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Published:June 9th, 2014 11:11 EST
Grieving Transgender Father's Love For His Late Daughter Turns 'Black Hat' Into Success

Grieving Transgender Father's Love For His Late Daughter Turns 'Black Hat' Into Success

By SOP newswire2


When veteran independent filmmaker Robbie Bryan held a fundraiser in January for his manga/anime themed feature Black Hat " ( he had no idea how a teenage girl he would never meet would change the course of his film and his life " and set off a wild media firestorm.

Cassie England, an amateur cosplayer from Baton Rouge whose passion for anime helped her cope with a devastating rare skin disease whose real name (Ressive Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa) is so hard to pronounce that it`s often shortened to E.B. ", passed away January 9 at the age of 16.

But her spirit, name and likeness live on in the film as a character with reddish brown hair and cat ears. Upon hearing Cassie`s powerful and courageous story, Bryan, the film`s writer, producer and director and head of Good To Be Seen Films, added this young female character into the incredible story of Dandi, a high school outcast and frequently bullied fan of death metal and anime. Dandi goes on a Little Miss Sunshine " like adventure, borrowing " her sister`s car and kidnapping her wily, black sheep grandfather to get to a huge convention where her favorite Japanese artist is going to turn one amateur manga artist into an anime.

The film will star Jodelle Ferland ( Twilight: Eclipse, " Tall Man, " Silent Hill ") as Dandi.

Bryan`s passion for the project, Cassie`s story and the enduring love of her grieving but newly inspired father Logan " whom Bryan met through a mutual friend " caught the attention of local media during their joint fund and awareness raising appearance at New Orleans Comic-Con earlier this year, where Cassie had hoped to spend her 17th birthday. Channel 6 WDSU, which had previously documented Cassie`s struggle with E.B., aired the story on its NBC-affiliate - which spurred a whirlwind of feature coverage (including beautiful shots of Cassie in costume and other moments from her life) in New Orleans (Times-Picayune) and other cities including NYC (New York Daily News) as well as numerous internet anime outlets, including 91.8 The Fan in Arizona

Logan England is more than just a grieving and grateful father. He was also the birth MOTHER of Cassie " a transgender whose transformation began 12 years ago and ended nine years ago. He is now a single parent raising another son, Walter, also with E.B.   

Children suffering from E.B. are known as Butterfly Children because their skin is as fragile as a butterfly`s wing. The 501 (c)(3) charity, The Butterfly Fund of California has since expanded its scope and is dedicated to helping families who have a child diagnosed with any serious life altering disease or event. All of these children are fragile just like butterflies.

Portions of the proceeds from Black Hat " related events will go directly to the charity for assistance of families living with EB in the form of financial aid, food, housing, clothing and care  " with no salaries paid to anyone.

Bryan believes that his film, coupled with the story of Cassie and Logan, can help educate people about this rare disease that many are not aware of. It is estimated that one out of every 50,000 births is affected by some type of EB. Epidermolysis Bullosa is the worst disease you never heard of, " says Bryan. Imagine your child with extremely painful wounds similar to burns covering most of his or her body, " Bryan says. Imagine never being able to hold your child tight because if you did, their skin would blister or shear off. This is life with EB. " 

Black Hat " and its powerful back story have become sensations on social media, with an especially large presence on Facebook. We have so many people following this film and Cassie`s story and rooting us on, " Bryan says, so we are calling out all the stops to make sure we can tell this story right and appease anime fans everywhere with first class illustration by legendary anime Producer Masao Maruyama ".

Set to be shot later this year in Abbeville and Lafayette, Louisiana, Black Hat " " a live action feature which will include 11 minutes of anime - received another powerful accolade  earlier this year, being chosen as Indiewire`s Project of the Month, " which merits Bryan and his team a meeting with the Tribeca Film Institute. The project`s dedicated Facebook page has over 325,000 followers and growing.

Amazingly, Bryan met Logan just a week after Cassie passed away.

After my former high school friend Jennifer had pledged a significant amount of money to the film`s campaign, her crowd funding perk was that she could have a character or location in the film named after her, " says Bryan, whose previous features include iMurders " (with Billy Dee Williams, Gabriela Anwar, William Forsythe and Charles Durning) and The Stand In " (Kelly Ripa, Judith Ivey, David Ogden-Stiers).

Instead, she asked if the film could name a character after Cassie England, who I learned suffered from this terrible disease. When I was made aware of this special girl and her story and love for anime and cosplay, I was completely taken in by Cassie and her family. I explained to Jennifer that no matter if we succeeded in the campaign, Cassie would be incorporated into the story, and I changed the name of one of the characters that night. Jennifer shared this information with Logan, who was incredibly moved by the gesture and contacted me to say he was determined, during his time of incredible grief, to help get this movie made, and that nothing would have made his daughter more happy and excited than what we were about to do.

The film`s themes of being who you are and helping prevent teen bullying and the celebration of the magical art form, has been more than enough to get people excited and committed to the project, " Bryan adds. But now we have our very own angel, Cassie England, and we`re honored that so many people who have come to love Cassie and her inspiring story as much as we do are getting behind us to help make Black Hat` a reality -- as well as a legacy for her and a way to make people aware of E.B. and the need to fund research for its ultimate cure. " 



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