Lindsay C. Cutshall
[09/09/81 - 08/15/04]

Lindsay & Jason
Jason S. Allen
[05/16/78 - 08/15/04]

♥ "The sun is going down on the horizon, and all I see is the beams shining on the cliff face, and I know that God is awesome. I look around and see His Creation all around me." --Lindsay ♥                                                                                 ♥ "As I stir this Mac & Cheese, I think to myself, what a wonderful life. I've just spent two awesome days with my fiance, Lindsay. Can life ever be so perfect? Only with a person who is so great. God gives me this privilege in life and He has given me a wonderful woman to enjoy it with." --Jason ♥                                                                                 ♥ "Live for things in heaven, not on earth." --Lindsay ♥                                                                                 ♥ "Heaven will be a wonderful place of no suffering, hurt, loneliness; it's a great thing to look forward to." --Lindsay ♥

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Low-budget movie to be made...

Recently, it has been made known that there is an amateur filmmaker from Santa Rosa, California, who wants to re-create Jason & Lindsay's murders for a movie he's making. In my personal opinion, it is extremely disrespectful... despite his claims that he's going to represent the story in a "fictionalized way" and in "the most tasteful manner." Being that he is from Santa Rosa... and everyone in that community is extremely familiar with this murder case... it will be lost on no one which story he is recreating on film. So any freedoms he decides to take with their story will easily be taken as an actual event or fact and could seriously damage Jason & Lindsay's character.

Here's the article:

SR filmmaker touches on 2004 Jenner slayings:
Murdered couple's story part of plot in Cardinal Newman grad's low-budget thriller

Thursday, July 31, 2008


By DEREK J. MOORE | Santa Rosa Press Democrat

As fog gathers on the horizon, a lone figure stands on a bluff overlooking a beach north of Jenner and snaps photos of the vanishing sun.

The young woman is a Sacramento actress playing the part of a devoutly Christian 20-something who visits the beach with her older fiance. Later that night, they are shot to death as they sleep on the sand.

If that scenario sounds familiar, it's because a young Christian couple was killed in shocking fashion on the beach in 2004.

The unsolved case still resonates and is just one of many interesting angles Santa Rosa filmmaker Aron Campisano plans to use in the couple's story on the big screen.

The low-budget effort reflects the relative ease with which people can bring cinematic art to life in the Internet age, as well as the risks inherent in fictionalizing gut-wrenching, true-life events that are still fresh in memory.

The 38-year-old graduate of Cardinal Newman High School and New York University's film school said the tragic story of Jason Allen and Lindsay Cutshall is one element in a movie he described as a "Hitchcock-like thriller" about young people who realize they've been killed and struggle to understand what happened.

"It's not like 'America's Most Wanted,'" he said. "I'm not trying to replicate what happened or document it. It's just going to be a reflection of those characters."

Campisano's previous venture, a yet-to-be-released low-budget movie called "The Master Plan" that some deemed to be critical of Christianity -- coupled with his own personal views about religion -- have raised concern about his intentions among the families of the dead couple and investigators on the case.

Campisano said he does not want to offend anyone.

"My intention from day one was to represent, in a fictionalized way, what occurred there in the most tasteful manner," he said. "There are no action scenes. There are no death scenes. It's not a documentary-style film of actual events. It makes references to things through images."

He described the project, titled "Adventure!!!," as being more philosophical in nature than religious, as opposed to "The Master Plan," which he said some friends and relatives thought had an anti-religious bent. He described himself as agnostic and suspicious of organized belief.

Campisano said he was intrigued that the families of Allen and Cutshall saw their deaths as being part of God's plan, when his view of their actions is more jaundiced.

"They were pushing boundaries in their lives," he said. "They're Christian youth counselors who are painted as idealistic icons in death, as a lot of people are. But if you look at what they did that day, they were illegally camping on the beach, which they knew they shouldn't do."

Family members of the couple are wary of Campisano's efforts.

