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In the 1970s, a band of idealists and city-slickers attempt to build a multiracial utopia in the heart of Klan Country, NC.
In the 1970s, a band of idealists and city-slickers attempt to build a multiracial utopia in the heart of Klan Country, NC.
In the 1970s, a band of idealists and city-slickers attempt to build a multiracial utopia in the heart of Klan Country, NC.
145 backers pledged $10,346 to help bring this project to life.

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Soul City -- Historical Doc Short about a Multiracial Utopia

$10,346

145

UPDATE: We have reached our goal with a week to go! Let's dream bigger. If we can raise $10,000 we will be able to put on community screenings in North Carolina--from Soul City, to Raleigh, to Winston-Salem, and maybe somewhere near you! Not only that, but we will commission an original score for the film. Think 1970s soul, funk, and R&B: let's make this era strut on screen! 

Disillusioned by the limits of Civil Rights reform in the late 1960s, a group of city slickers and activists migrate down to rural North Carolina to build the city of their dreams: Soul City, a planned community free of the racism and poverty they saw in the North. Their pioneering efforts to jumpstart this black-owned, black-built town run up against tenacious enemies that still face idealists and dreamers today--ingrained racism, public skepticism, and unwillingness on the part of the government to think outside the box to solve social problems. As this group of dreamers try to bring together unlikely allies to support black economic development, they are forced to balance their soaring idealism with the hostile reality of the times.

The boldness to build their own city from the ground up and to insist on black ownership and equality is a unique part of 20th-century racial history, and yet, this story has never been fully told.

We’ve had the great privilege of meeting and working with many of the founders and residents of Soul City, listening to their stories, dreams, and struggles. We’ve interviewed them, spent time hunting for their photos in attics and basements and garages, and traveled with them to revisit the city they once helped build. We’ve been working hard in the edit suite, and now we’re gearing up for the last stretch of post-production to turn our material into a 25-minute film to be shared with audiences across the country starting Spring 2016. 

Charmaine McKissick-Melton, current Soul City resident and daughter of Soul City founder Floyd B. McKissick, digs through photos at the family home.
Charmaine McKissick-Melton, current Soul City resident and daughter of Soul City founder Floyd B. McKissick, digs through photos at the family home.
Co-directors SheRea DelSol and Monica Berra examine slides.
Co-directors SheRea DelSol and Monica Berra examine slides.
Former Congresswoman and Soul City Foundation President, Eva Clayton, is interviewed in her home.
Former Congresswoman and Soul City Foundation President, Eva Clayton, is interviewed in her home.

Historical films are especially difficult to tell. We’ve done the groundwork of extensive research, in-depth interviews, and collecting available photo images from former and current Soul City residents, academic archives, and newspapers. But to show a complete and compelling picture of history on screen, we need funds for archival rights and acquisitions to secure the gripping and moving images of the late-60s and early-70s Civil Rights era. We also need funds to cover our final post-production expenses.

Costs will be divided as follows:

Archival Rights—every second of archival footage and photos on screen can cost hundreds of dollars. Help us to tell this historical story with captivating images from the time period. 

Animation and Motion Graphics—The Soul City founders produced colorful illustrations and marketing materials, which we want to bring to life through animation and compliment with original motion graphics. Help us hire a skilled craftsperson to create these images. 

Sound Sweetening & Color Correcting—We want this film to be seen as widely as possible. To do that, we need to make sure it meets the highest standards of sound and color quality for film festivals and television broadcast. Help us book studio time with professional color and sound technicians to make this film picture-perfect.

Original illustrations from Soul City marketing materials
Original illustrations from Soul City marketing materials
Soul City Pioneers
Soul City Pioneers
The North Carolina A & T University marching band performs at the Soul City groundbreaking.
The North Carolina A & T University marching band performs at the Soul City groundbreaking.
Floyd B. McKissick during the Civil Rights movement.
Floyd B. McKissick during the Civil Rights movement.

You will be rewarded for your support of our project through several different prizes. First, all of our supporters who donate at any level will be given a heartfelt shout-out on our social media (if you don’t follow us yet on Facebook or Twitter, please do!) and our deep gratitude. Other prizes include a transcript of the film, the link and password to the film upon completion, or a DVD copy of the film mailed to your home. All of these rewards are available for pledging $50 or less.

LIMITED EDITION PHOTO PRINTS--By pledging $75, you will get a limited edition print of a photo from the Soul City photo archive that we’ve amassed in the course of making this film. We will select 5 of these beautiful photos, and mail you one as a gesture of our appreciation.

Interested in getting more than just one of the limited edition photo prints? You can get 3 of the 5 prints at the $100 level, or pledge $150 to get all five.

