Greenville, SC—Casting is complete for Upstate filmmaker Daljit Kalsi’s human trafficking awareness film, BOUND, which is scheduled to begin filming in May.
“I’m thrilled to get the chance to work with a group of talented actors and crew members from across South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia,” said Kalsi, the film’s director and producer.
The cast will be led by Melissa Hanna of Columbia, SC, who is currently shooting a feature film, “Test,” with BOUND co-star Merritt Vann, who also serves as BOUND’s co-producer. In BOUND, Vann stars as the brutal and manipulative leader of a human trafficking ring and has forced Melissa’ character, Anna, into his service.
The film, based almost entirely on a true story, follows Anna’s escape attempt from the brothel where she is enslaved, only to be recaptured and punished in a way she never imagined.
“The real story that inspired this one really impacted me and led me to begin researching human trafficking its prevalence,” Kalsi said. “I had no idea that these things were happening everywhere, right here in the US, with victims being rescued and arrests being made all the time. While the story we will present is brutal and violence, the hope is that viewers will walk away with opened eyes and a desire to both learn more about human trafficking and ways to combat it.”
Longtime actor, voice actor and former Upstate radio personality John Oliver leads the supporting cast as Anna’s father, alongside Chantey Colet as Anna’s mother. Teen actress Camila Escobar, who was featured in scenes with William Baldwin in “Chronology,” rounds out the family as Anna’s younger sister.
Kathy Sandvoss leads the supporting characters involved in the human trafficking ring, alongside Zari Rice, retired pro-wrestler Jon Malus. Jay Cohen, Chadwick Pressley, Jorge Boneta, Bill Brucker and Josh Rosyton complete the line-up of seedy characters.
Actress and Upstate pageant winner Lindley Mayer is in talks to lead the supporting band of human trafficking victims featured in the film, alongside Lauren Wilson, Audrey Dickson, Ashley McHam, KatieBeth Cesaro, and Meredith Woodard.
Fellow Greenville filmmaker Collins White, owner of Other Vision Studios, has signed on as the film’s director of photography, Spartanburg filmmaker Porter Blackman has signed on to head the film’s post-production and editing process, and make-up and FX artist Emily Schreiber of Augusta, GA has agreed to lend her talents to complete the film’s visual aesthetic.
“Everyone who has read the script has been moved by it, so the subject matter and story, as grim as it may be, has brought together an incredibly talented group of performers, technicians, and artists from across the Southeast who will bring some amazing skill, passion and depth to this project,” Kalsi added.
With casting complete, Kalsi is working with production manager Roman Visser to draft and organize the production plan ahead of filming.
“The casting is complete, and the next hurdle to jump is fundraising,” Kalsi said.
Kalsi launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $4,500 to cover production costs and post-production expenses. Backers must pledge that entire amount by April 15 at 8:07 a.m. or else the filmmakers will not receive any of the pledged funds.
“We were hoping that people would be as passionate about this issue as we (the cast and crew) are and would be willing to not only help us meet our funding goal, but exceed it, so that we may donate the proceeds to groups and organizations in the area who are leading the fight against human trafficking and helping victims rebuild their lives,” Kalsi said. “Unfortunately, the campaign has not picked up as much traction online as we hoped, and now time is ticking away, so we are urging everyone, whether they can donate money or not, to at least share the link on their social media pages, with their friends in activist and awareness groups, and with benefactors of the arts.”
A grant has been awarded to cover a portion of the production expenses. Additional details will be forthcoming once the grant has been finalized, but Kalsi said the additional funds will ensure that some of the Kickstarter funds can be immediately donated.
“We want to not only make a film but to also give back,” Kalsi said. “The grant funds will ensure we can do that just by reaching our Kickstarter goal. The Kickstarter campaign cannot be adjusted once it goes live, but if the public will get behind us, just by helping us reach our goal will allow us to donate a significant portion of the funds to the organizations we’ve pledged to support.”
Follow BOUND’s progress and production on Facebook.