"Obviously it is going to reflect on our kids one way or another, perhaps negatively, perhaps positively or perhaps both," said Chris Cutshall, Lindsay's father and pastor of a church in rural Ohio. "I would be a little concerned on how that would reflect on us and them, and especially on God."

His daughter, who was 22 when she was killed, spent the summer of 2004 with Allen, 26, at a Christian whitewater rafting camp in El Dorado County, where they worked as youth counselors and rafting guides.

They were killed on what was supposed to be their final weekend in California before heading home and getting married.

Authorities said someone shot the pair each once in the head with a rifle as they lay in separate sleeping bags on what Jenner locals refer to as Fishhead or Driftwood Beach.

Despite hundreds of tips, several potential suspects and a $50,000 reward issued by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the case continues to baffle local residents and investigators.

The Sonoma County Sheriff's Department continues to actively work the case as the fourth anniversary of the killings approaches in mid-August, Capt. Dave Edmonds said.

He said the department has not received any requests in that time for assistance with a book or movie related to the slayings.

Edmonds said such endeavors can have the positive effect of generating renewed interest in a case. But he echoed the concerns of the families in saying that such publicity can also cause more pain if done in poor taste.

Campisano said he is prevented by legal reasons from hewing too closely to actual events, as he does not own the rights to the story.

Whether the film is made at all or picked up for distribution is another story altogether. Campisano said it took him four years to wrap up "The Master Plan," which may have its premiere at an East Coast film festival this year.

Campisano said he's living with his parents while bankrolling his new venture using "private equity." He represents a new breed of artists who, armed with a video camera, access to the Internet and some technical skill, can call themselves filmmakers.

He said "Adventure!!!" pays homage to some of his favorite movies, including "The Sixth Sense" and "Memento." The exclamation points in the title reflect the way many young people communicate using copious amounts of punctuation, he said.

Campisano used an ad on the free Internet site Craigslist to find actors for the movie's trailer, which he shot last weekend. He hopes to film more scenes in October.

The ad described the character of "Jay" as being in his mid-20s, outdoorsy and having strong Christian beliefs. "Lisa," his younger fiancee, is a free spirit, still in college, who tends to keep to herself and was raised in the Midwest.

The parts are played by Evan Owen, an actor from Los Angeles, and Nicole Mosbacher, who is from Sacramento.

In addition to filming in and around Jenner last Sunday, Campisano and his actors went to San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf on Saturday to film scenes there.

In real life, Cutshall and Allen visited Pier 39 on their way to Jenner. Authorities recovered Cutshall's camera and photos she took of the beach where the couple spent the night.

"Adventure!!!" also will explore Campisano's interest in the natural world, and how inconsequential human life is in the grander scheme of things. He said it's a lesson he learned while watching his 58-year-old father's ongoing battle with pancreatic cancer.

"I guess I found it a little profound that only people care about what happened to Jason and Lindsay," he said via e-mail. "Only people try to make sense of it. Only people rationalize this way or that way. In time, the ocean washes it all away, and nature remains."


My direct response to Aron Campisano:

Regarding your criticism pointing out that Jason & Lindsay slept on a beach where it was illegal to do so... 1) I don't even know if it was posted anywhere on that beach that it was illegal to camp out there (and even if it was, they may or may not have seen it) and 2) even if they did know, if that's the worst of their offenses, that does not imply that they are completely shady or inauthentic. Our fond reflections of them and their lives are accurate... not hyped. It may seem that, in death, many people are set upon a pedestal... but there is no exaggeration when it comes to what we've said about Jason & Lindsay. No, they weren't perfect... no one is... but they were extremely devoted to living for Jesus in ways that outshine the rest of us by a long shot, myself included. Please don't jump to conclusions based upon such a measly accusation and then presume that they weren't as we say they were. It certainly does not give you the right to make a movie about the crime that ended their lives and then paint it in your own light. My deep concern is that your portrayal of what happened will damage Jason & Lindsay's character somehow. You need to make it CLEAR that this is your OWN version of what happened and that it is fictional. My goodness... even in the last segment featuring Jason & Lindsay's case on America's Most Wanted, they took a "reenactment scene" from a completely different story that they thought somehow fit this one too, and made it look like Jason & Lindsay were sleeping together on that beach. I got e-mails from people, just based on that brief reenactment scene, that were accusatory of Jason & Lindsay because they were incorrectly portrayed. Jason & Lindsay were in separate individual sleeping bags and an autopsy even showed that Lindsay was still pure... because they were trying to determine whether or not their killer had raped her. So... you may have the legal right to make this film, but you have the RESPONSIBILITY not to. Simply changing the characters' names to "Jay" and "Lisa" isn't doing anyone any favors. To profit off of the horrific murders of two people who were dearly loved and are dearly missed... especially when the crime is unsolved... is abhorrent. That's just my opinion. It is indecent to make money off of someone else's heartbreak.

