Thursday, June 11, 2020

|Podcast| Ladies Most Deject - Martha M. Elcan & Conner Wharton

An emotionally gripping featurette about resilience and strength In the face of overwhelming odds and broken promises.

Charlie, a 17 year old girl from deep in the Appalachian mountains, must save her sisters and little brother from her addict mother and drug dealer uncle. Nowhere to go, the kids are met by a trusted teacher who finds them a safe place, if only for one night.

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When producers Mark Salyer and Melissa Wharton hired me to direct “Ladies Most Deject,” I was thrilled. For one, my work as an Assistant Director had taken me all over the country — Louisiana (“Steel Magnolias”), Georgia (“Driving Miss Daisy”), Connecticut and Rhode Island (“Mystic Pizza”), Wyoming (“Into the Homeland”), Utah (“Three O’Clock High”), Texas, Nevada, Oregon, North Carolina, Ohio, Florida… but on this film, I’d finally fulfill my dream of filming in my home state of Virginia.

Photo Content from Martha M. Elcan

But more importantly, I’m most drawn to stories of substance, and this one tugged at my heart.
I’ve always known the beauty of the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia. So I was astounded to discover the reality upon which this script was based. The producers and writer grew up in Appalachia, and had seen their quiet, peaceful communities gradually overtaken by the meth epidemic. The drug problem that simmers beneath the idyllic beauty of Appalachia is the perfect visual metaphor for the struggles the children endure but hide from the public. Everyone knows there’s an opioid and meth issue, but seeing it from a child’s eye is heartbreaking. These kids have to fend for themselves, take on adult responsibilities in caring for their siblings, and fight through it all in their pursuit of education, knowing that is their best hope for escape. I had also never considered how these children’s teachers must often take on the role of social worker, having to go far beyond just their teaching duties.

It’s rewarding that this film has been so successful on the festival circuit. But I had no idea what an impact making this film and telling this story would have on me personally.

Martha M. Elcan and Conner Wharton

MARTHA ELCAN DIRECTOR - Marty Elcan is a DGA director with over 25 years of production experience. Her feature film debut NEXT OF KIN starred Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer, Ed Begley, Jr., Bess Armstrong, Jeremy London and George Newbern. She recently directed the short film “As If…” that takes a comedic look at gender and racial parity. Marty’s other four short films have been in 43 festivals and won 15 major awards. She directed Fox' BEYOND BELIEF, the Sign Language series SHUT UP AND SIGN, an L.A. Emmy-nominated documentary, and a piece profiling the first woman Fire Marshal in Los Angeles. Prior to directing, Marty worked as an Assistant Director alongside such directors as Bruce Beresford, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, Lesli Linka Glatter, Bethany Rooney, and Alan Ball

Photo Content from Sammy Belcher

CONNER WHARTON CO-WRITER - Conner is a student at UCLA majoring in English. Originally from a tiny town in Central Appalachia, Conner writes stories about her home and is inspired by the grit, determination and generosity of the people there. In 2016, she co-created a web-series about travel and cultural exchange called Where I’m From, traveling to Edisto Island, SC to explore the Gullah Geechee culture. Conner has traveled to over 40 countries. She currently studies acting in Los Angeles. Ladies Most Deject is her first screenplay, written with co-writer ARAY Productions' Mark Salyer. They are currently working on a new feature screenplay, also based in Appalachia.

Director: Martha M. Elcan
Writers: Mark Salyer & Conner Wharton
Producers: Melissa Palmer & Mark Salyer
Composer: Brian Hawlk
Cinematographer: Helen Cho Anthos
Editor: Nena Erb
Production Designer: Kleev Guessford
CASTS: Robin Mullins, Ben Mackel, Pepper Binkley, Ellie Williams, Sofia Adams, and Josiah Wells.

Filmed entirely in the Appalachians, the film’s producers strove to represent the authentic and gritty reality of life in the mountain communities in America today. ARAY (Appalachia Right At Ya) Productions tells stories by and about the people of the Appalachian Mountains. Created by Appalachian artists Melissa Palmer and Mark Salyer, ARAY develops projects for television, film and new media.
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