NYC-based award-winning post-production company Cutting Room Films, Managing Partner Susan Willis teams up with activist Donna Dees to unveil the journey of five Louisiana women who sought to change the state’s dangerous atmosphere by tirelessly pushing through a historic legislative package to protect the victims of domestic violence and save lives in the powerful short documentary “Five Awake.” Willis and Dees teamed up on this documentary to chronicle the work of five women who radically changed domestic violence laws in Louisiana. Willis directed and produced the film along with Dees, bringing her film industry experience to the table to deliver a highly engaging narrative about this crucial subject matter.

The film received the award for “Best Documentary Short” at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival and is scheduled to screen as part of the festival program at the New Orleans Film Festival October 18th at the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans. “Five Awake” was just chosen as the “2016 Louisiana Feature Award” recipient, which also includes a prize of $10,000 worth of Panavision film equipment to be used on a feature project. The film is also slated to screen at universities nationwide, which will amplify the educational reach of the documentary to help pave the way for future political advocacy. 

Click HERE to view a trailer for “Five Awake.”

Throughout her career, Willis has leveraged the film talent and vast resources at Cutting Room for documentary projects to raise awareness for important causes, uniting the power of filmmaking with urgent social issues. She executive produced the documentary projects “Keep a Child Alive with Alicia Keys” and “Alicia Keys in Africa,” and also continues to serve as a board member of Keep a Child Alive.  Willis is also deeply passionate about gun safety issues, which allowed her to connected with Dees, sparking a creative and civic synergy that launched the film into action. 

Notes Willis, “We hope that viewers are empowered by this story and realize that they have the ability not only to create awareness for important causes such as domestic violence and gun safety, but also to affect true change.”

Dees, the founder of the Million Mom March—still the largest and most publicized protest against gun violence in U.S. history—has fused a career in media with a deep-seated passion for promoting policy change in this country. After launching the Mother’s Day March 2000, she has continued to champion women at the forefront of vital legislative victories in her book, “Looking for a Few Good Moms: How One Mom Organized a Million OTHERS” (Rondale 2004) and with “Five Awake.”

The half-hour documentary tells the story of how five women in the Louisiana community came together and, through sheer determination and tenacity, passed the laws with unanimous support in both the Louisiana House of Representatives and the Senate. The film features interviews with Louisiana State Representative Helena Moreno, United Way of Southeast Louisiana CCO Charmaine Cacioppi, United Way of Southeast Louisiana attorney Kim Sport, New Orleans Family Justice Center Director Mary Claire Landry and Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence Executive Director Beth Meeks. The powerful film not only portrays a look at these women’s determination to affect real change in a complicated political system, but also provides a blueprint for future generations of activists to empower themselves, have hope and push for progress.

Cutting Room, New York, is an artist-owned and operated editorial and post-production powerhouse, led by Managing Partner Susan Willis and Partner/Editor Chuck Willis. Extreme attention to every detail of the post process is the working credo at this full-service shop, along with an uncompromised effort to deliver highly personalized, unique client experiences. Cutting Room’s talent, location, infrastructure, and approach have generated a multitude of awards for their work; the shop has lent its expertise to nearly every major brand.

Cutting Room proudly apprentices a large team of skilled assistants, who support the company with unwavering dedication.  Helping to maintain a family-like creative environment, their editors’ passion and mastery of the craft are happily passed on to these young men and women.

Cutting Room handles projects across all formats including broadcast, features, documentaries, virals and webisodes as well as VFX, sound design, and online services.  Both ideas and careers come here to grow.