What if the most important conversation of your life was with a stranger?
In Fall 2013 we were invited to film the training for a new group of volunteers at the Headquarters Counseling Center in Lawrence, Kansas. After one hundred hours of training the volunteers would be ready to staff crisis phone lines, including the National Suicide prevention Lifeline (NSPL).
We wanted to learn about what sounded like a fascinating process, and also about how we as a society deal with mental health and the risk of suicide. We were intrigued that at Headquarters, ordinary people – in this case, mostly college students – undergo the training to answer calls.
What we filmed was a volunteer experience unlike any other. As Kristine, the lead trainer, puts it, “it’s zero to one hundred in the ring of the phone.”
The training, which includes role-play situations covering just about every imaginable crisis, was intense, challenging, and thorough. If the new volunteers can make it through training, they will be ready for just about anything.
Through the training and discussions of mental health and suicide prevention policy runs the concept of empathy. Empathy – really listening and not judging those in crisis - is center of training, and is what makes crisis counseling transformative for callers and counselors alike.
The Listeners tells the story of the transformational and truly inspiring journey these young volunteers choose.
Headquarters has much in common with the hundreds of organizations across the USA that help people stay safe from suicide. This film will help save lives by inspiring more people to become involved with suicide prevention and to use supports when they are at risk.
We need you help to tell our story. The film was begun in 2013, and is nearing completion. Your support will help us down the stretch in post-production, including editing, graphics, and scoring, and then screening the film for audiences everywhere.
We don’t get any of the money you pledge if we don’t reach our goal, so it’s important to give now and to share with your friends.
24/7 suicide prevention centers across the country provide invaluable support to people of all ages, from every background. The Listeners acknowledges this crucial resource through planned community screenings paired with discussion/talkback sessions.
When you support this film, you will join the audience of the film and receive regular updates, and, in the future, be invited to host screenings of the film in your community.
Building community and empathy is what this film is all about, and becoming part of this community is the first step to addressing a crucial need.
You Get Cool Stuff...and an inside seat!
In addition to our rewards, you’ll get a fascinating behind-the-scenes view of the film as it’s being created. As a backer, you'll be among the first to see this documentary come to life.
EVERY backer at $60 and above will have their own DVD copy well before it hits stores. We have other rewards, too: the soundtrack from the film, by Canadian musician and composer Heidi Lynne Gluck; the opportunity to screen and comment on pre-release edits of the film; and the opportunity to remember a friend and loved one with a dedication in the film's credits.
We can't do this without you! This is a chance for you to contribute to a project fueled by empathy and compassion, and a genuine impulse to help others.
Risks and challenges
Making a documentary film is a complex, challenging process that takes years of commitment, hard work, and the ability to learn and adapt as the film grows.
From its beginning in early 2013, the filmmakers have tackled the many tasks involved in production: researching mental health care, suicide prevention and related topics, filming interviews, consulting with experts in the field of suicide prevention, traveling to conferences for interviews, raising funds to begin post-production, building audience through social media, and filming additional footage, just to name a few.
We expect more challenges in the months to come. The challenges, and figuring out creative solutions, are actually part of the fun of filmmaking. This film is teaching us so much not just about the power of empathy, but also, for instance, how people watch documentary films and where they find them.
A key to problem solving is assembling an effective team of collaborators and advisers. We’re working with a great group of professionals, including Steve Deaver, a top-notch editor who has a long list of documentary and feature film credits; and Marcia Epstein, who has decades of experience in suicide prevention including past service as Director of Headquarters, Inc..
With their and others’ contributions, we will strive to deliver a thoughtful and moving film that inspires people to become involved with suicide prevention with their time, their money, and/or their advocacy; and inspires more people to use, or recommend, suicide prevention services when someone is at risk.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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