Writer/director Diane Namm hosted a private party in Malibu to celebrate her film “Finding Hope” in association with Covenant House California. A chilly night, guests walked the red carpet and entered into a private Malibu home to screen a trailer of the film that revolves around the growing issue in the United States of young runaways and homeless girls.
The vision started with Namm’s short film, “The Sacrifice,” starring familiar faces from the later feature Molly Quinn, Chris Mulkey, and Richard Riehle. The film told the story of Rev. Dobbins (Mulkey) taking a 13-year-old wife, Esmee Johnson (Quinn).Quinn had booked “The Sacrifice” when she was 14 and before she had the gig on the hit TV show “Castle.” “I met Diane and at first I felt like I couldn’t understand. I felt like it was piece of fiction,” Quinn told LA’s The Place about the idea behind the film involving girl runaways. Namm explained the severity of the issue to Quinn with statistics like “1-3 million runaway and homeless children living on the streets in the United States, and 80 percent of runaway and homeless girls reported having been sexually or physically abused.”“Ever since then it really woke me up, and even though I will never understand what these girls are really going through, just to be able to speak for them honestly in whatever way I can, doing this film with Dianne…” Quinn explained, trailing off due to the severity of the subject matter.“I really asked myself what if? What if I was in that situation? How would I react, how would I deal?”
Namm knew she wanted to continue the story of Esmee that was started in the short film and wanted Quinn to continue playing the part, but some time needed to pass in between.
“In the intervening years, I worked with a number of at-risk facilities and did writing workshops with at-risk girls and learned what their lives were like out on the streets,” Namm told LA’s The Place. She expanded the story by having Esmee run away and dive into an entirely new sub-culture that needs exploring.
“Anything about child endangerment in general, I get mad about,” Namm revealed about her motivation to do this type of piece. “I believe that everyone has a story, so I want to create a story to bring this issue to light.”
Actress Kristen Dalton was cast as Agent Lani Morgan in “Finding Hope” when the casting director thought of her from her part in “The Departed” as Jack Nicholson’s girlfriend, Gwen.
“It was the perfect role. They were looking for a red head that had been a runaway as a child and was helping other runaways now,” Dalton told LA’s The Place. “I loved working with Diane. She’s such an actors’ director. Really lets you play, have fun, brings it to life and makes it such a fun experience.”
Other members of the cast were also on-hand to celebrate the official film launch, including Chris Mulkey, Richard Riehle, Andy Mackenzie, James Morrison and Christine Elise. Other celebrities in attendance included, Lee Reherman (“Battle of the Supercars”), Natalie Maggio (“Raising Hope”) Jaimie Hilfiger (supermodel), Matthew Willig (“Year One”), May Wang (“Cougar Town”), Alex Swanstrom (Miss California Teen USA 2011), Alyssa Campanella (Miss California 2011) and Yvonne De La Rosa (“One Man Show”).
Everyone who walked the red carpet signed an official “Finding Hope” poster for auction on eBay to benefit Covenant House California. Covenant House is a non-profit organization in California that works with abused, neglected and homeless youth. “Since 1988, CHC has impacted the lives of more than 160,000 homeless youth out of our Los Angeles and Bay Area locations,” according to its website at www.covenanthousecalifornia.org.
Coming up next for writer/director Namm is the play “Judgement at Nuremberg” starring Katharine Ross (“The Graduate”) at Santa Monica Playhouse; it opens on March 12. Quinn continues her work on “Castle” and was rooting for Colin Firth to take home the Best Actor Oscar after their encounter on the set of “A Christmas Carol.”
“I just smiled at him! I was wearing a shirt that said ‘Mrs. Darcy’ at the time, actually,” Quinn laughed. (Firth famously played Mr. Darcy in the BBC version of “Pride and Prejudice.”)
For more information on Namm and her projects and “Finding Hope,” visit www.dianenamm.com.
Photo credits by: Javier Plaza-Torres
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Written by Mandy Rodgers