Between the call and wrap of the shooting for Between the Fall and Rise – a story about love, heroin and homelessness – I fell in love with the cast and crew of this film.
In 2012, I started a nonprofit, Impact First Films (IFF), to provide grants and business coaching to filmmakers who were using their talents for social good. I never imagined that my first opportunity to do so would be with a group of people as gifted, focused and determined as the ones connected with this film.
David Marroquin is both the director and one of the lead actors in the film. He began his acting studies as a young man, which eventually took him all the way to the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London – a journey twice interrupted by bouts with cancer. After his second round of treatment, he sought a new career path and joined the Los Angeles Police Department.
As an officer for the LAPD, David worked a regular beat on Skid Row. Each day he was face-to-face with the heartbreaking effects of substance abuse, homelessness and suicide.
On patrol one day, he met a beautiful young woman named Ashley. He soon discovered she was addicted to heroin. Each time he saw her, his heart broke a little more. She had no place to live, and her body was showing the effects of her addiction. This and other interactions with people on Skid Row touched his heart and inspired him to use his talents as a director and actor to draw greater awareness to these difficult subjects.
With this vision in mind, David set out to assemble the funds, a cast and a crew to begin shooting the film. He found his leading lady, Mary Morales, who is a wonderful actress, singer and songwriter. Mary Morales relates that, “Our initial meeting stretched from two hours to almost nine; and at its conclusion, his short film had become our feature. My role expanded from actor to include writer/producer/casting director/composer and anything [else] within my ability . . . I was and remain all at once overwhelmed with purpose, anxious to provide my absolute best and privileged to be a part of this film.”
Mary soon enlisted the help of her great friend, Dave Frederick, a veteran director of photography and camera operator for major films and television work, who quickly agreed to bring his exceptional skills to the table.
And they told two people, who told two people, who told two more . . . and the project was born.
While David was busy gathering his troops in Los Angeles, I was 1,000 miles away in Denver. I had no sooner launched IFF when my dreams were interrupted. After 20 years of marriage, my husband and I were getting a divorce.
However, you know how it is with a dream; when it’s deep and real, you can’t really shake it. I knew I had to be content to let my dream for IFF lay dormant for a while. I had faith that when I was ready to pick up the mantle of that vision again, I would be led to do the next right thing.
I had just pulled myself up and recommitted to my mission when my long-time friend, Dave Frederick, the aforementioned camera professional, told me about Between the Fall and Rise.
Soon after researching the project, I connected with David Marroquin. We began to explore the possibilities of collaboration. Struck by David’s sincere resolve to tell this story, I became very excited to help with this project.
All the while, I knew IFF had next to no funds to offer. However, I also knew that finding this project was no accident; I would just have to figure out how to fund the project and to at least get them through the final filming and editing phase.
I reached out to my Facebook community and invited people to join my coaching group in which I would, for a fee, shepherd their amazing personal stories into book or blog form. This approach raised half the money needed to complete the project. The other half came through donations from exceptionally generous people in my network and beyond – people who have also been moved by the vision for this film.
Fast forward one short month . . . I found myself on the set for the final filming of Between the Fall and Rise. I had awarded them a financial grant and project coaching as IFF’s first grantee.
From the moment I hit the set, the entire cast and crew embraced me as one of their own, as though it had always been so. They allowed me to help in whatever capacity I could.
They made countless decisions each step of the way to ensure a perfectly-captured shot. When one shot was completed, they started the process all over again as afternoon turned to evening, evening into night and on into the wee hours of the morning. The crew was determined to do the job well, for all the right reasons. The heart they put into their artistry and their craft captivated me.
We filmed right in the middle of downtown Los Angeles. This area provided a steady parade of people suffering the ravages of addiction, mental illness and homelessness. As I viewed so many people in so much pain, I became very mindful of how my own past abuse of drugs and alcohol could have easily taken me down that same devastating path; I was overwhelmed.
We wrapped filming at 2:00 am. It took about two more hours to settle down and decompress. The effects of the day finally caught up with me; I slept like a baby until it was time to fly home. Dragging myself into my apartment, I felt more physically spent and emotionally fulfilled than I had in a very long time.
The day after wrapping up the film, I was more determined than ever to help this project cross the finish line and succeed — not only for our sake, but for the sake of those we might serve in the process.
This extraordinary group of people took on very difficult subjects, treated them with utmost respect and with the knowledge that any awareness raised through watching Between the Fall and Rise could change someone’s life for the better, forever. I know it changed mine.
Jenifer Madson is an award-winning author, speaker and success coach who has helped people from all walks of life – from at-risk youth to Fortune 100 executives – awaken to their highest potential. Her books include A Financial Minute: From Money Madness to Financial Freedom, One Minute at a Time, Living the Promises: Coming to Life on the Road to Recovery and Head to Heart. You may contact her on her website, jenifermadson.com. To learn more about the movie, visit BetweenTheFallAndRise on Facebook.