Private Project

Get Out Alive

Get Out Alive is a new autobiographical musical giving voice to a troubled artist's recovery after a suicide attempt. Using storytelling, song, dance, and visual media, Nikki Lynette’s offbeat approach to sharing her personal mental health journey shows that even when life leads us to a bad place, we can always make it out alive.

  • Roger Ellis
  • Nikki Lynette
  • Brannon Bowers
  • Vincent Peters
  • Ira Antelis
  • Matt Hennessy
  • Daryl Jones
  • Patrick Lewtschanyn
  • Jordan Freese
  • Walter Mosely
  • Nikki Lynette
  • Vanessa Abron
  • Adrienne Hibbert
  • Candace Jones
  • Nikki Lynette
    Key Cast
    "Nikki Lynette"
  • Keeley Morris
    Key Cast
    "Echo #2"
  • Jyreika Guest
    Key Cast
    "Echo #1"
  • DJ P1
    Key Cast
  • Andre JP
    Creative Consultant
  • Dwele
    Creative Consultant
  • Sanicole Young
    Creative Consultant
  • Project Type:
    Experimental, Feature, Music Video, Other
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 44 minutes 26 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    January 30, 2021
  • Production Budget:
    20,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Au Contraire Film Festival
    October 3, 2021
    Canadian Premiere
    Official Selection
  • BronzeLens Film Festival
    United States
    August 17, 2021
    North America
    Official Selection
Director Biography - Roger Ellis

Roger Ellis (they/them) is a theatre maker, filmmaker, and producer who cultivates embodiment-driven interdisciplinary works. Their creative practice traverses, synthesizes, and reimagines traditional disciplines such as directing, choreography, and new works development. Ellis is the director/choreographer of Nikki Lynette’s afrogoth musical Get Out Alive, which premiered in Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s LookOut Series. They have worked in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, and across the United States with companies such as Sacramento Music Circus, Paramount Theatre, American Music Theatre Project, Horizon Theatre Company, Aurora Theatre, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma, Tuacahn Center for the Arts, San Diego Repertory, and Gallery Players Brooklyn. Ellis’ choreography for the digital theatre project AntigoneNOW was presented at the 27th Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre.

Ellis teaches courses in music theatre and dance through the lens of experimental theatre theory, practice, and improvisation. Ellis’ teaching is influenced by their study of the Six Viewpoints with Mary Overlie, the Lucid Body with Fay Simpson, and Developmental Technique with Erika Berland and Wendell Beavers. In the classroom, Ellis guides emerging artists in the development of sustainable artistic practices that balance autonomy and collaboration. Ellis has also taught courses in movement for the stage, acting through song, musical theatre scene study, music theatre dance, and collaborative devising process at Marymount Manhattan College, the University of the Arts Summer Institute, NYC’s Professional Performing Arts School, and Lucid Body Institute, NYC.

Selected credits: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (movement director), Parade (director), Fun Home (director/choreographer), A Little Night Music (director/choreographer), LaChiusa’s The Wild Party (director), The Light in the Piazza (associate director/movement coach), the NY Developmental Workshop of Maverick (associate director/choreographer), and the world premiere of Laura Pittenger’s Thou Shalt Not (director).

Ellis’ research arcs connections between trauma studies, physical inquiry, embodiment practice, contemporary performance, and new media. Roger holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Musical Theatre from San Diego State University and is a member of Actors’ Equity Association, the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (Associate), and The National Alliance of Acting Teachers. Roger is the recipient of the National Alliance of Acting Teachers’ Earle Gister Fellowship (2019).

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Director Statement

Get Out Alive is a film adaptation of Nikki Lynette’s celebrated stage play and features a script, music, and lyrics by multimedia artist Nikki Lynette. She stars in this autobiographical account of her mental health journey. After receiving a developmental workshop through American Music Theatre Project at Northwestern University, Get Out Alive premiered in the LookOut Series at Steppenwolf Theatre Company in January 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic curtailed an extended run of the musical at another theatre in Chicago, so I proposed that we transform the play into a film, and my intrepid team stepped up to the plate, surpassing my wildest dreams for this project.

Principal photography took place in August 2020 on the South Side of Chicago amidst the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and in the immediate wake of the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Embedded in the fabric of this film is the restlessness, angst, confusion, and vulnerability of this explosive moment in history. The childhood home of Emmett Till stands 4 miles away from our principal photography location. The convergence of these circumstances continues to resonate deeply within me. Get Out Alive is an unapologetic celebration of Black life told through the lens of an afrogoth aesthetic. To be Black in America is to live near death, existential dread, and heartache and also great humor, joy, and the spirit of resistance. This film is a love letter to Black culture led by an intersectional team of queer, Black, trans, and women creatives.

I wanted to merge documentary-style photography with slick high concept experimental video art, cinematographer Eleanor Lyon and director of photography Chris Adams were instrumental to the execution of this vision. This film required major innovation in production design from creative producer Brannon Bowers and stage manager Gianna Petrosino, who made it possible for us to work safely during uncertain conditions on a tight timetable. Our team of editors led by Nikki Lynette, including Jordan Freese, Matt Biondo, Patrick Lewtschanyn, and Brendan Jamieson, is magical. Matt Hennessey’s work on audio mastering immerses the listener in Nikki’s sonic landscape brilliantly.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness. In addition to stigmatization and lack of access to insurance and resources, lack of diversity and cultural competency among providers create significant barriers to mental health care access. These barriers disproportionately affect people of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community. This film aims to deepen the conversation around mental health, leading to substantive change in the lives of individuals, particularly members of the Black and LGBTQ+ communities.

We acknowledge the creative ancestors, elders, and contemporaries who have shaped our approach to this work. Ntozake Shange, Grace Jones, Anna Deavere Smith, George C. Wolfe, Spike Lee, Whoopi Goldberg, Howardena Pindell, Hebru Brantley, and Kara Walker, we love you and thank you for paving the way.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
-James Baldwin