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Pier Kids: The Life is a documentary about the homeless gay and transgender youth who call the Christopher Street Pier home.

URGENT UPDATE FROM THE DIRECTOR:

Hey everyone,

I can't tell you how excited I am right now. Thanks to an incredibly generous donation this afternoon, we exceeded our goal here on Kickstarter. I was in my living room with Krystal when I found out. Brought us both to tears. I really can't tell describe the emotions that I'm feeling right now. It's overwhelming.

I have to be honest with you though. Our total budget for post-production is $100,000. This includes a professional film editor, a sound mixer, a colorist, and a transcriber. I have, therefore, set a new goal for us to reach in the next 3 days. It's lofty, but I know it's doable.

OUR NEW GOAL IS $50,000.

Warmest regards,
Elegance

"Here are the descendants of the people in Paris is Burning, depicted by someone who's lived the madness and can relate, first-hand, why this is an important New York story and an important American story. Join the community of people making this film a reality!" ~ Jennie Livingston, director of Paris is Burning

"Pier Kids is already proving to be as raw as an open wound, a film that is at once provocative as it is necessary." ~ Eric Torres

"We are totally transfixed by Pier Kids: The Life." The film is an "absolutely must-watch. Like Paris is Burning, these subjects have grabbed us and we cannot stop thinking about them." ~ Matt Baume

As featured in The Huffington Post (twice), OUT Magazine, Queerty, Slate and on GLAAD’s website….

THE PARTICIPANTS

Born a ward of the state and placed into the foster-care system when he was fifteen months old, DeSean didn’t meet his birth mother until shortly before he turned eighteen. But she quickly pushed him out of her home for his sexual orientation.

That is when DeSean came to Christopher Street, where he has been for the past five years.

Please participate in helping finish the film! Just pick a level in the right hand column and click to donate — it only takes a minute.

At at the age of sixteen, Krystal was pushed out of her home by a family who rejected her sexual orientation.

Krystal moved around a lot after that. First it was Kansas City, then Los Angeles, then Phoenix then Las Vegas, then back to Kansas City, and then finally New York City. It was there, on Christopher Street, that Krystal finally found the kind of family that would support her for who she was and not who people hoped her to be.

Casper was born a ward of the state and lived in the foster care system until his mother regained custody of him at the age of fourteen. Casper soon began going to Christopher Street where he explored his bi-sexuality.

He quickly became a familiar and comforting face on the piers but was unfortunately and quite mysteriously run down by a car and killed in the middle of the making of this documentary.

THE HISTORY

The Pier is just a few blocks from Stonewall where the 1969 riots took place. Riots that were started by Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

So there's no Gay Rights Movement without them, no gays in the military without them, and no gay marriage without them.

Yet Marsha and Sylvia were transgender, poor, Black, and Latina. They were even the same age as many of the pier kids today.

The Gays Rights Movement has made a global impact. While right down the street from where it began, there are transgender, poor, Black and Latina children living outside. Outcasts, purchased by predominately white men, and constantly harassed by police.

A movement that was created to embrace, rejects them.

THE DIRECTOR

I learned about photography and film making when I served in the Marine Corps. It was the first time in my life that I experienced the value of service.

The structure of the Corp, believe it or not, taught me how to live as a gay man. This was first time I experienced the value of who I was.

After my service, I knew I wanted to make a film and knew the story I wanted to tell. So, I headed down to the pier, the first place I went when my mother threw me out for being gay.

When I began this film, I thought my mission was to tell the stories of Casper, DeSean, and Krystal. Yet when I witnessed these stories, and began making choices on how they would be shown, I was a shock to realize that I was creating conversations that I wished he could have with my own mother.

In the end, Pier Kids: The Life is the kind of film I wish I could've seen, that my Mom could've seen, that other families can see. I'm certain this film would have helped my Mom and me understand what was happening so long ago. That's why I'm making it. 

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WHY WE NEED YOU

Pier Kids: The Life has been in production for three years. All the costs up until now have been paid for out of our own pockets. What started as a small project has grown into something more important than we could've ever imagined. This community has been persecuted and neglected for years. Don’t you think it’s time we did something about that? Don’t you think it’s time we made them visible so that a change can be made?

But we need you to make it to the finish line. As the film enters post-production, we have to edit down over two hundred hours of footage into a feature-length film, color balance the footage, sound mix it, and so much more. $30,000 gets us that much closer to this goal. We will get the rest through speaker events and panel discussions at various college campuses across the Northeast, through various city and state grants, and by individual donors who, like you, see the necessity for this film.

