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Hard Promises by Lauren Hirsch

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Filmmaker:Lauren Hirsch

Genre : Drama

Hard Promises is based on the true-life story of Allan Haber, a man who overcame abandonment, a life of crime and drugs with New York's famed organized crime families, 15 years in prison, and finally the system that betrayed him to become the only felon ever to serve as a capital crimes lawyer in the US. Sometimes a rebel has a cause.


He's a tough-edged product of the foster care system in the early 60s. Allan Haber hustles to find what every kid wants: a rock’n roll band, some money, a good job, a girl, and a nice family. But it’s a hard knock life full of hard promises. As a teen he falls into a life of crime, and finds a sense of belonging that quickly turns to a fast game of jewel theft and dealing heroin for New York’s Bonnano crime family. His business allies him with some of the city’s biggest organized crime names and gets the attention of an aggressive NYPD team. King heroin owns the streets and starts to run his life as the temptations and confusion of addiction lead to his arrest. Despite brutal tactics of the police, he refuses to rat on his connections or his neighborhood crew. This begins a hell ride through some of the nation’s most explosive racial environments and worst prisons for over 13 years: Youth House, the Tombs, Riker’s Island, Sing Sing, Dannemora, Green Haven and Fishkill.

Inside prison, again he finds that connection of family. He is welcomed by the inmates that know him from the streets and for his truth to the code: He didn’t rat. He strikes up a solid, strong friendship with one of the nation’s most notorious hit man who becomes like a brother to him. Although he is rooted deeply into his newfound ‘family’, he finds a desire to break his pattern of addiction and crime to achieve something meaningful. Determined to help himself and others in his situation, Allan sets course to overcome the system, his past record and become a lawyer. Through the help of a very special woman, a notorious hit man with a heart, and a feared Mafia capo who teaches him a bit too much about the inner workings of la Cosa Nostra, he overcomes the system and the odds. He defeats personal demons, a crime family suspicious of his knowledge and a system full of bureaucrats who see numbers over names and convictions over character. The convict who ran with the society’s forgotten and the mob’s most powerful, becomes a lawyer who defends both with the same attitude and respect for the code. In the end, this is the remarkable true-life story of triumph over inner demons and redemption in a society filled with prejudice.

Our Pitch:

With gangster movies, you get a lot of the glory: the girls, the money, the power, the thrill of the action, the chance to do what you want, anytime you want. But for every girl who wants to have the guy, there are two guys who want to kill him. For every minute you pop champagne with the guys at the club, there’s a year of waiting around scared that the next dinner is your last. In this world, there’s the constant fear that the next day brings a knock at the door from a guy with a badge. Being a gangster is about blood, guts and fear of the system you’ve chosen to live outside of. Hard Promises is a story that needs to be told, because it’s not only about the street soldiers and the hit men and the price you have to pay for the life you want to live. It’s about showing the way out. It’s the story of one man who discovered how to turn it all around. It is a rare and valuable story about a rare and positive opportunity.

When you get into the “life”, you walk through a door of someone’s townhouse, or club and make yourself a promise that you’re going to get more girls than Sinatra and make more money than Rockefeller. But what most people get is either strung out, or a long time in jail, or both. When you end up walking through that steel door, you make a promise that you’re going to make something of your life when you get out. The lucky ones and the strong ones get to walk back through that door. When they do though, that promise about doing something with your new life… well most people never keep it. Why? It’s not an easy promise to keep and a lot of outside factors pull people back to their old ‘familiar’ life.

Movies can and must show the possibility that the hardest promise can be kept. Too often they come up short on details of what really happens or they glorify the violence. They fail to capture the tough breaks and injustice that can trap a good and just man. They paint a picture of dumb thugs run wild, when the reality is that a lot of intelligence can waste in a swirl of macho ignorance and the feeling that fate has one more big score and then one more jail cell. The lives of people in this world focus more on a code of silence that perpetuates the cycle of wasted lives rather than showing the value of the honesty that can liberate productive and even constructively rebellious members of society.

Here’s one story about one guy who kept all the hard promises and got justice in the process – for himself and others. It shows both sides of the life of crime. It shows both sides of a man who made the journey through the fire of injustice and into the light of redemption.

Funding Purpose:

We want to get this film made, so the funding will be used to help get things in place to do so! This includes hiring a Casting Director, hiring a PR specialist to promote the film, script work, legal fees, and expenses related to the pitching of the script to potential financiers/studios/production companies.

