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$1,225 pledged of $15,000 goal
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About

Introduction

The People’s College is a feature-length documentary that follows several community college students as they work toward completing their degrees. This is the first documentary to present the complex evolution of the community college over the last hundred years, and the current challenges that face the institution and its students today.  Ultimately, it is a film about the pursuit of a better life, and the role that higher education for all--of any age or background--might have in achieving that dream. 

Research and development on this film began in April 2011, and in June 2011, we began filming interviews with students. Soon we will select the film’s subjects and begin production in Fall 2011.

The Inspiration: My StudentsI have been teaching since 1990, and have been an English professor at San Jose City College since 1999. While I’ve taught English courses across the board, from Freshman Composition to Critical Thinking to Creative Writing, it was the students of my basic skills (i.e. remedial) English class—English 335—who one year ago inspired me to begin this film.

English 335 is two levels below Freshman Composition. Officially, this is 10th- grade-level; in truth, many students’ skills are much lower. In last year’s class, the students worked hard, but jubilantly: they studied grammar, wrote drafts, critiqued each other’s work, and ultimately applauded each other’s successful finished products. There was a pass rate of over 90%. There was even a lot of laughter! More than half of the students went on to take the next level with me; and many will take the next level still—Freshman Composition, transfer-level—beginning in September. In fact, one of the film’s subjects, Luis, was in that very first class.

The Film: The People’s College
The People’s College is a feature-length documentary (approx. 90 minutes), shot in HD over a two-year period. The film will follow several students at San Jose City College, as they work toward receiving their AA degrees.

The film's subjects vary in age, race, background and interest.  The film will follow their stories both in the classroom and out.  Hopeully, we'll catch them on their graduation days, too!  Interspersed with these stories will be “the story of the community college.” Issues covered will include the institution’s search for a definitive mission, the increased need for remediation, the push for institutional effectiveness, dire federal and state budget cuts, adjunct teacher burdens, but also the continued dedication of its faculty, staff.  Interviews with experts, voice-over, titles, and archival materials will be used.

(NB: This film is not intended as a promotional vehicle for San Jose City College, nor is it a production of the college.)

The Plan: Fall 2011
1. Begin production in September—the start of the new school year, and the start of the college experience for at least one of the subjects.
2. Film one lengthy and several brief interviews with subjects; film subjects both in and out of class.
3. Complete an approx. 8-minute trailer. The trailer will introduce the subjects and issues of the film, as well as the style of the project, and will be enclosed in applications for major grants, which will fund the remaining production and post-production of the film. Major grants include: California Council for the Humanities, Independent Television Service (ITVS), HBO, as well as smaller arts, film, media, civic, and special interest group foundation grants, among others.

The Funds: We Need Your Help

Major grants deadlines do not occur until Winter 2011 or later. In order to start filming in September, I need to raise money this summer. Your donations will be applied directly to the fall's production (e.g. travel, crew, equipment, food), and editing (trailer) expenses. In exchange for your support, we’ll send you some unique thank-you gifts.

No amount is too little. $1 helps, $10 helps. If you can’t afford to monetarily support the film at this time, you can help by spreading the word: “Like it” on Facebook, Tweet it, Blog it, send the Kickstarter link to all of your friends. Thank you so much for your support!

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Thank you for KICKSTARTING my KICKSTARTER:  Linda and Bill Doescher, Marc Blair, Tammy Miller, and the SJCC Bookstore.

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

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    All donations are greatly appreciated. Nothing is too little. We'll provide you with updates of our progress with the film.

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    ABOVE plus thank you in the film, a signed DVD of the film once completed, and an SJCC t-shirt (please indicate size: S, M, L).

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    ABOVE plus invitation to dinner party with director and film's subjects. (San Francisco Bay Area; transportation not included).

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Funding period

- (30 days)