What Is It?

Title: The Girl Who Died
Genre: Supernatural Horror
Rating: PG-13
Length: 85 minutes
Shooting Estimate: 21 days
Production Co: Quixotic Arts
Producers: Jeff Thelen and Joshua Berwald
Associate Producer: Anthony Abbott
Writer/Director: Jeff Thelen
Logline: Sofie Valentine, a gifted psychic, risks her life when she comes out of retirement to help a desperate mother find her missing twins.

What's It About?

The Girl Who Died is a supernatural horror film--a Southern Gothic tragedy about a young psychic and the ghosts that relentlessly haunt her; about a rotting Savannah manor and the twisted family that dwells within; about life and death, the dead and the not-quite-living, and the brick wall of fate.

Our heroine is Sofie, a young woman who, like Lorraine in "The Conjuring" series, is an enormously gifted psychic who tries--at great risk to her own life--to unknot the mysteries that the dead hold. Like the child in "The Sixth Sense," Sofie too sees the dead, and undergoes a cataclysmic reversal in the end.

She is The Girl Who Died.

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Had she been born into another time and place, Sofie may have reigned as the Oracle of Delphi or at the Temple of Vesta. As it was, she was born into the here and now. She was reputed to be one of the most gifted living psychics. A genius, in the classical sense, of the other-worldly. As a child, she was a perfectly average, perfectly normal, perfectly unremarkable girl up until the day she died.

Sofie Valentine is a gifted young psychic, who learned of her talents after having died, along with her family, in a freak lightning storm--only to be mysteriously revived. She lives with one foot in the grave, crowded by ghosts she cannot escape.

Her husband, Roman, is a psychiatrist who believes completely in Sofie's gifts. Roman forsook his career when he rescued the girl from the psychiatric institute where he worked and she was a ward. Despite his belief in her talents, Roman insists that Sofie retire because the stress of "going down into the other-world" is too risky for her weak heart.

The storyline involves the mystery of missing twins from an old manor in Savannah. Sofie is engaged to help find the missing children--much against her husband's objections. During a seance, filled with a phantasmagoria of visions and remnants of the dead, Sofie declares the children have been murdered.

When the police fail to find the twin's bodies at an old cabin where Sofie suspected they would be--when, in fact, the children turn up alive--a shadow is cast over the young psychic.

Her marriage deteriorates because her husband loses faith in her gifts. He suspects she may be schizophrenic, as many of his colleagues had insisted. Especially because Sofie adamantly refuses to believe she was wrong. Despite incontestable evidence to the contrary, she insists she encountered not only the ghosts of the twins, but of others in the manor as well.

As Roman is arranging for her to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital, Sofie discovers something astonishing and terrible...

Want the full story? Drop us a line at jeff@QuixoticArts.com and we'll send you the complete, unexpurgated script - no strings attached!

Low-Budget And Horror

As of this date (2018), horror films continue to draw enormous audiences. Many projects--though by no means all or even most--return handsome profits to their producers. In many cases, horror films are profitable because of their low budgets.

Horror is the genre par excellence for low-budget filmmakers for good reason. Not only does it have a respectable history, a vivid aesthetic, and a rich terrain for the creative imagination, horror is the one genre above all that is most forgiving of low budgets. From Val Lewton's B-pictures in the 1940's ("Cat People" and "I Walked With A Zombie") to "Night of the Living Dead" (1968) to "The Blair Witch Project" (1999) and "Paranormal Activity" (2007), low-budget horror films have successfully defied the Hollywood big-budget paradigm.

A horror film does not need to have stars to succeed. A horror film does not need to have high production values to succeed. In too many cases (unfortunately), a horror film does not even have to be very good to succeed.

The horror audience expects only a good story well told. And some thrills. Star power and titanic budgets are superfluous.

How This Project Compares

"The Girl Who Died" falls into one main sub-genre: supernatural horror. Its focus is the paranormal. Its heroine is a psychic with one foot in the grave; a medium who performs seances; a seer who has visions and "sees the dead." Like the heroes in the very successful "The Conjuring" series, she is a genuine psychic who wants to help others, even at the risk of her own life.

This is, of course, well-trod ground, too often to the point of cliche--but it is nonetheless fruitful and effective and continues to attract audiences.

Our story takes place in the South (Savannah), and could be thought of as Southern Gothic horror. The film has an atmospheric "haunted manor" (in Gothic horror, locale is often an important character on its own). Sofie, our heroine, suffers from constant encounters with "the dead" and with frightening visions. The other-worldly hangs over the story--not simply because of Sofie's gifts, but because, as a child, she once died, only to be mysteriously resurrected. She still has one foot in the grave. Ghosts crowd her. As her husband Roman says, to become fully alive as a young woman, Sofie needs to forsake the hereafter.

In fact, her performances as a medium are dangerous to her frail health. Roman insists she "retire" and try to become "normal." She concurs. But when a mother, whose twin children have gone missing for weeks, pleads with Sofie to help, Sofie agrees--despite Roman's fear that she may not survive the ordeal.