How's this possible? $30,000 might seem like a lot to one individual. But that’s why we're here. You’re not just one individual. You’re many. A $10 donation by 3,000 people gets us $30,000. 3,000 people isn't a lot when we consider the power of our combined networks and the reach of social media and the Internet. Here's a quick run through of how a little makes a lot.

A $30 donation by 1,000 people = $30,000.
A $50 donation by 600 people = $30,000.
A $100 donation by 300 people = $30,000.

You see how this works? You see how powerful you can be?

Help Spread the Word
 — The success of our campaign depends on getting the word out as widely as possible. Even if you can’t make a pledge, please support us by sharing this project with your friends via email, Facebook or Twitter. You can also LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on the film.

Most importantly, your donation will also prove that this is a story people need to see. It will show the pier kids that you care they exist.

With your interest in this project, we will also secure places in film festivals and distribution across the country so that this film—indeed, their stories—get seen by millions of people around the world.

Change is coming. We can feel it.

A NOTE FROM THE PRODUCER

Crowd-funding websites like Kickstarter have revolutionized the film making process. We're currently experiencing a new democracy of film. Not since the silent era has it been possible for just about anyone to make and finance a feature-length film.

The introduction of sound technology made films so expensive that what kinds of film got made was entirely decided by the rich and powerful. Today, however, is a different story. The power now rests in your hands. You decide what gets made and how it gets made.

REWARDS

To show our appreciation, we’ve included plenty of rewards for all contribution levels—from a personal shout-out on social media to VIP tickets to the film’s premiere at the beginning of 2015. Please check out the list to the right of the screen.

MEET THE FILMMAKERS

After being homeless for ten years, Director Elegance Bratton was a photographer and filmmaker for the United States Marine Corps documenting humanitarian aid work in Southeast Asia. He was honorably discharged in November 2010 and immediately pursued a degree in African American Studies and Anthropology at Columbia University.

In the summer of 2012, Elegance was awarded a fellowship with Humanity In Action to study the relationship between French constitutional law and the social-justice movements of oppressed French populations. He’s been making Pier Kids: The Life for three years now.

Producer Nathan Proctor was a professional photographer for seven years before returning to school where he currently studies the intersection of literature and film at Columbia University. His thesis is tentatively titled “Walter Benjamin, Luigi Pirandello, and the Silent Cinema Camera Operator.” He’s set to graduate summa cum laude in May.

Nathan is currently in post-production for an as-yet unnamed short documentary that he made on a humanitarian trip to southeast Louisiana to help the Biloxi-Chitimacha community inhabiting the Isle de Jean Charles, which is the fastest eroding land mass on earth.

Associate Producer Aries Dela Cruz is an award-winning activist and communicator who has been involved in many movements for social justice. He’s currently the Communications and Public Affairs Manager for Citizens Union of the City of New York, a good government civic watchdog group. Aries is the board president and a director of MIX NYC, which runs A Different Take, a film training for at-risk LGBT youth of color, as well as the ACT-UP Oral History Project.

Aries was involved in the Save Our Space campaign with FIERCE in 2002, and worked as an educator for GMHC’s Young Men’s Initiative and the House of Latex Project. He has also worked as an organizer for VOCAL NY and has served on the Young People’s Advisory Committee of APICHA. He’s spoken at the Coalition of Asian Children and Families, Live Out Loud, and GenderPAC, Harlem Children’s Zone, NYU Asian/Pacific/American Institute among other institutions.

Aries graduated from Columbia with a B.A. in Anthropology with distinction. At Columbia, he was vice president of the Queer Alliance and a member of the Daily Spectator’s editorial board. After graduating, Aries was awarded a fellowship by the Gill Foundation to have a residency at Weber Shandwick, one of the world’s largest public relations firms. His work has been featured in curriculum for Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families.

For more information, please visit our website www.pierkidsthelife.com.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

We are determined that the film will be finished and playing in a film festival near you within the next two years. That said, this timeline depends on how swiftly we can raise completion funds. In addition to our Kickstarter campaign, we are continuing to solicit funds from foundations and individual donors.

Please note that your Kickstarter rewards will be fulfilled as swiftly as is humanly possible. If you have any questions please be sure to contact us. Thank you for your support!

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