Other Info:

Check out our appreciation rewards! You have an opportunity to meet the people from the script...


Goal: $100,000

Raised: $20,201

Deadline reached!

Appreciation Rewards


Unlimited Reward
In appreciation, you will receive:

COFFEE BOY Everybody has to start somewhere. Serve us a $20 donation and we will thank you personally on our Facebook and Twitter feeds.


Unlimited Reward
In appreciation, you will receive:

DRIVER The most important job for the mobile crowd. Help drive this film for $50 and receive a signed thank you note from Allan Haber himself.


Unlimited Reward
In appreciation, you will receive:

BODYGUARD This gives us some “protection” money. In return, we want you to have a thank you note from Allan Haber and a copy of the DVD when it is released.


Unlimited Reward
In appreciation, you will receive:

SOLDIER A true street soldier gets his or her name on the Hard Promises website, a signed thank you from Allan Haber and a DVD. We’re encouraging nicknames, so think this one through. On the street, we need a force of hundreds.


Limited Reward (48 of 50 remaining)
In appreciation, you will receive:

ASSOCIATE Unless you prefer to stay anonymous, we’ll get your name up on the promotional website for the film. We’ll also pitch in a copy of the DVD and the script and give you a signed copy of the 16 Magazine article that featured Allan during his 1950s singing days.


Limited Reward (49 of 50 remaining)
In appreciation, you will receive:

JURY FOREMAN: For delivering your verdict on the promise of this project, you commit $500 and we’ll commit to a set of exclusive photos of Allan Haber and Joseph “Mad Dog” Sullivan from their years at Clinton Correctional Facility : collector’s item for movie fans and students of jurisprudence.


Limited Reward (16 of 20 remaining)
In appreciation, you will receive:

CLERK: The struggle of Allan Haber’s fight for justice is well-documented in several letters. Some are mentioned in the script. Many took place behind the scenes and show the eloquence of a man crying out for justice while facing the depths of despair. For this level, receive a set of these documents and see the Haber story in motion. You’ll also get a photo of Allan Haber and Joseph “Mad Dog” Sullivan, signed by BOTH of them and a copy of the DVD.


Limited Reward (19 of 20 remaining)
In appreciation, you will receive:

CAPTAIN’S CLUB: The Hard Promises script pivots on a trial that was based on an actual event. In appreciation for your dedication, we’ll send you a signed copy of this transcript of the actual trial, signed by Allan Haber. We’ll also add a set of correspondence from Haber to several authorities during his years of incarceration. You’ll also receive the photo signed by both Allan Haber and Joseph Sullivan and a copy of the DVD.


Limited Reward (12 of 12 remaining)
In appreciation, you will receive:

COUNSEL: In appreciation for your advice and counsel we’ll send you on a dinner for two (2) with Allan Haber in New York. In addition, we’ll give you an exclusive DVD copy of the Hard Promises interviews – Allan Haber, Ramsey Clark, Freddy Shapiro and Joseph “Mad Dog” Sullivan. We’ll also send a DVD and signed copy of the original Hard Promises script.


Limited Reward (3 of 3 remaining)
In appreciation, you will receive:

MOB WIFE: Behind every man who survives a life of violence is a strong woman! This support offers you an enlightening and insightful evening at dinner with Allan Haber and Gail Sullivan, the wife of Joseph “Mad Dog” Sullivan, a woman that stood by her man with over 30 years of marriage, most of them with him behind bars. Learn firsthand about Allan’s trials and tribulations over the years as well as the life Gail endured, the people they met, and the backstory of someone that was ‘married to the mob’.


Limited Reward (10 of 10 remaining)
In appreciation, you will receive:

GOTHAM GUIDE: Not only do you get to spend an evening with Allan Haber to see the NYC sites that make Hard Promises an authentic story of prison to redemption, he will make an appearance to deliver an inspirational speech on his life/judicial issues at your organization’s function (U.S. only). We’ll also throw in 10 signed DVDs and 10 signed scripts.


Limited Reward (3 of 3 remaining)
In appreciation, you will receive:

PROMISE REDEEMED: The ultimate Hard Promises experience. To begin, you will join Allan Haber, Freddy Shapiro (one of the characters in the film) and Gail Sullivan (wife of Joseph “Mad Dog” Sullivan) in New York City for an exclusive dinner. Then it’s an extremely exclusive visit to the prison the meet with Allan Haber and Joseph “Mad Dog” Sullivan to learn about their lives. This prison visit is subject to a strict vetting process.