Private Project

A Story Worth Living

Allison Foster and her childhood best friend, Melissa, find themselves attending the same college. Wanting to end her junior year strong, overachiever Allison receives a class assignment that goes beyond the classroom and encourages her to perceive life in a more positive light. Coming from a family that has a past of dealing with mental illness, Allison strives to obtain a more optimistic view with the help of her new boyfriend, Jacob Russell. However, Allison's merry shift of focus may be short-lived, as she did not foresee what was about to change everything.

  • Vanessa Leonard
    Mock N Roll, New Blood Rising, New Blood Awakening, Talk Nerdy to Me, Fire Power
  • Kayla Elizabeth
    Assistant Director
    New Blood Rising, New Blood Awakening, Descending
  • Vanessa Leonard
    Mock N Roll, New Blood Rising, New Blood Awakening, Talk Nerdy to Me, Fire Power
  • Mark Stewart
    Mock N Roll
  • Zak Kolhoff
    New Blood Descending, Talk Nerdy To Me
  • Vanessa Leonard
    Key Cast
    "Allison Foster"
    Mock N Roll, New Blood Rising, New Blood Awakening, Talk Nerdy to Me, Fire Power
  • Joe Morales
    Key Cast
    "Jacob Russell"
    The Last Summer, Gretchen's Lock, Unwavering, Billion Dollar Bus Stop
  • Melissa Sue Zahs
    Key Cast
    "Melissa Watkins"
    New Blood Awakening, Descending, Talk Nerdy to Me, Pi Day Die Day
  • Sarah Bertz-Thomas
    Key Cast
    "Janet Foster"
    New Blood Awakening, Talk Nerdy to Me, Shelved, Pi Day Die Day
  • Allan Meyette
    Key Cast
    "Mark Foster"
    New Blood Rising, New Blood Awakening, Descending, Talk Nerdy to Me, Shelved, The Organization
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    Drama, Romance, Mental Health
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 36 minutes 16 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    November 10, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    6,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital, Sony and Canon
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Golden State Film Festival
    Los Angeles
    United States
    February 24, 2020
    World Premiere
    Official Selection
  • International New York Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    June 21, 2020
    New York Premiere
    Official Selection, Won Best Feature under $25k, Best Woman Filmmaker
  • Manhattanhedge International Film Festival
    New York City
    United States
    July 15, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Las Vegas Film and Screenwriting Festival
    Las Vegas
    United States
    November 14, 2020
    Official Selection
  • The Hague Global Cinema Festival
    November 14, 2020
    Official Selection
  • Vesuvius International Film Festival
    November 28, 2020
    Italy Premiere
    Official Selection - Won Best Director, Best Trailer, Best Poster
  • Seattle Film Festival
    United States
    December 19, 2020
    Washington Premiere
    Official Selection, Nominee for Best U.S. Feature, Best U.S. Director, Best U.S. Feature Actress, Best World Emerging Director
  • Central Florida Film Festival
    United States
    January 22, 2021
    Florida Premiere
    Official Selection, Nominee for Best Drama
  • Depth of Field International Film Festival
    United States
    February 27, 2021
    Delaware Premiere
    Award of Excellence, Official Selection
  • Colorado International Activism Film Festival
    United States
    July 23, 2021
    Colorado Premiere
    Best Direction and Best Production Awards, Finalist, Official Selection
  • Up Next Film Festival
    United States
    September 11, 2021
    Best Feature Film, Finalist, Official Selection
  • Raleigh Film & Arts Festival
    United States
    October 2, 2021
    North Carolina Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Mabig Film Festival
    December 4, 2021
    Germany Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Silver State Film Festival
    Las Vegas
    United States
    October 28, 2021
    Nevada State Premiere
    Best Original Feature Screenplay, Official Selection
  • Mesa International Film Festival
    United States
    December 3, 2021
    Arizona State Premiere
    Official Selection
  • Athens International Digital Film Festival
    December 11, 2021
    Greece Premiere
    Finalist, Official Selection
  • Paris Independent Film Festival
    April 23, 2022
    France Premiere
    Official Selection, Best Low Budget Feature
  • Cannes Independent Film Festival
    May 18, 2022
    Premiere in Cannes
    Official Selection, Best Low Budget Feature
Director Biography - Vanessa Leonard

Ohio native, Vanessa Leonard is no stranger to the stage or camera. She performed in several theatrical acts when younger for her church and school. But her passion for making movies started when she was twelve years old, when she asked her parents for a video camera. Once gifted with a camcorder, then came the story writing and the casting friends and family for fan fiction projects like "Sherlock Holmes" and "Star Wars" shorts, as well as original short stories.

After receiving her bachelor's degree at Bowling Green State University, Vanessa found opportunities that let her continue her passion, as she landed various roles for several regional independent films and television advertisements.

Vanessa, however, wanted to expand her acting talents. So she returned to her teenage roots and wrote her first screenplay and directed her first feature-length film, “A Story Worth Living.”

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Though the message is timelier now, I wrote the script in 2017. The goal is to normalize the topic of on mental illness in a fresh way. I wanted this film to be as raw and authentic as possible when addressing depression and mood disorders.

Mental illness is often over-dramatized in big budget films, being portrayed in horror or suspenseful genres. But statistically prior to the pandemic, 1 in 5 adults have an emotional or mental trauma, while living every day normal lives. They are family members, coworkers, neighbors, and sometimes ourselves.

I aim to inspire the audience to bring out the best in others while making the most out of their own lives. I am confident my film will bring tears to viewers' eyes - both happy and sad.

And with popular tunes from Foster the People, Starflyer 59, Further Seems Forever, Southbound Fearing, Cappa and more, A Story Worth Living is sure to be a crowd favorite.