Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 5, 2013.

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"Hackers in Uganda" is the story of a group of humanitarian computer hackers providing technological education and services in Uganda.

The Story

This documentary will tell a story about a developing African community, its people, and one technologically-minded charitable organization’s attempts to provide humanitarian services in the most unlikely of places: Uganda, one of Africa’s most disadvantaged nations.

In 2009, a group of computer hackers and benevolent technologists known as Hackers For Charity (HFC) set up a tuition-free computer school and internet café in Jinja, Uganda. In a country where thousands live with HIV and only 67% have access to clean drinking water, HFC offers classes and internet-enabled computer access, teaching local Ugandans the computer skills that allow them to find work and apply for medical and social benefits on the web that they otherwise may never have known existed. HFC embodies the spirit an Information Age Robin Hood, using technology to bring education and services to those most in need.

HFC's work extends beyond their computer education; they also act as an organizational champion for other local charities who need technological assistance, providing equipment, software, training, and maintenance free of charge. In an exceedingly complex global technological system that is sometimes staggered by governmental interference, slow-moving bureaucracy, and corruption, HFC helps humanitarian organizations find ways to provide aid and services.

This documentary will raise implicit questions about the role and implications of international humanitarian aid in the non-Western world. HFC seems to afford real, tangible benefits to those who are willing to take advantage of the charity's computer training classes. We are interested in how HFC works together with the Jinja community. This documentary will articulate an intriguing facet of twenty-first century humanitarian aid, juxtaposing the charity's Western technological sensibilities and the day-to-day struggles of a region in need.

The film will feature a cross section of the Jinja community, including HFC staff members, students in the computer classes, and local residents living and working around the area. We will focus on one or two students, following them both in and outside the classroom, enriching our story with aspects of their home and social life. We will also focus on one HFC staff member or teacher who works closely with the African students. Concentrating on both students and teachers will help us closely examine the complexities of the relationship between Western charity and its intended beneficiaries. Additionally, we intend to include the perspectives of other working Jinja locals who are not necessarily associated with HFC or its operations to add further depth and diversity to our story. This ethnographic consideration will provide an essential cultural context for the documentary.

While HFC is highly respected by their peers in the hacker community, the organization and their humanitarian activities are not widely known. To date, there has not been a documentary featuring HFC or their operations in Uganda. This documentary will call attention to a seldom-explored part of the world and the people who call it home. It is our goal not only to examine a unique operation of humanitarianism, but also to generate discussion about the scope and implications of global technological charity. This documentary will examine the role of technology in contemporary Western humanitarianism and Hackers For Charity’s contributions in the 21st century.

Hackers for Charity and Us

Documentarian Jeremy Zerechak first became familiar with HFC while immersing himself into computer hacker culture during the filming of CODE 2600, his most recent award-winning, feature-length documentary. Since then, he has been maintaining regular contact with the organization's founder, Johnny Long, his wife, Jen, and staff members Sam Kinch and Glenn Eccard for the past few months. HFC has committed their support to the documentary project, offering unfettered access to their classes and charitable operations, assistance on location in Jinja, discounted lodging for the crew, and logistical guidance for the crew’s travel to and from Uganda. Together we have begun coordinating the crew's travel to Jinja and making arrangements for filming in July 2013.

Why We Need Your Support

Documentaries take an immense amount of time and resources to make. Even though our team is mostly composed of seasoned professionals, this is a not-for-profit documentary project, and we need your help in getting it made. Your generous contributions are essential in the making of this documentary. The funding of this campaign will enable us to afford these necessary expenses:

  • crew's roundtrip airfare
  • accommodations while filming in Uganda
  • meals and per diem rates for the crew
  • local guides and services
  • additional equipment rental (HD camera and some support equipment provided free of charge by Ohio University)
  • hardware for storage of footage and media
  • production incidentals
  • production and international health insurance

Stretch Goals: Our goal is the minimum required to proceed with this documentary project. Additional funding would allow us to:

  • expand the documentary into a full feature-length film
  • extend our filming dates
  • make a subsequent trip to Uganda
  • expand professional post-production crew (i.e.: editing assistants, additional sound mixer, colorist) 

Our Great Rewards 

With the help of HFC, we have been able to put together an awesome set of unique rewards, including everything from custom laser-etched computer hardware, CODE 2600 tech movie memorabilia, and cool HFC t-shirts. 

