About this project
We are moved beyond words by the thousands of people who rallied together to challenge the power and influence of one billionaire's money and ensure that this film sees the light of day!
Because of YOU, we can finish CITIZEN KOCH and launch it into the world!
We are so grateful for your participation. You’ve shown us how deeply committed people in the US and around the world are to free speech, journalistic integrity and democracy.
Please sign up on the website to receive regular updates on the progress of CITIZEN KOCH. We are far from done: http://www.citizenkoch.com/subscribe
If you want to organize a public or private screening of CITIZEN KOCH please sign up here www.citizenkoch.com/organize
If you still want to make a donation to make sure that CITIZEN KOCH gets out far and wide, please click here (it's tax-deductable): www.citizenkoch.com/donate
We are so very grateful to all of you who are have joined us on this journey to complete CITIZEN KOCH and release it into the world!
There’s no limit to what we can accomplish together.
With our deepest gratitude and admiration,
Tia & Carl
Watch the "Citizen Koch" trailer now:
Please help ensure that our film and the voices in it are not silenced.
Money has long played a starring role in politics, but things really got out of control after the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United, engineered by corporate and far-right interest groups to super-enfrancise the wealthiest and disenfranchise ordinary Americans.
"Citizen Koch" tells that story -- from the political influence wielded by billionaire industrialists and conservative activists David and Charles Koch, and others like them, to the real-life struggles of ordinary Republicans and Democrats as they collide with the big money juggernaut.
We were thrilled last spring when "Citizen Koch" was greenlit for funding by public television. That meant that not only could we finish shooting and editing the film, but it would be headed to free TV broadcast next fall for the largest audience in the U.S. -- PBS, and all of you.
Then everything changed.
Last fall, fearing that our story might displease a particular PBS donor -- David Koch himself -- public television dropped its financial support for "Citizen Koch". Journalist Jane Mayer exposed this self-censorship in the New Yorker magazine.
It turns out that David Koch is a donor to PBS flagship stations WNET and WGBH and on their board of trustees. And without lifting a finger or even taking out his checkbook, Koch was able to influence funding and programming decisions at public television. And our film was effectively censored.
Not only did we lose $150,000 in funding, but millions of viewers lost their chance to see "Citizen Koch" on public television. All because of David Koch's money.
The process that led to "Citizen Koch" being pulled from the airwaves illustrates exactly the point that Lessin and Deal's film makes: Money can not only buy action in our democracy, it can also buy silence.
- Michael Keegan, President, People for the American Way
We aren't giving in to this censorship or the power of David Koch, and we intend to release the film in the coming months. But we can't do it without your help. Kickstart "Citizen Koch" so we can bridge the funding gap and distribute the film!
What happened to "Citizen Koch" provides a rare behind-the-scenes look at how big money from high dollar donors has massive influence on one of our most beloved public institutions, and on the public discourse. Ironically, that’s exactly what our film is about -- how the money of the wealthiest drowns out the voices of the rest of us.
We believe that your voice can be louder than David Koch's money.
Film can be a powerful tool for change, but only when it has an audience, and only when it has an advocate. That's why we need YOUR help!
We believe that our politicians, and our public airwaves, should not be compromised by big money. So do the ordinary Americans -- Republicans and Democrats -- who share their stories in our film. They deserve to be heard. You can make sure they will be.
We need your help now to release "Citizen Koch." If you can give, please do. Any amount will help. Those trying to keep you from seeing the film are banking on the cynical belief that you don't care. We are convinced that you do.
Your pledge will go toward delivering the film for distribution – paying for the sound mix, the color correct, archival footage and music licensing costs, and other distribution expenses, and then engaging the widest audience possible.
We are very grateful for any amount you can give.
--Carl Deal & Tia Lessin
Risks and challenges
The biggest challenge that we face in getting "Citizen Koch" out in the world is in overcoming the commercial and political forces that seek to shield billionaire political activists like David and Charles Koch from public scrutiny and who fear the political impact that "Citizen Koch" can generate. We’ve already seen their power and reach.
In the face of this challenge, we are calling on YOU, as people who love film and believe, like us, that films can help create change, to counter the efforts of those who would like to vanquish our film.
