Inaugural Carole Dorothy Joyce Grant Won by “From Earth to Earth”

Grant for Student Filmmakers Awarded to Documentary That Takes a Critical Look at the Rituals Dictated by America’s Death-Denying Culture

Top-rated 501(c)3 non-profit From the Heart Productions proudly selects as the firstCarole Dorothy Joyce Grant recipient of the Carole Dorothy Joyce Grant for Student Filmmakers From Earth to Earth: The Lost Art of Dying in AmericaAwarded to a student film that is unique and that makes a contribution to society, the production team behind this documentary will receive $3,000 and thousands more in production goods and services to help transform their 18-minute proof of concept cut into a long form documentary.

“I was very impressed by quality of the work by these Ithaca College filmmakers,” commented Carole Joyce, board member of From the Heart Productions and grant’s namesake. “It is filled with love as it attempts to answer the important and difficult question of how can people trying to cope with the death of a loved one be better served?”  

In addition to the $3,000 cash prize, the grant winner will receive $599.99 Sandisk G-Raid 2 hard drive, 50% off the cost of 8 sessions of the Intentional Filmmaking Class, 35% discount for lighting services from PASKAL LIGHTING, 10% discount on Broker Fee with Debbie West from Movie Insure, 15% off of expendables from Filmtools, and more from heart-felt film industry companies and individuals.

About the Film

In America, end-of-life choices are a one-size-fits-all product, whose rituals separate us from the realities of human mortality. From Earth to Earth: The Lost Art of Dying in America follows those who work side by side with the dying and the dead, who offer an alternative path for returning our bodies to the embrace of the Earth.

The documentary takes the viewer deep into the woods of Vermont and the meadows of central New York where death work pioneers are inspiring a new way of thinking about life, death, and our enduring connection to nature. Along the way, the film explores the systematic problems of the death industry and provide insight into alternative paths for returning our bodies to the embrace of the Earth.

In the documentary, you will meet traditional morticians, advocates of natural burial, people dealing with the death of loved ones, and Vermont’s very own “tiny death witch.” Along the way, viewers will discover a whole new approach to burial, funerals, and life itself.

About the Filmmakers

Carole Dorothy Joyce GrantAlyssa Beebe – Lead Researcher, Co-Producer, Assistant Financier, Director Alyssa Beebe (he,she) is a documentarian starting her career from her small town in Colorado. Passion topics she has covered in recent work include women’s rights, education, and inclusivity. Her abilities as a researcher and cinematographer combine to make a producer, but her authenticity brings subjects and audiences close across the screen. While abroad in Rome, Italy, she directed and edited, “Claudia Palmira,” of the docu-series Women In Progress with So Fare Films. In addition to nonfiction work, she has worked as an assistant editor for an upcoming horror feature film, Homecoming (2024), and a music video entitled Brain (2023). She has also worked as director of photography for several short films and editorials

Carole Dorothy Joyce GrantChess CabreraProduction Manager, Co-Producer, Lead Financier, Director Chess Cabrera (he/she/they) is a multimedia documentarian from New York. Beginning their career in media as a freelance journalist circa 2017, Chess has kept community, equity, and access as the core of their work – both in front of and behind the camera. Chess has a diverse portfolio, ranging from video editing to production management to SFX to finance to content writing, with some notable projects such as Ithaca Unsheltered (Ithaca Week), Sports Final (ICTV), BLACKLISTED (ICTV), Coversemos, Cocinemos, Comamos (Pegasys Community Media Center on Spectrum), K-CLIMBING: Climbing into South Korea’s Digital Age (2023), Alpaca SHOWTACULAR (2022), and The Silent Graduation (2019) featured on a variety of global news media such as MSNBC, CNN, Fox, and BBC.

Carole Dorothy Joyce GrantReed Freeman – Post-Production Supervisor, Co-Producer, Director  Reed Freeman is a producer and editor from Knoxville, Tennessee, and recently completed their B.A. in Documentary Studies and Production with a minor in Religious Studies. Post-graduation, Reed will be based back in Knoxville, working in the media industry and public administration. Reed has been working professionally in the media industry for eight years now, most notably as a PA for Food Network, the Discovery Channel, Warner Brothers, and as first AC for TLC.



Carole Dorothy Joyce GrantMikayla Hall – Lead Media Manager, Co-Producer, Assistant Production Manager, Director Mikayla Hall is a film-maker, photographer, and screenwriter from Connecticut. As a first-generation student she balances immersing herself in creative media alongside working. Mikayla loves to make entertaining stories as well as impactful works. She’s been a part of several short films and television shows and played many parts behind the scenes: such as Production Assistant, Director, Producer, Editor, Screenwriter, Head Continuity Editor etc. {The Lost Art of Dying in America, “Gossip”, Pop Access, etc}



Carole Dorothy Joyce GrantMax Schweik – Director, Co-Producer, Lead Researcher Max Schweik is a filmmaker, photographer, and journalist from Amherst, Massachusetts. He is currently in his senior year at Ithaca College with a major in Documentary Studies and minors in Outdoor Pursuits and Still Photography. During his time at Ithaca College, he has bridged his love for the outdoors with documentary and photography. His work has been utilized by nonprofits such as the Appalachian Mountain Club and Outward Bound.



About the Carole Dorothy Joyce Grant for Student Filmmakers

Carole Dorothy Joyce GrantSince its founding in 1993, From the Heart Productions has offered Roy W. Dean Grants supporting independent filmmakers that are also available to students.   

Carole Joyce, as Director of our Roy W. Dean Grants, consults with many of those who applied for those grants.  She was touched by how many student applicants told her of the lack of grants for student filmmakers.

As a graduate of Brooks Institute and an award winning student filmmaker herself for the documentary “Survivors,” Carole knows how difficult a task students have in creating and funding their work. 

Carole is the granddaughter of Roy W. Dean.  Her desire in creating this grant is to support student filmmakers and encourage them to make films with stories told with passion.  Films that enlighten us about our lives and the world around us.

About From the Heart Productions

From The Heart Productions is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to helping filmmakers get their projects funded and made.  They have been chosen a top non-profit for nine years in a row by

Since their founding over 30 years ago, they have offered Roy W. Dean Grants to indie filmmakers with unique projects that make a contribution to society.  Currently, there are four of those grants each year.  Recent winners include Emmy Winners Belly of the Beast, The Love Bugs, and the John Cassavetes Award nominated narrative feature Cadejo Blanco which is now in streaming.

Besides providing funding through the grant, they offer a unique film sponsorship which has helped filmmakers raise millions of dollars for their projects.  The program offers personal consultations and guidance on finding funding their project. 

President Carole Dean, is a published writer, a producer, and instructor for two essential classes for indie filmmakers. She wrote the best-selling The Art of Film Funding: 2nd Edition, Alternative Financing Concepts.   Her Intentional Filmmaking Class teaches film funding.  Her new course, Learn Producing: The Ultimate Guide to Indie Film Production is a year-round course that provides filmmakers with the essentials they need to produce their projects.

For More Information and interview requests, please contact:

Richard Kaufman


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