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Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on May 19 2014
$11,637
pledged of $50,000pledged of $50,000 goal
95
backers
0seconds to go
Funding Canceled
Funding for this project was canceled by the project creator on May 19 2014

About

Taking science from the lab and putting it directly into your hands.

THE TOXIC BABY?

Recently TED published the talk “The Toxic Baby,” which was based on my feature length documentary of the same name. The film is a cinematic look at how chemicals in our day-to-day lives can affect the health and development of babies and children. My Kickstarter campaign is to turn the movie into the world's first interactive documentary app for the iPad.

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What's it all about?

Toxic Baby is an epic detective story that tells the story of environmental chemicals through the science of some of the world's most revolutionary thinkers and seen through the eyes of a surreal cast of characters.  Authored by award winning filmmaker Penelope Jagessar Chaffer, shot across 10 time zones and filmed in High Definition and 35mm film, the film explores breathtaking new scientific concepts to ask the question what does all of this mean, why don't we know about it and what can we do about it? 

Why an interactive app for the iPad? What’s so special about that?

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In a nutshell, the Toxic Baby interactive app is disruptive and innovative, marrying creative artistry, landmark science and cutting edge technology in a way never seen before. 

Breaking it down:

For a start it’s never been done before, which is pretty cool and you have a wealth of information that you normally can't access with traditional film.  When watching the film, you can access additional interactive material such as statistics, parental and medical perspectives, animations and graphic design.  For a filmmaker it's so cool to be able to fit over 3 hours worth of footage into a 90 minute film. 

Also in terms of practicality an interactive app has the opportunity to do something very revolutionary for documentary, which is the chance to update material after being released.

Normally when a film or book is released, it is a time capsule of the time it was made.  I can update the app to reflect the most current information, more of which you can read about below.

Watching the film:

The user has the option to simply watch the film like a traditional film and access the interactive material. In the film viewing window you will see an interactive scroll bar in the bottom third of the frame, that highlights the sections where additional interactive material is available. 

Professor Tyrone Hayes has interactive material in his section
Professor Tyrone Hayes has interactive material in his section

You have several options: watch the film in its entirety and not interact, watch the film and interact as the options appear or you can scroll through and pick when to interact. Once the Toxic Baby monster icon appears, your interactive choices will be available. The hearts on the scroll bar timeline represent ‘favorited’ moments of the film that can be shared via social media or email. 

The Index:

Accessing video content by topic, the "Index" is structured alphabetically, much like a book index, so you can search the entire Toxic Baby video archive from A - Z. The Index also contains outtakes, additional filmed content, animations, illustrations and graphic design that is not part of the film or its interactive material. 

The Toxic Baby app dashboard
The Toxic Baby app dashboard
The Index
The Index

The scientists:

Viewers can access interview content by scientist. The scientific contributors are listed as chapters on the dashboard, so the viewer can navigate content by scientist.

The scientists listed as "Movie Chapters" on the dashboard
The scientists listed as "Movie Chapters" on the dashboard

Maps:

You can also access the Toxic Baby content geographically. "Maps" will be populated with known chemical contamination sites such as lead and other chemical factories, fracking wells, superfund sites, toxic chemical spills, coal fired power plants, and more. Users are invited to upload a short smart phone video discussing their experiences with chronic childhood disease and/or interactions with known chemical sites. The app also takes advantage of the iPad’s geolocation technology where the user will be able to discover any environmental toxicity and chronic childhood diseases present in their own community.  The crowd sourcing of material in this way has also never been done before and brings another dimension to the interactive documentary experience.  

Maps option
Maps option

Updates:

Once a film is released or a book published, the material it contains cannot be updated (often rendering it quickly out of date), particularly with a topic like this where information changes so quickly. With the Toxic Baby app the information will be updated when new studies or statistics are released. As of last year apps can be updated without having to go to the app store to do it, so when I update, it goes straight to you.  Whenever you access Toxic Baby, you can be sure that you are accessing the best, most up to date information available.  An example of this is the autism figures.  When I started making the film, the figure for the US was 1 in 150 American children were being diagnosed with an ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder).  By the beginning of April 2014, the CDC had released the newest figures, which are 1 in 66.  In less than 10 years, I have personally witnessed that figure skyrocket.  I've had to update the graphics 6 times!  When we get landmark figures like this we can update and keep the information current, relevant and most importantly for documentary, factual.

Truly long form:

Finally you can access over 3 hours of video material.  A documentary film, unlike a 500 page textbook, is limited in the amount of factual information a viewer can access before it becomes overwhelming. With this innovative app, the viewer is able to access hours of additional material within a 90-minute film, a technological first for documentary. 

