Just out of college, a young filmmaker joins a loving, secretive, and spiritual community led by a charismatic teacher in 1980s West Hollywood. Twenty years later, the group is shockingly torn apart. Told through over two decades of the filmmaker’s archival materials, this is their story.
a WRA PRODUCTION in association with *VERY SPECIAL PROJECTS and WHITEWATER FILMS
a film by WILL ALLEN “HOLY HELL” original music by GILES LAMB
cinematography by POLLY MORGAN & WILL ALLEN edited by WILL ALLEN SEAN JARRETT
executive producers CHERYL SANDERS JARED LETO MICHAEL C. DONALDSON JULIAN GOLDSTEIN
produced by WILL ALLEN TRACEY HARNISH ALEXANDRA JOHNES directed by WILL ALLEN
Will Allen starting making films at the age of thirteen in southern CA. He graduated from Southern Methodist University, in Texas with his film degree. Shortly after college, he ended up living inside a guru-based society for 20 years, where he continuously made films about the secret world in which he lived. After finally extricating himself at the age of 44, he decided to use his archives of film footage to tell the complicated tale of HOLY HELL. William is reintroducing himself to the work through his films, and is an advocate for personal freedom, dedicating his time to education, prevention and self-empowerment. Will currently lives in Santa Monica, CA.
Tracey Harnish attended Otis College of Art and Design and is a blogger for the Huffington Post.
A primetime Emmy-winning producer, Alexandra has worked most notably as a producer of feature documentaries for acclaimed directors Alex Gibney, Eugene Jarecki, Jehane Noujaim and Lucy Walker. Most recently, Alexandra produced HOLY HELL (dir. Will Allen), which premiered in competition at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and will be released by CNN Films and Netflix later this year. Alexandra is also an Executive Producer on A24’s critically-acclaimed, indie box office hit THE WITCH (2015, dir. Robert Eggers). Johnes’ documentaries have received several awards and nominations, including an Oscar nomination for Jehane Noujaim's THE SQUARE, the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival, a DGA award, several Peabody Awards, and several Primetime Emmys.
Production and distribution partners on her films have included Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media, Netflix Originals, Disney, A24, CNN Films, A&E, ITVS, BBC, ZDF/ARTE, Optimum Releasing, Film Rise, and HBO.
Jared Joseph Leto is an American actor, singer-songwriter, and director. After starting his career with television appearances in the early 1990s, Leto achieved recognition for his role as Jordan Catalano on the television series My So-Called Life (1994). He made his film debut in HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT (1995) and received critical praise for his performance in PREFONTAINE (1997). Leto played supporting roles in THE THIN RED LINE (1998), FIGHT CLUB (1999) and AMERICAN PSYCHO (2000), as well as the lead role in URBAN LEGEND (1998), and earned critical acclaim after portraying heroin addict Harry Goldfarb in REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000). He later began focusing increasingly on his music career, returning to acting with PANIC ROOM (2002), ALEXANDER (2004), LORD OF WAR (2005), LONELY HEARTS (2006), CHAPTER 27 (2007), and MR. NOBODY (2009). He made his directorial debut in 2012 with the documentary film ARTIFACT.
Leto's performance as a transgender woman in DALLAS BUYERS CLUB (2013) earned him an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actor. Leto is considered to be a method actor, known for his constant devotion to and research of his roles. He often remains completely in character for the duration of the shooting schedules of his films, even to the point of adversely affecting his health. He is also known to be selective about his film roles.
Leto is the lead vocalist, multi-instrumentalist and main songwriter for Thirty Seconds to Mars, a band he formed in 1998 in Los Angeles, California, with his older brother Shannon Leto. Their debut album, 30 Seconds to Mars (2002), was released to positive reviews but only to limited success. The band achieved worldwide fame with the release of their second album A Beautiful Lie (2005). Their following releases, This Is War (2009) and Love, Lust, Faith and Dreams (2013), received further critical and commercial success. As of September 2014, the band has sold over 15 million albums worldwide. Leto has also directed music videos, including the MTV Video Music Award–winning "The Kill" (2006), "Kings and Queens" (2009), and "Up in the Air" (2013).