At the very LEAST... I believe it is your duty to let Jason & Lindsay's families watch your finished film before anyone else does. Because it doesn't matter that this film is supposed to be fictional and that the characters names have been mildly modified... it still reflects directly upon Jason & Lindsay's lives and deaths. You can't argue any differently.

8 Comments:

At 8:39 AM, Blogger melissa said...

hello...i just saw E channel's story on jason and lindsay's death. i am sorry for your loss and i hope the media attention brings the killer or killers to justice. by the way, i didnt get the idea that they were impure in anyway. i think E did a good job by mentioning the two separate sleeping bags.

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger Janna said...

Thanks Melissa! :) I do believe that the program that featured Jason & Lindsay on the E channel did a great job too! That one was awesome. The last time that America's Most Wanted featured their story, however, they messed up... and inadvertantly implied that they weren't who they said they were. So it's one of those things where we have to constantly reiterate their true character. It's easy for people who didn't know them to speculate... so I'm trying to be sure that we can give Jason & Lindsay a voice here since they cannot stick up for themselves anymore.

 
At 6:48 AM, Blogger aron said...

Hi Janna,

I really like your website and I admire your dedication to the memories of Jason and Lindsay. I also understand why you're a little defensive. However, I feel I'm not jumping to conclusions about their lives, so don't jump to conclusions about ME, okay?

The only hype here is the newspaper article itself, which I thought was ridiculous.

I find J and L's famous story interesting just like everyone else. You keep a blog about it, and I'm referencing the story in a small fictional film. We're not that different, and we don't necessarily disagree.

I didn't know Jason and Lindsay, so my concerns are the people they became in the public sphere after their tragic deaths. You seem to be concerned with who they were before they died. It's important to understand that these are two very different things.

As I said, I didn't like the Press Democrat article much either, and I've posted a response to it in our MySpace Film blog:

http://www.myspace.com/AdventureMovie

If you knew me, you would soon realize that I'm not profiting from anything here. And just to be clear, it's irrelevant to me if they knew they shouldn't have slept on the beach or not. I also don't care if they were "pure" or not. Nor do I care if they "lived for Jesus" or not.

My concern is why people care about such things at all.

- Aron

 
At 10:22 AM, Blogger Janna said...

Aron, I appreciate you trying to clarify your point and your intent... but it makes all the difference in the world that they lived for Jesus. Just because you don't care about that doesn't make it irrelevant.

I read your reaction to the Press Democrat article on your MySpace page and the comments that followed it.

In response to your friend who wrote this:

"they are okay with E! putting them in a top 20 show but your hometown indie film sparks debate!?!?!?!? forget it, you'll handle it with more class than the E! channel has had in 10 years."

... we are okay with that show because it portrayed Jason & Lindsay as themselves AND accurately. Lindsay's father and brother-in-law were interviewed for that program and they were featured in it... so their words were used. They had an actual VOICE in the program. My point is... they have no say, apparently, in what you put into your film. What you are doing is taking their story and making it your own... by either removing their true character or tweaking it somehow. And because I don't know you... I don't really trust that you are going to do this tastefully. It is definitely a sensitive issue because it is a film that is based on the horrific way that my friend and his fiance died and people will definitely know which crime you are trying to re-enact. In the Press Democrat article, it says that you will portray them as "religious." It also says that you are skeptical of religion... and with that... it is hard for me to believe that you are going to do this tastefully.