Wow that’s ambitious. Who are you?

My name is Penelope and I am a multi award winning filmmaker, writer and mom of two. I started my career at the BBC in London but now live in Brooklyn, New York. I’ve won quite a few awards in my time, more of which you can read about in my bio but I’m primarily known for two things: I’m the first woman of color to be nominated for a British Academy Award for direction and I hold the record as the most pregnant woman to ever give a TED talk, (9 months pregnant, literally days away from my due date and deeply concerned about a possible live TED birth, all over their nice red TED carpet.)

So what's your goal?

My Kickstarter goal is $50,000 to create the film app. We have two stretch goals of $50,000 each to build and add the Index and the Maps sections.

So why release the film as an app?

I made the film because I wanted people to know what the science was saying about children and toxic chemical exposure. I wanted to take the science out of the lab and put it directly into the hands of people.  As an independent filmmaker, it is an amazing tool to be able to deliver the film, without having to compromise my vision or the integrity of the scientists. Also one of the key audiences for the film are parents but it’s hard  for parents (especially for parents of young children) to get to the cinema.  In 2014, most people access media on their devices so this way people can access the film at their convenience, whether it’s waiting for your child to finish soccer practice or on the subway going into work.

Also when I started screening the film in New York and LA a curious thing happened. People, after picking up their jaws, wanted to know more. Why was this happening and why didn’t they know? Questions, questions and more questions and our Q&A sessions went on late into the night. People wanted more film not less, but as mentioned before, documentaries are not like a 500 page textbooks. There’s only so much factual information you can see before your brain switches off. This way you can watch as much or as little as you like. Talk about on demand.

Does that mean it will never be seen on TV or in the cinema?

No the film is still eligible for traditional distribution and not everyone has an iPad, so I am exploring other platforms like Android and other avenues in bringing the film to cities and communities across the world.

Who is making the app?

Leading web developers Deepend NYC is building the app. I supply the film, footage and all the content. The app is designed to match the look of the website, which Deepend also created and will do all the coding and developing.  Both the app and website reflect the look and style of the film.

Why hasn’t something like this been done before?

I got the idea for an interactive documentary app after directing landmark interactive projects for the BBC. I think because iOS technology is relatively new, people have just never thought interactive on this scale. I came to it from the other angle: how could we create an interactive experience with the iPad? 

This all sounds cool but I’m not really interested in chemicals and my kids aren’t sick. Why should I care?

When I was a child growing up people didn’t get sick the way they do now. Cancer was a disease that old people got, whispered amongst my grandmothers and her friends. Autism was unheard of as were life-threatening allergies.

Today in 2014, people are much sicker. Almost everyone knows someone with cancer now and rates for many cancers are rising fastest among younger people. [1] More young women are being diagnosed with advanced, incurable breast cancer a disease traditionally thought to affect older woman, with the biggest jump in incidence happening most recently (2000 - 2009).[2] Children in particular are getting more and more ill. In the US alone, 1 in 3 children will develop a chronic childhood disease like cancer or a development disability like autism and ADHD. [3] Autism Spectrum Disorders in particular appear to be spiraling in an extreme way.  As mentioned above, the rates are increasing dramatically.  In the UK, a child is rushed to hospital every 18 minutes because of an asthma attack, the leading cause of hospital admissions for children with one in 11 children suffering with the condition.[4][5]

Studies have now shown that many chemicals found in our air, food, water, homes, workplaces and schools have the ability to disrupt the way our bodies function, and are known players in this rise of chronic disease seen throughout the world, especially chronic childhood diseases like asthma, autism, cancer and ADHD, all diseases that have risen by over 20% in the past 25 years [6]. Exposure to toxic chemicals during a mother’s pregnancy and in childhood can determine the diseases that child will have later on in life as an adult.[7] New studies also show that it’s not just one generation but multiple generations can be affected.  Tragically, we can detect chemicals in umbilical cord blood samples,[8] and incredibly studies show that children have higher levels of certain chemicals in their bodies than their parents or grandparents.[9]  One question haunted me: Are we raising the most polluted, the most sick generation of children in history?

I don’t have kids though.

Sure, I get that, but I’m guessing you know lots of people who do and even if it isn’t a childhood disease, more and more people are struggling with things like infertility and miscarriage, hormone related conditions affecting things like our thyroids, hormone dependent diseases such as diabetes.  In general, we are all so much more ill than previous generations.  Studies suggest that our generation will not live longer that our parents. There’s a lot of science pointing to the way we live our lives and the chemicals we come across.

