Funded! This project was successfully funded on January 21, 2012.

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Sarah and Greg visit the 5 towns called Bear across the country, and rely on the kindness of strangers for a home each night.

We've reached our goal!!! A huge thanks to every single person who has demonstrated their support and been an incredibly kind stranger -- and friend. There's still time to donate, and there are still music expenses, festival submissions, and marketing initiatives that can use your help. Share this with your friends, our strangers, and help us spread acts of kindness. 

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THANKS!

We understand that time and money can be limited. We appreciate you taking the time to watch the trailer and read a little about this project.

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Armed with nothing but their curiosity and a camera, Sarah and Greg set out to visit each town in the country called Bear by relying on the kindness of strangers for a home each night.

THE STORY

"American Bear: An Adventure In The Kindness Of Strangers" is an inspiring exploration of our country through trust, fear, and hospitality, across America and between Americans. In the summer of 2010 Sarah and Greg traveled the country relying on the kindness of strangers for a home each night. Every day they were in a new town, meeting new people, and hoping that someone would be generous enough to open their home to two young strangers.

American Bear is about a young couple spending 60 days together, 24/7, making the passion project of their lives: enriched by the hundreds of strangers (and new friends) they met and the variety of American landscape. It all began a year earlier, during another road trip, when Greg spoke out in his sleep, saying "We have to go to Bear, Colorado!" Sarah and Greg were thrilled by this dream-destiny –- and disappointed when their search proved Bear, CO doesn't exist. Fortunately, there are five other Bears in the country, that make a perfect horseshoe between Washington, Idaho, Arizona, Arkansas, and Delaware -- their fate-driven blueprint through 30 states around the country.

Led by Sarah and Greg through a vast American landscape of geography and character, the film centers on their struggle to find a home each night through the kindness of the individual.  But the film expands to paint a portrait of Americans as a community and the questions we all have about the people who aren’t us and the places that aren’t our homes. It tells the stories of a few of the most irregular, profound and affected individuals they encounter. From the daughter of the last warrior woman of the Cheyenne mountain tribe whose grandson is still facing bigotry in South Dakota; to the twice married ghost hunters trying to synthesize their experiences in small-town New York; to young friends in Mississippi trying to understand the “country” stereotype, maybe even reclaim it – each character is facing some obstacle that allows us to see a unique side of the multifaceted American lifestyle.  It is through these individuals that we are able to see the fabric of the American mentality and the daily choices we make.

In a time when violence is ever present and apathy seems to override even the bloodiest of headlines, maybe we need to try a different tactic: openness and vulnerability as a means to hope. Our goal is to leave the audience feeling optimistic; feeling that there are small things you can do to fight against injustice, to support our human community. We strive to make a documentary that will create a very specific kind of hope. A hope that doesn’t have to work against the odds, but rather one that suggests that in the end the odds are in our favor.   A hope that people all around the world can be good and kind, and generous.

What does it take to lend a hand? What obstacles stand in our way? Can we be good people?  What can we do to help each other flourish?

We wish to foster the power of the individual as the greatest resource for generating change in the world, starting with a simple act of kindness.


HOW YOU CAN HELP

This film can’t be made without you! Your support will help us finish the film and allow us to pay our editors, sound designers, graphic designer, and more. It will help get a story of hope out there – maybe even allow us to start a movement around acts of kindness.

In addition to producing a DVD of the film, we are hoping to play the festival circuit, have a limited theatrical release, and broadcast the documentary to as many people as possible, all around the world. Our message of kindness translates into any language. But the documentary market is tougher than ever, so we can ’t do it without your help!

If you are able to contribute financially, we have amazing incentives to the right, many of which are gifts from the amazing people that hosted us.  If you can spread the word about our Kickstarter campaign to your friends, on Facebook, or to strangers on the street doing good deeds – we would be eternally grateful! Your time and energy are just as helpful as a financial contribution. We only have 60 days to make and hopefully surpass our goal!

Here’s a breakdown of how we plan to use the funds:

•              Paying our head editor, Danny Ledonne, to help us complete the film. Editing takes time, especially when you have almost 100 hours of footage from a two month documentary journey.

•              Licensing music and scoring the film.  We are excited about our collaboration with Michigan based band Breathe Owl Breathe (www.breatheowlbreathe.com).

