The Film's Journey
In 2010, as a faithful Mormon, filmmaker, BYU professor, and a closeted gay man-- I watched with confusion as the two communities I cared about most, the Mormon community and the LGBT community, exploded in contention and vitriol after a rash of gay youth suicides. I knew that something had to give. It was clear to me that the protest rallies, the dogmatic pronouncements, and the yelling matches were not helping those most vulnerable to depression and suicide--especially the young (and not so young), deeply devoted Mormons who were conflicted about their sexual identity, but felt they couldn't really do anything about it.
I decided that I had to find answers for myself by listening to the stories of others, and, most importantly, I needed to engage with the questions in a new way by starting a different kind of conversation--a conversation that asked fair and open ended questions instead of demanding a single narrative to support unrealistic solutions or political agendas.
I wanted to know if there were others who had figured out a way to live and engage in a world where these two communities were always so deeply at odds. I needed to understand if it was necessary for survival to adopt a life path and a way of thinking that requires us to reject one piece or another of our identity. In short, is it possible to be LGBT/SSA and Mormon?
So, I started out on the FAR BETWEEN journey to discover, for myself and for others, what it means to be LGBT/SSA and Mormon.
My team and I have taken 3 years in research, development, and production. We've traveled the country collecting stories from over 200 people--those who are gay, straight, same sex attracted, transgender, Mormon, former-Mormon, the faithful and the no longer religious, those who are thriving and those who are deeply struggling, those who are searching and those who have found answers -- all to paint the most accurate picture of what it means to be LGBT/SSA and Mormon.
Now, of course, we need your help to make this film a reality, we need funding to finish the final edit of the film--please donate and share right now!
WHY DO WE NEED YOUR HELP?
This isn't a plea for sympathy, it's just the truth. We've been self-financing this project by cashing in our 401(k)s, living in our parents’ basements, and turning down other, more lucrative opportunities in order to make this our first priority. We’ve begged, borrowed, and “employed creativity” to get it to where we are now. And now we need YOU.
According to industry standards, a film of this size, scope and quality should cost upwards of $300,000 (on the cheap!) and we’ve been doing it for much less. We got it started with our self-financing and another small fundraiser that brought in $23,000. As always, we are committed to working smart with the money we have, but we need more. Our $50,000 goal for this Kickstarter is the absolute bare minimum needed to finish the film. This will go toward paying an editor and a few other bare necessities for post-production. It will be enough to finish the film, but only by the skin of our teeth.
We feel proud of the work we’ve put in so far and how far we’ve come, but now we’re at an impasse. We need your help to continue. We need your help to finish the film. We need your help to change the conversation.
WHY DOES THIS MOVIE NEED TO BE MADE?
FAR BETWEEN will be the most expansive, thorough and well-developed project of its kind. We've taken three years in research, development and production. We've traveled the country collecting over 200 interviews, all along the spectrum of what it means to be LGBT/SSA and Mormon.
This film started out following Kendall's journey, and that is still an important piece of the film. However, at the heart of the film are more universal questions surrounding sexuality, identity, and faith, questions many of us face in one form or another.
This isn't just one person’s journey, it’s the story of an entire faith community. More has changed between Mormons and gays in the last three years than in the whole history of the church and it's all played out on the national stage - like no other religion in America. We've been here to document these changes and shifts. Our team has been front and center in this evolving conversation.
Here’s a quick breakdown:
- 3 years of production
- Over 200 stories filmed
- 32 Terabytes of footage
- One website with 135 unedited videos already available
- One grassroots organization co-founded: Mormons Building Bridges
- Two “It Gets Better” viral videos
- 15 drafts of the film outline and script
- Stacks of research materials, books, texts, manuscripts
- Notebooks and walls and hard-drives filled with notes
- Three producers and dozens of volunteers ready to make this film a reality
- Four editors
- Five cinematographers
- One composer
- Thousands of hours of work!
Something Has to Give:
We’ve all had conversations about hard things that leave us feeling misrepresented, negated, unheard, or even angry. What if that uncomfortable conversation was YOUR LIFE or the life of a loved one? And, even more problematic, what if the way that conversation was being had all over the world only added to a collective sense of isolation, confusion, and fear? There is no end to the damage we can do with our words, but words can also heal. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could talk about polarizing topics in a way that connects us, builds us, and brings light instead of pulling us apart?