She is the Girl Who Died.


The following is a list of recent horror films similar in budget, concept, or theme to "The Girl Who Died." We emphasize that this list should not be used as an indicator of potential profitability. Every movie is unique, with its own unique strengths and weaknesses. As Hollywood knows, absolutely no one can predict any film's potential profitability. Budgets and box office figures are taken from Wikipedia, RottenTomatoes, and IMDB; we cannot vouchsafe for their accuracy. Please note, this list is not representative of all horror films: many horror films do not receive distribution; many others are clunkers that fail to make back their budgets; many, many others die a lonely, quiet death.

  • Slender Man (2018). Supernatural horror. 11% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $10-28m. Box office: $17m (currently). Comment: At $10m minimum, a moderate low-budget film; included here because it's one of the most recent horror films as of this date (August, 2018). It has a few minor name actors.
  • Unfriended: Dark Web (2018). Demonic/suspense horror. 59% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $1m. Box office: $9m (currently). Comment: Another more recent film, definitely lower budget with minor name actors. This is one of many Blumhouse Productions (well known for low budget/high profit horror); it is also a sequel to a successful film (see below).
  • Insidious: The Last Key (2018). Supernatural horror. 32% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $10m. Box office: $167m. Comment: The 4th film in a successful franchise about ghosts and parapsychologists. Another Blumhouse Production with minor name stars.
  • Hereditary (2018). Satanic art-house horror. 89% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $10m. Box office: $80m (currently). Comment: A stylish art-house horror film with a fair budget and two big name stars and critical applause.
  • Truth or Dare (2018). Supernatural demonic horror. 14% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $3.5m. Box office: $95m. Comment: Another Blumhouse production with a tiny budget and a scattering of young minor name actors. Despite being a critical stinker, this film has made serious profits.
  • Wish Upon (2017). Supernatural horror. 16% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $12m. Box office: $24m. Comment: Very minor stars and a low-budget. This film does not appear to have made its money back.
  • A Ghost Story (2017). Supernatural art-house drama. 91% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $100k. Box office: $1.9m. Comment: Less horror than art-house drama, this is a very low-budget picture that won festival accolades, and has a near-perfect critical score, and several big name stars--nevertheless, it has done only moderate business.
  • Demonic (2015). Supernatural horror. 33% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $3m. Box office: $5m. Comment: a low-budget horror with no star power; despite producer James Wan's involvement, this film does not appear to have made its money back.
  • The Quiet Ones (2014). Supernatural horror. 37% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $200k. Box office: $18m. Comment: a very low-budget British ghost story, with no major name stars; produced by famous Hammer Films.
  • Unfriended (2014). Supernatural horror. 63% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $1m. Box office: $64m. Comment: Another Blumhouse production with very minor stars. Surprisingly, this cheapie did remarkable business.
  • It Follows (2014). Supernatural horror. 97% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $2m. Box office: $23m. Comment: A very low budget and no name stars, but strong critical accolades.
  • The Pact (2012). Supernatural horror. 65% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $400k. Box office: $7m. Comment: An extremely low budget film with no name stars.
  • Paranormal Activity (2007). Demonic found-footage horror. 83% Rotten Tomatoes. Budget: $15k. Box office: $193m. Comment: Jason Blum's breakthrough low-budget horror, this no-budget picture, with no known actors, was a cult hit and started a billion dollar franchise.

Who are we?

Jeff Thelen. Writer, Director, Co-Producer. Jeff is an award-winning oil painter, award-winning screenwriter, and a filmmaker. In 2016, with Joshua Berwald, Jeff wrote, produced and directed "Panopticon," a feature-length sci-fi film made for the impossibly small sum of $5,000. In order to see the film through to completion, Jeff had to play many roles in addition to producing and directing, including editing, doing the CGI special effects, and composing the score. Jeff lives in Dunwoody, Georgia, with his family.

Joshua Berwald. Co-Producer. Joshua is an actor, producer, writer, and filmmaker. In 2016, Joshua starred in and co-produced the no-budget sci-fi film "Panopticon" with Jeff Thelen. Due to the non-existent budget, the film took over a year to photograph, on weekends and spare-change. It took tenacity and dedication to see the project through to completion. Joshua lives in Atlanta.

Anthony Abbott. Co-Producer. Anthony is a musician, artist, award-winning writer, and filmmaker. In addition to making his own films and music videos, Anthony worked as writer and assistant director on the horror film Apollyon. Anthony also helped write the music for "Panopticon." A London native, Anthony lives in Sandy Springs, Georgia, with his wife and children.

Rasa Perkunas. Co-Producer. A native of Lithuania, Rasa is an accomplished musicologist, photographer and film-buff. She was instrumental in helping produce the pitch teaser for "The Girl Who Died" and is eager to get working on the full feature. Rasa lives in Atlanta with her two children.