You can't blame me for being sensitive on this... this is something that hits WAY too close to home.

And in response to your friend commenting on your blog that there were cheesy TV movies based upon Laci Peterson's story... it may very well be that her family sold the rights to her story. If they did not, I'm sure they would be upset about it too. But Jason & Lindsay's families have not sold the rights to their story... nor do I believe they ever would. They would never seek to profit from what happened to their kids.

 
At 12:16 PM, Blogger Janna said...

A few more points in response to this:

"And just to be clear, it's irrelevant to me if they knew they shouldn't have slept on the beach or not. I also don't care if they were "pure" or not. Nor do I care if they "lived for Jesus" or not. My concern is why people care about such things at all."

Are you saying that no one should care about who they were and how they lived? We should only care about how they died because it's good fodder for a Hitchcock-like thriller?

And in response to the beginning of that quote... obviously that's not exactly true when this was your quote in the article:

"They're Christian youth counselors who are painted as idealistic icons in death, as a lot of people are. But if you look at what they did that day, they were illegally camping on the beach, which they knew they shouldn't do."

My personal opinions about you making this film have not changed. I know that you feel you are doing this in a tasteful manner... but until I see it (if I ever do)... I have a hard time believing it. If you were completely changing the story so no one could tell it was related to Jason & Lindsay's case... that would be one thing. But it is clear that you are re-creating this murder case with your own edge to make it fit your plot. You even have the characters names so similar to Jason & Lindsay's. There's just no way that anyone who has any familiarity with Jason & Lindsay's case will not see the obvious connection. And, back to the point I made on my blog post... even something as "minor" as playing a tiny re-enactment clip (that completely misrepresented the true story) on America's Most Wanted had people feeling that Jason & Lindsay were not the people we say they were. A few seconds was all it took for people to jump to the wrong conclusions. I guarantee that people will jump to conclusions about how you portray them too... even with you changing their names. I just don't want to see their memory being abused. I get that people are fascinated with this murder case... but don't forget they were REAL people who are missed dearly every single day. They are not simply murder victims to their parents, their families, their friends. You've got to understand that.

 
At 4:32 AM, Blogger aron said...

Hey Janna,

I hear you, and I respect you, but be careful not to judge a person you have never met and a condemn a movie you haven't seen.

Newspaper articles can be misleading. I spoke at length to the reporter, and he (frankly) cherry-picked quotes and concepts to spin a petty "controversy". You know what? There just isn't one.

The film is inspired in part by their famous story, but it's not a biography. The movie itself isn't about their lives per se, it's about how people (such as you and I) process and interpret tragedy, and untimely deaths.

For example, I find it fascinating that you and I most likely see the event of their tragic deaths in two radically different ways. You may think it has something to do with a Christian God's "plan", and I think it strongly suggests the total absence of a divine plan.

Same people involved. Same event. Which is the "real" perspective? Which one is "tasteful"?

There are many other quasi-factual stories and characters in the movie, too. Again, it's not a biography.

When the first video promo is done in a few weeks I'll send it to you. I hope you like it. But keep in mind, it's not about their lives, it's about finding meaning in their deaths.

No facts to draw upon there.

- Aron

 
At 9:29 AM, Blogger Janna said...

Aron,

I am not judging you as a person... but I am questioning your judgment. I don't think I need to see your movie before having real concerns about it because you've made it clear what the plot is. You're taking a REAL LIFE story of a horrific crime took the lives of my friend and his fiance... and turning it into a fictional story in which you perceive how they would view their own deaths. And because the crime is somewhat famous... there will be many people who do know whose views you're trying to represent... whether accurate or not. I don't think that you have the perspective to do that, however, because you do not know or understand our perspective that comes from knowing God. I don't mean that to sound judgmental... but in order for you to understand where we are coming from and what Jason & Lindsay lived for, you would have to seek God out and know Him... and then you would "get it." And you would know why we care more about how they lived than how they died. And that is a HUGE difference between our perspective and yours.

