The Absence is
Always Present

a deeply personal dramatic feature film
by Jason Charnick

From the director of the acclaimed SXSW documentary, Getting Over, comes a brave new story of grief and loss.


Be a part of our community and join us in supporting this important film as Jason embarks on his own journey of healing and acceptance. 

“(And here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.”



Doug and Shelley Hensley are a happily married couple in Los Angeles expecting their first child. On a routine obstetrician visit, they receive the devastating news that their daughter no longer has a heartbeat. Forced to endure the stillbirth of their first child, Doug and Shelley embark on conflicting journeys of grief and healing as they slowly drift apart.

Why now?

The primary driver of this project has been the personal journey of writer/director Jason Charnick, who lost his daughter Shelby to stillbirth in 2017. There is also no doubt to an urgent maternity crisis in the United States of America. One in four women will lose a baby.


With the continued assault on women’s reproductive rights in the U.S., the time is right for a deeply personal story to ground the national conversation, bringing humanity back into what is one of the most pressing and consequential human issues of our time.

From the Director

On a gloomy June day in 2017, my wife and I visited our doctor for a regular 24 week checkup. On that day, they couldn’t find my daughter-to-be Shelby’s heartbeat, and our life as we knew it disintegrated in an instant.


It’s taken over 6 years to gain the peace and perspective necessary to get here, and I am beyond grateful to all those who have supported me. After a ton of anxiety and anguish, I’m delighted (and a little nervous) to share The Absence is Always Present. I hope you’ll join us in making this film a reality.

The Buzz

@madeline marlowe
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I was instantly drawn into the details of each moment and the roller coaster of emotions felt by each character. These stories are important, considering what is being stripped from women regarding reproductive healthcare. I also appreciate seeing the vulnerability through the father's lens.
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This seems like a deeply personal story that can only be told by the author. While complex in nature, I believe that Jason can add the type of heart and nuance that will make this project great!
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The power of telling stories that are close to your heart; a kind of power strong enough not only to connect deeply with an audience but also to heal the filmmakers in the process. I think this film is gonna go places and deeply impact the heart of the audience, no doubt.
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Excellent writing with a very real approach to life, it delivers not what the audience wants, but what reality actually feels like.
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I was immediately engrossed in the script; despite its complex subject matter, it's written with elegance, and filled with Jason's genuine life experience.
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This film is beautifully written and has strong commercial viability as both a standalone short and a full length feature.
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Parents and couples will connect with this in ways that are as painful as they are uplifting. There's lots of great moments in this script I'd love to see on screen.
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This piece resonates with such personal depth and sincerity. It's masterfully written, always engaging without becoming tedious, reflecting just how essential this story was for Jason to convey—his passion is evident throughout.
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The story brings to light notions of how we each deal with grief differently. It's refreshing and unique to see this story told from a male point of view as we often only hear women's in situations of loss. I definitely feel for the characters Doug and Shelley, and isn't that what art is supposed to do? Make us feel things?
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Well-written script that deals with sincere and affecting themes. The characters are well drawn and I'm hooked into knowing more about them and their story. These are the kind of movies we need to see being made.
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Takes a lot of strength and bravery to dig deep inside and tell a story that deals with such a loss. A story that needs to be seen.
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Such an important subject to give a real vision towards. These moments are so carefully hidden in so many lives. Bringing a light to these tragedies can be a gift to so many.

Get Involved

If you’re interested in following the development of The Absence is Always Present, please sign up for our mailing list. We’ll let you know how things go as we move forward, including further information on how you can help make the film a reality, as well as Jason’s personal journey of healing and understanding.


We will never sell, give away or otherwise redistribute your personal information. We take your privacy extremely seriously.


If you’d like to financially support the project before the launch of our crowdfunding campaign, we accept donations in both fiat & cryptocurrency. We also offer digital collectibles and artwork. 


With either a direct donation or a digital purchase from our gallery marketplace, a portion of your contribution will go to Forever Footprints, a non-profit organization in Orange County, California whose mission is to assist families who have suffered a pregnancy or infant loss and increase awareness and education on this deeply important issue.


If you are interested in contributing a larger amount, need a tax-deductible option, or are looking to invest in exchange for equity in the film, please e-mail writer/director Jason Charnick at


You can send direct donations to the film using any of these methods:


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Thank you.

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