About this project
DEBT U: THE STUDENT LOAN DOCUMENTARY
This film tells the story of individuals from all socio ethnic backgrounds whose lives have been changed forever by student loan debt.
Debt U also follows the money: how did our basic consumer protection get sandbagged and who's profiting from it? And who stands to lose the most if students are better informed and protected from predatory loan practices?
Without laws to protect borrowers - and with the laws that protect the lenders stronger than ever - Debt U uncovers the disturbing national crisis of students, parents and entire families who are saddled with crippling debt.
DEBT U begins with Director Casey LaMarca and his family moving from their home of 16 years because of student loans. Driven by guilt, sadness and anger, Casey is compelled to chronicle the unexpected outcome of him and his brother doing what they had always thought was the right thing: going to college.
Their combined student debt has climbed to nearly $250,000.00 - and while struggling to keep with payments, much of their debt eventually falls to their parents. Unable to continue paying the mortgage, manage the cost of living AND the thousands of dollars in unexpected monthly student loan payments, we watch as Casey, his mom, his brother and his elderly grandparents pack up and leave the home they can no longer afford.
Angela Smith is a grieving mother; her son Donte was a rising football star at Marshall University and father of three who was shot and killed on his younger brother's 16th birthday. Less than a month after his death, the phone began to ring as First Marblehead Corporation sought to collect on the first missed payment from her deceased son.
The Debt U crew was invited into the family's home to film the story of Angela Smith's five year odyssey to seek relief from the relentless collection of a debt that her family cannot afford. This was a debt that Donte was told he must incur for one more year of college if he wanted to play football - a student loan he was then actually denied unless his parents would agree to co-sign.
At Donte's gravesite, Casey LaMarca, director of Debt U, promises Angela Smith's family that he will not stop until they receive the loan forgiveness they deserve.
Trena is a smart, passionate young woman who studied humanities and spent years volunteering in a third world country. In a depressed economy, she can only find work waiting tables with nearly $2,000 a month in student loan bills. With no co-signer, this 22 year old was allowed to borrow $140,000 for a college education, and has faced actual hunger. Having been denied a deference AND food stamps, Trena is lucky to eat one week when her friends bring her food.
Follow Debt U as we seek justice and reform for the millions of eager, under informed children who are legally encouraged to incur up to hundreds of thousands of dollars of high interest rate debt - often secured by family homes - in the face of plunging employment rates and no way out.
This film explores the psychological dilemma and disconnect that human beings face when shown the opportunity to be greater than what they are, even when it involves taking on debt with no clear proof that could it ever be paid - and the real risk that entire families could be permanently impacted.
Risks and challenges
Debt U will require being on the front lines on many occasions. Director Casey LaMarca will be seeking interviews from politicians to personal stories, and many situations may change once the film is actually completed.
For example: On July 1st, the interest rate on many student loans is set to double from 3.4% to 6.8%. Debt U will still be on Kickstarter after this date. It's been included in the video because it's an important statistic to know regardless of when you learn it, and what the outcome will be.
Another example: With attention from Debt U and Change.org, Angela Smith's son Donte may win debt forgiveness - in that case, instead of filming the march and protest on the loan office, Debt U will film the family celebrating an end to many years of grief.
Additionally, in order to avoid being delayed by any permit or license issues, Debt U is not attached to any one story: we are committed to telling The Story.
Our goal of 40,000.00 will enable Debt U to be completed for film festival submission to venues such as Tribeca, Sundance and New Hampshire to generate further excitement and sponsorship. Budget will go to travel, additional equipment and crew. We aim to have the film completed by the end of this year with a planned 2014 release.
We're excited you're on the ride with us!
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