The Mission is a collaboration between Tom Haines and B-Reel Films, and was completed in 2018. Shot in El Segundo, Los Angeles, it tackles the subject of Hidden Homelessness that is pervasive in LA and much of North America. The film was made in association with the Harmony Project, a Los Angeles music charity.
Currently being entered into festivals worldwide. Please contact me directly for a secure screener.
A homeless girl prepares for a school concert but is thwarted by her family’s precarious housing situation, and the more she plays, the more trouble she gets herself and her family into.
12-year-old Sunny is determined to nail her trumpet solo in the upcoming school recital, although it’s hard to practice when you’re living out of a van with your working dad and hyperactive kid brother. But her determination to play, to control the one thing in her life she can, creates unexpected jeopardy for herself and her family, and as the pressure mounts the trumpet becomes her confidant, and ultimately her escape valve.
Why did you want to make this film?
The homeless issue in Los Angeles is very present and very visceral, but I was also aware that there was another, more concealed side to it, individuals and families living out of vehicles, but still trying to maintain a sense of normality.
That aspect of everyday jeopardy, despite maybe still going to work, such as the Disney Workers in Anaheim, or going to school but being uncertain of where you might sleep, and if your vehicle would still be there when you come back, was a tragic conundrum that I thought could be a compelling start for a story which explored this issue.
Is it based on a real story?
Not one story in particular, but through research, interviews and meeting people in similar situations in the LA area, I made an amalgam of a family dynamic that felt real to me, and also created tension. How does a dad cope with his pre-teen daughter in such a confined space, under such conditions? It brings everything together so immediately, and despite your best efforts, it will inevitably blow up.
Why choose Swan Lake as the music?
It was important the music be classic, memorable, and also be plausible that a school band would play it. The trumpet she plays becomes another character in the film, I wanted it to sound crude, not polished, Sunny was never supposed to be a virtuoso.
How did you cast it?
Finding our Sunny, in particular wasn’t easy, a girl who has the right attitude towards the project, and a certain toughness to her, but who can also play the trumpet – I feel we got incredibly lucky with Madison, she auditioned with an arm cast on that she’d got in a football injury, and she could still play her heart out on the trumpet.
Tom Haines has won acclaim for his narrative music videos for Temper Trap, Civil Wars, and Jon Hopkins among others, which have garnered MVA and Vimeo awards. Directing documentary work for the BBC, Channel 4 and Tate inspired bold personal films such as Luminarias, a poetic documentary exploring a pagan fire festival in rural Spain, with an original Unkle soundtrack. His evocative, cinematic storytelling has led him to work with brands such as Google, Expedia, Land Rover and Verizon. In 2016, his Road Safety campaign was nominated for Shots and British Arrows awards. Tom is passionate about storytelling, creating worlds and characters through writing and directing dramatic films, including the coming of age short Night of the Foxes that premiered at Rotterdam and London Film Festivals. He continues to expand his practice through short films and developing feature film and television projects.
Antonio Flores' passion for filmmaking started at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA, an independent production and recording studio hub where some of Hollywood’s greatest films were mixed and mastered, learning from the legacy of Saul Zaent. Since then, Antonio has been busy producing in the commercial world, while juggling narrative projects and music videos, The Missionis another bold step in his journey as a filmmaker. Other notable projects Antonio has produced include primary campaign ads for Barack Obama, as well as recent campaign ads for the new line of Chevy cars and trucks and high-end music videos for names such as Bon Jovi, Snoop Dogg, and Tiesto.
Ryan Carmody is a Los Angeles based cinematographer represented by ICM Partners. Ryan’s work mixes fluidly between film, documentary, commercial work and music videos. Documentaries include Nocturnes, which was featured in American Cinematographer magazine and his last feature documentary was the 2014 SXSW premiere Harmontown. His previous short films include Gooses,Motor Awayand Sean, which featured recently on Dazed Digital. Alongside this he’s shot campaigns for brands such as Adidas, Nike, Audi and Gatorade and his music videos for artists such as Big Sean, No and Zee Avi have picked up awards and notices such as Vimeo Staff Picks.
Vanessa Vaselka is the author of the novel, Zazen, which won the PEN/Bingham prize for fiction. Her short stories appear in Tin House, Zyzzyva and elsewhere. Her nonfiction is found in GQ, The Atlantic, Smithsonian, the Atavist, and is included in Best American Essays.