Thank you friends for your support! We are truly grateful to you. We seek funding to create an online interactive platform that combines innovative strategies with traditional doc filmmaking to incorporate voices from the community in the telling of the story of Tomlinson Hill.
Our budget for this project is much above our goal here - we're attempting to do a lot with very little, and every dollar helps!
Tomlinson Hill is a former Texas slave plantation that now sits outside the small town of Marlin, Tx, where direct descendants struggle to unify their crumbling community in the face of 150 years of racial discrimination and class separation in an area where the Klan still rallies. Two of the descendants from either side, Chris Tomlinson and Loreane Tomlinson, are main characters in the film. On the verge of economic ruin or redemption, Marlin’s future success is dependent on the community truly coming together as one.
The interactive website will feature videos shot, edited and uploaded by Marlin youth and residents (taught by us). Footage will be geotagged to a map of Marlin (similar to a Googlemap) so that visitors to the site can "walk" through Marlin virtually, getting to know the town and it's inhabitants and understand what is at stake in the fight for the town's survival. Visitors to the site may be strangers to Marlin, or they may be Marlin residents themselves, exploring their community in a new and unfamiliar way.
While the film is an important medium in telling this vital story, the interactive site allows untold numbers of people to learn and take inspiration from and perhaps even participate in Marlin’s story - a story that personifies class and race struggles in America. We believe that history is still in the making, and its telling should be from multiple perspectives. We also seek to give opportunity to the youth of Marlin by helping them bridge the digital divide, and in doing so, give them a way to engage in their immediate community.
As the main character of the film, Chris Tomlinson is the last remaining white descendant of the plantation. After 10 yrs as an East Africa correspondent and Bureau Chief for the Associated Press, Chris has come back to Tomlinson Hill to research a book about the region's history & make peace with a dark part of his family's past. He is now the Managing Editor at the Texas Observer.
Loreane Tomlinson is a successful author and mother of NFL running-back LaDainian Tomlinson. She left Marlin as a young woman in search of opportunities not available to her in the small town where to be black still meant to be denied most avenues to success. Now Loreane wants to come home, but is torn between nostalgia for the poor but tight-knit community she remembers from her youth and shock over the town's current high rates of unemployment and teenage pregnancy, lack of opportunities and activities for youth, and its rock-bottom real estate values. Loreane wants to help make Marlin a place worth coming home to.
Other characters to be visited on the site are many, but examples are:
A visitor could hear about how the New York Giants used to take the healing minerals waters (for which Marlin was once famous) as told by Dr. James Bryan - town dentist and resident historian; listen to Ray Charles Lang, the great-grandson of Blind Willie Johnson sing an unrecorded song at Bishop Lonnie Garrett’s Bible Way Church, listen to Lonnie Garrett's memory of his first integrated school day, or "stroll" down a street of abandoned houses and witness the neglect and economic devastation with which Marlin residents are contending. A visitor from the historically and geographically “white” side of Marlin might choose to “visit” the “black” side, and vice versa, hearing and seeing the stories of people as told from their own perspectives. The site will also contain footage shot by the filmmakers' which is not included in the film. In addition, the map will contain links to historical documents, such as the WPA slave narratives taken from area residents in the 1930's.
Some characters will appear in both the documentary film and the interactive site, but the site will be free-standing and will contain material not available in the film or anywhere else. The interactive site will involve the residents of Marlin telling their own stories and will provide an exciting window for visitors from the rest of the globe to watch -- and perhaps cheer on -- the town's fight for a 21st-century future.
NEED FOR FUNDING
The principal of Marlin High School had agreed to incorporate the interactive project into the after-school curriculum of the 2010-2011 school year, and we will be involving adult community groups as well. By the middle of the 2010 school year -- mid-October -- we would like to have the web-platform of the site in place, and to have acquired the necessary equipment. We’ll keep you up-to-date on the project with a blog at Tomlinsonhill.com (website completed, blog soon to be added!)
Our heartfelt thanks for your support and contribution and we look forward to having you join us on the interactive site, and at future screenings of the final film.
- (64 days)