In September of 2014, three months after Ryan died, we decided to try and turn the tragic situation around into a positive, inspiring one. We dreamt of making a documentary film that would not only ensure that the memory of Ryan would never fade, but would also actively encourage awareness and prevention of suicide by exploring and exposing the inadequacies in the way mental health is talked about, funded, and legislated.
A group of over 20 of Ryan's closest friends, family, and students at the University of Missouri came together and began working diligently; planning out every step and researching every appropriate move to make a documentary film that addresses the stigma surrounding mental illness and the growing suicide epidemic in the United States.
To date we are a federally recognized 501(c)3 that has raised over $250,000 towards the production of our documentary. We began filming Winter 2017.
OUR ORIGINAL PROMO
In November 2014, we launched our first crowdfunding campaign paired with the PSA video below. Having no clue of the massive costs of a Hollywood level film production, we set our goal at $10,000. We hit that goal overnight. The video was viewed over 10,000 times and helped us gain the momentum we needed to become a 501c3. Check out where it all began by viewing the short PSA below!
In December 2016, we created a PSA and launched our first crowdfunding campaign. With the help of many generous donors, we raised over $10,000 in 24 hours. Within a few months, we had raised over $25k.
With this money, we were able to hire an incredibly talented director, Nate Townsend, and a professional production team from L.A. With their help, we were able to create the documentary short that we hope you have just viewed at the top of this page. This short serves as a preview of the full-length feature documentary that began production December 2017.
With our initial crowdfunding campaign, we were also able to afford legal services to help us file for 501c3 non-profit status. We are currently approved by the State of Missouri and federally as “Project Wake Up’. We will use our NPO to create the documentary and to continue to advocate for mental health and suicide awareness for the rest of our lives.
GOALS OF PROJECT WAKE UP
Investigate and fix current inadequacies in mental health funding, resources/awareness, and suicide prevention.
Start the conversation about mental health and suicide in order to help eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness that prevents so many from seeking the help they need.
Share diverse stories illustrating the nation-wide epidemic
Highlight and illustrate important and innovative suicide prevention methods.
Encourage changes in legislation that pertain to mental health.
Keep Ryan Joseph Candice's memory alive.
RISKS & CHALLENGES
Our biggest challenge is funding. But with your help, we can bring this project to fruition. Whether you donate five dollars or five thousand dollars, we will use your money to create a film that WILL save lives.
There are currently many documentaries and many being made that pertain to suicide awareness. Our documentary sets itself apart in a number of ways. We are a group of 26 year olds trying to bring about real change. We have insight into college campuses and college-aged kids that many others do not. Our director, Nate Townsend, is young and talented and will present a film that college-aged kids actually want to watch. This will not be your stereotypical educational documentary that collects dust in a psychologist's office. This documentary will be emotional, relatable, visually captivating, and incredibly powerful. We will settle for nothing less.
Our passion is real. Our story is powerful. The cause is incredibly important.
OUR TRIP TO DC
We are a few months removed from breaking ground on the documentary that we spent the past three years fundraising for and planning. In that time, our progress has been substantial to say the least.
In December, we interviewed arguably the world's leading expert on suicide, Dr. Thomas Joiner, down at Florida State University, sitting with him for nearly two hours and delving into the current state of mental health in the U.S.
From there, we interviewed former Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA), discussing the groundbreaking legislation he pioneered and helped pass in 2016. We then interviewed Skip Simpson, one of the U.S.' leading attorneys in healthcare negligence with a special focus on suicide, and Dr. Julie Cerel, President of the American Association of Suicidology and a Suicide Exposure Researcher focusing on survivorship.
In May, we visited Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-MA) in Boston for an interview to discuss his visions for the state of mental healthcare in the U.S. moving forward.
The documentary is now in its second and final phase of filming in which we document and explore the stories of several diverse Americans who have been affected by suicide and mental illness.
Our film is set to release in Summer 2019.
On behalf of everyone involved with Project Wake Up, thank you for your generosity and continued support in this endeavor. It has been no easy task to change the way people perceive and talk about mental health, but we have already witnessed tangible impact across the St. Louis community and beyond. With your continued support, we can ensure that those in need of help will not only feel compelled to reach out, but have the means to access necessary to receive that assistance.
Again, we appreciate the overwhelming response we have received over the past three years and will continue to work to make our goals a reality.
The Project Wake Up Board of Directors