The Absence of Closure is a documentary film created by Lisa Arlington that examines the tragedy of ambiguous loss.
In February 2014, Lisa created a Kickstarter page to fund her documentary.
About this projectEdit
What Is Ambiguous Loss?Edit
After the death of a loved one, we grieve. This is a normal and necessary part of the healing process. It helps us find closure.
But what if there is no closure? What happens when someone we love just... disappears? When a death can't be explained or even verified, how do we mourn?
This trauma is known as ambiguous loss, in which grief is complicated by fear and hope. It takes a heavy psychological toll on survivors, often resulting in obsession and even delusion. It can destroy relationships and tear families apart.
Over the past year, I have reached out to several individuals who are going through this loss. Three of them agreed to tell their stories on camera:
• Adamya, whose wife vanished after an alleged boating accident
• Beverly, whose son went missing in action during the Vietnam War
The goal of The Absence of Closure is to help people like Adamya, Beverly and James realize that they're not alone. It will hopefully help them find their own ways to heal when traditional catharsis is unattainable.
I want this film to be seen by as many eyes as possible, through film festivals and special screenings for mental health professionals and support groups.
Risks and challengesEdit
As with all documentaries, there's a possibility that The Absence of Closure will take its own shape, based on the interviews and footage I get. But regardless, it will stay true to my original intent: to deliver an accurate depiction of ambiguous loss. And with the necessity of finishing this film to earn my MFA, I can guarantee that it will be done by next spring!
Welcome Backers! (Feb 6 2014)Edit
Lisa here. I just wanted to say hi and thanks to the very first wave of backers for The Absence of Closure. So far, I think I know all of you personally. :) But I encourage you all to share this campaign with your own friends and contacts. I've got a long way to go and a short time to get there, but this campaign is off to a great start. If we all pull together, we can make this film happen. And I think it will be a great film.
Halfway Point (Feb 20 2014)Edit
Some filmmakers write Kickstarter updates every day of their campaigns, but I don't want to flood your email with plaintive requests to spread the word or contribute more. Still, you should know how The Absence of Closure's campaign is faring.
Well, we’re only at $4,180 as of this writing, and I need almost $6,000 more... So I'm just a teensy bit nervous.
If you could share this campaign with your friends - post the link on your Facebook walls, at least - I will be your slave for life. Meanwhile, I'm doing everything I can to drum up more interest. Thanks to those who sent me links to relevant websites about ambiguous loss. I had no idea there were so many out there. I've already hit up a couple of them that have user forums.
Will contact the rest ASAP.
Last Day of the Campaign! (Mar 4 2014)Edit
Hi backers, Lisa here... I swore I wouldn't besiege your inboxes with updates during the campaign, since you've already been so generous, but this is the final day of the campaign and I want to give one last push to see if any new backers can come aboard. So if you're willing to spread the word - Facebook, Twitter, email, whatever - I appreciate all the help I can get!
We're very, very close to the campaign goal. I'm confident we'll make it, but we're not out of the woods yet. Fingers crossed!
WE DID IT! (Mar 5 2014)Edit
Thank you to everyone
who have supported us!
I'm exhausted after this last day of the Kickstarter campaign, but I have enough energy to say THANK YOU for all the backers who came on board, whether it was on the first day or during the final minute (literally!). And now we get to make this movie!
I've officially raised $11,390, which will cover everything I need and then some. (Don't worry, anything that doesn't go into production or post will be spent on film festival submissions. They add up fast.) And I couldn't do it without your help!
I want to thank all my friends and family members who pitched in - you guys are awesome - but I also want to thank the surprisingly large number of strangers who contributed to this campaign, whether it was at the $5 level or even the $500 level. Your generosity means so much to me. I am eternally grateful, and I promise this film will be something special.
