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

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A film that tells the true story of Medal of Freedom recipient Dr. Tom Little and asks big questions about the future of Afghanistan.

$35,000 Goal and a New Gift to say Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who has pushed us over our initial goal. There are just a few days left in the campaign! Lets use the time we have to increase our number as much as possible. Why? Because there are many other needs when it comes to putting together a film. Our shoots in Afghanistan are covered, but we still need to edit, hire a composer, and digitize hundreds of photos and hours of video. Even on a shoestring budget there is only so much that we can do to cut costs. As a new way of saying thank you we have a new gift - a signed copy of our movie poster. If you have already given and would like to increase your gift by just $10 dollars we will include this when we mail your gifts. Thanks again!

New poster you get when you back this project or increase your pledge by just $10 dollars!
New poster you get when you back this project or increase your pledge by just $10 dollars!

What is this Project About?

Afghanistan is on the verge of momentous change as U.S. and NATO troops prepare to withdraw in 2014. Will this be the dawn of lasting stability or will the country slip back into war? What kind of commitment will be required to address the huge problems facing the country? “The Hard Places” is a new feature-length documentary that will examine these questions about the future by first looking back and chronicling the extraordinary journey of Dr. Tom Little, a man who chose to forsake a life of comfort and security in order to make a lasting difference.

Dr. Tom Little giving eye treatment
Dr. Tom Little giving eye treatment

Who was Dr. Tom Little?

American optometrist Dr. Tom Little arrived in Afghanistan just before the country entered a relentless series of conflicts that has lasted to the present day – from Soviet occupation, to civil war, to Taliban rule and the U.S. invasion following 9/11. Despite almost constant danger he, his wife and children decided to stay and live among the people they served. Little’s dream was to create a sustainable eye program that would train native Afghans to become eye doctors and to establish eye clinics throughout the country to treat the thousands of people suffering from vision problems in that unforgiving environment. Little believed it was his calling to help those who had no options, who were caught up in violent circumstances, but yet whom he also saw as fellow human beings in need of a healing touch. Today, in large part because of his perseverance and dedication, his organization, IAM, provides nearly 90% of all eye-care in the war torn nation.

Tom Little
Tom Little

In July of 2010, Tom and a team of fellow aid workers backpacked 120 miles into the remote province of Nuristan at the invitation of village elders to serve a population of nearly 50,000 people with no access to medical care. On August 5th, 2010, as he and his team were only a day trip away from solid roads returning to Kabul, they were ambushed and murdered in the wilderness. In 2011, in recognition of his life’s work and sacrifice, President Obama posthumously awarded Tom Little the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed upon any U.S. citizen.

Libby Little receiving the Medal of Freedom by Michelle and Barack Obama
Libby Little receiving the Medal of Freedom by Michelle and Barack Obama

Why Support this Film?

We need a film that examines the real cost of lasting change and shines a light on those who take on the challenge. In recent days we have seen an increased incidence of aid workers being targeted by militants whose goal is to make bridge building between East and West impossible. The goal of “The Hard Places” is to reveal the lasting impact of Dr. Little’s work and use his story as a lens to investigate the challenges,  dangers and successes of international aid work and highlight the continuing need for medical training, sustainable development and medical access for the Afghan people.

The funds that we raise for this project are going to be used help the filmmakers travel back to Afghanistan with Tom's widow Libby. We will retrace Tom's steps, interview those who knew him and profile ordinary Afghans as they seek eye treatment.

Award-winning producers Lukas & Salome Augustin (Afghanistan - Touch Down in Flight) and Mountain Lake PBS are teaming up to produce and distribute this project. So fortunately the film already has distribution through a PBS station. Millions of people will see this production if we have your help!

How does Kickstarter work?

Kickstarter is a crowd sourcing platform and follows the idea of all or nothing. If we can reach the goal by February 5th we can use the money and start the project if not we get nothing. So what you do is just choose your donation level and the reward you would like to receive and donate by entering your payment information. It’s that easy! If you choose a reward that requires shipping, be sure to leave your address. If you haven't done that yet we’ll be in touch.

What You Can Do

By contributing and pledging for this project, you will help us produce and distribute this project. Please also help us get out the word with your social networks. The more people hear about this the more likely it is that we get funded by February 5th.

We greatly need appreciate your support!

