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200 urban farmers occupy the last piece of East Bay farmland and plant 16,000 seedlings to save it from becoming a shopping mall.

"The more that people can experience how this happens, the more powerful it becomes.  Through the power of this film we can share our story and in some ways change the world.”  Ashoka Finley, High School Teacher, Organizer - Occupy the Farm

Ashoka Finley and Anya Kamenskaya at Occupy the Farm, April 25
Ashoka Finley and Anya Kamenskaya at Occupy the Farm, April 25

What is this feature-length documentary project about? 

On Earth Day April 22, 2012, I received a text: a couple hundred urban farmers were marching onto ten plus acres of fallow farmland and the site of a former agricultural research center known as the Gill Tract. The farmers hoped to stop development of a shopping mall and condo complex on the site of the former research station, and de-rail plans that threatened to remove the class one agricultural land from farming. The activists brought with them 16,000 seedlings, roto tillers, shovels and tents. Within a few hours, they’d planted an acre of vegetables, put up a big banner that read: Occupy the Farm, and set up a tent village to defend the crops. 

The battle over the last large piece of farmland in California’s East Bay raged for months. This successful direct action altered the fate of this land owned by the University of California at Berkeley, sent urban agriculture into local headlines, and demonstrated how hopes for social justice can become a reality.  This, the urban farmers announced, was “Occupy 2.0." 

We picked up our cameras that very first day and continued to follow the story over the next five months. And, we realized that these urban farmers succeeded because they physically reminded people of their fundamental connection to the land and the earth.

Our cameras "occupied" the occupation. We witnessed the dramatic and rapid evolution of tactics and strategy of both the farmers and their adversaries – officials from the University of California. As a result, OCCUPY THE FARM captures a significant and on-going conflict: the showdown between over-development and agriculture, as well as the contest of wills between a grassroots, consensus based action, and the more rigid power structure of California’s largest landowner. OCCUPY THE FARM reveals a new form of activism for the 21st Century. I’m asking you to join me in this campaign to finish this film and share this powerful story with the world. 

Who is making this film? 

My name is Todd Darling. I’m a veteran filmmaker. I’ve been involved in everything from working as a director and editor at MTV, working on the broadcast of five Olympic Games, covering a revolution as a free-lance journalist, directing a short film about Burning Man’s boldest art projects, and directing a feature film about delivering a snowmobile across the country to George W. Bush. My editing credits include the recent feature documentary “We Are Wisconsin” (2012) which was nominated for the ABC News Award from the International Documentary Association. I directed and edited the reality show “Laguna Beach” for MTV (2004-2006). I’ve edited projects from music videos to Sesame Street – both for their ABC special with John Stewart and their home videos. And, I directed and edited a feature documentary “A Snow Mobile for George” released in 2009, and my 2012 documentary short, “Black Rock Horse”. 

I am working with talented collaborators including: producer Carl Grether, the producer and editor of the recently completed “Edible City: Grow the Revolution” a feature documentary about urban farming and “food justice” in the Bay Area; producer Jonathan Wacks, who produced “Repo Man”, directed “Pow Wow Highway” (which was produced by George Harrison) and he is now the Chairman of the Department of Visual and Media Arts at Emerson College; and fellow editor/filmmaker Blake Hodges whose credits include the PBS show “Roadtrip Nation”, extensive video work with Greenpeace, Sierra Club and Rainforest Action Network, and the ad agency M&C Saatchi. 

 The Goal: 

We’re ready to start editing. We need you to join this campaign to raise $30,000 needed to edit this film and help us to share OCCUPY THE FARM with the world. The $30,000 goal of this campaign will allow us to complete the first cut of OCCUPY THE FARM, which will be suitable to submit to film festivals and distributors. 

This is your opportunity to join a grassroots network and help bring to life a truly independent film. Like the farm itself, we can show how grassroots power can actually make a difference. We believe that this film can accelerate the national conversation about how to create social justice.

We are confident that with your help, we can raise even more money than $30,000 to finish a really great film in the form that it deserves.  And then distribute it to the widest possible audience. 

What we have already achieved: 

We have covered the events of “Occupy the Farm” for five months. We have captured a complex story, from both sides of the conflict. The footage looks beautiful and the characters are compelling. We now have an edit room in Venice, CA with two Avid edit systems and the footage already loaded and organized. 

Future Plans:

We plan to complete this film for a 2013 release. 

By joining this campaign to raise $30,000 to edit this film you also help build our distribution network.  We are exploring all avenues from traditional distribution, online distribution, and film festivals, but part of our goal is to build our own network of communities, colleges, and organizations across the country who will bring the film to the grassroots.

Now its up to you to join this grassroots campaign to complete OCCUPY THE FARM and bring this story to the world! Please send the link to this campaign to your friends!

THANK YOU! Thank you for supporting OCCUPY THE FARM. If you have any questions, suggestions or thoughts please contact us. And go to our web site www.occupythefarmfilm.com for links and more information about the growing urban farm movement.  This movement, made up of people from all walks of life, is working to re-imagine and gain control over the food system in their diverse communities.  This work takes place in neighborhoods throughout the Greater Bay Area, including several close to the Gill Tract, in which tens of thousands of people, live in areas as large as 8 square miles with no grocery store.  The self-organized response in these neighborhoods to create small farms, family gardens and food distribution systems demonstrates how a locally grown food movement can provide people with both a measure of autonomy as well as their own healthy food.

Please pass this Kickstarter link along to your friends! Projects like this can’t happen without grassroots support and your generosity Please continue to stay in touch with “Occupy the Farm” as we will build the network to distribute this film. 

