Funded! This project was successfully funded on November 16, 2012.

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A film about the 36-year-long pen pal friendship between two girls who will meet, for the first time, in Sweden next summer.

Hey, that's really cool! The story hit the evening news.

http://www.wcax.com/story/20006366/longtime-pen-pals-meet

Yesterday, a cold and rainy doorway to November, was the perfect kind of day to spend reading old letters, and that was just what I did. I read through every letter I have saved from Lena and what a lovely ramble through history it was--our personal histories and the history of the world. So many things struck me: how funny and self-effacing Lena is, and how genuinely concerned she has always been about the environment and peace in the world. In 1983 (at the tender age of 18) when American marines and French servicemen were killed after two separate bomb attacks in Beirut, Lena wrote this: "In a way, isn't writing to people in foreign countries one of the manners of bridging all prejudices and misunderstandings that exist between different kinds of the human race?"

http://melissaannobrien.com/storytown/2012/11/2/rj0hhyc8eh7l0hchb9oak0hgwso8kj

The Story
Thirty-six years ago two girls, one from the United States (Melissa) and one from Sweden (Lena), were paired, through an international pen pal organization, and began writing to each other. They were twelve years old at the time and they are still writing today--real letters, not email, not texts--words written on paper and sent through the mail. They have spent the vast majority of their lives exchanging letters with one another, and yet they have never met.

It's about time, don't you think?

Why Are We Making This Film?
Because no one writes real letters anymore. Because Lena and Melissa never stopped writing and 36 years is a really long time to keep a letter-writing friendship alive. Because it's an incredible thing to imagine these two women meeting, finally. Because the world is so big and so small, at the same time. Because a mother and son working together to create and share a beautiful story is a beautiful thing. Because, at the end of the day, this is why we are here: to connect with one another, to be human and to build lasting relationships. 

Sometimes we are bonded by blood, sometimes by happenstance and sometimes it's something as simple and elegant and mysterious as words on a piece of paper.

The Journey
Join us on this cinematographic adventure as Lena and Melissa reminisce about their friendship which has spanned nearly four decades and four thousand miles, and then as they meet for the first time in Sweden next summer. 

The Plan
Mother and son creative team, Melissa O'Brien and Sam McChesney will make a film and a book about the history of Lena and Melissa's letter-writing friendship--the story of their lives, shared on paper--and their real-life meeting, thirty-seven years after they first met via mail.

Your generous support will allow us to gather the equipment we need to create the film: A Canon t3i camera; Final Cut Pro editing software and sound equipment, and to publish a hardcover book, "Dear Lena".

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

There exists the possibility that Lena or Melissa or Sam might not be able to meet deadlines or to do the work involved in creating the film--certainly we have no guarantees about where we'll be tomorrow. Beyond that, there could be technological challenges. As a film student (Sam) and photographer (Melissa), we're familiar with what's needed in order to be prepared for foul weather and equipment failures. There may be simple issues with being in touch with Lena during the time leading up to our trip to Sweden and to overcome those, we'll need to be flexible on this end in terms of timing. Otherwise, this is a fairly straightforward, heartwarming and fun film and book project.

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    An over-sized postcard with a special image from Melissa and Lena's MOM (moment of meeting). Special thank you on the webpage and updates throughout the entire process.

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    6 backers

    Previous plus your name in the credits of the film.

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    17 backers

    Previous plus a digital copy of the finished film.

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    9 backers

    Previous plus a small softcover book of photographs from the journey to Sweden.

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    10 backers

    Previous plus a medium softcover book of photographs from the journey to Sweden, signed by the filmmakers.

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    1 backer

    All that you just read about in the $100 category (minus the book--two books is too many), plus a softcover copy of the book, "Dear Lena," the which will include photographs, copies of some of the letters Melissa and Lena wrote and the story of their nearly-lifelong letter friendship.

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    The postcard. Your name in the credits of the film. An 8 x 10 signed photograph of Melissa and Sam and Lena. A digital copy of the finished film. Wow. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. And a beautiful hardcover, signed copy of the book, "Dear Lena."

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    1 backer

    Everything in the $250-backer category, plus an invitation to bring everyone you know and love to a private screening of the film in Manchester, Vermont in the fall of 2013. The popcorn is on the house.

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    Everything you just read about in the $300-backer category, plus a lovely, candlelit autumnal Vermont dinner (catered by the famed Barn Restaurant in Pawlet, Vermont) with the filmmakers after the screening.

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Funding period

- (30 days)