Cheryl Marie Sanders is a co-owner/co-founder of Genesis Pure, a privately held, direct marketing company specializing in high end nutritional supplements. A certified nutritionist (National Institute of Nutritional Education) and natural health enthusiast, she is also a 2nd degree Black Belt in Yoshukai Karate, a Retired World Champion Kickboxer; a "Black Belt Hall of Fame" Inductee, a Professional Hollywood Stuntwoman (for 25+ years), Pilot and mother of 2 teenage daughters.
Cheryl recently co-produced and executive produced her first feature film, THE MARTIAL ARTS KID, partnering with an anti-bullying organization "Bullying... We're Kicking It." The movie is a winner of numerous film festival awards, as well as from the prestigious Dove Foundation.
HOLY HELL marks her second foray into the producing world, as the film’s first official EP and investor.
Michael C. Donaldson
Michael C. Donaldson is an entertainment attorney who has been fighting for independent filmmakers for over 30 years. In addition to working on films by such industry icons as Oliver Stone, Davis Guggenheim and Lawrence Bender, Michael serves as General Counsel to Film Independent (home of the Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival) and the Writers Guild Foundation. He is the industry’s go-to attorney for fair use (a doctrine in United States copyright law permitting limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the rights holders) and other clearance- and rights-related issues.
Michael graduated from UC Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall in 1967. His book Clearance and Copyright, now in its third edition, is used in over 50 film schools and has become the standard industry reference book. Michael also wrote Negotiating for Dummies (now in its second edition and translated into eleven languages), Fearless Negotiating (published in hardback in 2007 by McGraw Hill) and The E-Z Legal Guide to Trademarks & Copyrights.
Julian is an executive producer of HOLY HELL. He has worked in entertainment for many years, having sold his first show to the Travel Channel and having served as a host of CNN’s nationally syndicated Real News for Kids for four years. In 2007, after 19 years, he left the group and began a search for his identity outside of this community. He traveled alone to New Zealand, Australia Europe, Asia and the Middle East on a four-year journey, while he worked as a kinesiologist and life-coach.
Currently, Julian resides in the Hollywood Hills. He invests in real estate and is part owner of Buddha’s Brew Kombucha, a company created by another member of the group. In LA, he founded Thrive Tribe, a non-profit organization that strives to end the transmission of HIV and provides a safe, nurturing community for those affected or infected with the virus. He looks after his 87 year-old aunt who also lives in LA and was the oldest member of the Buddha Field.
Sean Jarrett's previous editing credits include work for ABC, AOL, as well as a variety of independent films. He is currently working on new project with director Davis Guggenheim. Sean received his MFA in Film Production from USC's School of Cinematic Arts, and while there edited Miss Mustard Glade which was awarded a Student Emmy for best web series.
Polly knew her path would be one of Cinematography from a young age after a Film Crew used her childhood home as a base camp for a feature length documentary. This realization lead her to working as a Production and then Camera Assistant for 7 years in both the UK and Canada, before she came to Los Angeles to study an MFA in Cinematography at the American Film Institute.
Since graduating six years ago, Polly has shot numerous feature films, television shows and documentaries around the world. Her work has premiered at Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca and Cannes and has won a number of awards for Best Cinematography. In 2016, Polly became one of the youngest members ever to be invited to join the British Society of Cinematographers (BSC) and was named as one of Variety magazine’s “Ten Cinematographers to Watch.”
Giles Lamb is an award winning composer for TV, Film and Games, active since the late ‘90s. His elegant and emotional compositions lend themselves perfectly to film, with his projects winning a number of awards, most recently, a Cannes Golden Lion for the DEAD ISLAND trailer, which also won Best Music at the inaugural Music and Sound Awards.
Giles has worked on several Children’s television shows, like the BAFTA-nominated My Story, and CBeebies hit Woolly and Tig. His music has been used in acclaimed series’ such as Hawaii Five-0, as well as feature length productions like VALHALLA RISING and SUCKER PUNCH. More recent credits include short indie film BOAT, cinema spot Cineworld Unmissables and the music for Slow Train Through Africa with Griff Rhys Jones, broadcast on ITV.