About this project
Stretch Goal: $12,000
Anything above the initial $8,000 goal will go directly towards distributing this film so that this story can be told to a wider audience. These additional costs include additional post production costs, digital transfers, film festival submissions and associated travel costs.
Jonah is a standup comedian, visual artist, advocate, and former mayoral candidate for New Orleans, who just turned twenty-eight years old. He was born with muscular dystrophy, and at nineteen learned he had a life-threatening heart complication called cardiomyopathy. Jonah sees himself as neither a victim nor an inspirational force; he is simply filled with big ideas and the desire to see them through. Jonah simultaneously juggles many projects that he loves while being constrained by low energy. His abundance of ideas clashes with a sense of urgency. With a combination of humor, art, and grand gestures, he tries to communicate his life situation while challenging the stereotypes associated with him.
This documentary will weave together observational footage of Jonah and his family, along with his new and old performances, sketch comedy videos, and animation. My background is in photojournalism, so I shoot in an observational style, which is unobtrusive and generally reliant on available light. I don’t stage any scenes, so I have to wait for moments to happen spontaneously. This type of filmmaking takes time and patience.
I have been granted access from Jonah and his family to spend four months in New Orleans, spending time with the family and documenting their everyday life. I hope to represent Jonah as I see him: an artist. Not as a person defined by disability nor as an inspiration.
I plan to finish filming in January and work on post production through May. This would mean that I would be able to submit the film to festivals (and share it with all of you!) by June 2015.
The film will feature an animation created by Jonah and I, depicting Jonah’s memory of the time he found out he has cardiomyopathy at age 19. This part of the story is especially important because it provides a context for his current creative effort. The animation will draw on Jonah’s visual style of pop-up and collage cards to depict this memory.
Why This Story Matters
We don’t often see portrayals of characters like Jonah, and when we do, they often rely on tired tropes. We are meant to be inspired by the thought of someone who is “confined” to a wheelchair doing something mundane or simply being able to survive their condition. These stories tell us that disability makes one somehow less of a person, and that it is heroic for a disabled person just to be able to do what ordinary people regularly do. This creates a false division between healthy “normal” people, and people who have bodies that fall outside these standard social norms.
Everyone adapts to the body they have, but Jonah cannot ride the streetcar, cannot enter certain restaurants, and even had to leave high school because it wasn’t wheelchair accessible. By creating media that accurately and honestly depicts his experience, we are getting a window into the experience of so many other people who are more comfortable with themselves than our society is with them.
Thank you so much for taking the time to check out this project. I have been filming Jonah for the past few years, and I am looking forward to the final push in making this documentary a reality.
Jonah has introduced me to a new way of thinking about disability. Rather than thinking of it as something to be pitied, it’s just a fact of his life. Jonah doesn’t want to be stereotyped as “the guy in the wheelchair,” because that is not how he sees himself. His disability is one aspect of a much more complex and interesting picture. By focusing on Jonah as an artist and not simply as someone who is sick, this documentary will show him as the multi-faceted character that he is.
I need your help to tell this story. Please pass it along and consider contributing. By contributing funds to this project, you are helping alter the dialogue about what it means to be in a wheelchair or have a disorder like muscular dystrophy. These stories are not told often enough.
This is an independent film, and while I have arrived at this point on my own funds, additional money is needed to finish the film. The minimum goal is $8000, but I am pushing to reach a stretch goal of $12,000 to cover distribution and festival submission costs. Equipment rentals are already secured, but we need to fund the following:
- Four months of ongoing production in New Orleans, including hiring a second cameraman and a location sound recordist
- Materials for an animation created by the director and Jonah
- Post-production costs, including a stipend for an assistant editor and sound mixer
- Travel Expenses
This is truly a labor of love, and your donations will be taken seriously. If we don’t make our initial goal of $8,000, no donations will be received.
Other Ways to Contribute
You can help by sharing the project. The easiest way is to post the Kickstarter link on your social media site. To share further updates and information check out our other pages
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/jstandsup
Mechanical Heart - Screen Print - $40
Mechanical Heart Artist Notebooks - $65
Mechanical Heart T-Shirt - $75
Examples of (sweet) handmade collage or pop-up or surprise cards
Risks and challenges
Documenting people using an observational style of filmmaking has some inherent risks. In addition, the production and post-production schedule is vigorous and relies on some travel. With a background working for newspapers, Hannah is used to working under tight deadlines and pressure. She is prepared to react to changing situations and will be able to document whatever comes her way.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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