The Last Man Standing – Documentary Film
The Last Man Standing is a feature-length documentary on the story of Jerry Yellin, one of the last veterans from WWII, who enlisted to fight the Japanese, after their attack on Pearl Harbor. Jerry returned home from the war as a decorated pilot and suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder for years. It was only when he found Transcendental Meditation decades later that he began the road back to himself. When his son moved to Japan and married a Japanese woman, Jerry was confronted with his decades-old fear and hatred. As he confronted his enemy as his new family, he soon found that his hatred had transformed into love. Today, Jerry has six grandchildren, three of them Japanese. At 91 years old, Jerry’s mission is to promote peace and understanding between different cultures.
LMS is a heart felt exploration of an inspiring man who has faced his own demons and wants to share his experiences of turning hate into love. Director Louisa Merino will follow Jerry for eighteen months as he shares his stories with audiences around the world. The film offers a unique glimpse into the extraordinary life of a near-centenarian whose goal are to help transform people’s lives. Given our own nation’s involvement in war for now close to two decades, Jerry’s story is particularly relevant and needs to be shared with a wide audience.
Our first goal is to shoot through October, 2015 then begin editing a 10 minute clip that we can use to show potential funders. We hope to complete this phase by the end of 2015. Future potential funders include PBS/ITVS, Impact Partners, Film Sales Company, CineReach, Sundance Documentary Fund and Ford Foundation, among others. Our longer plan is to continue shooting and editing in 2016 in order to complete the film by the end of Fall 2016 in time to submit to premier festivals, including Sundance Film Festival.
Donors will be acknowledged in the film’s credits. Regular updates will be sent to donors with updates on the film and its progress. All donors will be given four complementary tickets to the film screening of their choice. A final report will be provided to donors that explains how the funds were used and any additional information relevant to the progress of the film.
About the Film Makers
Louisa Merino (Director)
Louisa Merino is a passionate storyteller. She studied Documentary Filmmaking at the New York Film Academy in New York City, graduating with honors. There, her thesis film, LIFELINE, attracted subjects that ranged from an Oscar-°©‐winning writer to Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe. Soon after graduating, she won a 6,000 Euro grant to represent the US by making a short film about sustainability in NYC, while being mentored by Oscar-°©‐winning director Davis Guggenheim. Her films LIFELINE and FAMILIES LIKE MINE have been selected in film festivals worldwide. Louisa taught film editing in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s “Art and Film” course in New York City. She currently works as Senior Editor and Story Producer for The David Lynch Foundation TV.
Melissa Hibbard (Producer)
Melissa Hibbard co-founded Fictionville Studio, a production company she co-founded with partner, Hamid Rahmanian. She produced BREAKING BREAD (2000), SIR ALFRED OF CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT (2001) and SHAHRBANOO (2002). In 2008, she produced and wrote THE GLASS HOUSE in association with the Sundance Channel, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and received the Human Rights Award (OSCE, Docufest) and Best Feature Documentary (Dallas Video Fest). In 2003, she co-established a non-profit organization – ARTEEAST – its mission statement to promote the arts and cultures of the Middle East and it’s worldwide diasporas in the United States; she was a board member and the ArteEast Online Director through 2007. In 2009, Melissa founded Fictionville Media; a documentary distribution service aimed at helping filmmakers self-distribute their own works. Recently she collaborated on an illustrated translation and adaptation of Persian mythology called SHAHNAMEH: THE EPIC OF THE PERSIAN KIGNS (2013) as the Editorial Director.
Read Melissa Hibbard’s Full Bio
Melissa Hibbard (Producer):
Melissa Hibbard earned her BA in Moving Image Arts in 1996 from the College of Santa Fe where she studied documentary filmmaking. Upon graduation, she moved to Los Angeles and worked in the film industry as an art director on feature films through 2000. She worked for Hollywood production companies including Disney, ABC, Paramount, Fox, Lighthouse Pictures and Imagine Entertainment.