In response to this quote:
"You may think it has something to do with a Christian God's "plan", and I think it strongly suggests the total absence of a divine plan."

It is ironic that you say that, because before Jason & Lindsay died... there were definitely times in my life when I questioned God's existence. It's just natural to have doubts... because sometimes things happen that you just don't understand. But I've since come to learn that it's okay to wonder because that is what faith is all about. If you don't have any doubts or concerns... that's not faith, it's sight. The day I found out that Jason & Lindsay had been murdered (and in the days that followed), I was completely devastated. (And I mean that in every sense of the word... I was inconsolable at times because I just could not wrap my mind around it.) I was so shaken by it that I couldn't concentrate on anything else... and in order to get past that, I cried out to God for answers... and you know what? He met me there in the depths of that pain. His presence was so real that I could almost touch it... and I was convinced then, more than ever, that God IS real. It is because of what happened that I believe in Him even MORE. That is ironic, I know... but it is true. And I've seen SO MANY lives changed forever because of what happened... and all for the better! God can TRULY work miracles in people's lives... even through tragedy. Of course, none of us are glad that Jason & Lindsay died... we all want them back here and wish it never happened. But we're eternally grateful that God did not let them die in vain. He did not let satan have any victories in what happened. God used it for much GOOD and it has never caused any bitterness... only hope. And in that sense... we are all blessed. I think Jason & Lindsay would be extremely humbled and honored to know that.

I hope you can understand that somehow and why we care so much how you represent them... even if your story is supposed to be fictional. Because your story clearly is based upon real life events (and that won't be lost on anyone who is familiar with Jason & Lindsay's case), we have real concerns over how you portray them. "Jay and Lisa" are essentially Jason & Lindsay. I'm not sure why you cannot understand why that concerns us.

 
At 4:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Janna,

I found your blog after searching for Jason and Lindsay's story online. I've never forgotten events of their deaths, for a few reasons.

The most obvious was that the murders coincided with a course I was teaching on violence in America; their deaths became a point of discussion that semester.

In addition, the tragedy seemed to be a textbook case of a cold-blooded and motiveless crime. The juxtoposition of these most innocent of young people (and their planned marriage) with the horrific and idiosyncratic details of the murder ensured the case would stay with me. In fact, I was searching to see if anything new had been uncovered in the search for their killer.

But, having never met your two friends, I also felt a point of connection to them. I am young (32), was engaged and married young, and I grew up in the Christian evangelical subculture I assume they also knew well. Sometimes we read about events in the news that hit close to home, and that was the case with this crime.

Without intended disrespect to either you or Aron and your very interesting dialogue, I wondered if I might weigh in with a third perspective on his project and your own feelings toward that project. I guess I split the difference between you two in at least this way: I am a Christian, but I also am a university professor who teaches creative writing.

I don't see how Aron's project means disrespect or shows poor judgment on his part simply because he isn't interested in their faith or the purity of their lives. Nothing about his description of the film suggests that he plans to undermine the memory you or their family members have of them. He may do so incidentally, which would be a point of contention and, I hope, further discussion.

The problem, of course, is that your two friends are now public figures of a sort. Even if their families do not sell the rights to their stories, their deaths, and through their deaths their lives, have become part of a public, American tapestry that is woven of countless other stories--some themselves public, and others--like mine--private until now.

That may not make your pain any easier. But if there is a silver lining for you, it may be that Aron's film inspires audiences to think about important questions: Why do we care about how we live our lives? What sense can we make of tragic death, if any? What responsibility do we have to the memory of the dead? If our memory is, in part, fabrication, what then? What does it mean to re-member, anyway?

Questions like these (and so many others) generally lead to questions that hit at the very core of who we are. As Christians, I think we should support art that helps us ask good questions, that engenders conversation, and that is multivalent--that provides multiple access points for meaning.

I don't mean to say you ought to promote the film or even see it. But I do think Aron's intentions may be more guileless, and the product more "tasteful," than you suspect.

I wish you well, and, again, no disrespect. Blessings--

MC

 

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