Road to Home is a feature-length documentary film exploring the crisis of LGBT youth homelessness in NYC. Read more
This project's funding goal was not reached on June 27, 2014.
About this project
As closets have opened to more fruitful lives for LGBT adults in the past decade, the most vulnerable in our society are being left behind. Emboldened by the increasing acceptance experienced by LGBT adults, more and more young people are coming out to their friends and families—and getting kicked out—younger and younger. Many parents claim their religion will not allow them to shelter an LGBT child in their homes. So they kick their children out, or treat them so badly they can no longer live at home. In fact, recent studies indicate that approximately 25% of LGBT teens wind up on the streets and in public shelters after coming out to their parents.
In cities across America, hundreds of thousands of LGBT young people wander the streets without a place to call home. In New York City, from Times Square to the streets of Harlem, from the Chelsea Piers to the FDR Drive overpass, thousands of them take shelter wherever they can in hopes that they’ll make it through the night. Though they all may not look homeless, some even blending into the crowd as ordinary teenagers, many of these young people face the real dangers that come with living on the streets: addiction, exploitation, imprisonment, hunger, and even death. In the midst of this crisis, however, there are glimmers of hope—the resilience and spark of youth who have not yet been lost to perils of street life, and the determination of activists dedicated to making a difference.
Road to Home will follow a half dozen young LGBT people who turned to the streets after being rejected by their families. Having been in production for the last year, we have met a number of people who have allowed us into their lives and have agreed to be filmed. Through the use of observational footage, we will intimately trace their journeys as they traverse the street life—from the blistering heat of summer to the frigid nights of winter—moving from shelter to shelter and fighting just to survive.
However, our goal is not to simply wring our hands at a social problem. Throughout production, we worked closely with the Ali Forney Center, a NYC organization tasked with helping LGBT homeless youth. By using the Ali Forney Center as a springboard into this complex world, we have been able to work with people dedicated to making a difference. It is our goal not only to tell a powerful dramatic story, but also to create a film that will motivate people to do something about a critical social problem.
And this is where you come in, Kickstarter. We’re at a crucial point right now. We’ve completed 95% of production, and we hope to get into the editing room this summer. But we need your help to get there. If we reach our goal, we will be able to start editing and get the film to a rough cut. So please, take a look at all the materials here and the rewards and consider a contribution. Your help will go a long way in getting this important film made. You can make sure this important story gets told.
Periodically, we'll update this section with snippets we've cut introducing the people in our film.
Carl Siciliano - Executive Director, Ali Forney Center
I’m making Road to Home because I've been fighting for social justice in my life and my work since I was 20 years old. As anyone truly committed to social justice knows, as victories towards justice and equality are achieved in one area, new frontiers of injustice open up. With the gay rights movement making so much progress, many LGBT young people feel more confident in coming out to their parents. But not all parents can accept homosexuality in their children. So kids come out – and get kicked out – younger and younger. I want to explore how the benefits accruing to middle and upper class gay men and women may actually result in penalties for younger and more vulnerable people. I want to show the spark and strength of the LGBT kids who are most vulnerable. I want to make sure that there is a vibrant community of young LGBT youth ready to become the next generation of LGBT adults. I don’t want anyone left behind.
If you decide to make a contribution, we’ve got a bunch of rewards lined up for you as a thank you for your generosity. From copies of the film to an Executive Producer credit on the finished film, we hope there is something there to entice you into giving even a little bit toward the completion of this important project.
One reward that we are especially excited about is the extended Director's Cut version of the film. Due to time and narrative limits, we are unable to include in the television/theatrical versions all of the amazing people and stories we've seen and heard over the course of production. But it is important to everyone who has worked on this film that these stories get shared and heard by people all over the world, so we are making sure that happens with the extended cut.
Cal Skaggs (Director/Producer): Cal is the founder of Lumiere Productions, a New York-based production company whose work has been featured on movie and television screens around the world. He has produced or directed over 30 dramas and documentaries for television and theatrical exhibition. His first theatrical feature, On Valentine’s Day, was the official American entry in the Venice Film Festival; his hip-hop drama Fly By Night won the Sundance Filmmakers’ Trophy in 1993. Probably his favorite among the features he produced, though, is Go Tell It on the Mountain, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s first novel.
