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Local film ‘Jade’ to raise human trafficking awareness

Submitted by Chelsey McNiel on August 22, 2012 – 12:22 pmNo Comment

Jess Carson, writer and director of “Jade,” is a UALR alumna. She is teaming up with Heads or Tails Productions to make their first feature film. Photo courtesy of Ariel Bisbee

Most Americans believe slavery ended in 1865, but it still exists today and it’s happening in our own backyard.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery where children, teenagers, men and women are sold into sex slavery.
According to Partners Against Trafficking Humans, 14,000 to 17,000 victims are trafficked within the U.S. each year. PATH also estimates that around 600,000 to 800,000 victims are trafficked across international borders, making it the third largest illegal market after drugs and guns.
UALR alumna Jess Carson was inspired to write and direct a film to raise awareness after meeting a friend who was rescued from human trafficking. Carson teamed up with Heads or Tails Productions for their first feature film “Jade.”
“In my research I have seen how close to home it hits and how big it is here in America,” Carson said. “For most of these girls, it’s really apparent that they are victims, but nobody wants to do anything about it. I think it’s more because nobody wants to believe it’s happening.”
“Jade” originally began as a short story named after the lead character, and then evolved into a script. To make the storyline more tangible, Carson has sought help from local organizations such as: Not For Sale, PATH and Rush Hour [Traffic].
Carson said PATH Founder Louise Allison advised her on the tactics used to degrade human trafficking victims.
“She took the script and helped us bring the most vivid authenticity to it,” Carson said. “She completely transformed it and really brought it to another level for us.”
Although the film is not based on one person’s true story, it does contain events that have happened to victims.
One example is the “pimp circle.” If a pimp does not like something a victim does, he and other pimps will crowd tightly around the victim and begin yelling.
“Jade” follows the story of the psychological repercussions for a young woman who has escaped sex slavery in the United States and is learning to trust again despite her past. Carson uses a series of flashbacks from Jade’s past to relate to present events.
Former UALR student Krystal Kaminar plays the role of Jade.
“I had reservations about playing Jade because it’s a very serious story with a complicated character,” Kaminar said. “But after reading the story I loved Jess’ writing and jumped on board.”
Kaminar said she has prepared for the role through research, documentaries and speaking with human trafficking survivors.
“Lots of girls are uncomfortable talking about their experiences in human trafficking,” Kaminar said. “I am honored to tell their story.”
The volunteer cast begins filming the second week of September and hopes to have the final product ready in February. They still have about $1,200 to raise before meeting their goal of $2,700. Carson said funding or not, the cast will do what they can to make the film a reality.
“Jade” will be filmed at various locations in Little Rock including Rooker Library off Otter Creek Parkway. Carson said local businesses have been very welcoming.
Local bands have also collaborated with Heads or Tails Productions for the film’s soundtrack. Townsend, Don’t Stop Please, The Monastics and the Wes Bernett Band have all donated songs. Carson will also compose an original score.
With collaborative efforts of community, supporters and creative minds, Heads or Tails Productions hopes to enter “Jade” in film festivals to reveal the stories of those in modern-day slavery.
“I hope people react to the film,” Kaminar said. “[Human Trafficking] happens every day right under our noses. We need to stand up and do something about it.”
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