By Kimberly R. Blum & Carlos Graña
Ballast is a fact-based, multi-plotline crime drama about a young girl's transformation from victim of modern slavery to shipping industry mogul. Her journey illuminates and connects institutions as ubiquitous to our surroundings as they are opaque: human trafficking, the shipping industry, and commodities trading.
LOGLINE for SEASON 1
Sold to sex traffickers by her starving farmer parents in Bangladesh, Meghana has two weeks to learn to fight, form alliances, and escape from a container ship with hundreds of other slaves en route to Los Angeles, where higher demand for prostitutes awaits them at the largest sporting event in North America: the Super Bowl.
Following the main character of Meghana, teen daughter of impoverished farmers in Bangladesh, Ballast tells four interwoven stories about powerful institutions as ubiquitous as they are opaque: human trafficking, the shipping industry, law enforcement, and commodities trading.
Meghana represents human trafficking. Her journey guides us through the methods of organized crime as they supply consumers with slaves for sex, labor, and organs. We watch this born leader of extraordinary strength and intelligence emerge from among millions of invisible, innocent victims and transform into the ruthless, cunning CEO of a global trade empire.
Ballast is also a story about Andrei, who represents the shipping industry, its methods, hierarchy, and global scale. A hardened Romanian captain of the mob-operated freight vessel transporting Meghana, Andrei's soul softens when he comes face to face with his cargo.
Ballast is about Grace, representing law enforcement. A steadfast FBI agent on a mission to combat human trafficking, Grace is obstructed by bureaucracy, corruption, and - not for the first time in her life - betrayal by those supposed to protect her.
And Ballast is the story of Todd, a family man and commodities lobbyist in Washington, D.C., rewarded for pushing trade schemes that impoverish farm communities like Meghana's, leaving those parents more vulnerable to mobsters who offer them a choice: starvation or selling their children.
These four stories, these four characters and institutions launch independently in separate episodes, with apparently no connection to one another. Anchored by Meghana, the episodes and characters gradually interweave as their relationships become more apparent, their interdependence increasingly tighter with every season. Ballast reveals the origins, journey, and explosive collision of these imperfect characters when they reach Los Angeles.
Stylistically, cinematography, color, and texture match each episode's subject matter, gradually mixing. Shipping and enslavement, for example, are unstable, gritty, raw, immediate as in a documentary. Commodities trading in D.C. is more detached, clean, steady.
But it is always beautiful and unpredictable. In fact, the research and realism supporting Ballast is presented as one would a fascinating case before a jury, with twists and turns, motives and consequences. Viewers take part in the play, inevitably acknowledging, consciously or not, our own accountability as consumers in the unfolding drama.
Ballast itself is stabilization water that cargo ships take on before departing. It is then expelled at the destination port. In so doing, we transport invasive micro-species that disrupt local ecosystems, often with a disastrous domino effect along the entire food chain. Ballast represents the importance of empathy and mindfulness in the diverse, interconnected nature of our world.
For inquiries or to arrange a presentation, please contact Carlos Graña at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +1-310-905-0073.