San Diego filmmaker focuses on domestic violence awareness

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SAN DIEGO – San Diego Police respond to more than 20,000 domestic violence calls within city limits each year. But a local filmmaker hopes his first feature film will drive that number down by educating others about domestic violence.

His story is unique because he drew on elements from his own past. Filmmaker David Clark is the victim of domestic abuse. His ex-fiance was abusive towards him on many levels.

“That’s kinda unheard of. Men never want to admit that they were domestically abused,” Clark said.

But without a Hollywood background and a small budget, Clark would have to turn to others to fund his project.

He began a kickstarter campaign and hoped to raise $50,000. Instead, he raised $65,202 by the time the campaign closed Friday morning.

His fundraising success fell in the midst of Domestic Violence Awareness month and on the same day more than 100 people gathered in El Cajon, marching together in the name of Domestic Violence Awareness.

“We’re celebrating survivors of domestic violence. We’re also mourning those we lost to homicide because of domestic violence,” East County Domestic Violence Coalition Co-chair Jacqueline Manley said.

This year alone, four domestic violence situations have turned into homicides in San Diego.

Clark’s film, "The Trees," explores the aftermath of abuse and begins filming in San Diego County next month.

The leading lady in the film is his real-life fiancé. She, too, has had a brush with domestic violence in a past relationship, so she relates to her character on a physical and emotional level.

“She’s trying to deal with the physical and mental aspect of being abused while being a caring mother, trying to protect her children from seeing the devastation that has happened,” Ashley Walker said.

Clark admitted casting his significant other instead of a known actress was risky, but he had his reasons.

“It was important to me as an independent film maker to touch on the realness of them. I want to capture the raw kind of almost evil that represents domestic violence,” he said.

Clark’s goal is to do more than educate people about physical abuse, he hopes to help people understand why people react violently.

The abuser in "The Trees" is a Marine struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It’s just one reason why filming in San Diego is better than packing up and heading to L.A.

“There’s something just interesting about the atmosphere and the energy that San Diego represents and I think me, since I’m basing it off of personal accounts, I wanted to capture that because that’s the reality I know,” Clark said.

Though Clark plans to keep his film local, he also plans to include some A-list actors in it.

“I will say that I’ve already had conversations with A-listers that are in the biggest block busters and I will say that I’ve already personally spoken with one of them,” Clark said.

4 comments

  • Ashleigh

    Would love to see Mr. Clark’s film. I’m a survivor victim of domestic violence myself. I was emotionally abused by my ex-husband. Divorce was official 2 weeks ago. His family used to emotional abused me as well. As a result of all this I have complex PTSD. Rapid nightmares sometimes, at night of my ex and his family. I’m afraid I will always have this as my condition will be chronic. The police need to recognize and take more action regarding domestic violence. I just want to say thank you Mr. Clark for making this movie. I admire you. And, in my opinion, your a hero. Thank you again Mr. Clark. Perhaps, the police and our society will have a better understanding of the severity of domestic violence and its effects on people. Through your documentary.

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