Funded! This project was successfully funded on October 4, 2013.

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A true story of former gang members turned street saviors, working to reverse the violence on the streets of L.A.

Hear from Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll and Director James Lipetzky about why they love this story: 

The story 

LTO: License to Operate is a feature-length documentary about former gang members who have come together on a mission to stop the violence they were once a part of. These men earned a “license to operate” based on their histories as leaders in their respective gangs. This status now empowers them to negotiate on behalf of the community, resolving conflicts and limiting retaliation killings. We’ve been following these men throughout LA for the entire summer, capturing their struggles as they work every day to stop the violence, save lives and rebuild a sense of hope in their communities.

This isn't a gang film 

It’s a film about transformation, focusing on solutions versus observation. On grace versus color. Love versus hate. Change versus status quo. It’s about a group of people making a positive change with literally life or death on the line every day. In a genre that focuses on violence, License to Operate is about a viable, working solution coming from within.

How it started 

We first met these guys while shooting a video for a non-profit organization, A Better LA, which promotes peace and prosperity in inner-city Los Angeles through community-based solutions. We’d heard of gang interventionists before, but were completely overwhelmed by their transformation. Once the baddest of the bad, these former gang members are now the heart and soul of positive change in their neighborhoods, committed to rebuilding what they once helped destroy. So while this co-production between branded content producer, Omelet, and production company, Foundation Content, started as a short video, this profoundly moving story demanded to be told on a larger scale, turning a short one-off into a true passion project. 

Why this is important

The stakes are high. These communities are trapped in a cycle of poverty and violence. They say, "real change can't happen until we stop the violence," and this model of gang intervention really works. Thanks, in part, to their efforts, the murder rate in Los Angeles has been on a steady decline, recently hitting a twenty-year low. We want to make a film that illustrates just how high the stakes really are that will take the viewer on a journey into a world they have never seen before -- packed full of emotion, heart, dedication and unimaginable personal sacrifice. 

Our goal and why we need your help

We set out to make a film that will inspire people and further the dialogue surrounding gang violence prevention. As the LTOs say, “LA exported the problem. It's time it export the solution.” Getting this film finished and out into the world is a good step in that direction. 

How will the funds be used?

The hard part of making this film is over. Most of the footage is in the can. The big challenge remaining is post-production. The massive amount of footage we’ve shot needs to be edited, and there’s also the issue of music licensing fees. We want to use relevant and powerful tracks that will help tell the story, but that can get expensive. Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

From the Director, James Lipetzky 

“As a filmmaker I care about telling the story of human lives- what makes people tick, why we do certain things. Regardless if I’m working with Simon Cowell or Errol Morris, shooting content for the likes of Sony or Microsoft, my aim is always to tell stories that aren’t just entertaining, but that genuinely matter– real stories about real people. I’m co-founder of Foundation Content and my years as an editor informed how I direct now. When I realized I was in the middle of a real story that’s this transformative, and so ripe with positive change that could spread, and very literally help save lives, I realized maybe this is why I’ve spent so many years learning and honing my craft. Because right now, this story matters.”

Director James Lipetzky
Director James Lipetzky

How you can help 

You can start by joining the film and donating whatever amount you can to help us get it finished. You can help us get the word out and share this Kickstarter page. Tell your friends, co-workers and family. Join the conversation. And of course, you can always get in touch with us directly. Thank you. 

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

The biggest challenge is getting the story right — from a historical perspective, as well as staying true to our LTOs and what is happening to them in real time. All of this can have an effect on post production, as we sometimes can't anticipate how a curveball will effect the film while it's being put together. We need to make sure we’re nimble in our post-production process, with enough backing to absorb any necessary adjustments.

FAQ

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    8" x 10" framed production still signed by director James Lipetzky + 4 tickets to the private screening in LA. Travel and accommodations not included. (+ T-shirt, cap, poster, DVD, digital download, thanks on website, Facebook & Twitter)

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    You’ll get a private LA Gang Tour for two with LTO Alfred Lomas. Featured in the New York Times, CNN and NPR, to name a few, the tours combine entrepreneurship with positive outreach while building awareness about intervention in South Central. www.lagangtours.com Travel and accommodations not included. (+ T-shirt, cap, poster, DVD, digital download, two tickets to the LA screening, thanks on our website, Facebook & Twitter)

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    You’ll get Associate Producer Credit in the film, a private LA Gang Tour for two with www.lagangtours.com, dinner for two with the Director, Producers, and available members of the LTO team. Travel and accommodations not included. (+ T-shirt, cap, framed & signed poster, signed DVD, digital download, four tickets to the screening, thanks & AP credit on our website Facebook & Twitter)

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- (30 days)