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A story of evolution as seen through the eyes of Meka Jean and the city of New Orleans.
172 backers pledged $27,034 to help bring this project to life.

About

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$27,034

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Dear Friends and Supporters,

In May of 2014, we will embark on a first time collaboration, in order to produce a feature-length film for the International Contemporary Arts Biennial Prospect 3 New Orleans, organized by Artistic Director Franklin Sirmans, which will take place from October 25, 2014 through January 25, 2015. As artists living and working in the New Orleans area, our goal is to produce a film that explores current discussions pertinent to the city, as seen through the experiences of Meka Jean, an alter ego, spawned from the real life narrative of artist Tameka Norris.

Little Meka Jean
Little Meka Jean
Norris as Meka Jean (click image to see video)
Norris as Meka Jean (click image to see video)
 

Story

Tameka Norris, recent Yale MFA graduate, is listed as one of "24 Artists to Watch in 2013" by Modern Painters Magazine and is included in New American Painting Magazine's MFA Annual in 2012. She finds herself unexpectedly anxious, consumed by feelings of vagueness and a desire for something more or possibly something less. She finds her resolve in returning home to New Orleans, Louisiana in hopes of finding a sense of security and creative freedom in a familiar landscape. But New Orleans has changed. Although still a predominantly Black city, the cultural landscape has radicalized. Upper middle-class communities from larger, northern cities have established themselves. The price of rent has tripled, neighborhood committees are outlawing street music after 10PM, and the economic gap between communities has widened. What follows is a story of desire and a universal struggle both personal and public, in creating change. 

Meka Jean at Good Children Gallery with David Hassell's installation
Meka Jean at Good Children Gallery with David Hassell's installation

Our Approach

We are interested in pushing the formal boundaries of traditional filmmaking to explore a new way of engaging and relating with the narrative.

As co-directors, Tameka and Garrett will be merging their different artistic approaches to build a unified work, speaking to the common interests of the city and narrative at large. While Tameka's work utilizes the body and personal space to explore issues of identity and culture, Garrett, also focuses on these issues and tends to explore these topics through landscapes, strangers and public workspaces. Together, we intend to build a world, exploring these issues through both the personal and public spheres.

Post-Katrina Sunset, 2009 video stills - Norris. Click image to watch video.
Post-Katrina Sunset, 2009 video stills - Norris. Click image to watch video.
Jeremiah, Below Dreams 2014 - Garrett Bradley
Jeremiah, Below Dreams 2014 - Garrett Bradley

CHECK OUT OUR FEATURETTE BELOW. ENJOY!       

Just as music plays an important role in the city of New Orleans, it does so in this film and in Tameka’s artistic practice. Jazz, blues, zydeco, gospel, and bounce were major influences in Tameka’s childhood when she would spend summers in New Orleans and return to her Gulf Coast home just an hour outside the city. Prior to her newfound success in the fine arts, she pursued music as a vocalist/ rapper, songwriter, and certified audio engineer. The soundtrack of this film, performed by Meka Jean, will play an integral role in describing the character’s development. A 4-song EP will accompany the film with production that is ambitious, complex, critical, and equally enchanting!

The Team

Partnering with The Good Children Gallery, The Greenhouse Collective, May Gallery, Lombard Freid Gallery in New York and Ronchini Gallery in London, Meka Jean: How She Got Good will be shot in New Orleans with a fully local cast and crew.  In the spirit of supporting the cultural economy of New Orleans, we are especially excited to be working with locals who are interested in learning about the filmmaking process and as a result, gain insight into a quickly growing industry, as well as a viable skill set.

Some of the team. From left: Keene (May Gallery), Tameka, Garrett
Some of the team. From left: Keene (May Gallery), Tameka, Garrett
Garrett working with Breanna Thompson (Xavier Univ,'13), Shavondria Jackson (Xavier Univ, '15)
Garrett working with Breanna Thompson (Xavier Univ,'13), Shavondria Jackson (Xavier Univ, '15)

Goals

Our story is about the inherent struggle involved in personal and artistic development. In extending this idea to New Orleans, as a character in itself, we are excited to explore this topic with local community members who have experienced firsthand the “development” of their own city since the devastation of Katrina. We see a connection between the struggle in one’s evolution and that of the urban environment, particularly New Orleans. 

