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What Happens When Travis Kelce Invests in Your Indie Film Project?

You always hope your indie movie might get some extra attention.

That specific wish became a reality for the team behind “My Dead Friend Zoe,” which premiered at SXSW this past weekend. From army veteran Kyle Hausmann-Stokes, the personal film tells the story of a shattered veteran (Sonequa Martin-Green) haunted by the ongoing presence of her deceased platoon mate (Natalie Morales). It was recently announced that three-time Super Bowl champion Travis Kelce is an executive producer on the project.

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When chatting with Martin-Green about her starring role on “Star Trek: Discovery,” we also asked the actress about what happens when a little indie movie that is currently seeking distribution combines with the kind of tabloid superpower that makes Fox News shake in its boots. Namely: What did you think when you found out Travis Kelce would be one of the producers on this project, in terms of eyeballs on your work?

“I love that question, because that’s exactly what we thought about it, when you said ‘eyeballs on it,'” Martin-Green told IndieWire. “‘My Dead Friend Zoe’ is activism. It’s that perfect synergy between art and activism and it’s why I’m there. I’m honored to stand there. … It’s for veterans, but the more specific, the more universal. It’s for anybody struggling with grief and loss and tragedy and trauma. So the fact that Travis Kelce is an early investor, it’s not something I knew when we were shooting, but it’s fantastic because yes, it does mean there might be more eyes on it, and we want as many people to see this as possible because it is meant to help and serve.”

One unaffiliated publicist at SXSW even told IndieWire that many were hoping Kelce may make an unannounced appearance at the premiere — before noting that, yes, yes, it appears he’s recently been busy in Singapore with his girlfriend. (Perhaps you’ve heard of her?)

Kelce has made no secret of his Hollywood ambitions. Indeed, in-depth profiles from both before and during his relationship with Taylor Swift note his charisma, comic timing, and his goals off the football field. (He also co-hosts a popular weekly podcast, New Heights, with his brother, Jason.) So film executive producer — “My Dead Friend Zoe” is his first — seems a natural next step.

In his review of the movie, IndieWire’s Christian Zilko wrote it’s “a visceral look at the veteran experience and the kinds of loss we can’t easily describe or process, and the isolation that comes with that. That message — telegraphed clearly for and about Hausmann-Stokes’ own platoon mates — comes through loud and clear.”

It’s just the sort of project that deserves that extra boost.

Presented in partnership with Paramount+. From the Mountain to Rainey St, fans can step into Paramount+’s The Lodge at SXSW 2024 to experience immersive activations inspired by their favorite films and shows including Halo, Star Trek: Discovery, Lawmen: Bass Reeves, and many more. SXSW badge holders are also invited to The Trailblazing Journey to the Fifth and Final Season Featured Panel Session, ahead of the Star Trek: Discovery final season premiere on April 4, exclusively on Paramount+.

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