•              Map animation and graphics of our route and the five Bears.

•              Sound design and mix

•              Color correction, motion graphics.

•              Hard drives and media management

•              Outreach and marketing – we like our kindness-to-strangers ideology and we know you will too!

•              Insurance and legal costs – gotta keep it safe.

This is just one piece of our fundraising endeavor, we are hoping to raise much more in the upcoming months. The more money we can gather through this campaign, the more money we can put into the film to make an amazing product and a moving documentary.  So please send this with anyone you know who has a dollar to a spare or a minute to share and don’t stop just because we’re nearing our goal – we’d love to double, or even triple, our goal!


WHAT'S BEEN GOING ON SINCE THE TRIP ENDED?

Over the past year, we worked with several editors, all of us simultaneously working on our student films and futures -- we made a lot of progress, but now we're really in full gear. We made logs of every day of footage; cut many days into their own story and highlights reel; and most importantly, we made a short film of just one day of the trip which we're currently submitting to film festivals. We also developed a complex marketing and social action strategy, an interactive website, and put together a team to help us get the word out.

HOW KICKSTARTER WORKS

Kickstarter is a way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors. It’s powered by a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands. In other words, if we don’t raise our goal of $9,000 we lose everything. Once we have reached (and hopefully surpassed!) our goal, we will contact you to get your address and then we will start working on getting those incentives to you.

HOW TO PLEDGE

Just click the green “Back This Project” button in the upper right-hand corner. You will be asked to input your pledge amount and select a reward. From there, you will go through the Amazon checkout process. You must finish the Amazon checkout process for your pledge to be recorded.

WHAT IF WE DON’T REACH OUR GOAL?

If funding fails, all pledges are cancelled and that's that. Your card is not charged, it’s like nothing ever happened. We, on the other hand will have to find another way to fund our film.

CAN WE EXCEED OUR GOAL?

Yes, and we hope to! Every additional dollar that we raise will go into making American Bear an even better film.

CAN YOU DONATE IN ANOTHER'S NAME OR BUY INCENTIVES AS A GIFT?

Of course!  Why not get them a dinosaur bone or a signed DVD? Just let us know the name you would like to donate under. We will contact you once funding is complete to gather information so that we can get your incentives to the address you choose.

CAN YOU SEND A CHECK?

Yes. Kickstarter only takes funds through credit cards, but we have an alternative system in place to accept checks. The same incentives will apply. Please email us at beardocumentary@gmail.com if you would like to send a check and we’ll give you the information.

CAN YOU DONATE OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES?

Yes. We chose Kickstarter because it's international, and we know there are kind strangers all over the world. Just click on the Amazon Payment Button and you will see that you can pay with a credit card from any country! But you must finish the Amazon checkout process for your pledge to be recorded. If you have any problems just contact us at americanbearfilm.com or beardocumentary@gmail.com.

CAN YOU INCREASE YOUR PLEDGE ONCE IT'S BEEN MADE?

Yes! Once you donate to our campaign, you may want to change your incentive reward to a different one, or increase your pledge amount. To do so, go to Kickstarter and sign in. If you go to our campaign page, the green “Back This Project” button has been replaced with a blue “Manage Your Donation” button. Click it and you can enter a new amount, or choose a new incentive.

IF THE FILM IS FUNDED, WHEN WILL IT RELEASE?

Still to be determined. Movies can take quite a while to make, and when the DVD can be released depends a lot on the festival circuit and distribution. Rest assured you will be the FIRST group to receive the DVD when it is available and we will keep you updated regularly on the release. The most likely window is between Summer 2012 and Spring 2013.

INTERESTED IN MAKING A LARGE DONATION FOR A TAX DEDUCTION?

If you are interested in making a donation of $5,000 or more to become a producer of the film, there is a possibility for a tax deduction through our 501(c)(3) partner. The same incentives will still apply. Please email us at beardocumentary@gmail.com to inquire further.

Credits available for $5,000 or more are:

•              $5,000 –  Associate Producer credit – 3 available

•              $10,000 – Executive Producer credit – 2 available

 

INTERESTED IN BECOMING AN INVESTOR?

If you are interested in speaking to someone about becoming an investor in the film rather than donating, that is also an option.  Credits are the same as with tax deductible donations.