SKYPE WITH US--Anyone pledging $300 is rewarded with the chance to Skype with the three co-directors. We’ll be joined by a surprise character from the "Soul City" film. Ask us questions about the film, what Soul City is like today, the idea of utopia in America, or anything else you want to know about this interesting time period.

SOUL CITY TOUR--Soul City is an interesting pocket of North Carolina and Civil Rights history. Want to take a deeper dive into the story? Pledging $500 will get you a personal tour of modern day Soul City. See it for yourself! We will take you around to the sites and talk about their significance, both past and present.

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER/FILM FESTIVAL TICKETS--Thank you, thank you, thank you for your support! You will receive executive producer credit on our film, and two tickets to one of our festival screenings of your choice. Choose one nearby your locale, or make it part of a weekend vacation (travel not included). See you on the red carpet!

Gordon Carey and Jane Ball-Groom talk while in her Soul City home.
Gordon Carey and Jane Ball-Groom talk while in her Soul City home.
Former Charlotte mayor and Soul City architect, Harvey Gantt, is interviewed in his office.
Former Charlotte mayor and Soul City architect, Harvey Gantt, is interviewed in his office.
Co-director Gini Richards gathers Soul City b-roll from the sunroof of her car.
Co-director Gini Richards gathers Soul City b-roll from the sunroof of her car.
Floyd B. McKissick, Jr., NC state senator and son of Soul City founder, Floyd B. McKissick, interviewed in November 2014.
Floyd B. McKissick, Jr., NC state senator and son of Soul City founder, Floyd B. McKissick, interviewed in November 2014.

We are a trifecta of filmmakers passionate about bringing forgotten moments of history to life. Inspired by the stories of those who have lived through and made history, we see our documentary film subjects as collaborators in the process of telling their stories, approaching them with respect and mindfulness of their experiences. We’re motivated to tell stories about racism, classism, the American Dream, and the things that bring us together and divide us.

We’ve been working together for over two years as part of our studies with Wake Forest University’s Documentary Film Master's Program, and our mix of different viewpoints, life experiences, and individual strengths makes us a formidable and award-winning team. Our previous films have screened at film festivals and to standing-room only audiences, and together we won a 2015 Carol Fielding Smith grant from the University Film and Video Association for "Soul City" production expenses.

Co-Directors SheRea DelSol, Monica Berra, and Gini Richards
Co-Directors SheRea DelSol, Monica Berra, and Gini Richards

Monica Berra comes to documentary filmmaking with a background in broadcast journalism and history. As the daughter of two immigrants, she is endlessly fascinated with the concepts of the American Dream, self-identity, and mobility in this country. She has worked on projects dealing with public education policy in North Carolina, African-American Catholics in the South, and historically black colleges and universities.

SheRea DelSol takes pride in her cultural/racial identity and tells stories about people of color who challenge the status quo: tackling racism and prejudice on a college campus, or building a multicultural city of their dreams in the heart of Klan Country. She believes in creating art that allows systemically silenced voices to be heard and recognized. She received an honors degree in communication and her academic work is focused on the media's representation of Blacks.

Gini Richards loves a good story about the unique, the weird, the inspiring, and especially stories about all three. She majored in Middle East Studies & Arabic in her undergraduate studies, and has worked on documentary projects about Egypt, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, North Carolina mountain miners, Mars astronaut hopefuls, and racial tensions on a college campus.

We’ve dedicated our time, talents, and resources to making this film over the last year, but we can’t do it alone.

We are truly grateful for any support you can give us for this project. We are passionate about getting it done and know that our supporters are too!

Want to learn more about "Soul City" and keep up with the film production?  Check out our website and join our mailing list. You can also connect with us on social media through Facebook and Twitter. We thank you for your support!

Risks and challenges

Known challenges include the gathering of archival material and production of animations and motion graphics that this Kickstarter will help address. These projects take time, careful planning, dedication, and funding. We have been working on this film for over a year with the support and aid of many, including our classmates and the faculty of the Documentary Film Program. With our dedication, their help, and your contribution, we are confident that we will meet any challenges that arise in order to finish our film on time.

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    A heartfelt thank-you on our Facebook page, a copy of our official film transcript, a link to the film (upon completion), a DVD copy of the film, ALL 5 LIMITED EDITION photo prints

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    Skype chat with a character (surprise!) and the film directors PLUS all the rewards at the $150 tier

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    Personal tour of Soul City (travel & accommodations not included) PLUS all the rewards at the $150 tier

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    Executive Producer credit in our film and TWO tickets to a Soul City festival screening of your choice (travel & accommodations not included) PLUS all the rewards at the $150 tier

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Funding period

- (30 days)