WHAT IS THIS DOCUMENTARY ABOUT?
“Locked In NOT Locked Out” will tell the story of how a group of teen girls started a father-daughter dance (The Date with Dad Dinner & Dance), that ended up being held behind bars (A Dance of Their Own), bringing incarcerated fathers together with their daughters with the goal of strengthening their relationships, and giving the daughters exactly what they asked for…their fathers! But the story doesn’t end there. What happens when the dance ends…do the relationships continue? Do they get stronger, or do circumstances threaten them?
Meanwhile, there are lots of other fathers, who are free to see their daughters as they wish, or at least every weekend. But while these fathers have more freedom, or full freedom, they have their own ‘prisons’ to contend with and still ‘fight’ to spend time with their daughters as well. So how does attending “The Date with Dad Dinner & Dance” affect their father-daughter relationships, and what happens in their lives after the dance is over?
For one year, starting with this year’s “Date with Dad” and “Dance of Their Own,” we plan to follow four fathers: two incarcerated, who will attend the special father-daughter dance inside the Richmond City Jail; a married father who has made the “Date with Dad” an annual tradition with his daughter; and a weekend dad who is attending the “Date with Dad” for the first time. We plan to delve deep into the stories of these girls, and young women, and their relationships with their fathers. What we will reveal is the common thread that ties them all together: that all of these relationships matter, that fathers matter, and that these relationships make a difference. These familial ties are especially significant in the lives of the men who are incarcerated.
We also hope to show how important the Date with Dad and Dance of Their Own have become in bringing fathers and daughters together and starting a conversation between them during this special time spent together. We hope others will be inspired to do something on their own, and to keep the conversations between fathers and daughters going.
WHAT LED US TO WANT TO TELL THIS STORY?
It all started during a conversation that took place at CAMP DIVA, a Richmond, Virginia-based non-profit program that provides opportunities for teen girls of African descent to prepare themselves for their passage into womanhood. Angela Patton, CAMP DIVA Founder and Director, was talking to a group of girls in the camp about their relationships with their fathers. One girl shared how smothered she felt by her father’s attention, while another shared how much she wished her father, who she hadn’t heard from in years, would pay her any attention at all. It quickly became evident to Angela that these girls needed a way to connect with their fathers, a way to invite their fathers into their lives. So she asked them how they thought they could help other girls develop healthy relationships with their fathers. The reply: “a dance!” So the “Date with Dad Dinner & Dance” began.
A couple of years later, one girl attending CAMP DIVA shared that she could not attend the dance because her father was incarcerated. So once again, these teen girls came up with a simple solution: “let’s move the dance into the jail!” Who knew Richmond Sheriff C.T Woody would say yes?! So CAMP DIVA then gave a group of fathers in the Richmond City Jail a dance of their own.
These dances started with a small group of girls who had a simple idea and have now grown into something big with “Date with Dad” attracting over 400 fathers and daughters, and “A Dance of Their Own” becoming an annual event. The goal of these dances was to bring fathers and daughters together…for the daughters’ sake. But what we found last year, in 2012, when we entered the Richmond City Jail for that first dance, and what we’ve seen since “Date with Dad” has been offered, is that the dads are also profoundly affected.
CAMP DIVA Founder/Director Angela Patton's talk at TEDxWomen, December 2012
As we’ve shared this story, people have been deeply touched. Then, CAMP DIVA Founder/Director Angela Patton was invited to speak at TEDxWomen in December 2012. There, she spoke about the dances. After hearing her speak, people were in tears, and told Angela that more people must hear this story! Since her TED talk has been posted online, and has made its way to TED.com, more and more people are saying the same thing, THIS story has to be told! So we confirmed what we already believed when we brought cameras into the Richmond City Jail to document the first dance…that this story has to be told!
WHY IS THIS SO IMPORTANT?
What Fathers Are Saying About “Date with Dad” and “Dance of Their Own”:
“I like being here with my dad,” said Kafani Carter about her “Date with Dad” experience in March 2011.
Shaquila Robinson, escorted to the 4th Annual Date with Dad Dinner & Dance in 2011 by a father figure said, "I feel good to be here tonight, I'm looking forward to coming back next year."
When asked what his favorite part of “A Dance of Their Own” (March 2012) was, Faiz Lawton said “just being able to embrace her. Being able to hug her, hold her, squeeze her, kiss her, talk to her closely, share a meal with her…”
“I made a promise to them that I’d never indulge in anything that would take me away from them again,” Royal Brown said about his twin girls while attending “A Dance of Their Own in March 2012. “They are my motivation to do better.”