We want to expose cultural boundaries, push them, blur them and in doing so, facilitate a dialogue on race, gentrification, personal growth, and the complexities of change which may exist beyond the film itself. With your support, we can tell a story that is poetic, universal, and truth-seeking.

Support  

Our total production costs are just over $50,000. If we can raise $25,000 (JUST HALF!) or more with your support, coupled with private donations, we will have a shot at bringing the community together and begin production. All funds raised will go directly to preparation, salaries, production, and post production of this film.

Through the support of Press Street (a collective built to promote art and literature in the New Orleans community), your donation as Kickstarter backers is 100% tax deductible.

This film is for the people of New Orleans who have come and gone, for the artists who have stayed and are still arriving, for the communities fighting a silent war over space and sound and for the future- which is unknown and hopeful.

We believe this project wouldn’t be possible without the talent, expertise, and support of one another. We also know that this project will only be possible with the support of the many extended communities to which we belong.

Family, friends, colleagues, professors, mentors, institutions, and art supporters alike in New Orleans, New York, Los Angeles and beyond, we humbly ask you to support us in a time of artistic necessity.

Love, 

Tameka and Garrett

Special Thanks to: 

Felici Asteinza, Nicole BZ, Milo Daemgen, Jason Foster, Chris Haney, Zac Manuel, James Riley, Charles Samuel, Ashley Teamer, Breanna Thompson

Images: Garrett Bradley

Q&A 

What are we doing? 

The purpose of this Kickstarter is to raise funds for a co-directed feature length film, which will be part of the International Biennial Prospect 3 and will be installed at May Gallery in October of 2014.

Where do the funds go?

Your funding will make the all the difference. The funds will go directly to the film’s budget, which includes: Production Expenses: $17,350 - includes Camera Equipment, Lighting Equipment, Sound and Audio Equipment, Rentals, Set Design and Craft Services. Post-Production: $10,150 – includes Editing Software & Equipment, Lab Output, Mixing, Authoring, Installation.

Can I write a check instead of donating through Kickstarter?

Yes! If you prefer not to give through Kickstarter, checks may be written to: Press Street C/O Meka Jean Project and mailed to: Press Street 3718 St Claude Ave, New Orleans LA, 70117. (Please kindly shoot us an email at themekajeanproject@gmail.com letting us know to look out for your contribution).  

Where can I learn more about the project?

Stay connected with us! Daily updates are available through the official Meka Jean Project website as well as social media outlets, Facebook and Twitter.

How do we contact you?

Glad you asked! To contact us directly, you can also email us at themekajeanproject@gmail.com.

Is my pledge amount publicly displayed?

No. Only you and the project creator will be able to see your pledge amount.

Can we exceed the goal?

YES!

What if I don’t want the incentive, I just want to support?

No problem, there is a button that you can select if you don’t want the reward.

Can I increase my pledge once it’s been made?

YES! For assistance with this, feel free to reach out to us and we'll happy to walk you through it. 

What happens if the money isn’t raised in time? 

If we do not raise $25,000 in time, your account will not be charged. 

I'm not in the US. Can I still pledge to this project? 

YES! Kickstarter does not exclude backers outside of the United States. 

Please feel free to pass this along to friends and family who may come from across the globe and are interested in supporting this project. 

Estimated Reward Delivery Dates? 

As you well know, our estimated delivery date of your rewards is just that: an estimated delivery date. We aim to keep you informed and up-to-date of what is happening with the film’s production, and will do so at least 1-2 times per month. If ANY delays or issues come up, you will be the first to know. We will do our absolute best to stick to the delivery timeline. For the now, we have every intention of delivering your reward by or before the promised date. 

Risks and challenges

The risks and challenges of making this film are elements which we intend to include in the final cut of the film. This may allow us to create a fresh context for how we experience narrative while also pushing the formal boundaries of visual storytelling.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    I Heart Art Package
    • Thank you across all media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Website & Kickstarter)
    • + The endless satisfaction of knowing you’re supporting art, community, sustainability, and fighting the good fight.

