Is there really anything more complicated than love? We think it should be simple – culturally we are somewhat conditioned to believe it to be so, what with all the “happily ever afters” ingrained in our collective conscious. We grow up expecting to date around, find The One, get married, and have babies, living, yes, happily ever after. But in reality, love is messy and love is complicated.
But at the same time, love is wonderful and complex and enduring. “Love is an echo,” say local filmmakers Herschel Zahnd and Kathryn Furrow. “It can see through the hope of a tortured soul. It can blind itself by the whisper of attraction.” These words, this philosophy of love, come from the website for the Indiegogo campaign  for their upcoming film Breath of Heaven , in which they intend to explore these themes.
Breath of Heaven tells the story of three friends living in 1850's New Orleans and New York and the love triangle that emerges – made more complicated “when dealing with honor and virtue in polite society.” The story comes from the mind of Kathryn Furrow, who first conceived the story as a teenager when visiting New Orleans on a family vacation. During this time, she wrote what would eventually become the first 5/8 of the screenplay; in the interim, the idea transformed from a novel to a stage play to, finally, the film currently in pre-production.
Furrow stars in the film as Elisabeth Renee, playing opposite longtime friend, co-producer, and creative collaborator Herschel Zahnd, who, along with portraying the character of Earnst Finnigan, will be directing the film. Furrow and Zahnd first met while attending college, in which they were often acting partners. In 2010, they together produced “Sweeney Todd” for the stage, and their professional relationship was cemented.
This is not Zahnd's first directorial effort. Longtime readers my recall my previous interview  with him about his independent filmmaking podcast, FilmAspire. Up til now, his screen credits lie primarily in the horror genre, with films such as Girl Number Three (available for rental at Wild and Woolly), The Trimmer, and A Wish For the Dead (currently in post-production). I asked him in an e-mail interview about the genre shift in directing, moving from horror to period drama. “It's actually more of a dramatic shift BACK,” he says, having focused on the horror genre as an amateur filmmaker due to its ease of production on a small budget. However, he has been working in theater for many years, playing with the works of the likes of Shakespeare, Ibsen, Shaw, and Tennessee Williams. Directing Breath of Heaven “[is] a chance to return to roots born on the stage and meld them with the skills I have developed as a filmmaker.” The genre of period drama “allows for dynamics, tension, expression one can't always explore in the horror genre.”
Furrow also has a long and varied acting career, having performed since the age of five in church productions and the like, receiving her first paid role as a teenager with Music Theater Louisville. She has since attended conservatory at G.A.T.E. in New York City and worked in Off-Broadway performances and Broadway fundraisers. Her fifteen-year production career was primarily in the theater, although she has more recently turned those talents to film, co-producing various projects with Zahnd, including A Wish For the Dead and various shorts. Breath of Heaven is her first screenplay, but she has been writing stage plays since her teens.
When it comes to creative themes, Furrow is highly interested in interpersonal relationships. “Love is love, friendship is friendship, hate is hate,” she says, “but all have different levels of how those feelings could be expressed, and how society views all of those levels of feelings.” In the film, she also hopes to explore the idea of women's roles: “no matter how much we as women want to be treated equally, we also want to be romanced and loved classically.”
Breath of Heaven is currently in pre-production. The filmmakers will be holding auditions at the end of June with plans to begin filming in September. In the meantime, they are working on finalizing plans, tweaking the screenplay, and, perhaps most importantly, fundraising. This is where you come in: Zahnd and Furrow are utilizing the popular crowd-funding site Indiegogo to attempt to raise $30,000 to produce the film. While this is an incredibly modest sum for producing a feature film, often independent and locally produced films will try to make do with a much more minimal budget, or practically none at all. While much of the money raised will be put towards adding production value – making sure the film looks as professional as possible – it is also important to Furrow and Zahnd to be able to pay those who are involved in the production of the film. Many times indie films will be produced purely on a volunteer basis, with the cast and crew receiving screen credits and experience as payment, but, says Zahnd, “part of our goal here [is] to prove that indie filmmakers can raise a budget and pay the people who work on the films. Independent film can be sustainable if the effort is put forward by the filmmakers.”
You, dear reader, can help to make this vision a reality. $30,000 may sound like a lot to you and me, but the filmmakers ask you to give what you can; every dollar counts, and indeed, the donation of a mere dollar will receive online acknowledgment and score you a ticket to the film's premiere. Other donation levels and the corresponding rewards are detailed at the Indiegogo campaign site . Complete information about Breath of Heaven can also be found at the film's official website  and its Facebook page .
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Image: Breath of Heaven official website