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A family-and a city-journey from crime and corruption
to reinvent themselves in the 21st century. Join us for the ride!
A family-and a city-journey from crime and corruption to reinvent themselves in the 21st century. Join us for the ride!
228 backers pledged $45,555 to help bring this project to life.

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WE DID IT! Thanks to our wonderful backers, we've reached the goal for our Kickstarter campaign! If you still want to make a donation to make sure that Five-Finger Discount gets out far and wide, please click here:

http://www.fivefingerdiscountfilm.com/

With a scenario that might seem at first glance like an unproduced script for The Sopranos, Five-Finger Discount, Helene Stapinski’s highly acclaimed, first-person memoir about her “crooked family history,” will soon be a long-form broadcast documentary.

If you’ve read the book, then you know how funny, honest and hard-hitting a story Helene tells: her family of swindlers, bookies, embezzlers, political “fixers” and mobster wannabes are quite a cast of characters. Male and female, old and young, crooked and clean, they colored her world and defined her understanding of life as it existed in the Jersey City of the 1970s, then the poster child of urban political corruption.

IT’S A GREAT STORY, AND WILL MAKE A GREAT FILM…

The documentary will bring this multi-generational saga to visual life on screen, with photos and footage that portray Helene’s journey from her past to her present. It will also capture “live” the evolution of Jersey City today as an urban mecca for young professionals, businesses large and small, artists, artisans and their families.

HOW TO MAKE A DOCUMENTARY FILM IN 5 STEPS:

You can’t help yourself; you love the story. The memoir that it comes from was a bestseller and still in print. It’s full of Damon Runyon characters and gangland plots, dangerous relatives, poignant family episodes, innocent victims and stoic domestic guardians. The grimy city backdrop has a character all its own.

The heroine, writer and narrator is funny, irreverent, honest, profound, shocked by her family and in love with it at the same time. She wages a heroic battle with her own destiny – and wins. So does her city. You relate.

Other savvy talented filmmakers are on board. You’re hooked.

It turns out you’re not the only one who loves the story. Fans of the book and friends of the storyteller host a party for the film, stand behind it by contributing money themselves, introduce you to movers who introduce you to shakers. The film ball starts rolling.

Whoever you talk to in the city can’t stop telling you how their own stories are reflected in the one you’re trying to bring to the screen. You know you’ve got a winner. Reporters start showing up.

You can’t believe it: the most prestigious public television station in America slates the documentary for a future broadcast. Surely now it won’t be any trouble to raise the rest of the funds needed to make the film.

Encouragement multiplies, but…

…money doesn't.

You don’t care: you use what money you have to shoot footage, capture timely happenings and important interviews. You manage to bring on a researcher, an editor. Everyone’s working for free or nearly. You’re not above asking family members to help carry your equipment . But you can’t stop now: it’s a story that wants to be told and that people want to see. You launch a crowdfunding campaign because if you don't raise more money, you simply can't take the next essential step: shooting the film the way you know it needs to be shot.

You tell yourself: if you build it, they will come.

Won’t they?

SO WE ARE ASKING YOU

  • If you loved Helene Stapinski’s memoir “Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History
  • If you’re fascinated by stories of family dynamics, dysfunctions, strengths and legacies
  • If you’re thrilled by urban and immigrant history, and how cities grow and change
  • If you and your family grew up, live or work in Jersey City – or any other city – and have your own memories to relive or want to learn how your city got from there to here
  • If you want to hear a woman’s story told in her own voice
  • If a woman in your life made all the difference to who you are
  • If you want to see a straight-shooting personal and political tale enhanced with American history reach a wide television audience
  • OR if you just want to enjoy some of the cool premiums listed to the right of this message

PLEASE JOIN US AND HELP US TAKE A GIANT STEP IN BRINGING THIS STORY TO THE SCREEN!

All contributions are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law. Please contact us for details.