Contact me with questions: occupythefarmfilm@gmail.com 

Connect with our Facebook page at facebook.com/OccupyTheFarmFilm 

Our web site: www.occupythefarmfilm.com 

Twitter: http/www.twitter.com/occupythefarmfilm

Follow us on Instagram: #occupythefarmfilm 

And, if you want to know more about the Gill Tract and what is happening right now on the the farm - visit the urban farmer's own website: http://www.takebackthetract.com/

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Editing a film – especially a documentary – is a tough and expensive process. And once the edit is complete, we still have music, mix, color correction, graphics and archival material to pay for. How can we do it? And, how can we pay for it? As a filmmaker, I have edited dozens of my own projects, and close to 100 television shows, so I am confident that we can finish the film. We also have the professional contacts to get quality mix, color and graphics work done at a reasonable cost. Then to raise this next amount of funds, we will rely on the strength of the grass-roots movement built up around OCCUPY THE FARM to attract additional support from individuals and organizations.

Once completed, our goal is to distribute OCCUPY THE FARM to the widest possible audience. We will use this Kickstarter campaign to expand our existing grass-roots network. We will use this network to build a series of local community screenings, while we work through more traditional avenues to distribute OCCUPY THE FARM through television, independent theaters, DVDs and on-line sites.

FAQ

  • The short answer to this question is because editing a documentary takes so much time and requires so many people. All the money raised, after deducting the approximately 10% that goes to Kickstarter and the credit card companies, will go towards editing the film and gathering the last visual material, Editing a feature documentary usually takes several months, and many people. In the case of OCCUPY THE FARM we will be using two Avid edit systems in a rented office. Two of us will edit for at least four months. For the film to have the greatest impact it should reach the public by mid-2013. To reach that goal we have to edit full time, with no serious interruptions, starting immediately. As this process is completed we also have to create graphics, compose the music, finish the mix, the color correction, the social media campaign and the distribution plans. Spread over all these tasks, and all that time, $30,000 doesn't actually go that far.

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    Digital download of "Occupy the Farm" film poster suitable for use as Facebook profile cover

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    "Occupy the Farm" sticker to show your support, as well as a high resolution digital download of the film poster suitable for 8" x11" color print

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    An OCCUPY THE FARM Bandana, black and white, pigment dye with original design, along with the sticker, and the high resolution digital download of the film poster suitable for 8" x11" color print.

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    Reusable cloth grocery bag - perfect for your local farmer's market with the OCCUPY THE FARM design, and the sticker, and the high resolution digital download of the film poster suitable for 8" x11" color print.

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    OCCUPY THE FARM T-Shirt, the sticker, and the high resolution digital download of the film poster suitable for 8" x11" color print. (Please indicate your size, S-M-L-XL)

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    The DVD of OCCUPY THE FARM, once it is finished, the OTF Bandana, black and white, pigment dye with original design, along with the sticker, and the high resolution digital download of the film poster suitable for 8" x11" color print.

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    The OCCUPY THE FARM DVD once completed; the OTF Bandana, or T-Shirt or Farmer's Market Bag; and a "Thanks!" to you on our Facebook and Website. (We'll deliver the "thanks" right away, the DVD only after the film is done)

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    The OCCUPY THE FARM DVD once completed; the OTF Bandana, and the T-Shirt or the Farmer's Market Bag; and a "Thanks!" to you on our Facebook and Website. (We'll deliver the "thanks" right away, the DVD only after the film is done)

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    The OCCUPY THE FARM DVD once completed; the OTF Bandana, and the T-Shirt, and the Farmer's Market Bag; a "Thanks!" to you on our Facebook and Website; and the sticker. And we'll send you the digital download of the poster

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    An original print of the poster, approximately 18" x 24", signed by the artist and OCCUPY THE FARM director; a DVD of the film once completed, and a Special Thanks on our Facebook page and website.

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    Beers with the director! Todd will take you out for a cold one or three (California only). Spend a couple hours discussing Occupy the Farm, documentary filmmaking, swapping stories, whatever! Just an opportunity to hang out with the filmmaker, have a few beers, and be admired for being a great supporter of our project. Includes DVD and Facebook Thank you!

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    An original print of the poster, approximately 18" x 24", signed by the artist and OCCUPY THE FARM director; a DVD of the film once completed, the OTF Bandana, T Shirt and the Farmer's Market bag. and Special Thanks on our Facebook page and website.

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    License to publicly screen OCCUPY THE FARM for your community group, school, or non-profit organization. This includes the DVD and a digital poster download, and the Special Thanks on our Facebook page and website.

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    The Farm Champion Pack - the signed poster, the DVD, and an hour long chat, by phone with the director of OCCUPY THE FARM. Plus Special Thanks on the website and Facebook page. (Phone charges may apply for an international call)

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    An on-screen credit as a substantial funder, and a listing on IMDB. as well as an original OCCUPY THE FARM poster, signed by artist and the director, the DVD, when complete, and the bandana,

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    Dinner in one of the East Bay's leading "local food" restaurants with the director of OCCUPY THE FARM, people from inside Occupy the Farm, and two tickets to the film's premiere. As well as substantial credit on screen as a funder and listing on IMDB, and the DVD, poster, bandana, farmer's market bag and T-shirt. No travel expenses of any sort included. This can only happen in the East Bay.

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    On screen credit as an Associate Producer on all versions of the film, in the end credit roll, and a listing as Associate Producer on IMDB. Plus signed copies of the DVD, and the poster, and all the OCCUPY THE FARM cloth products - the bandana, the T shirt, and the market bag, and Special Thanks on Facebook and website.

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Funding period

- (30 days)