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An up-close-and-personal film about performance, persistence, purpose – and the FIRST WINNER of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
An up-close-and-personal film about performance, persistence, purpose – and the FIRST WINNER of RuPaul’s Drag Race.
658 backers pledged $35,027 to help bring this project to life.

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BEING BEBE | The BeBe Zahara Benet Documentary project video thumbnail
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    • English
    • Português (Brasil)

$35,027

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Hi! My name is Emily Branham, and I'm thrilled to be sharing a first look at the film I've been making about your favorite drag performer from Cameroon: BeBe Zahara Benet.

This film has been my personal, independent passion project for nearly 12 years. Along the way, I’ve had the great privilege of watching Bebe grow and mature as a performer – and as a human being. 

Recently, BeBe interviewed me about how and why I've been making this film all this time. Check it out:

I've been following BeBe:

  • from her early days as a promising amateur in Minneapolis, on her way to her first national pageant
  • to winning the first season of reality show RuPaul’s Drag Race
  • to moving to New York City
  • to more than 5 years later, struggling to make ends meet

And now - a whole new exciting chapter is beginning!  (OMG, All Stars 3!!!)

THE STORY

Behind BeBe (the diva), is Marshall (the man). The real meat of our film’s story takes place one hot and stressful summer in New York City, as Marshall is at the end of his rope – feeling pressure to give up on NYC, and maybe even on drag altogether. He decides to take one last shot at moving the needle for BeBe’s career, through a new live stage show called Reveal.

As part of his process for creating Reveal – and at the height of his self-doubt – he takes an intense and unconventional acting class all about accessing his truest, most authentic self. The vulnerability required for all this is especially challenging for Marshall, an immigrant to the US who grew up in Cameroon – a country where gender roles are highly rigid, to say the least. Over many sessions, Marshall transforms in emotional and surprising ways.

 

 

WHO AM I?

Yes, I’m a straight white woman from Minnesota, but this film is personal. I was a child actor, and have always been fascinated by how and why we all perform in everyday life, both in onstage and offstage situations. But more recently, I’ve realized that what really binds me to BeBe’s story is the theme of perseverance - throughout highs and lows, victories and disappointments, Marshall never gives up on his unconventional dreams. And neither do I.

WHERE WE ARE NOW

It’s a really exciting moment, as a whole new audience is getting to know BeBe through Drag Race All Stars 3. And with the Season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race launching imminently – a story about the rise and struggles of the very FIRST winner of the franchise feels even more relevant. 

In order to share this story with the world, we need to raise completion funds. 

Up until now, I’ve been making this film very independently, shooting/directing/producing the bulk of it myself with the help of donated and heavily discounted time and equipment from incredibly generous friends who believed in me and the project. 

I've relied heavily on credit cards, which I’ve racked up and paid off goodness-knows-how-many-times now – thanks to my other work as a visual effects producer and director of docu-style web and commercial content. It's been a true labor of love for me, and despite all the struggles and roadblocks we've hit over the years, I've never doubted that it was worth it. I believe with all my heart that BeBe's story is important, and has the power to open minds and inspire other creative souls all over the world.

Thanks to a generous grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, we were able to hire an assembly editor to help us craft a solid structure and early-stages edit for the film. I had gathered hundreds of hours of material over a decade of following Bebe. Together we narrowed the footage down into an intimate, surprising, funny, and deep storyline. I'm really proud of where we landed. I think you're going to love it.

WHAT WE NEED

So now we just need to finish it. It’s so close. Much of the money we are raising through this Kickstarter campaign will go straight toward what often becomes one of the most crucial parts of documentary storytelling: hiring a seasoned documentary feature editor to elevate our current assembly edit and structure to the polished and artful fine cut that it wants to be.

If we raise more than our goal (wouldn't that be amazing??), that will go directly toward the next hard costs we'll encounter, including:

  • a follow-up shoot with BeBe to wrap it all up in the present day
  • an original musical score for the film that blends traditional Cameroonian sounds and rhythms with American pop/dance sensibilities
  • sound design & an audio mix that makes our footage look even better
  • color correction
  • animated titles for a dreamy opening sequence
  • festival application fees
  • necessary insurances

PERKS PERKS PERKS

BeBe's Warhol Ball Challenge Gown from All Stars 3!
BeBe's Warhol Ball Challenge Gown from All Stars 3!

 

4x Vintage BeBe Art Prints by our dear photographer friend Terry Hastings!
4x Vintage BeBe Art Prints by our dear photographer friend Terry Hastings!