Rewards: Hackers For Charity Ugandan hand-made journals
Rewards: Hackers For Charity Ugandan hand-made journals

Meet Our Team

Jeremy Zerechak (director, producer, and cinematographer): Jeremy is an accomplished career documentarian and film technician. He has produced and directed two award winning feature-length documentaries: Land of Confusion chronicles his Army unit’s mission in Iraq and the operations of Iraq Survey Group; Code 2600, his newest film, is a documentary about the coming of the Information Technology Age and computer hacker culture. Both films have garnered top industry recognition and have screened at venues all across the nation. Currently, CODE 2600 is being exhibited at universities and security conferences across the United States. Jeremy is also a decorated Iraq War veteran and an advocate for veteran rights. He currently teaches and studies film at the Ohio University School of Film. Jeremy's awards include Special Jury Award, Florida Film Festival Land of Confusion, Special Jury Award, Atlanta Film Festival Land of Confusion, Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary 2013, Atlanta Film Festival CODE 2600. 

Joe Miller (music composer and sound mixer): Joseph (Joe) Patrick Miller is a lifelong musician and passionate audiophile. Joe is a guitarist, film score composer, and provides technical music and audio/sound services. He has taught music courses at Duquesne University, and his music has been used in award winning films, television series, broadcast commercials, video games, and other media. Since scoring his first film, Joe has been heavily addicted to the process, craft, and art of scoring to picture. Joe has earned several indutry awards including: 2012 ASCAP Plus Award - 2011 MTA Outstanding Sound Design - 2010 MTA Outstanding Original Music Composition - 2010 MTA Outstanding Sound Design 

Rachel Mihuta Grimm (co-producer and production coordinator): A recent graduate of Ohio University, where she double-majored in French and English, and a seasoned international traveler, Rachel has spent the past four years traveling back and forth between France and the United States. Having worked abroad as a live-in nanny, a volunteer farmhand at an organic farm and bakery, an English tutor, and a high school English teacher at a French boarding school, Rachel has extensive experience planning, financing, and organizing international travel.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Documentaries take an immense amount of time, effort, and resources to produce. Fortunately, Jeremy comes from many years of experience in producing quality feature-length documentary films in a variety of demanding circumstances, including the combat zone of Iraq. Every documentary project presents its own set of unique challenges, and we are taking all the necessary precautions to ensure a safe and productive stay in Uganda for our crew. We understand the value of pre-production and have been busy over the last few months organizing equipment and logistics for the project a well as maintaining an open discussion with regards to the documentary’s story.

Funding also presents a challenge, and the project depends on your generosity and support. Remember, Kickstarter has an “all-or-nothing policy,” and we must reach or surpass our goal in order to proceed with this documentary project.

FAQ

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    Weekly production updates delivered via email

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    High-resolution frame capture of original footage from cinema camera on location in Uganda

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    Original polaroid photograph from set, signed by a crew member or someone featured in the film

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    DVD copy of completed documentary

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    HFC metal dog tag, individually hand-stamped with the HFC logo or the geo-coordinates of the Ugandan workshop where the tags are produced

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    HFC t-shirt with a choice of size and style

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    Signed first-release limited edition copy of "CODE 2600" DVD (available upon release of film)

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    One-of-a-kind large 8.3" x 5.85 handmade leather and metal snaps Ugandan journals. This item is handmade in Uganda, East Africa by craftsmen and women working in Hackers For Charity leather training program. Each leather journal is hand-stamped with it's own unique design.

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    Film Sponsorship (to you and/or your company logo) in the film credits

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    DOUBLE FEATURE DVD COMBO: Both "Hackers In Uganda" and "CODE 2600" special Kickstarter edition DVD.

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    One-of-a-kind large 8.3" x 5.85 handmade leather and metal buckle or snap equipped Ugandan journals. This item is handmade in Uganda, East Africa by craftsmen and women working in Hackers For Charity leather training program. Each leather journal is hand-stamped with it's own unique design.

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    4x6 leather journal with acid-etched paper and coloring from local tea leaves

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    Custom laser-etched iPad2/3 metal cover, etching by Make-It-Urz

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    HFC custom laser-etched Raspberry Pi starter pack, includes Raspberry Pi computer. Comes with a DVD copy of the completed documentary

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    Movie memorabilia: Black rotary dial phone, featured in "CODE 2600" + DVD copy of the completed documentary

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    HFC custom laser-etched ALIX firewall with a choice of design + DVD copy of the completed documentary

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    Movie memorabilia: Anderson and Jacobson acoustic coupler modem model 1242A, featured in "CODE 2600" (still powers up) + DVD copy of the completed documentary

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    Movie memorabilia: Radio Shack TSR-80 computer, featured in "CODE 2600" (in working condition) + DVD copy of the completed documentary AND Signed first-release limited edition copy of "CODE 2600" DVD (available upon release of film)

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Funding period

- (45 days)