This is so depressing, don’t you think?

Yep it sure is, but being an ostrich isn’t going to make it go away. I know it’s tough to navigate so I made a film that’s engaging and cinematic, utilizing graphic design and animation techniques more commonly found in music videos, commercials, video games and feature films. 

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Examples include one of kind graphics like the Talking Fetus, which consists of photographer Lennart Nilsson's iconic pictures of real fetuses shot in the womb (which made the front cover of Life magazine in the 1960s) and animated them as a 3D wireframes, so that they actually move and speak.  Foreign Office, the guys behind the Harry Potter title sequences, created a hand painted, animated army of marching penises to illustrate the growing problem of low sperm counts. Basically I made a film for the MTV generation that grew up and had kids.

But what's the point?  We're all doomed aren't we?  

Well actually this science says that we can profoundly shape the future of diseases like cancer, autism, asthma and the other diseases associated with environmental chemical pollution.  Watch what the eminent environmental health researcher and coauthor of "Our Stolen Future" J. Peterson Myers PhD has to say.

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What’s with the monster? 

The Fear Monster
The Fear Monster

The dude with the orange tongue is the Fear Monster. The critter that lives in the head of every parent. In the film he crawls out of my ear and sticks his tongue up my nose.  Nice.

I created him to visualize the irrational fear that paralyzes parents. His big butt, ugly, twin sister “Guilt” also has a starring turn.

What’s the deal with the budget? What are you going to use the money for?

Our first goal is 50K, which would cover the build of the film watching aspect alone. The stretch goals of 50K each mentioned above are to build the two other components, with their individual content management systems.  The original film started production at the height of the recession, which hit the documentary grant giving community particularly hard.  I paid for the production by selling my home.  Without a successful Kickstarter campaign, the app will never be made.  

In addition to the app build, a production like this always has extra considerations.  For example, we have an amazing soundtrack that I would love to keep, but soundtracks are expensive.  My hope is to raise as much money as possible and if we surpass our goal, any additional funds will go towards other things like maintenance and research teams.

References

[1] Siegel et al. Increase in Incidence of Colorectal Cancer Among Young Men and Women in the United StatesCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 2009; 18 (6): 1695 DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-09-0186 

Foley et al. Increasing Rates of Cervical Cancer In Young Women in England: An Analysis of National Data 1982-2006. British Journal of Cancer (2011) 105, 177–184. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.196

Increasing Incidence of Melanoma Among Young Adults. Mayo Clinic Proceedings http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/article/S0025-6196(12)00209-1/pdf 

[2] Deadly breast cancers are rising in young women http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/26/breast-cancers-young-women/1949157/

Johnson et al. Incidence Of Breast Cancer With Distant Involvement Among Women in the United States Women. The Journal Of the American Medical Association http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1656255

[4] Asthma facts and FAQs                     http://www.asthma.org.uk/asthma-facts-and-statistics

[5] Why are asthma rates soaring? http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-are-asthma-rates-soaring/

[6] Van Cleave et al. Dynamics of Obesity and Chronic Health Conditions Among Children and Youth. The Journal Of the American Medical Association http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=185391&resultClick=3

[7] Turner et al. Residential Pestcides and Childhood Leukemia: A Systematic Review ad Meta-Analysis. Environmental Health Perspectives http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2831964/

[8] Tests Find More Than 200 Chemicals in Newborn Umbilical Cord Blood http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/newborn-babies-chemicals-exposure-bpa/

[9] Younger Canadians have more BPA in their bodies than Parents and Grandparents http://www.canada.com/health/Younger+Canadians+have+more+their+bodies+than+parents+Study/3408117/story.html

Risks and challenges

After a year of tests and discussions, the team can now deliver but it is a heavy app and like all things technological, there’s a remote possibility that it can take a little extra time to iron out any kinks. If that is the case, you can rest assured that we will keep you posted throughout the process and always let you know where we are at. The Toxic Baby Kickstarter community means the world to me and without you guys this ambitious dream would never happen.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    A handwritten thank you from Penelope on a limited edition Toxic Baby postcard plus a whole lot of Twitter and Facebook love.

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    a limited edition DVD copy of the film* and a handwritten thank you from Penelope on a limited edition Toxic Baby postcard plus a whole lot of Twitter and Facebook love. *The only way you will be able to get a DVD copy of the film is as a Kickstarter reward.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    A limited edition acetate artwork of one of the key graphic design elements of the film (either statistics or plot points from the film (choice of 8) plus all of the rewards listed above including the limited edition DVD of the film.

