [Nori] at Destiny Image Films.”

Destiny Image Films distributed their first film, No Lost Cause.

“Our distributor, Destiny Image Films, markets our films to Christian audiences, which fits the vision we have for our work,” Raymer-Brown said. “My faith and Rachael’s faith have gotten us through the challenges we’ve encountered.”


Inspiring stories

In fact, inspiration for the plot lines for each of their films grows out of challenges they have faced.

“Our films aren’t autobiographical, but our main characters overcome similar real-life challenges that we have faced,” Raymer-Brown said. “I like presenting films that show people facing real issues, which can be messy and complicated. That’s what life is.”

In their first film, No Lost Cause, the main character struggles to accept a newly acquired physical disability. She works through her anger and self-pity and finds acceptance within herself and from others.

In The Hepburn Girls, the main character must come to terms with a life-shattering event from her past. Until she does, her life is filled with numb anger and loneliness. She is held by her past.

“We want to tell stories that inspire,” Raymer-Brown said. “We show that a life of faith doesn’t mean you won’t have real struggles, but faith can give you strength to face tough problems.”  

The duo also likes to keep their projects local.

“We love Shelby and Henry Counties,” she said. “We live here and we work here. We try to showcase local talent and local settings in our films.”

A visit to their fundraising Web page, www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-hepburn-girls-project, brings film clips highlighting scenes shot on location in the area. The pair filmed in the Henry County Public Library, Shelbyville’s Sixth and Main Coffeeshop, Henry County High School, The Encore Shop at Operation Care and the Science Hill Inn dining room.

Local artists Karen Cole Martion and Ben Fabish fill lead roles in The Hepburn Girls. Martion’s twin sons, Gavin and Keegan, and Shelby actor Gary Steinhilber also make screen appearances.

“I’ve always enjoyed acting,” Karen Martion said. “I got my start with drama productions in high school and college. I’ve also had TV roles, and I’ve made a few public service announcement pieces. Ashley and Rachael have given me opportunities to appear in both of their films. I love supporting their work.

“Above everything else, it was so refreshing to work with Christian women on this project to reach others spiritually. I do feel that there is an anointing on this story and I am very excited to see how it blesses those that see it.”


Needing some help

But for all their intentions, the women have hit a snag with their current production. They need funding for post-production clean-up before their distributor will take the film.

Indiegogo is a crowdfunding solution that enables people to donate funds easily. It has been used by similar projects around Shelby County. The concept seeks to allow creators such as Raymer-Brown and Yeager a platform and opportunity to raise funds for creative endeavors.

The advantage of this type of fund-raising, is that any amount that is raised will go toward the pieces listed on the site. Every donation, large or small, made through www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-hepburn-girls-projectwill help pay down the post-production expenses and move the film toward its release. Additional information about the new film can be found on the Facebook page: The Hepburn Girls.

“Our hope it to fulfill our funding goal by November 23, so we can complete the post-production work and have an exclusive local screening by Christmas,” Raymer-Brown said. “It’s a quick turn-around, but we’re that close to completion. We’d love to present a showing to our friends in Shelby and Henry counties this year.”

Following that, Raymer-Brown said that she’s looking forward to moving on to their next project. “There are so many details to the filming and finish-work,” she said. “We’ve got ideas brewing for a third film project, but we can’t get the next one rolling until we move The Hepburn Girls to distribution.

“We’re always looking forward to do more of this work.”