A documentary Film
James Bryant, a renowned embalmer, hopes a promising mortuary student will overlook his feelings of rejection within the African American community to continue within the disappearing tradition of Black funeral homes.
Nathan Clarke: Director
Nathan Clarke is a filmmaker living in Richmond, VA. His documentary work has been featured in the New York Times (Neighbors, 2009), The Washington Post (The Psalms, 2016), and Paste Magazine (Wrestling for Jesus, 2011). His feature documentary, Wrestling for Jesus, premiered at the Wisconsin Film Festival and won best doc at the Virginia Film Festival. He is also the co-creator of the Box Canyon, a music and story experiment filmed entirely in a remote canyon in the Texas Hill Country.
Lana Garland: Producer
Lana Garland has worked as a Creative Director, Director, and Writer/Producer in television and film in the US and Europe. Her work has included creating content for HBO and BET in America, and TV2 in Denmark. In documentary film, she has freelanced on films such as Bowling For Columbine and HBO’s Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives. Lana is a Gordon Parks IFP screenwriting finalist, a Worldfest Houston finalist, a Telly Award winner, and a NATPE fellow. As a Fulbright Specialist, she taught film at Makerere University in Uganda. As the curator of the Hayti Heritage Film Festival, Lana is focused on developing a Black & Southern film ecosystem. She is the recipient of the Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artists Award from the Durham Arts Council and was recognized by the state of North Carolina for her contributions to art and culture.
Tyler Trumbo: Producer / Editor
Tyler Trumbo is a Virginia-based documentary filmmaker and editor born and raised along the Blue Ridge Mountains. His work has been featured on The Atlantic and shown around the world including screenings at Sheffield Doc/Fest, Slamdance Film Festival, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, and the Virginia Film Festival. He holds an M.F.A in Documentary Film and Video from Stanford University and has served in the past as an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University.
Tim Grant: Cinematographer / Producer
Tim Grant's documentary work includes television, short and feature films. Tim co-produced 'Finders Keepers', a film he helped complete after production had stalled for three years. 'Finders Keepers' premiered at the 2015 Sundance film festival and gained universal critical acclaim. It would go on to SxSW, Hot Docs, and Traverse City, where it won 'best comedy'. ‘Finders Keepers' is currently playing on Netflix. Tim produced J. Cole’s ‘4 Your Eyez Only’ and 'J. Cole Forest Hills Drive: Homecoming’, both upon completion were acquired by HBO and have been well received by critics and fans alike. His short documentary film ‘The Aria of baby face Cauliflower Brown’ will have it’s international premiere at Hot Docs April 28th 2017. Tim currently lives in Los Angeles, California where he develops, produces, and directs documentary feature films, TV shows and docu-style commercials.
How far along in the project are you?
We are deep into post production and plan to release the film in 2020.
Is the footage gross?
We feel it’s important to honor and revere the memories of those whose remains have been cared for by Lewis Funeral Home. This is not a film about the details of the embalming process or the craziest things that have ever happened at this business. In short – this is not reality television. Our focus is on the small group of men and women who serve people during their most difficult days. Yes, there are dead bodies (it’s kind of unavoidable in this industry). But we try really hard not to gawk so they are never the subject of what is happening.
But why death?
We got into documentaries because we are interested in the human experience. Death is part of that experience. But instead of thinking about it as this far-off concept that will happen down the road, we think there’s real value in immersing ourselves in the experiences of people who deal with it everyday. We actually think we can learn a lot about living by pondering dying.
What’s the deal with National Embalmer of the Year?
James Bryant (our main character) was awarded the national embalmer of the year in 2016 by his peers in the fraternity, Epsilon Nu Delta. No, he doesn’t submit samples for review. You can think of it like a life-time achievement award. In addition, James is recognized by his peers both locally and nationally as one of the most artistically and technically excellent embalmers.