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    Pledge $55 or more About $55

    A limited edition 2GB USB stick made out of sustainable bamboo with the Toxic Baby logo (monster) etched on it, plus all of the rewards listed above including the limited edition DVD of the film.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    A limited edition Klean Kanteen 18oz all stainless steel water bottle with bamboo and stainless steel cap, exclusively branded with Toxic Baby monster logo, plus the limited edition DVD of the film and thank you postcard.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    A limited edition Toxic Baby/Kickstarter branded organic cotton t-shirt* or infant/toddler onesie printed with soy based inks, plus all the above rewards listed above. *Adult or kids organic cotton t-shirts and infant/toddler organic cotton onesies feature the Toxic Baby monster and the Kickstarter logo printed with water based inks. Adult XXL+ sizes add $5

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    A limited edition Toxic Baby branded (monster) stainless steel water bottle + a limited edition Toxic Baby branded organic cotton tote bag plus all the above rewards listed above.

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    Say hi! Pick a print and meet Penelope! Connect with Penelope either in person (if you are in NYC)* or on Skype or by phone and in addition she will give you your favorite print (out of a selection of 3) from the film, (personalized and signed by her) of your favorite scene in the film, plus all the above awesome rewards.
    *Other locations may be possible.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION reward.
    An educational screening DVD copy of Toxic Baby (+ supporting video materials) for an institution of your choice plus a recorded Q&A conversation with Penelope for classroom screenings at the institution's location.

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    See the journey of the making of Toxic Baby. This reward is a limited edition photography book of the Toxic Baby project, featuring never seen before production sketches, stills, outtakes, graphics and other memorabilia celebrating the making of Toxic Baby. The book features a written commentary by Penelope, who will number and sign a personalized message to you in the inner sleeve, plus all the above awesome rewards
     

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    EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION PLUS reward. All future video updates recorded onto viewing DVDs, plus an educational screening DVD copy of the film Toxic Baby itself (+ supporting video materials that are available at the time of the app release) for an institution of your choice plus a recorded Q&A conversation with Penelope for classroom screenings at the institution's location and all future video updates.

    Estimated delivery: Dec 2014

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    Personalized to you, a signed limited edition of the film's poster. In addition you get three images from the film, personalized and signed by Penelope and printed in the above limited edition photography book plus a limited edition 4GB wooden USB stick with the Toxic Baby logo (monster) etched on it, a limited edition Toxic Baby branded (monster logo) organic cotton tote bag, a limited edition Toxic Baby branded (monster logo) stainless steel water bottle plus a limited edition organic cotton t-shirt or onesie.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    A personalized box set (featuring a hand bound linen presentation box with your name engraved on it), a DVD of the film when it is released, plus  a handwritten thank you from Penelope on a limited edition Toxic Baby postcard, plus a limited edition 4GB wooden USB stick with the Toxic Baby logo (monster) etched on it, a limited edition Toxic Baby branded (monster logo) organic cotton tote bag, a limited edition Toxic Baby branded (monster logo) stainless steel water bottle.

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Dinner date! Have supper with Penelope and one of our scientists, a personalized box set (featuring a hand bound linen presentation box with your name engraved on it), a DVD of the film when it is released, plus a handwritten thank you from Penelope on a limited edition Toxic Baby postcard, plus a limited edition 4GB wooden USB stick with the Toxic Baby logo (monster) etched on it, a limited edition Toxic Baby branded (monster logo) organic cotton tote bag, a limited edition Toxic Baby branded (monster logo) stainless steel water bottle plus a limited edition organic cotton t-shirt.

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    A CUSTOMIZED CURRICULUM. Penelope will work with the institution of your choice to create a customized, video curriculum (teacher materials included) for inclusion and use in the classroom. Pulling in all of our crowd sourced data for that institution's specific location, Penelope will create a tailor made examination that looks at the specifics of environmental health in that institute's local environment. This reward includes all the crowd sourced video material submitted within a 500 mile radius of the location.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    A co-producer credit plus a limited edition, personalized animation thanking you, a signed limited edition of the film's poster, a personalized box set (featuring a hand bound linen presentation box with your name engraved on it), a DVD of the film when it is released, plus a handwritten thank you from Penelope on a limited edition Toxic Baby postcard, plus a limited edition 4GB wooden USB stick with the Toxic Baby logo (monster) etched on it, a limited edition Toxic Baby branded (monster logo) organic cotton tote bag plus a limited edition Toxic Baby branded (monster logo) stainless steel water bottle.

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Funding period

- (42 days)