After 40 years in prison, Chuck Begay is released into the cold desert of Arizona. As he starts his life over in the gritty underbelly of Phoenix, he is haunted by the memories of his crimes and tracks down Lacy, a fentanyl addict and innocent bystander of Chuck's violent assault. As Chuck builds a new life for himself, Lacy's life falls into pieces, sending Chuck down a dark path to redemption.
Nothing, Arizona is fueled by raw emotion, bitter confrontations and merciful self reflections. It is a story about the suffering of nameless people who we push to the edge of society and are hardly surviving. It's through Chuck's personal growth that genuine connections are made and a silver lining emerges. Nothing, Arizona is about the complicated nature of having nothing.
Forty years ago, Kanati "Chuck" Begay killed a prostitute and viciously attacked her client, a man named Ted. Today, Chuck is finally a free man with his temper and violent ways in check. His new parole officer Akshay, a middle aged, Asian-Indian woman with a mild accent and a foul mouth, believes he will never change. Chuck begins to feel a nagging dilemma, a ticking that results in tapping. He feels a need for beauty and redemption in his life. While Ted died many years ago, Chuck is able to find his daughter, Lacy. Chuck quickly believes his salvation lies in his goodwill towards the daughter of his victim.
Lacy turns out to be more than Chuck bargained for. A complete mess, working at a rundown doughnut shop as part of her post- rehab stint for opioids. Chuck attempts to get close to Lacy, a task that is easier said than done.
DELL & JOYCE
In his new found freedom, Chuck connects with two women that are closer to his age. Dell, an ex-prostitute and former madam from Chuck's past. Dell works at a local bar that Chuck stumbles into and Joyce, a recent widower and volunteer at the local rehab clinic. These two women represent Chuck’s conscience and give conflicting advice on how to handle Lacy and her problems.
After Chuck moves into the same apartment complex as Lacy, he finds out that she has a longtime boyfriend named Nick, who is very ill and wheelchair bound. Chuck bonds with Nick, who share a similar taste in music and a desire for peace. As Chuck's connections grow with Nick and Lacy, the rhythm he feels inside expands and intensifies.
From a relapse to giving sexual favors, Lacy becomes a project that may be too much for the newly released and tentatively restrained Chuck to handle. Chuck tries his best to help Lacy, but as he gets closer to her, his old violent tendencies begin to bubble. It is unclear to him if he can save this woman while remaining the good man he has become.
Nothing, Arizona is a story of redemption and sacrifice; the story of a man who never had the opportunity to be a father but sees his freedom as a chance to give back and, in the process, save his soul, but will he?
Nothing, Arizona was written by Nicholl finalist and college professor, Brian Samuel Davis. The script embarked on an intense vetting process through the Academy of Film & Television's prestigious fellowship. Out of 7,000 entries from around the world, Davis' script was chosen, read by members and selected as a finalist.
We are excited and honored to have the role of Chuck go to industry veteran,
Nothing, Arizona will be one of the first features to utilize the newly instated
AZ Film Tax Incentive in 2023.
Kelly May is a director for film, television and commercials. Kelly's worked with Disney, Dreamworks, Sony Pictures Television, CBS Films, NBC Universal and Peacock. She's directed commercial content for brands such as Adobe, Mattel, Airbnb and Pepsi. Kelly is a member of the Producer's Guild of America. As a director with a career in writing and producing, Kelly's been able to hone her ability to bring abstract and emotional ideas to life. Her strong understanding of comedy is the undercurrent of her work and she believes even the darkest moments in life can deliver a lesson in humor. Kelly was born and raised in Arizona, she is excited to help strengthen the film industry in her home state.
Brian Samuel Davis
Brian Samuel Davis graduated from the University of Southern California in 2008
with a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing for Screen and Television. In 2006, Brian wrote, directed, and starred in the independent film Ornaments, which is currently available on Amazon Prime. In 2007, Brian’s screenplay, Waterloo (now called Nothing, Arizona), made it to the Semi Final round in the prestigious Nicholl Fellowship competition. In 2011, Brian joined the writing staff for AXN and The Group Entertainment’s show entitled The Kitchen Musical, which was nominated for Best Drama at the International Emmy Awards and received the Gold Medal for Best Writing at 2012 New York Festivals International Television and Film Awards. Finally, Brian currently teaches film and communication in Arizona.
Kelsie Moore is an Emmy Award winning Australian cinematographer who crafts films with honesty and nuance. She currently makes documentary film at NPR Utah’s RadioWest Films, focusing on character-driven stories from the American West. As a visual journalist, Kelsie matches her greatest strengths of composition and storytelling with narratives that embrace humanity and challenge our perceptions of people and place. Her work has been featured on PBS, The Atlantic Selects, Slate, NPR and film festivals around the world. She recently won a PRNDI award as well as a nomination at the Online Journalism Awards for a story on keeping teachers on the Navajo Nation.
The hidden and insignificant, that's what I'm interested in, so when Brian Davis explained to me that he wrote Nothing, Arizona as a piece to empathize with people who live in the background, the extras of life, I connected immediately. Sometimes human nature's hidden order can be seen more clearly through the life of someone else. I grew up in Arizona and witnessed the influx of drug addicts and homeless who live in downtown Phoenix. In some ways I can see that my own life parallels Lacy’s, how easy it is to slip into darkness. It’s through her story that I have a better understanding of my own mental health and privilege. The least I can do is produce a picture that impacts an audience with the same realizations.
The great thing about Nothing, Arizona is that it is rich with cinematic opportunity in color, camera work and music score. The seasonal change from winter to summer allows us to start in gray cold tones and evolve to bright whites in the hellish heat of Arizona summers. The camera work is distant and vacant at first but gets closer and chaotic as the characters grow emotionally. The music begins with a simple piano key that becomes a fully realized piece of music during the climax of the film. Each of these elements work together to express the characters journey and help the audience feel, empathize.
Additionally, Brian expressed to me his love of 70's drama features. There was an era of very personal dramas from the likes of Martin Scorsese and Hal Ashby. Brian told me, he'd wondered what it would be like for a female director to be given the opportunity to make one of those pictures. Made me wonder too, what would someone like me bring to a film like Five Easy Pieces or Being There? Nothing, Arizona is a chance to find out.
I'm excited to bring a meaningful piece of entertainment to a place I call home. I believe in this film because it brings together a diverse cast in a setting I know well, and with Wes Studi it will truly make an impact.
- Kelly May