Imagine interviewing young killers - on death row.
That was a big part of the filming for a new documentary being produced by two Cape Coral women.
It's called "Fatal Choices - The Documentary," which centers around horrific murders perpetrated by four young adults, in which they robbed and buried alive an elderly couple. It is about the 2005 murder of Carol and Reggie Sumner of Jacksonville, and about the producers' investigation into the minds of these convicted murderers (three of whom are sitting on death row in Florida). It explores, they said, the many lives that were destroyed because of the choices made by these young adults, hence the name "Fatal Choices."
The co-producers are April June Freeman and Cape Coral resident and minister Debra Flinn, who is also a North Fort Myers business owner. Through their production company, Spiked Heel Film Productions, they hope to have the film ready by August and start hitting the film circuit, and pitch the idea of an on-going series on fatal choices to network executives.
"We're in post production right now," said Freeman. "That is the editing phase. Julian Van Bussel will be working on it in Hollywood. I know him and have worked with him in the past, when we both worked with the band Bon Jovi. I did product placement for their music videos. We also have an award-winning cinematographer, Rich Nation.
"Deborah has been on this a year, I've been on it five months," she continued. "She went and interviewed three of the four that committed the crime."
Their documentary message is about making irreversible choices, she said.
Both are spiritual women.
Freeman is a screenwriter and producer for an upcoming action film scheduled to begin shooting this fall in Southwest Florida, and is also an ordained minister who has focused her work in helping the homeless in the Los Angeles and Metro Detroit areas.
Flinn is a writer, and now a budding producer and director. For several years she was the director of Women's MInistry at Faith Assembly in North Fort Myers. She is also known for walking 1,600 miles to meet Oprah Winfrey while feeding the homeless with Subway gift cards along the way. She is also the author of "From Desperate to Dandridge," a book about an 826-mile walk of self discovery. She is also owner operator of Doggy Day Spa on Pondella Road in North Fort Myers.
"My mother actually goes to the church where Deborah was head of the Women's Ministry," Freeman said. "There was a Women of Faith Day and Deborah was at the table talking about the film idea, and my mom said, 'My daughter is a film producer.'"
They then got together.
"We're hoping to have it completed by August, and we are currently seeking funds to complete it," said Freeman.
The documentary has been privately funded to this point, but Freeman and Flinn are currently in the process of seeking financing for the final editing process through a website called kickstarter.com, which is a funding platform for creative projects. You can learn more about that at kickstarter.com/projects/832026232/fatal-choices-the-documentary.
"It started as a reality show idea," Freeman said. "This would be where we took the stories of different teens and showed how the irreversible choices that they made had an impact on their life. That's the premise of the film. We had so many stories, but wanted to focus on these individuals that are paying the ultimate price, with three on death row."
The young adults involved are Bruce Kent Nixon Jr., Tiffany Ann Cole,
Alan Lyndell Wade Jr. and Michael James Jackson.
Flinn started the project with research.
"I got on the Internet and started looking and I saw a headline that said 'Tiffany Cole - the only woman on death row.' She was 24 when she committed the crime, she's been on death row for five years in Ocala. Since then three others have been put on death row," she said.
"So I wrote Tiffany and asked her if I could interview her. I told her about the program (TV idea) for reaching troubled teens. We're hoping if a network picks it up, we hope to spotlight different situations."
Her lawyer did not allow Flinn to interview her on camera.
"I wrote the three guys and they responded back," she said. "I actually got along with them very well. It was very interesting; I've never been in a death row facility before. It was also unnerving."
She said Jackson was 23 at time of crime.
"He was also very pleasant to talk to, but what I did not realize at that time is he was confessing to the murder for the very first time," she said. "I thought it was common knowledge. He asked me to call his mother. She was blown out of the water. I told all of the families he confessed.
"He said he had an encounter with the Lord, and had to make amends. It was amazing."
The two hope to complete the film, to help get a strong message out there.
"Please look at who you are hanging with, music you listen to, what you are doing," said Flinn. "And your choices."