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    I Support Art Package
    • Permanent thank you on website
    • Meka Jean button
    • Meka Jean sticker
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    I Create Art Package
    • Personal Thank You Note from Meka Jean
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    I Hear Art Package
    • Download link to the score (upon completion)
    • Meka Jean Matchbook
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
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    Struggling Artist Package
    • Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
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    MFA Candidate Package
    • 1 Meka Jean movie poster
    • Physical copy of the DVD + soundtrack
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Film School Graduate Package
    • Physical copy of the DVD + soundtrack SIGNED by the directors
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
    • + Permanent thank you on website
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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Meka Jean’s 'First Fan' Package
    • Hand-drawn Matchbook by Meka Jean
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
    • + Permanent thank you on website
    • + Thank you across all media platforms
    • + Meka Jean button
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    The Collector's Package
    Attend “Private Screening” + Q&A with the Artisit/ Directors in New Orleans, New York, Los Angeles, and London (must sell out in order to exist!)
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
    • + Permanent thank you on website
    • + Thank you across all media platforms
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    Meka Jean’s '#1 Fan' Package
    • Limited Edition available ONLY to Kickstarter backers of $100 or more (small artifact pertaining to the film: i.e. art brush, sketch pad, pencil box, etc.)
    • Signed "Crew Photo"
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
    • + Permanent thank you on website
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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    The Arts Administrator Package
    • Limited Edition 5x 7 image from film signed and numbered
    • Signed movie poster
    • Bound copy of the script
    • Visit the set
    • Download of Garrett's previous released works
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
    • + Permanent thank you on website
    • + Thank you across all media platforms
    • + Meka Jean button
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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    The Gallery Director Package
    • Limited Edition 8x10 or 9x12 image from film signed & numbered
    • Pre-Private Screening "Meet & Greet" (drinks)
    • Download of "Director’s Cut" film available ONLY to Kickstarter backers
    • Signed piece from the set (this will be a one-off and unique offering made available post-production to Gallery Director backer ONLY)
    • Introduce the film at the Private Screening of your choice
    • Art mentorship – lunch with Tameka and Garrett to get advice / critique
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    The Critic's Package
    • Exclusive Meka Jean audio track Single by Meka Jean
    • Signed and bound copy of the film's musical score
    • Film scrap book signed by Tameka and Garrett
    • Introduce the film at the Private Screening of your choice
    • Art mentorship – lunch with Tameka and Garrett to get advice / critique
    • Be an "extra" in the film
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    The Actor's Package
    • Exclusive behind the scenes footage + exclusive Meka Jean audio track single by Meka Jean (download link)
    • Listen to the final mix / final pass at mastering studio
    • Attend the rough cut screening
    (must be able to transport self to studio and screening location)
    • French quarter soiree with cast & crew (pub crawl)
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
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    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    The Record Executive's Package
    • Music video from Meka Jean: How She Got Good signed by Meka Jean
    • Exclusive (unreleased) Meka Jean track
    • Bywater / Brooklyn/ Los Angeles soiree with cast & crew (i.e. during the Bywater’s 2nd Saturday Art Walk)
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
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    Pledge $4,000 or more About $4,000

    The Agent's Package
    • Songwriting notes, recording journal
    • Tour of film set locations
    • A personal mention on a Meka Jean single
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Almost Famous Package
    • A custom video from Meka Jean to you
    • Production diary, signed by Tameka and Garret personally to you
    • Name a character
    • Placement in the movie (business signage or personal name i.e. graffiti or artists’ sketches, etc.)
    • Film slate
    • Tour of New Orleans, Los Angeles or NYC by Meka Jean
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
    • + Permanent thank you on website

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Associate Producer's Package
    • Invitation (+1) the official Prospect 3 private opening party in New Orleans (Transportation and accommodation not included) Oct 23 - 25th, 2014.
    • The original Meka Jean on-set journal entry / notes
    • Private dinner with the directors and creators
    • Associate producer credit
    • Set visit (during filming)
    • Be a featured extra (backers responsible for their transportation to the film set, and if necessary, to find their own accommodation)
    • + Download link to the film (upon completion)
    • + Download link to the score
    • + Personal thank you note from Meka Jean
    • + Permanent thank you on website

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Funding period

- (45 days)