A Passionate Creative Team

We are a motivated, varied and experienced creative team inspired by the story we are telling: Helene, as writer and storyteller, will make sure the film pulls no punches. Producers Rosanne Braun (the creator of the popular PBS documentary Beyond Wiseguys: Italian Americans & The Movies) and Charles Hobson (multi award-winning producer, most recently of the Flatiron documentary), award-winning director Steven Fischler (producer of the recent PBS doc, Dressing America: Tales From The Garment Center) and cinematographer John Miglietta are all on board with the crazy enthusiasm that only indie filmmakers can bring to a project. Read more about the team here.

We thank our funders and friends for their support and enthusiasm.

Amanda and Paul Spagnoletti
Anonymous

City of Jersey City
Steven M. Fulop, Mayor
Vivian Brady-Phillips, Deputy Mayor
Robert G. Sommer, Senior Advisor, Office of the Mayor
Rolando Lavarro, Jr., City Council President
Diane Coleman, Councilwoman
John Reichart, Downtown Jersey City Historic Special Improvement District
Rachel Seig, Downtown Jersey City Historic Special Improvement District
Paula Christen, Director, Jersey City Public Schools

William La Rosa, Director, Hudson County Cultural Affairs
Bette Spinelli, Hudson County Employer Legislative Committee

State of New Jersey
Senator Sandra B. Cunningham
Nick Paleologos, Executive Director, New Jersey Council on the Arts
Steve Gorelick, Executive Director, New Jersey Film Commission

Alice Sparburg Alexiou, Writer
Christine Cartwright, Provident Bank
Colleen Cingel, Party With Purpose
Susan Firth, Silverman Building
Edvige Giunta, Professor, New Jersey City University
Gregory Haines, Provident Bank
George O. Hobson, Group 26
Jane Kurek, Provident Bank Foundation
Gene Lemay, Artist, President, Mana Contemporary Fine Art
Giselle Mahoney, Artist
Tom Meyers, Fort Lee Film Commission
Joseph A. Panepinto, Sr., Panepinto Properties
Greg Remaud, NY/NJ baykeeper
Selena Ricks, Mana Contemporary Fine Art
Mark S. Rodrick, Morgan Stanley
Luc Sante, Writer
Jay Sharman, TeamWorks Media
Catherine Sippin, Mana Contemporary Fine Art
Irene Stapinski, Oral Historian
Stan Stapinski, Musician
Laura Stein, Writer
Joel Sucher, Filmmaker, Pacific Street Films
Matt Weinreich, Hopkins Group LLC

Presenting sponsors at higher levels are eligible for significant additional promotional benefits. Please contact Rosanne Braun (roxypro@optonline.net) or Steve Fischler (steve@pacificstreetfilms.com) for details.

Risks and challenges

With the generosity of several people in Jersey City we have begun filming, doing essential stock footage and stills research, assembling our creative team, and writing the treatment and script outline for Five-Finger Discount. We’ve been meeting and planning this film for over a year now, so shooting footage feels really good. With your help we will complete our production and will begin to edit the film. Together this team has brought over 200 films, videos, public and cable television shows and series, and national and international programs to completion and broadcast.

With your support we will make a terrific film based on a wonderful book!

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    THANK YOU! You'll get a shoutout from us on Facebook plus you'll be signed up for all our updates!

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    POSTER! Show your love for the film and Jersey City when we email you a downloadable version of the movie poster!

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    All of the above + a SIGNED COPY of "Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History" by Helene Stapinski!

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    All of the above + a TOTE BAG!

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    All of the above + HONOR ROLL: A WOMAN I ADMIRE! Inscribe the name of a woman/women who's influenced you or your family with her/their name(s) on our website! (We'll contact you by email for the name(s)!)

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    HONOR ROLL for Jersey City businesses, restaurants, shops and stores -- have your name on our supporter's wall!

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    All of the above + DINNER FOR TWO! Sit down with author Helene Stapinski at Laico's in Jersey City!

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    All of the above (excluding dinner) + FILM CREDIT! See your name in lights -- you will receive a special thanks in the film's end credits!

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    All of the above (excluding dinner) + PRIVATE SCREENING! Host a private screening at your home or local venue of choice.

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    All of the above (excluding dinner) + FAMILY MEMOIR! Your family memoir personally written by Helene Stapinski!

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Funding period

- (35 days)