Nearly 20 years ago, Cal turned from fiction films toward the art of documentary. Since then, he has produced and/or directed numerous documentaries and documentary series for such outlets as PBS, HBO, Discovery, Arté, and in the last decade, three for Channel 4 UK. Cal has directed and executive produced two PBS limited series: With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right in America (1996) and Local News (2001). Among his recent films are Democracy on Deadline: The Global Struggle for an Independent Press (2006) and Kansas to Kandahar: Citizen Soldiers at War (2007). In 2011, he completed two episodes of a projected 5-hour history of documentary film, To Tell the Truth.
Ashley Panzera (Associate Producer): Ashley is a documentary filmmaker dedicated to creating socially conscious media. She has worked in several categories of documentaries such as (A)sexuality, which premiered at the LGBT festival NewFest; Independent Lens’ film Pushing The Elephant; and the international short “Cast in Sand: Najia and Agaila.” Rooted in the New York City film community, she was selected fellow for the Uniondocs Collaborative 2010-11, where she shot and edited the short film, The Sauce, about the salsa music revitalization in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She is also an active participant in the Brooklyn Filmmakers’ Collective.
In collaboration with the transmedia project, The Oil Men, Ashley is directing a short video series on the current oil boom in Williston, North Dakota. Noise Runs, her first feature documentary about radical citizen journalists in Port-Au Prince, Haiti, is currently in postproduction with the award-winning editor, Sabrina Gordon. Ashley graduated cum laude from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro with a B.A. in Media Studies and Minor in Women and Gender Studies. She is also an active participant in the Brooklyn Filmmakers’ Collective.
Reuben Kleiner (Director of Photography): A New York native granted a BFA in Film Production at Pratt Institute in 2007, Reuben has now directed photography on many narrative, commercial, live performance, and documentary productions. His short film, “Birth of the Box,” was chosen amongst nine films in North America for an Eastman Kodak Scholars Program. In 2007, he shot Sufjan Steven’s “The BQE,” which was commissioned by the Brooklyn Academy of Music for the 25th Next Wave Festival and won the 2008 Brendan Gill Prize. His advertising clients include Grey New York, TBWA/Chiat/Day, and Y&R, for which he has shot many internal brand videos. In 2012, he directed and shot a web series in collaboration with Pitchfork TV, following musicians behind the scenes as the Pitchfork Music Festival. Most recently he has been shooting mainly for NBC Universal and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and with Lumiere Productions on Road to Home.
Mona Davis (Editor): In her 30 years as a documentary editor, Mona has been especially adept at digging exquisite films from hours of verité footage, though she has cut many other kinds of documentaries. Among her distinguished credits are the films The Farm: Angola, USA; Age 7 in America and 14-Up in America; A Perfect Candidate; Love and Diane; and Pushing the Elephant. Mona has cut one film Cal Skaggs directed and one he executive produced.
Ilya Ryvin (Office Coordinator/Assistant Producer): Ilya is a NYC based filmmaker with an interest in documentary and transmedia storytelling. He has worked on several projects at Lumiere Productions, including To Tell the Truth: A History of Documentary Film 1928-1946, which premiered at DOC NYC 2012, Gene Smith and the Jazz Loft, and Faith and Freedom. He has also worked on several fiction projects, including Russell Sharman’s Apartment 4E, The Creek When He Came Back, and the short film, Dog. Ilya is a graduate of the Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College, where he graduated summa cum laude in History.
Risks and challenges
For as long as I’ve been an independent filmmaker, fundraising has been a challenge. Even with a project that has mass appeal like Road to Home, it can be an uphill battle to raise early development and production funds. When we began work on Road to Home, we did so on our own dime because we believed strongly in the merit of what we were trying to accomplish. Since then, we’ve been fortunate enough to receive support from individuals and organizations like the Ford Foundation, The Calamus Foundation, and The Arcus Foundation, and with their backing we’ve been able to complete production. We’re now at a crucial step: the edit. With support from the Kickstarter community, we can get this film edited.
Our next challenge will be to raise the funds necessary to score, mix, and color correct the film and get it out to the public. We are optimistic about our ability to make this happen, and we hope to get the film finished and ready for distribution by early 2015.
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