Director, The Absence of Closure
DSLR Camera Acquired! (Mar 14 2014)Edit
I have now acquired a beautiful DSLR camera, a Canon 5d Mark III (with a 50-200mm EF-S that I’ll be using as my primary lens), all thanks to funds raised through this Kickstarter campaign. (Your funds took a while to transfer into my account, but I ordered the camera as soon as the transfer was complete.) Now that this milestone has been reached, I will commence scheduling proper sit-down interviews with my three subjects: Beverly, Adamya and James.
Once again, thank you so much for your generosity and your faith in this film. I promise I will do everything to make it a great experience.
First of the Three Interviews Now Finished (Mar 31 2014)Edit
The Absence of Closure is officially in production! I had a lovely interview over the past two days with Beverly, the first of the three people to be interviewed for this film. (We had to split the interview into 2 parts as Beverly had a doctor's appointment.) What a sweet woman. And what a sad and frustrating tale about her son David, MIA in Vietnam for over forty years.
If my interviews with Adamya and James are as good as my interview with Beverly, I think The Absence of Closure will help a lot of people who are coping with ambiguous loss.
That said, I must admit, the next interviews may be tricky to get, as both men are waffling on whether they want to be in this film. But I'm trying, dear backers. I'm trying.
Adamya Interview Completed (Apr 15 2014)Edit
Whew, what a day. It took some time to pin Adamya down for his interview, and even longer for him to talk about his late wife without crying (and I was often brought to tears myself). But I got some incredibly moving material. What this man has gone through would break many spirits. His strength inspires me.
Bless you, Adamya, and I hope you find closure some day.
Interview with James Now in the Can (Apr 26 2014)Edit
I just finished interviewing the third and final subject in The Absence of Closure. James took some time to open up to me, and there are clearly some things about his sister that he doesn't want to talk about. But I have enough footage to work with. I also got to go on the job with him - James is a paramedic - so the fact that he allowed me into his ambulance shows that he does trust me somewhat.
Up next: Logging all this footage. Between James, Beverly and Adamya, I have over 30 hours of material. Some heartbreaking stories, some inspiring ones. I think The Absence of Closure is going to be a meaningful film about ambiguous loss.
A New Direction (May 3 2014)Edit
Yesterday James showed me a video that someone called "DarkNet666" - yeah, I know - had quietly posted online on Thursday. It was apparently shot right where James' sister had vanished two decades ago. The video is grainy, and it's hard to see what's going on, but James is convinced that it's the real thing - and I think I am too.
I just got back from James' place, where he told me a lot of intense and personal stuff that he never mentioned before. Without spoiling anything, this is a huge development for the film. While I love Adamya's and Beverly's stories, what has just transpired with James has set The Absence of Closure on an entirely new course.
Here's what it comes down to: this video has inspired James to return to the spot where his sister disappeared. And he's invited me along for the ride. So suddenly this is what my film is about. I know it all sounds flaky, but I hope you will trust me. This is an amazing story.
Anyway, I took some of the money previously earmarked for festival submissions, and ordered some portable cameras: four Bluetooth earpiece cams - one for me, one for James, two for additional crew - and a Wi-Fi cam. And a drone. That's right, a drone. Why so many cameras? Because we're going to a location where I will need all the additional angles I can shoot. My DSLR, nice as it is, won't cut it alone.
James and I have agreed on a date of our departure: May 11th. Yep, just over a week from now. I've got a ton of sh*t to do in the meantime. But I really think this is the right decision for the film.
Into the woods we go...
Patience... (May 6 2014)Edit
We are still 100% on schedule for our location shoot up north, but I'm getting a bit nervous because the drone and Bluetooth earpiece cameras I ordered, which were supposed to come "overnight," haven't arrived yet. I've been told they're "en route," but it's nerve-wracking.
I'm also a bit concerned about my two classmates who were supposed to crew for me. They're getting cold feet because of the subject matter. But I'm sure I will find replacements soon. (Any backers want to up their participation level and go on a hike with me? Drop me a line!) This always happens in film production: everything comes together at the last minute.
At least James is completely in, thanks to his incredible discovery that I wrote about in my previous update. This documentary is becoming a serious thing. I think you will be happy with the results.
