The Underground

: Narrative Short
GENRE: Drama
STATUS: Pre-Production


A group of enslaved individuals in Civil War-era Kentucky must decide whether to take bold action for a chance at freedom.


When a group of enslaved persons on a Kentucky farm learn of a chance at freedom, they must agree on the best course of action to obtain it. The group deliberates and plans but nothing could prepare them for the unexpected events standing between them and the lives they seek.


Seemingly every day there is another story splashed across the front pages about a black man, woman, or child being mistreated simply because of the color of his/her skin and the longstanding and recently-emboldened racist and white supremacist ideologies in America. We have all, publicly and privately, debated the appropriate response to these outrageous actions. The Underground does the same, providing a snapshot of this ongoing struggle against the backdrop of a long-passed era to demonstrate how similar the current debate is to those of centuries ago and how little progress has really been made. This film is a gritty, unapologetic look at the issues of systemic racism, white supremacy, and the ongoing struggle of the black community against those pillars to live freely within a system willing to sacrifice anyone who opposes their power and control. Many early readers have described the script as “dark and unapologetic” which is an apt description of the story and the subject matter it is written about. It is crucial that America be forced to confront the gritty darkness of this issue. That said, the film ends with a hopeful question, suggesting a new dawn for progress and inviting the audience to help further that progress. Additionally, it is important to remember that systemic racism can only be fixed by cooperation between people of all races, genders, and creeds. As such, the film will be made by a diverse cast and crew working together harmoniously to lift their voices against systems of injustice.  Visually, the film will rely on influences such as Roger Deakins, Immanuel Lubezki, and Caleb Deschanel to utilize natural lighting and settings in a rich aesthetic. Visually influential films include Silence (2016), Django Unchained (2012), The Thin Red Line (1998), Sicario (2015), and The Patriot (2000). Thematically, the enslaved will be paired with images of nature and peace while the Sinclairs will be aligned with cool, metallic and industrialized notions of unnatural control. These themes will appear in everything from visual structure, color schemes, and editing to sound design and score composition. The score will be based on the works of James Horner and Ramin Djawadi, emphasizing the use of strings (especially violin) in arrangements that develop the natural vs. unnatural theme within a style consistent with the suggested era. These many elements combined will create a breathtaking cinematic work with important sociopolitical commentary that begs to be screened and discussed from many angles.


Clifton Radford - Director of Photography
Clifton Radford is a former student at the prestigious American Film Institute who has worked on films like Carol, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Dark Waters. Clifton and I previously worked together in a Director-Director of Photography capacity on my last film.

Michael Dickman - Gaffer
Michael was the gaffer of the critically-acclaimed Netflix series Extremely Wicked, Incredibly Evil and Vile, as well as many other notable credits (Ides of March, Wrong Turn, Carol). He worked with Clifton me as a gaffer on my last film.

Michelle Williams - Producer
Michelle previously produced the short documentary, Jerry Green & Friends, which will screen as part of Louisville’s International Festival of Film this fall. She holds a Master of Arts and Master of Education from the University of Louisville and is a published author (Little Max in Santa’s Red Sack).

William Crouch - Producer/Writer/Director
I recently wrote, produced, and directed Fatherless, an award-winning short film (I won awards for directing and producing) that played in 20 festivals across the eastern United States. I also hold a Master of Arts from Savannah College of Art and Design. In addition to filmmaking, I am a published film analyst and have spoken at a number of conferences on various film studies issues.


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