Stay Tuned

To keep up to date with this and other upcoming Augustin Pictures projects follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Vimeo and visit the official website for the film.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Afghanistan offers numerous geographic and security issues. The good news is that Lukas and Salome already have years of experience working in difficult situations - from Afghanistan to Congo and beyond. The difficulty isn't the story - its the finances. If we can't reach the goal of 20.000 by February 5th we get nothing and the project won't happen.

FAQ

  • Kickstarter doesn't do the shipping so we need to do provide the international shipping costs. We tried the national postal system, FedEx, UPS, DHL you name it and they are all extremely expansive. A workaround is to make the gifts in Germany and to ship them from there. It's cheaper but that still costs money. So we came up with another 50 USD pledge for internationals but for some reason that is now changed to "USA" only and doesn't include the shipping costs and while the campaign is running we can't change the gifts anymore. So here is what you can do: The shipping costs are at least 15 USD for small parcels even from Germany so if you live outside the U.S. and if you want to make a 50 USD pledge for example please pledge at least USD 65,- and then choose the USD 50,- gift. That way we can make sure your gift reaches you and you don't have to come to Germany or the New York to pick it up. I wish we could hand you the gifts personally but I'm afraid this is not possible.

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  • YES, all donations made to The Hard Places are TAX-DEDUCTIBLE! This is because we are sponsored through our non-profit PBShttp://www.collectiveeye.org/ We’ll send out e-mails with your receipt at the end of the campaign. For larger donations, feel free to contact us at http://mailto:DSwinton@mlpbs.org with any questions.

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  • Every pledge and every Dollar goes right into the production. We'd like to have the right tools and ingredients to make this film from fairly produceable to visually astonishing. Whether it's an iconic soundtrack or a piece of archival footage that helps us tell a richer story, we'd like to have the ability to license it for using it in this documentary. The money we've raised so far covers only a fraction of the cost of making this film. We are raising money outside of Kickstarter but the listed budget is quite tight. We already started producing as you can tell from the promo and teaser clips with Libby but the next big thing is the trip to Afghanistan. Flight tickets, accommodation, a vehicle and driver, a local translator but also we would like to get some aerial footage to show Afghanistan as you haven't seen it yet...

    Every pledge helps us to avoid taking short cuts as we get one step closer to make this film about Tom Little and the country he loved.

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  • Yes! Kickstarter does allow you to raise more than our goal and we certainly hope we will. Kickstarter requires that you set an amount you would like to raise, but there is no limit over that amount. When we set out to fund this project we selected $20,000 as a conservative number which we thought was attainable. If we had chosen a number that was too high we might never have reached it and if you don't reach your goal you don't get to keep the funds. So that was our 'best guess' at the time for how successful we might be. Now we are half-way through and are nearly to that amount and would love to use the remaining time to cover more costs related to the film.

    The funds we have raised so far will cover most of the costs of our trip to Afghanistan, but this number will not cover for example the cost of editing that material, other shoots in the U.S., the cost of a music score or the editing. We are also considering the costs of chartering a flight over Nuristan in order to see the valley where the team died, which would be a very powerful scene.

    So please, if you or others you know are interested in supporting this project, their funds are needed and very welcome! Ultimately we will need to raise about three times this amount to finish the film.

    Thank you for asking and please help us spread the word!

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  • We can't truly increase our goal but we can do some things to let people know that we are trying to raise more funds, such as update the cover picture and add some text about it on the site. We are also going to offer a new (surprise) gift for anyone who gives more than $10 dollars after we reach our $20,000 goal.

    I think it would be wonderful if we were able to raise closer to $30,000 in this drive but we don't know if it is possible.

    We will probably do a "Phase 2" kickstarter down the road but those are typically harder to raise the funds for. We may try for an additional 10,000 when we have a rough cut to show people. At that point I think people will be excited to see the project completed!

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    This will be premium. You will get an official hand-signed DVD with a personalized thank you letter. Access to behind the scenes material and a set of limited-edition Afghanistan postcards by Lukas Augustin.

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    Everything the others got but who cares because now you're in the film business! You got honorary Producer status in the credit roll and on the DVD + we will call you from anywhere in the world to show you our highest gratitude but more than that we will send you an exclusive invitation to a VIP event to meet the producers of the film.

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    Well done! Everything the others got, honorary Executive Producer credit, meet the producers at the exclusive VIP event and all other premiums AND you will be the owner of a unique hand knitted carpet made in Afghanistan with a signed photograph of the creator AND you're saying you want to guarantee that this film happens.

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Funding period

- (33 days)