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Las Vegas producer’s horror film does double-duty as fundraiser

Vegas Voices is a weekly series highlighting notable Las Vegans.

Among all of Debbie Isaacs’ career highlights, two really stand out.

First, she’s founder of Unshakeable, a Las Vegas nonprofit that partners with area organizations and businesses to assist women who have experienced domestic violence, human trafficking, homelessness and addiction.

Second — in something that’s unrelated but really interesting — Isaacs produced “Ghosts of Goldfield,” which she unselfconsciously calls “the most horrible horror movie ever.”

In weird synchronicity, these two disparate tidbits from Isaacs’ life will intersect Oct. 29 when the movie is shown during a viewing party and fundraiser for Unshakeable. The event will be from 6 to 9 p.m. at The Space, 3460 Cavaretta Court, and Halloween costumes are encouraged.

Isaacs works for Levy Production Group in Las Vegas, where she produces corporate videos. She moved into the film business after having spent much of her career in meeting planning, special events and trade show production.

It was a family thing in that her father and uncle had a business setting up shows and conventions, says Isaacs, who calls herself “a recovering New Yorker.”

“I can remember going to work with my dad at 9. I really liked it. They were doing the auto show and it was fun to walk around. And the Toy Fair. I used to love walking through trade shows.”

In 1994, she moved to Las Vegas to take a job in meeting planning. “I fell in love with the city,” Isaacs says.

In 2009, Isaacs, by now a television producer, was sitting in a Las Vegas courtroom and listening to at-risk women tell their stories.

“I went there thinking I was going to make a documentary, and after sitting there and listening to the women’s stories, I just knew instantly that I wasn’t there to tell their stories,” she says. “My role was going to be to change their stories.”

Through Unshakeable, Isaacs works to inspire, teach and educate women in recovery through a program that includes individual career coaching and the use of area business partners to help the women create not just a job, but a path to a career and financial independence. The program also includes a 12-week lecture series that prepares women for a career.

And “Ghosts of Goldfield”? That came two years earlier, in 2007. It was filmed near Tonopah, has a cast that includes former wrestler “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and led Isaacs into her producing career, even if, she says, the film wasn’t very good.

Isaacs has produced a few TV pilots since then, although none have gone to series. “I’m always looking for an interesting story for a documentary.”

Review-Journal: What was your thought process when you decided to create Unshakeable?

Debbie Isaacs: I visited a lot of other nonprofits to see what they were doing for women in trauma. I very clearly did not want to duplicate services. … So it really became about creating a path to financial stability and giving these women choices they hadn’t had before.

What attracted you to producing?

Really, for me, it’s always been about the human connection. I’ve always been interested in somebody else’s story.

You’re very candid about “Ghosts of Goldfield.”

I really felt that my background in trade show productions was transferable to movie producing. I figured, ‘What could go wrong?” (Laughs) A lot did. … I literally decided to make a movie with a bunch of friends and everything that could go wrong did, except for my cast.

What went wrong?

I think it was just a lot of misguided direction from a lot of people and a really bad script. … And how you get a really bad script is, a close friend tells you, “I can write” and you say, “OK, you write the script.”

At least you got a new career out of it.

It literally started me on a career that I continue to do. I still do video production.

Not to mention a fun fundraiser.

A few of my friends convinced me to use it for the fundraiser (for) Unshakeable. It shows your past doesn’t define you. … Everybody does galas and fancy dinners. This is just a fun night of poking some fun at me. It’s really campy. … People yell and scream at the characters. It’s everything you would expect from a bad movie.

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280. Follow @JJPrzybys on Twitter.

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