In 2000, she started a new production company, Fictionville Studio with her partner, with the aim to make insightful and provocative independent films. In the first three years, she produced three documentaries: BREAKING BREAD (2000) that premiered on PBS station, KCET and SIR ALFRED OF CHARLES DE GAULLE AIRPORT (2001), both of which have been well received by the media and worldwide audiences. SHARABANDO (2002) premiered on PBS where it received among the highest ratings for an independent produced documentary and has been broadcast on television networks around the world. She co-produced the narrative feature film DAY BREAK (2005) in Iran that premiered at Toronto Film Festival and screened at the Venice Film Festival and won several prestigious awards around the world. In 2008, she wrote and produced her first feature-length documentary THE GLASS HOUSE, produced in association with Sundance Channel and Impact Partners. It premiered at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in November 2008 and was in competition at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009 in the International Documentary Category. The film won the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) Human Rights Award, Best Feature-length Documentary from Dallas Video Fest, Special Jury award from Zagrebdox, Honorable Mention from the Utopia Film Festival, and Best Documentary from Spain’s Urban TV in 2009/10.
In addition to her own films, Melissa has worked as a director of production on several international award-winning projects, including THE JOURNEY: THE GREEK AMERICAN DREAM. She was the executive producer of the Persian Language political satire web series POLETIK, funded by the US Department of State. The series had a run of 75 episodes and had a weekly audience of over 1.5 million viewers around the world. She also travels the US and abroad, teaching young filmmakers about new strategies in the field of production and distribution and consults with individual filmmakers on their distribution strategies.
Aside from her work in cinema, in 2003, she co-established the successful non-profit organization –ARTEEAST- its mission statement to promote the arts and cultures of the Middle The Last Man Standing East and its worldwide diasporas in the United States; she was a board member and the ArteEast Online Director through 2007. In 2009 she established Fictionville Media, a partner company to her own production company that helps filmmakers distribute their films in a cooperative-like effort. Recently she established a new non-profit – TWO CHAIRS – with a group of artists and intellectuals that supports the work of art and culture in the US. In 2013, she produced and worked as Editorial Director on a new book project entitled SHAHNAMEH: THE EPIC OF THE PERSIAN KINGS, an illustrated translation and adaption of Shahnameh, a book of Persian mythology. It is published by The Quantuck Lane Press and distributed by W. W. Norton & Company. Melissa is currently collaborating on a children’s pop up book with Fantagrahpics Books and working on her first feature-length script, entitled Snow.
Two Chairs, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization, was incorporated in New York in 2010 as a nonprofit organization. Two Chairs, Inc.’s purpose is to support the work of artists and other media makers during production and through distribution of their projects. This is achieved by working in collaboration with other artists, pooling resources, sharing information and cross promoting their work. The objective is to disseminate work to a broad audience and foster a complex understanding and appreciation of the intellectual ideas addressed by the works and to thereby encourage a partnership between artistic and intellectual excellence in the fields of Art and the Humanities. Two Chairs will act as a fiscal sponsor for the project enabling donors to receive a tax deduction for their contribution to the project. Two Chairs will sponsor the project through completion and oversee the legal and fiscal responsibilities of the project and provide updates to donors on the status of the project.
Melissa Hibbard and Louise Merino will work together on the project as producer and director. Louisa will be responsible for the artistic and creative decisions of the project, including shooting and editing, with input from Melissa as needed. Melissa will act as the film’s producer and work closely with Louisa to help raise funds, provide technical support and insure completion of the film through distribution.
Riley Morton (Cinematographer)
Riley Morton is a documentary filmmaker and television producer with over a decade of experience filming documentaries and adventure sports around the world. His work has appeared on PBS, NBC, ABC, ITN, Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, and cinema screens around the world. His latest documentary, ‘Evergreen’ (2014) was described as “Resonant” and “Photogenic” by Variety and “Fascinating” by Salon. As a Field Producer for ‘Travels to the Edge with Art Wolfe,’ (PBS) Morton has experience filming in remote and difficult locations around the world in High Definition. Evergreen is “A fascinating, extraordinarily well-researched and executed doc.” -Filmmaker “This assured documentary is loaded with rancor …” – New York Times film review “The personalities and rhetoric are colorful and the film’s presentation is lively…” – Hollywood Reporter