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In this wordless documentary, images and music show the new lives of sacred spaces after their founding congregations leave.
61 backers pledged $3,205 to help bring this project to life.

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[Update: Yes, we've hit the funding goal -- but it's not over yet, and more help means that we can make an even better film. Please check out our backer's update (which anyone can see) and back us if you can!]

When the congregation who built a sacred space move on, what happens to the building?

When the spaces find new uses, how does the sense of the sacred remain?

In the documentary series How Beautiful: the Transformation of Sacred Space, images and music show, without words, the new lives of sacred spaces  after their founding congregations have gone.

When I was nine years old, I found out that my synagogue and school was moving. The building would become a church. Visual images and ideas for music immediately formed in my mind,bringing out the emotions that I felt in that moment, realizing how lives and sacred spaces and the people who create them change and are renewed. Now, close to fifty years later, we have the people, the spaces, and the technology, and, with your help, can achieve this dream.

We've already completed our first film, How Beautiful (Phase 1: Liberty Hill) examined the interior of the Liberty Hill Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, formerly the Euclid Avenue Temple (Anshe Chesed). Watch it now -- it's about four minutes long, and seeing it will show you what we're doing better than any explanation would.

How Beautiful (Phase 2: Cleveland) expands the scope to explore several other locations within the city of Cleveland. This second film, which will be about twenty minutes long, will include more of Cleveland's former synagogues, as well as a former Catholic church that has been transformed into a center for urban farming.

​How Beautiful (Phase 2) will show the life and beauty in these spaces, which some might not know are here within the city of Cleveland.

My primary collaborator on How Beautiful is cinematographer Wesley Harrell Crump. Wesley Crump is a photographer and cinematographer who got his filmmaking start by working on productions in New York City in the late 1990’s. Wesley has worked on productions as diverse as Reading Rainbow and Chappelle’s Show, and in every capacity from audio to grip. Most of his photography work is in landscape (both natural and urban) and still life, though he has recently begun a new period of work in staged tableaux based on the late era of Renaissance painting through Baroque. As a cinematographer, Wesley has filmed commercials, short films, and PSA’s, but finds most of his work in the documentary field.

The film's original music, as in Phase 1, is made up of voices adapted from existing chants and hymns, transported into a dream-like space of sound where traditions and cultures meet.

We’ll be shooting the video footage for How Beautiful (Phase 2) this summer, while the Cleveland weather should be good enough, and there will be enough natural light, to allow shooting exterior and interiors. We’re aiming to complete editing the film by late November to meet the submission deadlines for several film festivals, including the Cleveland International Film Festival.

But to do this, we need your help.

We’re making How Beautiful (Phase 2) with a small team, and we’ve already arranged for much of what we need. But there’s still a gap between what we have and what it will take to complete this film.

While we have access to most of the equipment that we would need to do the film, being able to rent other gear would make more things possible. We've already researched what we might use and how to obtain it in the most cost-effective ways. We also need funds for transportation, feeding the crew while shooting, film festival entry fees, and the plethora of little surprises that swarm like mosquitoes around any project. We've also figured in the small amount of fees and taxes involved in running a Kickstarter project.

We need to raise $2500 dollars to complete this film, and we’re working to raise the money via this Kickstarter campaign. At Kickstarter, people like you pledge what they can afford to make a project a reality, from as little as five dollars to as much as you feel that you can give. Based on the amounts that people donate, we give back rewards, from thanking you on the website or in the film's closing credits, to digital downloads and DVDs of the completed film and its score, to producer credit on the film and on IMDb.

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing campaign. If we don’t raise the whole amount, we get nothing.You’ll only be charged for your donation at the end of the campaign, if and only if we raise the full amount. Every bit that you can give brings us closer to that goal. Please give what you can and tell other people about what we’re doing. If enough people contribute, we can make our goal and make this film.

So please, take a moment to donate. Click the big green button, give what you can, tell your friends, and take part in creating How Beautiful: the Transformation of Sacred Space.

Risks and challenges

In completing Phase 1, we’re learned that the concept can work. We’ve had a great response from people who have seen it. We can know go into Phase 2 knowing that we can complete the project and create something of lasting beauty.

Still, we know that challenges can happen, and we're keeping them in mind as we proceed.

We haven't nailed down some of the specific locations at which we'll film. We are, however, making connections with more places than we would need to do the short film, so we'll have enough locations if some don't come through.

We're working with a very small crew, and our filming dates are based on somewhat unpredictable scheduling and availability. However, in creating "How Beautiful (Phase 1)" and other projects, we have learned each other's strengths and the degree to which we can depend on each other. We also have several additional people willing to help if we need to call upon them.

Other than that. we keep in mind Murphy's Law ("Everything that can go wrong, will,") and Hofstadter's Law ("Everything takes longer than expected, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law.") and try to have a Plan B, C, D, etc. for any eventuality.

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  1. Select this reward

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    Digital download of the film (after festival screenings). Thank you on the website (at the end of the Kickstarter campaign).

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    A set of high-resolution digital stills from the film, suitable for desktop backgrounds or social media banners. Digital download of the film (after festival screenings). Thanks on the website.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Digital download of the film's music. A set of high-resolution digital stills from the film, suitable for desktop backgrounds or social media banners. Digital download of the film (after festival screenings). Thanks on the website.

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    Physical DVD of the film. Thank you in the credits and on the website. Digital download of the film's music.A set of high-resolution digital stills from the film, suitable for desktop backgrounds or social media banners. Digital download of the film (after festival screenings).

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    An 11x17 full color poster for the film. Physical DVD of the film. Thank you in the credits and on the website. Digital download of the film's music. A set of high-resolution digital stills from the film, suitable for desktop backgrounds or social media banners. Digital download of the film (after festival screenings).

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    An invitation for two to a private screening of the film in Cleveland in early 2015. (Date and location to be determined; travel and lodging not included.) An 11x17 full color poster for the film. Physical DVD of the film. Thank you in the credits and on the website. Digital download of the film's music. A set of high-resolution digital stills from the film, suitable for desktop backgrounds or social media banners. Digital download of the film (after festival screenings).

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Associate Producer credit on the film and on IMDb. An invitation for two to a private screening of the film in Cleveland in early 2015. (Date and location to be determined; travel and lodging not included.) An 11x17 full color poster for the film. Physical DVD of the film. Thank you in the credits and on the website. Digital download of the film's music. A set of high-resolution digital stills from the film, suitable for desktop backgrounds or social media banners. Digital download of the film (after festival screenings).

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Executive Producer credit on the film and on IMDb. An invitation for two to a private screening of the film in Cleveland in early 2015. (Date and location to be determined; travel and lodging not included.) An 11x17 full color poster for the film. Physical DVD of the film. Thank you in the credits and on the website. Digital download of the film's music. A set of high-resolution digital stills from the film, suitable for desktop backgrounds or social media banners. Digital download of the film (after festival screenings).

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Funding period

- (21 days)