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In 2019 we successfully raised $53,000 to get Daruma off the ground and secured a commitment for the additional funding needed to produce and shoot our authentically cast film in the summer of 2020. We were blindsided by the COVID-19 pandemic and additional funding is needed. Every contribution is TAX DEDUCTIBLE thanks to our fiscal sponsorship via From the Heart Productions and every dollar goes to paying the cast and crew.
Daruma is an authentically cast film inspired by a true story about two unlikely friends: a paraplegic and a double amputee. We have authentically cast two amazing actors, Tobias Forrest and John Lawson, in the lead roles. Disability inclusion is the last bastion of inequality in Hollywood: it's time for change. Video is closed captioned.
We had successfully raised $53,000 on Seed&Spark in the fall of 2019 with the intention of shooting Daruma in the summer of 2020. But the COVID-19 outbreak railroaded our plans and some funding we had in place to complete our budget has fallen through. We're doing another round of fundraising to close the gap in our production budget so that we can deliver this film at a time when disability inclusion in media matters more than ever.  Please consider supporting this project, any amount would be extremely appreciated.

Mission Statement

We're authentically casting the roles of Patrick & Robert to reflect the physical traits of the characters in the script but the film is NOT about disability, the leads just happen to be disabled. We're encouraging PWD to apply for crew & post positions. Apply at www.DarumaMovie.com

Remember all contributions to Daruma are TAX DEDUCTIBLE thanks to our fiscal sponsor: From The Heart Productions




Daruma follows PATRICK (30s, bitter paraplegic) who discovers he has a four-year-old daughter from a one-night stand years ago. He agrees to take her and becomes the beneficiary of her mother’s life insurance policy, but soon discovers that she would do better living with her maternal grandparents on the East Coast. Patrick enlists the help of his cantankerous neighbor ROBERT (60s, double-arm amputee) to drive them across America and to her grandparents. Along the way, the trio discovers the meaning of self-sacrifice, forgiveness and what it truly means to be a family.


We are conducting our our final fundraising efforts to bridge the gap of some funding lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic.



All contributions to Daruma are tax deductible as we are fiscally sponsored via From the Heart Productions.



“Daruma is exactly the kind of project RespectAbility advocates for. It embodies the values we’re pushing for in this industry— inclusiveness both in front of and behind the camera with a narrative that promotes a positive, accurate representation of disability.”
Lauren Appelbaum, RespectAbility

“There are 61 million Americans with disabilities yet only a scant 2% of characters on TV are disabled. This is an historic disgrace. But change is coming and projects like Daruma are leading the way.”
Allen Rucker,
Chair of the Writers with
Disabilities Committee of the WGA
and co-chair of the Media Access Awards


"We built Seed&Spark to be a place where people can connect through stories that matter, stories that give rise to voices that have been too long unheard, that not just entertain their viewers but help them see the world in a new way. Daruma is a family drama, but the way the team has chosen to craft and, more importantly, cast the story shows how the storytellers are trying to make an impact with their work. It's the sort of impact a creator really only gets to consider when they have profound creative independence, which is why crowdfunding is such a powerful tool for change."

Seed&Spark founder Emily Best




Though great strides have been made to bridge the gap for women and minorities in Hollywood, there's still much to do when it comes to creating roles and projects for disabled actors and filmmakers. We are also working to ensure opportunities on our crew for those living with disabilities. This script does not focus on the characters' disabilities as a central plot point -- it is a story about two people who happen to have disabilities, not a story about becoming disabled or what it's like to live with a disability. 










(Fall down seven times, get up eight.)

Though the characters in Daruma are fictional, screenwriter Kelli McNeil wrote the script as a way to help process her own grief after a member of her family suffered a spinal cord injury. She came up with the idea for DARUMA when she remembered a painting from her art history classes:  Zen Master Painter Sesshu Toyo’s masterpiece, Eka Showing his Severed Arm to Daruma. The legend goes that the Daruma (the founder of Buddhism) meditated in a cave for so long that his limbs fell off, as he had no need for them anymore. A would-be pupil, Eka, eager to show his commitment, severed his own arm and presented it as a gift to Daruma, but the Daruma turned him away, as young Eka had missed the point of the Daruma's lessons. Kelli started to research the Daruma and came across something called a Daruma doll, a Japanese symbol of determination, endurance and hope. The legend states that you are to color in one eye of the Daruma doll and make a wish. When the wish comes true, you are to color in the other eye.  The story of the Daruma doll resonated within the narrative she was already crafting and thus, the foundation for Daruma, had been laid.



What are we fundraising for?

In the fall of 2020 we successfully raised $53,000 on Seed&Spark (https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/daruma#story) with the intent of going into production in the summer of 2020. The COVID-19 outbreak has thrown everything into disarray.

We are attempting to raise additional funding to cover the loss of some commitments that have fallen through.

Diversity and inclusion matter now more than ever, as studios and production companies will be even less likely to take on projects that are not "sure things" hoping to recoup the losses the pandemic has caused to everyone's bottom line.

Delaying our production was a heartbreaking necessity but protecting the health and safety of our cast and crew was paramount.







How Else Can You Help? 

Get involved! Below is a list of resources from Respectability, The Ford Foundation & more. Download them & see what you can put into practice in your daily life to see disability differently! 


Respectability's Hollywood Inclusion Tool Kit


The Ford Foundation's Roadmap for Inclusion 












Behind the Scenes Stills from Our Trailer 

All images are credited to John Lawson who plays Robert in the movie. 








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Daruma Movie FAQ
Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes, we are a fiscally sponsored project of From The Heart Productions, which is a public 501c3 organization recognized by the IRS. Your donation is tax-deductible to the fullest extent permissible by law.

Is my donation and credit card info secure?
Yes, the security and confidentiality of your information is our highest priority. We will not sell, trade or share your personal information with anyone else, nor send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations, and we will only share personal information if you have given us specific permission to do so.

How do I know that my donation was made successfully?
You will receive an emailed receipt immediately after your donation is submitted and your credit card is processed. Your donation will also show up on your bank or card statement within 1-3 business days.

Do I get a receipt?
Yes, a receipt is sent to your email inbox once your donation is processed. Please be sure to keep a copy of your receipt for tax purposes. If you select a recurring donation, you will be sent an individual receipt each period when your donation is processed.

Is my donation private?
We will not share or sell a donor's personal information with anyone else, nor send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations.