A feature length documentary film about the early life of poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, inspired by his best-selling memoir.
** All donations are tax deductible through the Center of Southwest Culture, our 501c3 fiscal sponsor (centerofsouthwestculture.org) **
A Place to Stand is the authorized story of Jimmy Santiago Baca’s transformation from an illiterate convict to an award-winning poet and novelist. The film follows Baca’s path through abandonment, drug dealing, and a DEA-bust gone awry, ultimately leading to a 5-year narcotics sentence at Arizona State Prison in Florence, one of the most violent prisons in the country.
Baca survived prison by exploring deep within himself, discovering poetry at his soul’s core. Writing liberated him from the decay that surrounded him, healing the wounds of his childhood and opening him to a new future.
A Place to Stand is inspired by Jimmy’s best-selling memoir of the same name, which has been called “elegant and gripping” (The Los Angeles Times) and “an astonishing narrative that affirms the triumph of the human spirit” (The Arizona Daily Star). Shaped from 30 hours of interviews with Jimmy, A Place to Stand is the first intimate portrait of one of America’s most prolific, influential and respected living poets.
Every human being knows insecurity, fear, pain, love, darkness and light, but few recognize and write about it with the intensity and focus of Jimmy Santiago Baca. His background is not unique - family dysfunction, homelessness, drug dealing, prison sentence – but it’s rare that a person with Jimmy’s background so ardently, bullheadedly and singularly transcends who he was thrown to be. He was set up to fail in life, all conditions against him, but early on he decided that he would not allow his circumstances to dictate his fate. Even in prison, a place that destroys, he found a way to nourish himself. It may be that poetry saved his life, but only because Jimmy had the courage to let it.
Jimmy is an inspiration, but remains a human being. He still makes bad decisions, hears old demons laughing on dark days, and lives with pain and suffering. Remarkably, Jimmy refuses to succumb, choosing instead to celebrate life, to evolve with gratitude and move forward in awe.
Jimmy is captivating and vivacious and messy and crazy. He is a loving father. He moves souls in his writing workshops. He has published over twenty books of poetry and won countless awards. Worldwide people fall in love with him and his writing. These qualities alone are extraordinary, but what makes him so powerful, what allows people to connect with his humanity, is how he faces each moment. He is not afraid to know himself, to inspect difficult and beautiful truths about himself and his fellow human beings, to embrace the variables of existence, however arduous. It is this fearlessness that makes Jimmy and his poetry so grounded, accessible and beloved.
The History of the Project
(from Daniel Glick, director of APTS)
In early 2010, I visited Auburn Prison in New York State. Shocked by the sheer brutality and inhumanity of the prison experience, my first thought was “I have to make a film about this.” I had just finished several projects and was looking for something new. Serendipitously, the friend I was visiting, an inmate at Auburn, encouraged me: “Read this book, A Place to Stand, if you want to learn more.”
I read it in a day and by the time I had reached the last page, I was already convinced that this was the story I wanted to tell, I had to tell. For me, Jimmy’s story was striking not just because it articulated the dehumanization of prison, but Jimmy’s ability to survive it. But beyond that, it demonstrated to me a larger truth of human transformation: that if Jimmy could grow, evolve, transform himself in that horrible place, then anyone, anywhere could. It's not just a story about prison and poetry, but about the infinite possibility of being human. I felt compelled to do what I could to share this story with the wider world as a movie.
I searched for and found Jimmy, emailed him and asked if I could help make A Place to Stand into a film. After a brief exchange, Jimmy agreed and I quit my job to drive to New Mexico in January 2011. Immediately, I connected with Gabriel Baca, Jimmy’s son, and without funding, without much more than the basic essential equipment, we started by interviewing Jimmy for a week and going extensively through his archives. Within a month we were editing, looking for a shape to the story.
Before long, we had found and connected with two of Jimmy’s former cellmates, one of his former teachers, pen-pals, fellow poets and members of his family. We flew to California, conducted a series of interviews and visited Jimmy’s archives at Stanford University. Immediately after returning to New Mexico, we launched our first Kickstarter campaign and raised $7,493 to fund the rest of the interviews and travel.
