Hope Bridge is about doing something about what is robbing people of life and stealing their hope
“Loveland Night” is Sunday evening May 10 at Kenwood Theater
The world premiere of David and Christi Eaton’s “Hope Bridge” at the Kenwood Theater on May 7 and is exclusive invite only. Public showings begin May 8 and Loveland residents are invited to a “Loveland Night” on Sunday evening May 10 at 7:30PM.
You can meet Christi and David after the “Loveland Night” showing and they will be available for Q&A’s.
Loveland Magazine is a sponsor of the “Loveland Night” during the premier week.
The Eaton’s shared this exclusive story about their journey of hope with Loveland Magazine:
Life is filled with defining moments, not moments that define exactly who we are, but that define the trajectory of our lives. These are moments when we are forced to choose a path to walk. Are we listening to that inner voice that guides us to do something that is perhaps unnatural? Some may call that inner voice our conscience, others believe, it may be God speaking to us. Are we really tuned in? Or are we just too busy or too distracted with work, kids, and our multi-tasking world in general?
I know we weren’t listening, but that voice became too strong as my wife Christi and I sat in the kitchen of our close friends one October night witnessing the horror on their faces, the uncontrollable sobbing, and the complete bewilderment, as they had just learned hours before that their 20 year-old son Andrew had taken his own life.
Andrew was a beam of light for so many that encountered him. It was completely unexpected; which more times than not is how suicide seems to roll out. Unfortunately, suicide was not new to us. One year earlier, Christi and I were about to become the modern day Mike and Carol Brady (Brady Bunch) merging our 6 kids together in a new blended- family unit when we received devastating word that David’s ex-wife, his children’s mother, Susan, had taken her life. Yes, we had experienced suicide too. With two losses of life so close together, we knew that-we-knew that we needed to do SOMETHING. But what could we do?
We were going through what our friends were about to experience with their son’s loss. When news is received that a friend or loved one has passed from a sudden heart attack or stroke, people call you, they comfort, they come in droves, food is delivered, and sympathy cards in the mailbox. [quote_box_right]Yet, when it is relayed that someone has lost a friend or loved one to suicide, well, cue the crickets.[/quote_box_right] We did not know how to prepare our friends for such awkward moments in the neighborhood or grocery store, the looks on their faces, gestures or even those friends that did not reach out during this time of grieving. All because people just don’t know what to say. It’s one of the loneliest and painful places to stand and we knew this had to change. BUT HOW?
For me, listening to that inner voice was not my strong suit, but that all changed after meeting Christi. She is a high energy do’er and very passionate in her faith. Add to this equation a timely men’s retreat I attended called the Walk to Emmaus and I became tuned in as unchartered waters beyond my own comprehension were awaiting. It’s a good thing too, since that inner voice was calling us to do something way off the map, something that could change the landscape of suicide awareness and prevention.
We were called to make a movie. A MOVIE? Seriously? I’m a sales guy for AT&T in my day job and Christi was in real estate marketing; so a movie makes perfect sense…NOT! However, media of such form is powerful in reaching large audiences for a cause many would just as soon stray away from. There was, of course one problem: we never go to movies; let alone know how to make one. In fact, [pull_quote_right]Christi’s success rate of falling asleep during a movie was 100%. Because of that, she became very concerned for me when I told her what I felt we were called to do.[/pull_quote_right]
Early on, I had come to know Christi as a true gift. Thrust into this new world during our engagement, she was coping with blending a family of 5 teenagers and a toddler, but also navigating the deep hurt that my family, especially my three children faced losing their mom. Christi, tending to all the needs of her own three children, who were also healing from childhood grief of divorce; had to discern when to be maternal to mine, when to be extra observant, when to back off, when to speak up, and to cling to her faith in the midst of it all. I am in constant amazement how she did this with such genuine care, grace and love.
Once we surrendered to the realism of the calling to make a movie, we opened the laptop and completely blanked! Anyone know how to write a script? We researched the various ways of writing dialogue and developing characters. Christi and I began writing in our dining room at night, in the middle of the night, on weekends, and whenever we weren’t taxi drivers for our kids or cooking dinner for eight each night. We would walk the neighborhood; brainstorming the plot and weaving it into our overall mission why we were making this film in the first place. Needless to say, our kids would roll their eyes with a “Yeah, right. You two are actually writing a movie.” In eight weeks, we had a perfectly written script (or so we thought). Now what?
During this three year journey, we discovered that when we were ready for the next step but didn’t have a clue about what the next step was…Viola! It was laid before us…EVERY SINGLE TIME! For example, someone at Christi’s office ‘just so happened’ to know a TV/film producer and introduced us to Harold Hay. He offered to read our “perfect” script. His response as we waited with anticipation? He flat out hated it. He hated the title, the dialogue, the ending and it’s too long – ouch! “But, there’s a story here that needs to be told.” he replied. Back to the blank pages we went. Hours, days, weeks, months of re-writes (approximately 40 times). And then one glorious day…Hope Bridge was born.
