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 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.
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.
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.
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)
- 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!)
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!!!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (21 days)