After the campaign, we hit the road again for two months, going to Arizona, Texas, Florida, Washington DC, New York, Minnesota, Utah and California again, doing research and conducting further interviews. It was a new experience for both of us – waking up each day in a different place, groundless, longing for the famous New Mexican green chili – but it was a great success and upon returning home, we dove into the interviews and edited like never before.
Four months later, we had an extended trailer and a rough assembly of the entire film and realized that to move forward we needed to raise much more money. I was anxious to roll again, decided to hit the road and look for funding the old fashioned way – door to door and face to face. I drove around the country for six months, ending up in New York again where I launched and led the 2nd Kickstarter campaign.
It was a whirlwind – with a goal of $50,000 in 50 days – and with a large team assembled, along with hundreds of supporters online, we were successful and raised more than our goal, $57,329.
The Team Grows and the Film Evolves
One of the most significant consequences of the Kickstarter 2012 campaign was that we were able to recruit an Executive Producer, ten-time Emmy and five-time Peabody award-winning documentary director/producer David Grubin. David came aboard as creative mentor for the project, giving feedback and sharing his extensive documentary expertise. With his feedback, we re-envisioned and reshaped the film, conducted additional interviews with Jimmy and moved steadily towards a rough cut.
In addition to David, several new members joined the team including Associate Producer Andres Salazar, Director of Photography Michael Gordon, Composer Roger Suen, Animators Mustafa Kandaz and Artists Eric Christo Martinez and Eric Tran.
The funding from last year’s Kickstarter campaign allowed us to:
• edit the film for 4 months
• travel to Arizona and Montana to shoot the visual elements of the film
• score the entire film,
• create animation for segments of the film
• record voiceover for Jimmy’s poetry and much more.
It sustained us (along with my and Gabe’s credit cards) all the way to where we are today: a locked cut. All that remains now is sound design, dialogue editing, final mix, color correction and paying some rights and permissions. That’s how close we are.
And if you’re curious how we intend to spend the funds from this year, here’s a fun little pie chart:
And here’s a bar graph of how we spent the funds from last year:
A Volunteer Effort
Since the beginning, this has largely been a volunteer effort. Daniel and Gabe have put in a few thousand hours of work at a rate of about .05/hr. And it hasn’t been only them. Most of the team have worked at very low rates and donated much of their time. Someone told us once that we’re making a million dollar picture for less than a tenth of that.
Why mention this? To demonstrate our commitment to the project. We have poured ourselves into the creation of this story and you can trust us to see this through to the end and beyond. We will put in every effort to make sure that the audiences that can benefit most from the film will see it. And that brings us to…
We have submitted the film to five festivals so far and are waiting to hear back from them within the next few months. It’s impossible to say with complete confidence that we will get into them, but we’re hopeful that we will be selected by one. Once we get accepted to a festival and premiere there, we will open up our distribution efforts and pursue the following:
- Worldwide Film Festival Screenings
- Television Broadcast
- Limited Theatrical Release
- Making the film available on DVD/VOD
- Developing a companion book for use of the film in classrooms
- Partner the film with writing workshop programs in schools and prisons
- Anything and everything else we can imagine
To achieve these goals we will:
1) Continue submitting the film to festivals
2) Approach television, commercial and educational distributors. One of our Executive Producers, a very successful producer and director, will lead this effort.
3) Partner with educational organizations through which we will build an outreach campaign. We are already in talks with three – Street Poets, Get Lit! and InsideOut Writers - and we will connect with more after we have a final cut.
4) Approach universities and independent theaters to screen the film. Without any effort on our part, we already have six offers.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Earlier on, during our previous two Kickstarter campaigns, we really didn't know how long it would take to finish the film. Editing a documentary is a challenging, unpredictable process and you never know how a new piece will fit or how some feedback will reshape entire segments. That, plus the fact that this was Daniel and Gabe's first feature length documentary, led us to underestimate the length of both production and post-production.
But at this late stage of the process, with a locked picture, with a generous crew lined up to finish the film, we can safely say that when we are successfully funded we will be able to complete a final cut on the film. The only setbacks that could occur at this point would be hardware failures - that's why we included "Contingency" in the budget.