“Although I appreciate my father never taking off and leaving my mother to do it alone, it almost felt like he might as well have left us. He paid the bills, but never really tried to know us personally, he was absent emotionally and spiritually. Therefore, when my husband said that he talked to fathers who knew their kids’ friends names, their favorite movies, songs, and colors, I was seriously blown away.” Excerpt from blog written by I’esha GaptoothDiva, www.gaptoothdiva.com, whose husband attended “The 5th Annual Date with Dad Dinner & Dance” in March 2012
Date with Dad 2012 video posted on www.gaptoothdiva.com
Research obtained from various sources to include the National Fatherhood Initiative, family research, various journals and government offices concludes the following:
Regarding the influence of fathers on their daughters:
- Daughters who perceive that their fathers care a lot about them, who feel connected with their fathers, have significantly fewer suicide attempts and fewer instances of body dissatisfaction, depression, low self-esteem, substance use and unhealthy weight.
- A daughter's self-esteem is best predicted by her father's physical affection.
- Girls with good fathers are less likely to flaunt themselves to seek male attention.
- Girls with involved fathers wait longer to initiate sex and have lower rates of teen pregnancy.
- 76 % of teen girls said that their fathers influenced their decisions on whether they should become sexually active.
Nationally Syndicated Radio Personality Tom Joyner's message to "Date with Dad" attendees, March 2012
Family research suggests that daughters who have secure and loving relationships with their fathers:
- Have better grades in school
- Feel better about themselves
- Are more assertive without being aggressive
- Feel more confident in relationships with men in general
- Are more likely to be admitted to graduate school and get a degree
In a study of college women conducted over a 15-year period, one researcher found that her subjects wished that their relationship with their father was emotionally and personally closer so they could more closely and comfortably communicate about such personal issues as marital problems and divorce, drug and alcohol use, financial matters, depression, eating disorders, and sex before marriage.
WHAT WILL THE MONEY BE USED FOR?
We are a non-profit organization that struggles to secure funding for programs every year, so you know this project must be important to us if we would make the effort to raise money for it. So how will we use the money? We are very fortunate to know an award-winning filmmaker, Patrick Gregory, who agreed immediately to help us tell this story…but he has to make a living too, and he can’t do the job alone. So in order to make this documentary the right way, we have to pay what the going price is for Patrick and his team to be able to spend time doing the job. The filmmaking team has 30 years of filmmaking experience between them, and the professionals that are a part of it have worked all over the world. We trust their experience and know this will be a well produced, quality product. If we reach our goal, we will be able to start shooting on schedule. If we exceed our goal, we will be able to continue to shoot even longer.
WHAT DO YOU GET OUT OF IT?
You’ll get the satisfaction of knowing you have contributed to a project that will touch and change lives, a project that promotes strengthening the family by focusing on the all important father-daughter relationship.
You’ll also get a lot of really great rewards, our way of showing you our appreciation for helping to make the dream of making this film a reality. We’ve got exclusive t-shirts, hoodies, buttons, a sneak preview of the film, and the chance to have your name appear in the credits.
We also have an opportunity for you to attend the next Date with Dad Dance, have an entire table dedicated in your honor, be listed as a sponsor, meet and greet Actor Chad L. Coleman (our Date with Dad Spokesperson), and be thanked publicly on our website and social media platforms. If you’re a filmmaker or want to be the subject of one, we also have free consultations with our Director, Patrick Gregory, and the chance to have a mini-documentary produced about you and your family!
Risks and challenges
While we remain confident this documentary will get made, we have taken time to analyze the risks and challenges associated not only with making the film, but also with this fund raising campaign. In all their years of working on documentaries in the far reaches of the globe (Greenland, South America, Australia, The Soviet Union, Asia), the filmmakers committed to this project say they have definitely learned one thing…you must adapt to circumstances and be flexible, both creatively and in practical terms. If they strike a roadblock, for example with one of the participants, the team is ready to work together to find a new approach. Sometimes, the process has to take place on the day of the shoot and decisions must be made in a matter of minutes. But they say their experience has taught them to trust the process and know that when it comes to filmmaking, sometimes the best results occur when things don’t go as planned.
Of course, it is possible our campaign goal may not be reached, which would be discouraging and even cause us to lose funds. It is also possible that those who play a vital role in marketing this campaign and getting the word out do not do so as is needed. But again, we are confident in the feedback we have gotten so far and in the people that have verbally pledged support. We have confidence in you, that if you have read our campaign information up to this point, that you are indeed interested in what we are doing and will feel compelled to give as well.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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