FAR BETWEEN reimagines the current discussion around homosexuality and religion, infusing it with hopeful dialogue and opportunities to seek understanding for and from many perspectives. THE CONVERSATION HAS TO CHANGE if we want to create a better, safer world for our LGBT youth, a new world where self-hatred and suicide are exceptions rather than norms (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_among_LGBT_youth), where family and friends don’t feel like they have to pick between their LGBT/SSA loved ones and their religion, and where LGBT/SSA people don’t feel they have to pick between their sexuality and their family or faith community. We believe it starts with opening our minds and hearts to a full spectrum of experiences. Your support will help us share the stories that can move the conversation forward in a wholly NEW direction.
Say “No” to the Yelling Match and Adopt A New Approach:
We live in a world that is overrun with divisiveness, where many people are asking you to raise your voice for one side or another of a heated debate. The beauty of FAR BETWEEN is that it rejects these polemics and instead asks viewers to commit to moderation, to listening, empathy, and, most importantly, to the idea that every person’s story is valuable. Regardless of whether or not you agree with individual perspectives on either side of the spectrum, we can hear one another and respond with respect. **Changing your mind isn’t even necessary**
This is Important: We are committed to avoiding the political circus you have seen before on issues of faith and sexual orientation. To keep this commitment, we need a little bit of money from a lot of people instead of a lot of money from one big donor who may have a political agenda not in keeping with our vision. There are plenty of films already in existence that speak to the views of either side individually. FAR BETWEEN is bringing something different to the screen. Every dollar donated, every Facebook share, every blog post, every tweet, and every conversation about FAR BETWEEN supports this fresh approach to the conversation about one of our society’s most sensitive and divisive issues.
FAR BETWEEN Is More Than a Film, It’s a Conversation:
We believe this film is just the beginning of a conversation. FAR BETWEEN is more than a film. It is a film and a website and an initiative to help change the conversation. Most documentary films hold their content captive, but we’ve been sharing ours for the last two years.
We are committed to changing the conversation now, as we go, and not waiting until the whole thing is finished to release full-length videos and interviews.
Your contribution will make it possible for us to do what we need to do in the way we need to do it. Small. Big. Whatever GENEROUS looks like in your circumstance, please share what you have to support this important work. If 1,000 people donate just $50 each, or 2,000 people donate just $25 each, we will make our goal.
We, of all people, know that a financial contribution is not possible for everyone. BUT everyone CAN help by sharing this Kickstarter page. It’s simple and it makes a HUGE difference. Share it on social media with a personal message about why you support the film, e-mail it out to everyone who’s ever e-mailed you, canvas an area with flyers--however you get the word out, GET THE WORD OUT! We’ve got loads of content (videos, blog posts, and images) on our website and Facebook page that you can share, too!
TALK IT UP:
Sometimes the most helpful way to change the conversation is to actually talk about it--with people in real life. Show the videos to your mom, your great aunt, your cousins, your neighbors and your congregations and see what happens when empathy guides the dialogue.
This project will live or die by how many people see this page and by how many of those people contribute. So DONATE, SHARE, & TALK IT UP!
Thank you for learning more about our project. Thank you for your donation. Thank you for sharing with your friends.
The final film will be an important capstone and encapsulation of the journey. Though the website is an important part of the project, it is integral that we finish the film in order to push the conversation further and cover aspects particularly well-suited for feature-length storytelling.
Please help us finish what we’ve started by donating now.
FAR BETWEEN will:
• Encourage viewers to see individuals as whole and deserving of respect
• Encourage viewers to empathize with what it’s like for all who have been touched by the experience of homosexuality and membership in the LDS church
• Seek to bring peace to individuals and relationships by engaging in respectful and constructive conversation about homosexuality and Mormonism, built on empathetic understanding
• Seek to create a supportive environment of love and empathy to empower LGBT Mormons to approach their myriad choices without fear, guilt, or shame
• Encourage viewers to see the intersection of homosexuality and Mormonism as a positive opportunity for growth
• Encourage religious gays to own their experience and not to retreat from or circumvent the opportunity to engage with the tension between seemingly conflicting aspects of themselves
• Extol the virtues of spirituality for those to whom it is meaningful
FAR BETWEEN will not:
• Engage in vitriolic polemics or seek to become a divisive tool
• Take sides or seek blame in a political or religious culture war
• Dictate or denounce individuals’ spiritual or sexual choices
• Advocate for change in Mormon doctrine or practices regarding homosexuality
• Exploit or wallow in victimhood
• Exploit individuals or their stories by de-contextualizing them
Thank you to our sponsors TheCulturalHall.com and Mazza for their generous support.
