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CLOSER TO HOME is a narrative feature made with teenagers in the San Fernando Valley through a process we call community filmmaking
CLOSER TO HOME is a narrative feature made with teenagers in the San Fernando Valley through a process we call community filmmaking
135 backers pledged $21,405 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$21,405

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Stories are powerful. Stories change how we see the world, how we view ourselves, and how we feel about one another. This is why I created a process that enables people outside of the traditional filmmaking community to make movies and tell their stories. I make movies with real people; people who rarely think of themselves as storytellers or moviemakers but actually are. Together, we develop a fictional story and shoot a movie based on their real lives and experiences.

For the past three months, I’ve been teaching and collaborating with about 20 students in the San Fernando Valley. These kids have courage and heart and what they live everyday is more than enough to make a compelling movie. Thanks to their dedication, we are NOW ready to film their story entitled CLOSER TO HOME: A Community Filmmaking Project.

When you go to the movie theater, how often can you see a great story that shows you what life is really like for many Americans? Some people would even say these kinds of stories aren’t captivating enough or worth telling. For me, these stories are the MOST captivating. Stories that show real lives are entertaining, funny, touching, revealing and, most importantly, life-changing for both the people who make them and for the people who watch them!

These students are armed and ready with a great story, but we need your help to make this movie a reality and to roll cameras in July. Everyone’s story matters. Help us make a movie that will make a difference!

-Aaron

The students... and Aaron
The students... and Aaron

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Aaron Douglas Johnston (that's me!) a film director from Iowa + about 20 students at Partnerships to Uplift Communities (PUC) Community Charter Early College High School (CCECHS) - otherwise known as an awesome high school in the San Fernando Valley in California.

CLOSER TO HOME is a community-made feature-length movie. We’ve been workshopping (creating a story and developing the students’ acting and movie-making skills) for the last 3 months. Now - and I do mean right NOW - it’s time to go into production and actually make the movie.

Students learning the art of filmmaking
Students learning the art of filmmaking

The school (PUC CCECHS) is in Lake View Terrace, which is in the San Fernando Valley in California, just outside of Los Angeles, but the movie will be made in Lake View Terrace, around LA, and in neighboring areas like Burbank.

Only 20 miles away... but about as far from Hollywood as you can get
Only 20 miles away... but about as far from Hollywood as you can get

NOW, actually. Filming will begin any day now and will continue throughout the summer.

  • Great stories come from everyday lives. Everyone deserves the chance to tell their story and EVERYONE'S STORY MATTERS
  • Stories like these show what American diversity is really about and HELP PEOPLE UNDERSTAND ONE ANOTHER.
  • Teaching students and adults about storytelling EMPOWERS THEM TO CRAFT THEIR OWN LIFE STORY.
  • Teaching students how to make movies GIVES THEM LIFE SKILLS and helps prepare them for college and their professional future.
Students in story-building workshop
Students in story-building workshop

Filmmaking is expensive. We need to raise at least $21,000 to make this movie. This is a collaboration between the students and film professionals. The professionals mentor the students in order to make a professional-quality film. These students have a story that matters, so much so that we must make sure it’s seen! To do that, we need to make the movie look and sound great. By making a professional-quality film we ensure the story will travel beyond the community it’s about, touching and changing the lives of all who watch it throughout the US and the world! Donating even $5.00 will get us one step closer to our goal.

Here are a few of of the items we need your help to cover:

  • Camera Equipment (including that matt-e box)
  • Lighting Equipment (including those C-stands) 
  • Production Design (including wardrobe and make up) 
  • Locations 
  • Catering and Craft Service (this one is HUUUUGE. Remember, we have to feed about 15 people twice a day for the whole shoot!)
  • Transportation (getting around LA is expensive!)
Please support our movie!
Please support our movie!

I have done this before, and it works. I used the same process to create the Sundance-selected short TODAY AND TOMORROW and the Film Independent Spirit Awards Nominated feature MY SISTER’S QUINCEANERA. It’s amazing what a small group of talented and passionate people can do! We’re a lean, mean filmmaking machine. Now all we need is your support!

