About this project
STRETCH GOAL $32,000!
THERE IS NO STOPPING THIS HORSE NOW!
(See update #13)
"FINISH LINE: The Rise and Demise of Off-Track Betting" is the first documentary film of the untold story of OTB. It is a fascinating story of vice, political corruption, New York, and horses...but most of all - it is a story of people: the people who worked at OTB, the people who played at OTB, and the people who killed OTB.
WHAT WAS OTB?
For nearly 40 years Off-Track Betting, or OTB, was a New York institution. It was the only legal way fans could place bets on horse races away from being at the track. OTB employed thousands of unionized city workers, supported local businesses, and was the main supplier of customers to the horse racing industry. It had many detractors as it did fans, but one thing could not be disputed: OTB collected over a billion dollars a year in bets.
Decades of corporate greed, political corruption, and dirty deals bled the coffers dry. Off-Track Betting was shut down in bankruptcy in 2010. Thousands of people lost their jobs, many small business owners were forced to close, and New York's horse racing industry - once the largest in the world - has never been the same.
As city employees, OTB workers were promised a lifetime of health care and a pension upon their retirement. A loophole in the law was exploited when OTB closed and the retirees were stripped of their health care. Several people, including one interview subject in the film and another who passed before doing an interview, died as a direct result of having their health care revoked.
"Finish Line" examines why the billion dollar bookie was allowed to fail, who benefitted politically, and how did you - the taxpayer - pay the price for its demise?
WHO WE ARE
I am not only a filmmaker (2010's indie feature Chloe, A to Z) but I am also a former part-time employee of OTB and was greatly affected by its demise. But my story pales in comparison to those people who worked their entire lives at OTB. I have seen my friends, some of whom appear in this film, die as a direct result of losing their jobs and health care after working at OTB for over 30 years.
Working alongside my producing partner, cinematographer Matthew Flannery (Sex and the City) we have been filming for two years. We have dedicated heart, soul, and body into this film, and I believe the love that has been put into it shines through in Matt's gorgeous cinematography. (Please check out his incredible photography at www.photoflan.com)
By supporting this project you are showing hard working families and business owners that you are supporting their story which has yet to be told. What happened to OTB is not just a New York story, it is an American story. It can happen anywhere.
You will get all sorts of updates as the production moves forward. We want you to be a part of this.
WHERE THE PROJECT STANDS
There are tens of hours of interviews which need to be cut down to a manageable movie length. But the changing nature of the ongoing current events which affect this story makes it difficult to say "That's a wrap!" However, there is still a lot of work to do which you can be directly a part of...
WHAT YOU WOULD BE HELPING WITH
There are still a handful of interviews left to record. With your help we can arrange for those shoots - all of which require travel and gas even if we are shooting locally. In addition there are the necessary Archival Footage and Historical Photos which need to be researched, acquired, and cleared through the various public archives and private collections. There are always research hours and "processing fees" just to get rough cut copies of the material to screen and work with at home which up until this point has been cost prohibitive, thus holding up work on the editing and shaping of the historical aspect of the story.
Getting us past our goal, however, will enable us to get other necessary post production services such as a consulting editor, graphics artist, and music rights.
WITH GREAT APPRECIATION
Matt and I have put years of our lives into this project. It is a labor of love and we cannot do it without you. A project such as this is only made possible with not just financial support but with love and emotional support.
Even if you cannot support financially, please share this project with your friends and encourage them spread the word - like us on Facebook (OTB Documentary Film) and send a shout out on Twitter (#OTBDoc) - and let the people of OTB know know that they are not alone .
Thank you for your continued and generous support of this project.
- Joseph Fusco
"Finish Line: The Rise and Demise of Off-Track Betting"
Directed by Joseph Fusco
Photographed by Matthew Flannery
Produced by Joseph Fusco and Matthew Flannery
with Senator Eric Adams • Jimmy Breslin • Hazel Dukes
Senator Martin Golden • Michael Mellon • Steven Baker
Bernard Rome • Clarence Campbelle • David Robards
Stephen Shullich • Andrew Johns • Eleanor Flannery
Anthony "The Big A" Stabile • Bill Mayr • and Patti McCole
© 2013 Finish Line Documentary, LLC
Risks and challenges
"What will we do with ALL this money that is so easily come by?" said No Documentary Filmmaker Ever. The biggest challenge with any piece of art is how to get it financed. The filmmaking is the play, the fundraising is the work.
If you had told me in 2011 that it would take me longer to make the film of OTB than I spent ACTUALLY working at OTB, I would have torn my hair out. But since I am already bald it is perhaps best that nobody told me this.
Filmmaking is the ongoing battle between the shots you want to get against the shots you can get. I would love for the film to be hours' worth of archival footage and photos of New York in the 1970s and 1980s. Who couldn't look at historical material like that for hours?
But the reality is that archival footage can run as high as $80 per second (if you are a good negotiator you can get it down to less) so I have to be judicious in choosing which shots will make it into the final cut. Does this shot advance the story? Is this image vital to the moment?
These are the artistic decisions which unfortunately sometimes have to made from a real practical financial criteria.
There is no doubt that "Finish Line" will be completed and screened. It is only a question of time. However, the longer that the film takes, the further away from the immediacy of the issues the film explores.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Support this project
- (29 days)