:: Watch the latest story from Tyler Glenn - frontman for Neon Trees ::
Tyler Glenn — lead singer for New Wave-pop quartet Neon Trees is proud to be Mormon. In a recent issue of Rolling Stone magazine, Tyler also came out as gay. Since then, his story has been the subject of countless articles and interviews. In his conversation with the Far Between project, Tyler shares details about his process of coming to realize and accept who he is - and how surprisingly difficult that journey has been. Through deep emotion, Tyler describes his astonishment at being lovingly received, first by his record producer, then by his band-mates and the rest of his friends and family. He describes how freeing it has been for him personally and as an artist to be known for who he is. Finally, Tyler is moved to tears by how refreshing it is to not have to pretend to be someone he is not nor pretend to have all the answers about how to be both gay and Mormon. For now, he acknowledges that he doesn't know all the answers but knows who he is and how he feels and that he loves God and his family.
Thanks to our generous 500+ backers, FAR BETWEEN surpassed its goal ahead of the deadline and will move forward to completion! We can't thank you all enough! Now that we've reached what we explained was the "bare minimum", every increased pledge or new donation going forward will propel FAR BETWEEN farther and faster. From what you've told us, many of you gave because you want FAR BETWEEN to reach as many people as possible, as soon as possible. We happen to agree. So please continue sharing, liking, and donating as we approach our deadline--next Wednesday, August 27--and see if we can reach our stretch goals:
:: GOAL LEVELS ::
$65,000 :: 'SOONER IS BETTER' :: If we are able to raise $65,000, then we can invest in the talent and resources needed to finish significantly faster and start improving the conversation sooner. We're going to do it right, and with this extra boost, we can also do it faster. With festival deadlines and heightened cultural and political dialog around the issues, there's no such thing as "too soon" to get FAR BETWEEN in front of its audience.
$80,000 :: 'TAKE IT ON THE ROAD' :: If we raise $80,000, then we can bring the film to a wider audience, including those who don't already realize how urgently the conversation needs to change, by doing things such as:
Take FAR BETWEEN to film festivals and community screenings, holding live, in-person conversations with audiences. Launch a small-scale marketing campaign targeted at distributors and film festival audiences (showcasing a great film is half the battle--it also has to reach the right people). Thank you again for your support.
Risks and challenges
Showing all these stories side by side: The biggest challenge we face is finding funding that will allow us to keep our vision and approach in tact. We feel it is vital to the success of the project and to ultimately improving the conversation about religion and homosexuality, but we have critics on all sides. Some critics say that our project is too "gay," others that it is too "Mormon.” We aren't being political enough, we aren't putting one side or the other in their place--some will say we go too far, others will say we haven’t gone far enough. We are dedicated to a moderate approach that strives to look at each person with fairness, with compassion. We want to know why each person believes and lives the way they do--not just the people we might personally agree with most. This approach will alienate some audience members and that’s okay.
Nerves about Representation: Another drawback of showing all these stories side by side (people, ideas, stories that are often pitted against each other in the media) is that many of us have a knee jerk reaction to being represented along side someone who is often depicted as on the “other side of the fence.” We tend to be worried that our opinions, beliefs, life experiences will be made to look silly, ridiculous, or crazy. There’s good reason for this as many media depictions amp up external conflicts as a means of peaking curiosity. The content of this film surrounds some of the most personal and sensitive parts of our lives and no one wants to look a fool, or be made fun of. This is important to us as well.
Time: the rough cut deadline for the Sundance Film Festival is just around the corner (End of September 2014) and we have a lot to do between now and then to get a rough cut ready. The rough cut doesn't have to be perfect, but the initial edit of the film should be almost complete. We feel that Sundance would be the best place to premiere this film--not only does it offer us important national coverage of the project, but also has special significance and relevance for this project specifically since it is held in UT--the hub of Mormons and those who are both LGBT and Mormon.
We've got a lot of footage: We have been thorough over the last three years in collecting over 200 interviews across the country so that we can get this right and tell the most accurate, detailed, comprehensive story. We also have a lot of footage to choose from, but also to process. We are going to need to hire more than one editor and more than one assistant editor if we are going to get this movie in shape for the 2015 film festival circuit.
- (42 days)