Location Equipment and Crew Now Finalized! (May 8 2014)Edit
The drone and earpiece cameras finally arrived today. Whew!
Also, owing to James' earlier concerns about this documentary, I won’t really have a “crew” on this phase of the project, per se. That is, it’ll just be me and James' good friends Peter and Ashley. I’ve asked them to wear earpiece cameras, which basically record whatever they see and hear, whenever possible. At the very least, they will provide me with some great B-roll footage! And in any event, the beauty shots will mostly come from me and my trusty DSLR. And my drone, which luckily Ashley also knows how to operate. (We took a class on it together!) I might actually be in love with that drone.
We should be heading up north this Sunday - right on schedule. Until then, I'm working on shot lists, schedule, budget, etc. And trying to sleep!
The Adventure Begins (May 11 2014)Edit
This will be my last report from home. At 2:00 PM I will pick up James, Ashley and Peter, and then it's a 5 hour drive north to our destination.
The weather's hot now, but it's going to cool down soon, and there may be heavy rain in a couple of days. So I hope to wrap as quickly as possible. My "crew members" have become quite adept with their Bluetooth earpiece cameras (which are amazing), as well as the drone (even more amazing). I'm sure we'll get some spectacular footage.
Not much filming today, though. After the long drive, we're staying in a motel tonight, charging all our phones, cameras, etc., and getting as much rest as we can. Tomorrow will be a long day, with multiple locations and who knows how much trekking through the trees.
First Day of Location Shooting! (May 12 2014)Edit
Lisa here… In 30 minutes we'll be driving up to where James' sister was last seen, all those years ago. It promises to be an emotional day for James, and for me too.
As great as the interview footage is, what we shoot over the next couple of days will really transform The Absence of Closure from a "talking head" documentary into something truly cinematic. I'm so grateful to all my patient Kickstarter backers!
First we will visit the person who posted the video that cemented James' commitment to my film - and which changed my film itself. That's right, we're meeting "DarkNet666," who's actually much more legit than I first believed. Both James and myself have been texting with him over the past week. He is giving me permission to use his video in my film, but I'm also hoping he will sit for an on-camera interview, though that's not certain yet. He lives very close to where we're shooting, and his knowledge of the local history would add a lot to this film.
After that... we head into the forest.
NOTE: Because of the notoriety surrounding James' sister and her disappearance, James has asked me not to disclose the location of our shoot, so we aren't besieged by pranksters or looky-loos. I agree that this would upset the integrity of our film - and a superstitious part of me wants to get out of there fast and go home! So it's off the grid we go.
I'll post more tonight from camp, provided my Internet reception is good. Until then, wish us luck on our first location day!
** IMPORTANT ** PLEASE READ ** LISA ARLINGTON STILL MISSING ** (Aug 11 2016)Edit
Hello, my name is Kaylee Morgan and I'm Lisa's best friend. As some of you know, it's been over two years since anyone has heard from Lisa. Her parents recently found her Kickstarter password in an old notebook and they asked me to write this update, in case any of you do not know what happened or might have information.
In short: Lisa disappeared in May 2014 during production of her documentary ABSENCE OF CLOSURE in Northwest Maryland. James, the subject of her film, and two of his friends are also missing. Their whereabouts are unknown.
We are also trying to find any information about an online group called "DarkNet666" and their possible involvement in this case.
LAW ENFORCEMENT HAS GIVEN UP ON LISA.
Her friends and loved ones now have our own "absence of closure". We have come to accept that the worst may have happened. But WE STILL NEED ANSWERS. The local sheriff's department recovered some of Lisa's equipment, but since no one has "officially" ruled on whether Lisa is alive or dead, the evidence remains sealed.
If you have any information about Lisa, James, or anyone else associated with this project, PLEASE contact us via our Facebook page. We will pursue all credible leads.
Lisa was a passionate and dedicated artist who would never let her backers down. This film was her life. We lost a beautiful friend, sister and daughter, far too soon. All we can do is to piece together what happened and hopefully find, yes, closure.
We love you Lisa.