Risks and challenges

This is an unconventional way to make a film. As with any film the process is expensive and time consuming, but community filmmaking is particularly challenging, because the story evolves as we film. The process can be easily slowed down as the kids shape what stories they want to tell, but this is actually what makes the process great. Telling the best story possible is worth taking a few extra weeks!!!

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    *THANK YOU SHOUT-OUT* Your donation will help to buy much needed supplies. We will officially thank you on Facebook and Twitter.

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    *THANK YOU NOTE* We will officially thank you on Facebook and Twitter and you will receive a personalized thank you note from the students written on the back of a photo taken on set.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    *DIGITAL DOWNLOAD* When the film is done, you will receive a digital download.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    *DIGITAL DOWNLOAD PLUS* When the film is done, you will receive a digital download. You will also receive a digital download of Aaron's Spirit Award-nominated film "My Sister's Quinceañera."

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    *POSTER* We will mail you an official film poster and you will receive a digital download of the film and a digital download of "My Sister's Quinceañera."

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    *SIGNED POSTER* Aaron will sign your official film poster and you will receive a digital download of the film and a digital download of "My Sister's Quinceañera."

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    *COFFEE & QUESTIONS* Aaron will meet up with you for coffee and answer any questions you have. If you aren't in the same place at the same time he will Skype with you. You will also receive a signed poster, a digital download of the film and a digital download of "My Sister's Quinceañera."

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    *THANK YOU CREDIT* Your name will be added to the SPECIAL THANKS in the film credits and you will receive a signed poster, a digital download of the film and a digital download of "My Sister's Quinceañera."

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    *NAME A CHARACTER* You will get to NAME one of the characters in the film. You will also receive a digital download of the film and your name will be added to the SPECIAL THANKS in the film credits.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    *VISIT ON SET* You will help make this film a reality with your generosity. Join us on set and see what it takes to make a film. You will even eat lunch with the cast and crew! Filming will take place in LA in June, July and August 2014. You will also receive a digital download of the film and your name will be added to the SPECIAL THANKS in the film credits. (Travel and accommodation for the day on set not included)

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    *BE AN EXTRA* This is your chance to see your generous donation in action and be an extra in the film! Join us on set and see what it takes to make a film. You will eat lunch with the cast and crew. Filming will take place in LA in June, July, and August 2014. You will also receive a digital download of the film when it is completed and your name will be added to the SPECIAL THANKS in the film credits. (Travel and accommodation for the day on set not included)

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    *FIRST TO SEE THE FILM LA* Attend an exclusive test screening in LA (with a friend!) and attend a dinner reception with the director. Your name will also be added to the SPECIAL THANKS in the film credits and you will receive a digital download of the film when it is completed. (Travel and accommodation for the screening not included. The screening will take place in late winter/early spring 2015)

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    *FIRST TO SEE THE FILM AMSTERDAM* Attend an exclusive test screening in Amsterdam (with a friend!) and attend a dinner reception with the director. Your name will also be added to the SPECIAL THANKS in the film credits and you will receive a digital download of the film when it is completed. (Travel and accommodation for the screening not included. The screening will take place in late winter/early spring 2015)

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    Pledge $6,000 or more About $6,000

    *YOUR COMMUNITY MIGHT BE NEXT* At this level of support, you would be contributing ENORMOUSLY to the completion of the film! Aaron will travel to your location to spend 1 day with you and your community of choice teaching you all of the things he teaches his students. You will learn storytelling, charcter building, acting and much more! Your name will also be listed as an Associate Producer in the film credits. (US and Europe locations only.)

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    *YOUR COMMUNITY MIGHT BE NEXT PLUS* At this level of support, your contribution is TREMENDOUS! Aaron will travel to your location to spend 3 days with you and your community of choice teaching you all of the things he teaches his students. You will learn storytelling, character building, acting and much more! Your name will also be listed as an Executive Producer in the film credits. (US and Europe locations only.)

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    *FILM FESTIVAL* You will have a MASSIVE impact on how quickly we can finish this film and get these students' stories out there. Receive tickets for two to a film festival screening of your choice plus your name will be listed as an Executive Producer in the film credits. (Travel and accommodation for the festival not included.)

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Funding period

- (21 days)