We take inspiration from the words of former Louisiana Governor and four-term congressman Buddy Roemer, who makes this plea in "Citizen Koch":
“I would like you to do something different. I would like you to bring a check -- but not $35,800 dollars on Wall Street. Sixty bucks. And have your neighbor do that. And have a million people do that. And then five million people do that. And then guess who runs the country? The people do.”
From Gov Roemer in his quixotic bid for the White House, risking becoming a pariah in his beloved GOP, to the Republican public employees in Wisconsin who chose to risk their very livelihoods to stand up for democracy, "Citizen Koch" pays tribute to risk-takers. We take inspiration from each of them and their principled stands, and, like them, we won’t back down.
Ultimately, we will measure the success of "Citizen Koch" not by box office receipts or festival awards or even critical acclaim. But on whether audiences are left debating what they just saw and even inspired and moved to take action. We will measure our success by how mad and nervous we make those in power. It may take a heck of a fight to get "Citizen Koch" on the air or into the theaters, but if it didn’t, then maybe the story wasn’t worth telling.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
A lot has been done. We couldn’t have shown it at Sundance in January without a cut being complete, but sometimes films are shown in film festivals even when they have not been finalized for release. You can do certain things at a festival that you can’t in the marketplace: like use temp music, and archival photography and have temp credits.
And there is still more to be done. What we need to finalize NOW is the final sound mix, the film’s score and graphics, color correction, creating mastered elements for digital retailers, licensing archival footage (this is huge) and licensing our music. None of this includes the many new expenses of releasing the film directly to fans.
We want to engage communities across the country to work with the film and inspire audiences to act on a range of issues such as the push to overturn Citizens United, pushing for disclosure and reductions in corporate expenditures on political campaigns, campaign spending limits, public financing of elections and campaign finance reform.
The initial broadcast date was going to be in the Fall of 2014, before public television backed out of our partnership after feeling pressure from their high donors. We are planning a multi-platform release, incorporating theatrical, television broadcast, a community screening program, educational release, and then ultimately DVD and online release.
Each phase of release will be supported by the community engagement program partnerships with dozens of national and regional partner organizations aligned to reduce the impact of big money on the political process. Through this type of collaboration, we hope to maximize the reach and impact of the film.
We launched this campaign with one simple goal – to connect people who believe the film should not have been suppressed from the public airwaves and ask them to help us self-distribute it so it could be seen. We believe our experience and the content of our film is part of an important conversation about the influence of money in politics.
We’ve been making films for a while, but are new to kickstarter, and we looked at statistics about rewards. $75 seemed to be the average, and we wanted to put our actual film reward in this price-range since we thought if this was the average, the backers at this level would surely want the digital download of DVD of the finished project as one reward.
We were also told Kickstarter is not a store – in other words, the value of items isn’t a 1-1 ratio to the money donated. We admit this may have been out of touch with other campaigns, but it was a decision we made in good faith. If you pledge this amount, you will receive a digital copy of the film. We are not allowed to lower this amount now after the campaign launched.
Kickstarter does not take checks, but we will happily accept a check and we will apply your Kickstarter reward at that level. Please write the check to our fiscal sponsor The International Documentary Association and write in the memo that it is for CITIZEN KOCH. Mail your check to:
3470 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 980
Los Angeles, CA 90010 USA.
please include your email and mailing address so we can be sure to include you in future updates!
We surpassed the initial goal of $75,000 well before the end of the third day of a month-long campaign that will end on August 8. We are now trying to replace and exceed the entire $150,000 that public television executives committed to the project but then rescinded in order to placate David Koch.
With additional funds, we can organize screenings in every state legislature in the nation and in communities from coast to coast -- in movie theaters, on college campuses, in public libraries, houses of worship, and community centers.
And we can also develop and distribute screening materials, like the “Citizen Koch” study guide for classrooms and a screening toolkit to help community groups put on strategic, action-oriented events, a flyer featuring actions we can all take to end the corruptive force of money in politics and web-based resources like a clickable “state-a-base” with the latest on state propositions and legislative actions linked to money in politics.
Every additional penny pledged will help us realize these outreach and engagement goals.
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