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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Your name in the end credits of the film as a backer and online access to exclusive clips and behind the scenes content.Estimated delivery:
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A digital download of Jimmy's rare poetry CD, Defiant Reaction.Estimated delivery:
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2 backers Limited (23 left of 25)
An invitation to an exclusive interactive online poetry reading by Jimmy, plus the rewards above.Estimated delivery:
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Digital downloads of Lost Voices and Moving the River Back Home, two short documentaries about writing workshops that Jimmy conducted in 2005 and 2007, plus all of the above.Estimated delivery:
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A digital download of the soundtrack of A Place to Stand, including Jimmy's poetry in the film (to be delivered upon release of the documentary), plus all of the above.Estimated delivery:
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A limited edition pre-release A Place to Stand DVD (upon completion of the film) with exclusive "Kickstarter Backer Edition" bonus features, plus all of the above.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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An autographed copy of Jimmy's upcoming poetry compilation, Singing at the Gates, published by Grove Press, plus all of the above.Estimated delivery:Ships within the US only
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All of the above plus a Limited Edition print of artwork featured in A Place to Stand, created by Albuquerque painter Eric Christo Martinez, plus a DVD of the film and all digital rewards above.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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8 backers Limited (2 left of 10)
A signed, limited edition, numbered print of an unpublished poem from Jimmy’s prison days. This will be a print from the very original, written inside of Arizona State Prison. This reward also include a DVD of the film and all digital rewards above.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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An invitation to the New Mexico premiere party and 2 tickets to the one of the New Mexico premiere screenings, plus a DVD of the film and all digital rewards above.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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A signed limited edition movie poster for A Place to Stand, plus a DVD of the film, invite to a NM premiere & premiere party and all digital rewards above.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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An invitation to an exclusive, intimate one-day writer's retreat with Jimmy a day or two before the New Mexico premiere. During the retreat Jimmy will share some of his unpublished prison poetry, which will be featured in an upcoming book. Refreshments and lunch included; writers responsible for travel to New Mexico and housing. This reward also includes a DVD of the film, invite to a NM premiere & premiere party and all digital rewards above.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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The rights to screen the film one night anywhere you want: your house, a school, a community center, your choice! Plus, a DVD of the film, invite to a NM premiere & premiere party and all digital rewards above.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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A free coaching series with Mark Hurwich, one of A Place to Stand's biggest supporters and a fantastic coach to get unstuck in anything in life. Visit his website for more information: http://concentratedcoaching.net. Plus, VIP access to all A Place to Stand events and parties worldwide. 2 tickets any premiere of the film (NY, LA or NM), a DVD of the film, and all digital rewards above.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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A RARE OPPORTUNITY! Jimmy will read and critique your writing - up to ten poems or ten pages of prose. You will then have a 30 minute private Skype session with him to discuss your work. In addition, you'll gain VIP access to all A Place to Stand events and parties worldwide, 2 tickets to any premiere of the film (NM, NY or LA), a DVD of the film, and all digital rewards above.Estimated delivery:Add $10 USD to ship outside the US
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A private dinner for you and a guest with Daniel Glick (director), Gabriel Baca (producer) and Jimmy before a New Mexico premiere. In addition, you'll gain VIP access to all A Place to Stand events and parties worldwide. 2 tickets any premiere of the film (NY, LA or NM), a DVD of the film, and all digital rewards above. (Travel to New Mexico not included.)Estimated delivery:
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Daniel Glick (director) and Gabriel Baca (producer) will direct and edit a short documentary (2-3 minute) with you about a topic of your choosing (one day shoot – NM or NY areas - or elsewhere if travel is paid). In addition, you'll gain VIP access to all A Place to Stand events and parties worldwide. 2 tickets any premiere of the film (NY, LA or NM), a DVD of the film, and all digital rewards above.Estimated delivery:Ships within the US only
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A VERY RARE OPPORTUNITY! Jimmy will critique your writing (up to 20 poems or 20 pages of prose). You will then have three private 30 minute Skype sessions with Jimmy to work on your writing, In addition, you will receive all of the rewards above, an autographed collection of 8 of Jimmy's books (your choice) and an Associate Producer credit in the film.Estimated delivery:
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All of the above rewards, plus Jimmy will fly to a school or organization of your choice and conduct a writing workshop (contiguous US).Estimated delivery:Ships within the US only
- (15 days)