Could this movie making vision really happen? We met with local suicide prevention advocates as well as national organizations in hopes to gel the script with the right messaging it would take to change the scope and stigma surrounding suicide; and also raise the funds needed to produce the film. Two organizations, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Lindner Center of Hope, were crucial to helping us with this messaging. While encouraging us to press forward, a movie was not in their funding plans. [quote_box_left]We were hoping it wouldn’t come down to shooting Hope Bridge on our iPhones![/quote_box_left] We needed hundreds of thousands of dollars to do it justice. Easy right? Six months go by; we are frustrated. We are on a schedule here! We soon learned that we just needed to trust our faith. God’s plan and His timing was being orchestrated for good reason; to help save lives.
Our next step involved a meeting Harold orchestrated with Joe Boyd and Rebel Pilgrim Productions located in our city of Cincinnati. Rebel’s company mission to spark hope and action fit perfectly with our mission. We worked with them on refining the script prior to shoot. Overall challenge: To make a hopeful movie about suicide that is not dark?
Enter our director Josh Overbay and his wife Ginny, who in tremendous collaboration with us brought the script home. We bring the message of hope, they bring the vital drama needed and the script is good. We were also fortunate to partner with Asbury University; a small college tucked in a small town southwest of Lexington. Asbury, known for its dynamic film department, generously equips us with student interns that become our amazing more than we could have ever asked for crew. Our key crew positions came with significant experience on Hollywood blockbusters like Planet of the Apes and Captain America. It is then we realized this film can now make a significantly higher-quality jump than our actual budget. This is huge! We lock in a shooting date.
Three months until our 18-day shoot begins and we still have no money, no actors, and a deadline. Are you kidding? Raising this kind of money is realistically next to impossible. But having faith means you really believe the impossible can be possible, right? Truth be told, I was beginning to resign to the likelihood of shooting Hope Bridge the following summer; which would surely cause a loss of momentum and a potential fizzling of our project.
Christi reminded me daily to “lean into my faith and follow through with what we had been entrusted to do OR we will never see this movie.”
[quote_right]From then on, our prayers became bigger, bolder and more expectant – and BOOM! We raised our full shooting budget, nearly half a million dollars, in 6 weeks! [/quote_right]People came from all walks of life; some we had never even met; financially contributing and believing in this mission field of raising the volume and helping to spark hope in precious lives. At that moment, it was clear that timing for Hope Bridge was being accelerated. Date set. Crew set. Equipment secured. Cast solidified. Actors such as Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, God’s Not Dead) and Booboo Stewart (Twilight, XMEN) headlined an incredible cast.
The 18 day shoot was filmed in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky in July 2013. I must say there were several times, we would become tearfully humbled having a cast of name actors and a crew of 60 shooting a movie that could impact hearts and be the ramp to change lives. [quote_box_left]We had found purpose from our pain and loss. [/quote_box_left]
Post-edit involved many months of intense focus and refinement through the heart and mind of our post-editor, Tate Webb. Tate was divinely planted in the making of this film.
Hope Bridge is the story of a young man who seeks to reconcile the loss of his father to suicide. In the midst of his journey to find out why, he finds hope in his future and unconditional love in those around him. Tate exceeded our expectations in fulfilling this overall vision for the big screen and we are eternally grateful.
Now we needed to set our sights on getting Hope Bridge in front of the eyes, ears, hearts and minds that need to see it. Enter Pure Flix (www.pureflix.com), our distribution partner, who will be nationally releasing Hope Bridge on DVD on May 26,. We will also be hosting theater premieres in Cincinnati, Ohio (Kenwood Theatre) and West Palm Beach, Florida in the month of May. Pure Flix did the popular faith-based film God’s Not Dead and recently Do You Believe? What a blessing to have had such great partners to work with from straight out the shoot on Hope Bridge; and continually in awe to have those individuals that were meant to be part of each step that made all this happen.
And if she did not have enough on her plate, during post-edit Christi co-authored a book with multi-published author T. Mitchell Anthony. Crossing That Bridge is a must have book filled with hopeful stories of those who have contemplated suicide, those that have lost a loved one and those who advocate for suicide prevention (lifeguards). This is an ideal “get” for a friend and a powerful resource to continue opening up the conversation about suicide and mental health issues such as depression. You can find Christi’s book on the Hope Bridge website or order it online at www.reasons2live.org.
After cancer and heart disease, suicide accounts for more years of life lost than any other cause of death and is the 2nd leading cause of death in our young people age 16-24. It is most often preventable and must be stopped. Start breaking down the stigma by talking. Let’s make it OK to talk about.
If you know someone struggling, ask them about it. If you are struggling, talk to someone about your struggle. If you know someone who has experienced loss- just show up, hug them and let that inner voice guide your words.
Hope Bridge is about a movement. A movement to do something about what is robbing people of life and stealing their hope. Hope Bridge is about life. It’s about hope. Join us.
To can pre-order theater tickets for the May 10 “Loveland Night”
You can pre-order the the Hope Bridge DVD, and the theater tickets for other showings can be found at http://hopebridgemovie.com. To pre-order theater tickets, – choose the date you wish to attend.
Public showings begin May 8 at Kenwood Theater.