WATCHING THE TRAILER

Want to see the trailer without all the shots of us pitching the film? Or the travelogue of our entire journey? Or read other people's experiences with kindness? Visit our website at americanbearfilm.com.

REACH OUT AND CONTACT US

Please feel free to email us with any questions!

beardocumentary@gmail.com


FAQ

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    3 backers

    American Bear Cub! --- Spread the word about the documentary and our fundraising efforts. We love the idea of strangers helping fund a project about kindness from strangers. Take screenshots of your facebook efforts, (b)cc us on emails, tag us in posts or tweets and let us know at beardocumentary@gmail.com. You will be credited as an American Bear Cub in the credits of the film!

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    8 backers

    Your name in the Digital Donors section of our credits and an American Bear Logo sticker! (applies to all donations except those that list different credit incentives) If you want two credits or a snazzier title share this link with friends and become an American Bear Cub!

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    42 backers

    American Bear Logo sticker (the bear driving an imaginary car) and a heartfelt and neatly scrawled American Bear Thank You card with illustration by Katrina Kopeloff (http://katrinakopeloff.com/americanbear_card.html).

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    19 backers

    Sticker, Thank You card, and a copy of Sarah and Greg’s unofficial Road Trip Mix dedicated to a stage of our journey (choose from: It Begins, The First Bear, Miles of Desert, Greg Cuts His Beard and After the Crash).

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    48 backers

    Sticker, Thank You card, Road Trip Mix and a signed DVD copy of the film once it's completed.

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    4 backers

    Sticker, Thank You card, a DVD copy of the film, PLUS an album of your choice purchased from band Breathe Owl Breathe (www.breatheowlbreathe.com) whose music will be used in the documentary.

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    4 backers Limited (18 left of 22)

    Sticker, Thank You card, DVD copy of the film, PLUS one of the few remaining teddy bears which we left with our hosts on our journey.

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    1 backer Limited (9 left of 10)

    Sticker, Thank You card, DVD copy of the film PLUS Sarah will hand draw you a personalized map of the American Bear route complete with notes on adventures, and Greg will print you two glossy prints from our photo archives (as large as 8’’-12’’ as small as 3’’-4.5’’). (10 available)

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    2 backers

    Sticker, Thank You card, DVD copy of the film, PLUS a hand printed card from Chris and Michelle at Minka (http://www.minkahome.com/collections/stationery) who hosted us on our test shoot, a glossy photo print of your choice, and we’ll send you postcards from every state on our next road trip... wherever that may lead!

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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    Sticker, Thank You card, DVD copy of the film, PLUS postcards from our next trip, and a framed poem written by host Amber in Oklahoma about the themes of the film. (5 available)

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    2 backers Limited (3 left of 5)

    Sticker, Thank You card, DVD copy of the film, PLUS a pie baked and mailed from Yumis bakery in Iowa -- the place where Sarah had her favorite pie in the WHOLE country from the owners who helped us find a home for the night. (5 available)

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    Sticker, Thank You card, DVD copy of the film, PLUS a large Special Thanks Credit in the Film. (8 available)

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    1 backer Limited (3 left of 4)

    All the stickers you want, Thank You card, DVD copy of the film, PLUS a Pay It Forward Party hosted in your name. (ie the Betsy Jensen Helps Pay It Forward Party) and host Wade from Idaho will carve you a whistle from a branch similar to the one he carved for us to bid us farewell. (4 available)

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    0 backers Limited (4 left of 4)

    All the stickers you want, Thank You card, DVD copy of the film, PLUS a real dinosaur bone from the backyard of host Guy in South Dakota. AND If you are in driving distance, a screening of the film in your home with Directors Sarah and Greg. (4 available)

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    All the stickers you want, Thank You card, DVD copy of the film, PLUS an Associate Producer Credit in the film and a piece of authentic Cheyenne jewelry made by host Jolene in Montana similar to the pieces she gave us to bid us farewell. (4 available)

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    0 backers Limited (3 left of 3)

    All the stickers you want, Thank You card, DVD copy of the film, PLUS a Producer Credit on the film. Also comes with a free reiki session from host Joe in New York who took care of us on the first night of our journey. AND we'll host YOU in our Syracuse apartment, complete with dinner, stories, and just about whatever you want before your drive to visit Joe (www.dreamweaverenergyworks.com).

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Funding period

- (60 days)