About this project
FULLY FUNDED!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!
LAST FEW HOURS! RSVP for our telethon. Oh and grab your HAIL MARY!
RSVP now for our telethon! Also -- we have a stretch goal for after we meet our goal. Please keep contributing even after we reach our $40k goal!
In celebration of reaching $35K, we wanted to share something with the world. This is a conversation between Neil Gaiman (The Sandman) and Stephen Bissette (Swamp Thing) in which they discuss Mike Diana's case, the nature of censorship, and the Hairspray video that wasn't. Enjoy, and please tell your friends about our campaign so we can reach our goal -- so close!
Buzz is building! Outrage and disbelief are mounting as we get the word out about what happened to Mike.
UPDATE 11/3: Several new rewards are now available, including original artwork by Mike Diana and street artist Judith Supine, a limited edition VHS release of the finished movie, and a year subscription to horror streaming platform SHUDDER. Everything has been added to the listings below.
UPDATE 11/2: To celebrate reaching the halfway point, we are sharing a little gem we dug up from our archives.
Check it out -- the flier that Mike's army of anti-censorship protestors handed out outside his trial. Click on the photo for larger, downloadable versions.
New perks have been added! Two original drawings by Mike Diana, both priced at $50. These are a great deal and they go fast.
NEW EXTENDED VIDEO! Explore Exhibit A. Go deeper into the Mike Diana comics obscenity trial, and join in our efforts to finish telling the story of the price he paid for his art.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You may notice some images censored on this page. Nothing will be blacked out in our film.
Does Freedom of Speech mean anything when authorities see only obscenity? Does an artist’s vision matter when community standards conspire to suppress it? In a small town in Florida back in 1994, Mike Diana learned that the answer was a resounding no. Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean anything when your art is declared obscene. And one man’s art could be another man’s obscenity.
Diana’s crime? Publishing a hand-made comic zine called Boiled Angel full of graphic, outrageous, often hilarious confrontational art, full of sex and violence, meant to shock and disturb. But it was a zine only sold to adults by mail. With a print run of only 300 copies, Diana’s zine was NEVER available in comic racks or in stores. And only one copy – count ‘em, one! – was ever sold to a customer in Diana’s hometown. And that one customer was an undercover cop!
Authorities in Florida were so appalled by Diana’s art that they first thought he was a serial killer! After determining that he wasn’t, they nevertheless decided to put him on trial for three counts of obscenity. Then, amazingly, the prosecution brought in a psychologist who testified that Mike’s comics could actually CREATE serial killers!
With an enraged community up in arms, Diana was found guilty. Though he only served four days in jail rather than the three years the prosecution asked for, he was put on probation for three years with a laundry list of regulations that included forbidding him to draw anything that MIGHT be considered obscene, even for his own pleasure in the privacy of his own home! And authorities were allowed to conduct warrantless searches to see that this was enforced.
"It’s shocking that these things happen but I wanna make people more aware these things were going on around them, like priests molesting children." - Mike Diana, Seconds #38
Of course, that all happened in 1994 but it’s worth reminding people how fast one can lose their First Amendment rights.
It might seem like obscenity charges are a thing of the past but as the recent past has repeatedly shown us, Freedom of Speech is something that must be continually fought and won. And, unfortunately, history has a way of repeating itself.
THE TRIAL OF MIKE DIANA is not only an urgent reminder of how authorities can dictate what adults may create, see, and read, but it’s also a multi-faceted celebration of one of the most unique artists of the last 30 years.
“Because if you don't stand up for the stuff you don't like, when they come for the stuff you do like, you've already lost.” - Neil Gaiman
THE TRIAL OF MIKE DIANA has already begun production with the full participation of Mike Diana and unprecedented access to his personal archives, but we need your help to make it a reality. We feel strongly about telling this story honestly, without shying away from the controversial nature of the case or the extremity of the artwork itself. This is why we are making this as a completely independent film, with no outside interests to control the message.
We're most of the way through shooting, but some of our key remaining interviews will require some travel. We will be using funds raised from this campaign to cover basic travel expenses.
For a film about an artist, we will need to make sure that art is represented onscreen in a uniquely cinematic way, using a combination of techniques including original animation by Mike Diana himself. The post-production process will be a tremendous undertaking, but one that will shape the film into a finished product worthy of it's incredible subject. The editing process, as well as a final sound mix, color correction pass, and the composition of an original score will account for the bulk of how funds will be used.
Lastly, a full legal review will also be necessary, as you can probably imagine given the nature of the project. This is costly, but ultimately a requirement for a film that deals so heavily with the court system itself.
If fully funded, we aim to complete principal photography by the end of the year. The editing process will be happening concurrently with the remaining shoots, and we plan to have a version of the film ready to show at festivals in early 2017.
We want to get Mike Diana's story out there in a big way, so we'll be bringing the film to the widest audiences possible. Following a festival run, we'll be seeking distribution to bring the film to audiences in theaters, as well as home video, VOD and SVOD.
Cult filmmaking legend Frank Henenlotter is directing the film. Henenlotter's films such as BASKET CASE, BRAIN DAMAGE, and FRANKENHOOKER have secured his legacy as one of the masters of the "horror comedy". In recent years he has also created several feature documentaries about the fringes of filmmaking he dearly loves with THAT'S SEXPLOITATION! and HERSCHELL GORDON LEWIS: THE GODFATHER OF GORE. He has also helped to preserve exploitation film history through his involvement with the distributor Something Weird Video.
Producer Anthony Sneed will be familiar to fans of Henenlotter's work, having had starring roles in the director's films BAD BIOLOGY and the upcoming CHASING BANKSY, which Sneed co-wrote. He founded 85 North Productions. He is a performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade and Magnet theaters, and has also exhibited work as an artist in both the fine art and street art arenas.
Producer Mike Hunchback is the author of "Pulp Macabre: The Art of Lee Brown Coye's Darkest Era", as well as a longtime staple of the DIY punk scene. He currently plays rhythm guitar in Screeching Weasel and co-owns Co-Op 87 Records in Brooklyn, NY.
Associate Producer Caitlin McGurk is the Associate Curator for Outreach as well as an Assistant Professor at the Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum, the largest collection of comic and cartoon art in the world. You can see more about the library at cartoons.osu.edu.
We can't get this story out there without you. In exchange for your financial support, we put together a sinfully delightful assortment of rewards large and small, designed to fit any budget.
This is a story that affects us all, and there are lots of ways to help that you may not even be aware of.
1. Make a contribution. Every pledge, no matter how big or small, truly helps!
2. Spread the word! Post to your favorite site that discusses anything from indie comics to legal justice. Forward to a friend. Alert your favorite publication or newsletter. Tweet about it.
You have our sincere thanks for any and all help you can provide!
Love our campaign graphics? We do too! Everything here (with the exception of Mike Diana's artwork) has been created by the very talented Steve Dressler. Visit his site to learn more about him. Thank you, Steve!
Risks and challenges
One of our biggest challenges may be that Mike's art isn't for everyone. That's a big part of the story, in our minds. Grappling with this line between trash and treasure will require we show and talk about art that may make some folks uncomfortable. But we know this is also a topic that will inspire and excite many, artistically, intellectually, or both.
We're a seasoned group of filmmakers and we're far enough into the production process that we know nothing can keep us from telling this extraordinary story. We hope you'll join us in telling it free of external pressures, the way the story needs to be told.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter