Get in the Way: The Journey of John Lewis is the first biographical documentary film about a visionary leader, Congressman John Lewis. Tracing his journey from sharecropper's son to civil rights activist, congressional leader and outspoken human rights advocate, the film reveals a man of profound humanity who is tender, fierce, sometimes stubborn and deeply committed to nonviolence as a way of life.
In the 1990s, I conducted an interview with John Lewis and was stunned by his presence, his story and the convictions that guided his life. Soon after, I was given unprecedented access to him and my team began filming his personal and professional life, including intimate interviews, passionate speeches and a warm family reunion in Troy, Alabama. Over the years, we continued to follow him, capturing how he has - and has not - changed over the years. Drawing on the 95 hours of tape that we've shot over twenty years, we edited a roughcut this summer. Now we're ready to finish the film. That's why we need your help.
In 1965 in Selma, Alabama, John Lewis led a peaceful march for the right to vote and encountered state troopers armed with billy clubs and tear gas. He was viciously beaten, as were many others. News footage of the appalling violence shocked the nation, and eight days later President Lyndon Johnson addressed congress to propose the historic Voting Rights Act.
Born in segregated Alabama in 1940, Lewis was inspired to resist the injustices of racial discrimination by Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Montgomery Bus Boycott. During the 1960s he led fellow students and indigenous people in some of the most violent and bloody encounters of the Civil Rights Movement. Adhering fiercely to the principles of nonviolence, he was brutally beaten and jailed over forty times.
The strategies Lewis learned as a student leader serve him well in his current position as Democratic Senior Chief Deputy Whip in the U.S. House of Representatives. His moral integrity and insistence on conscientious lawmaking often sway his colleagues, friend and foe alike. Casting a light on Lewis' principled leadership and political acumen, the film features exclusive interviews with civil rights leaders such as Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. C.T. Vivian and Dr. Bernard Lafayette, and with congressional colleagues from both sides of the aisle including Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Emanuel Cleaver, Steny Hoyer, Amory Houghton and Senator Harry Reid. Get in the Way follows Lewis' journey into the present as he speaks out on such issues as immigration reform, marriage equality, decent wages, health care and voting rights. His impact on our country is as powerful and his voice as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.
Our Production Team
Producer/Director Kathleen Dowdey, please see bio above.
Executive Producer Charles Floyd Johnson produced the 2012 feature film, Red Tails, with Executive Producer George Lucas. The film recounts the exploits of the famed Tuskegee Airmen and won the NAACP Image Award for Best Picture. Currently Charles serves as Executive Producer of the CBS television series, NCIS.
Co-Producer Jim Carr is an award-winning television producer, director and writer who produced the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary The Art of Persuasion: A History of Advertising Photography. He was field producer for the Peabody Award-winning PBS series Conferences with the Former Secretaries of State.
Co-Producer Karen Elizabeth Price directed and produced the multiple award-winning feature documentary, HouseQuake, about Democrats’ 2006 takeback of the U.S. House of Representatives featuring Rahm Emanuel, and Living by Instinct: Animals and Their Rescuers, which was broadcast on PBS stations. She has produced, directed and written for numerous television shows and teaches documentary studies at Duke University.
Director of Photography Charles Schner has worked as a camera operator and director of photography on hundreds of commercials, television series and feature films. His documentary film credits include Craft in America for PBS, UFO Files for the History Channel and Serendipity for the Discovery Health Channel.
Supervising Editor Lillian Benson edited the PBS series, Eyes on the Prize II. Her documentary work includes Beyond the Steps – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (WNET/NBPC) and Wounded Knee, the last episode of the PBS American Experience series, We Shall Remain.
Risks and challenges
Thanks to the generosity of donors, foundations and friends, GET IN THE WAY has now reached the final stretch. All shooting is complete and we've just edited our roughcut. Your contribution to our campaign will help push the film through the final stages of post-production, including a final selection and acquisition of archival and news footage, photos and headlines, an original music score, and the fine-cut edit.
All post-production services including our graphic design and archival treatment package, color correction and sound mix have been generously donated by Crawford Media Services in Atlanta.
You can make a difference in the crucial months ahead as we work to meet our targeted completion date, March 7, 2015, the 50th Anniversary of Bloody Sunday. If we are able to reach our Kickstarter goal, we'll be able to plan the film's release around this important date, a major commemoration for Lewis and all those who took part in the Selma to Montgomery March.
Once the film is finished, our distribution plans include film festival screenings, a gala premiere, a network/cable television broadcast and distribution to DVD, digital and educational markets.
One of the goals of this film is to stimulate community engagement and activism. Through social networking, partnerships with key organizations, screenings and facilitated follow-up discussions, our distribution campaign will pursue the kind of path that Lewis walks, inspiring people to challenge injustice, discrimination and violations of human rights.
What happens if your pledges exceed our Kickstarter goal of $25,000? We'll be thrilled, and we'll be able to pay for these extras as we finish and release the film:
Up to $35K will allow us to record an enhanced music score featuring the performances of some of the best session musicians in Los Angeles. We will also be able to license a selection of classic gospel, blues and folk tracks appropriate to the era.
Up to $45K will pay for some of our promotional expenses including print items, mailings and public relations; we'll also organize media appearances, travel and accommodation around our screenings for our team members and on-camera participants.
Up to $55K will pay for the film's website design and launch, including bonus videos, a calendar of upcoming film screenings, commentaries and links to trainers and practitioners of nonviolence, and a feature page introducing communities from local to global that are engaged in nonviolent social action campaigns.
If you'd like to make a tax-deductible contribution through our 501(c)(3) fiscal agent, the International Documentary Association, please contact us.
On February 21, 2015 John Lewis turns 75. He has devoted his life to the radical practice of nonviolence and in doing so has influenced the mighty and the humble to "get in the way." Here is a man with a powerful story to tell; a story of struggle against staggering odds for a vision he will never give up.
You can help us bring John Lewis' story to viewers who may never have the chance to meet him in person, now or well into the future. Please contribute what you can and help us get the word out through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, other social networks, email and, yes, even word of mouth.
Thanks to our wonderful Kickstarter Campaign Team:
A Media Marketing
Bill Woolery, Trailer Editor
Times 3, Poster Design
- (30 days)