 

Spotlight / Savage Beauty BeBe Shirts (with artwork by our friend Eve Summers)!
Spotlight / Savage Beauty BeBe Shirts (with artwork by our friend Eve Summers)!

If you’re interested in being a part of the journey in a more significant way, you might consider making a significant financial contribution beyond the rewards levels listed here. To make a tax-deductible contribution, you may donate to the project via our fiscal sponsor, Women Make Movies. For anyone interested in making a major contribution, we'd love to discuss ways to recognize you in our film's credits at the discretion of our producing team. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for more details.

The way Kickstarter works is all or nothing - so if we don’t reach our baseline goal by midnight (EST) March 31, we will see zero dollars from this campaign. Now is the moment to share BeBe's story with the world, and it’s a really exciting time for you to join us on the journey. Please help us out by contributing whatever you can, and please tell your friends!

SAVE THE DATE: ASK BEBE ANYTHING! 

This is exciting: We’ll be hosting a Kickstarter Live event with BeBe on Tuesday, March 6 at 9pm (Eastern Time) - right here on this page! At this event, BeBe will personally answer questions submitted in advance via social media and Reddit. You'll have the opportunity to interact with BeBe in real time via chat, Q&A, and selfies!

OUR TEAM

I am so grateful for the many people who have helped me on this project over the years. And I am ecstatic about the team I have now to help guide this film through the finish line. 

We’ve assembled a stellar producing team, including producer Marc Smolowitz (13th Gen), co-producer Bat-Sheva Guez (Adventure Pants), and executive producer Jonathan Goodman Levitt (Changeworx)

We are joined by an incredible advisory board of thinkers and makers, including Natasha Johnson, Matamba Kombila, Avril Z. Speaks, and Diego Wyatt. These artists are lending their experience and expertise to important decisions around the editorial, outreach, and distribution processes of our film. 

We are honored that Jonathan Oppenheim (editor of the seminal drag documentary masterpiece, PARIS IS BURNING), will be our consulting editor as we finish the film. Ann Rose was our indefatigable assembly editor. The delightful Chris Palazzo is our art director for titles design. 

The incredible Grammy-award nominated sister duo from Cameroon and France, Les Nubians have agreed to participate in writing original music for the film, and we couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with these goddesses!

More information about our team members can be found on the BEING BEBE website.

A Women Make Movies Production Assistance Program Project – BEING BEBE is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature
A Women Make Movies Production Assistance Program Project – BEING BEBE is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature

 

Many thanks to the fine folks who helped on this Kickstarter, especially:

  • Danger Vision Productions - camera & lighting, Behind the Scenes video 
  • Nick Hillyard - colorist, Behind-the-Scenes video 
  • Paul Michael - sound mixer, Work-in-Progress Trailer 
  • Ashley Ayarza - colorist, Work-in-Progress Trailer 
  • Brian Geldin - publicist

Special shout-outs to Chris Rojas and Terry Hastings, who collaborated heavily on photo & video projects with BeBe in her early years of drag in Minneapolis. Thank you for contributing your wonderful material to this film!!

And one more special thanks: to my family. Your support and help throughout this whole process – from making eggs and lending cars to being my PA at the bars downtown – means the world.

Photo by Terry Hastings
Photo by Terry Hastings

THANK YOU SO MUCH. 

We’re excited for you to join us on this journey. We can't do it without you. And we really, really appreciate your support.

Risks and challenges

Sometimes documentary film projects take longer to complete than you hope. Goodness knows it's taken longer than we ever expected to get this far. Our intention is to finish this thing up swiftly in 2018, and no matter what happens, we promise to keep our backers in the loop along the way.

Successfully raising our goal amount will allow us to hire a seasoned documentary editor to elevate our current assembly structure into a more polished fine cut. Any additional funds we raise beyond our goal will go toward the final round of editing to picture lock, creating original music, sound mix/design, color correction, and festival submission fees – helping ensure swifter completion of the film.

As with any creative endeavor, there may be unforeseen delays or issues that come up and derail our best laid plan. Based on how much we have done already, and the track records of the amazing team we've assembled to help get it to the finish line, we're confident that we can get this thing finished and out in to the world expediently one way or another.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    Electronic Smooch from BeBe

    Animated GIF Thank You from BeBe Zahara Benet in your social media!

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    Pledge US$ 20 or more About US$ 20

    Special BeBe Playlist

    Get a special link to download an exclusive playlist of BeBe's own original music - including remixes and unreleased original tracks!

    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    75 backers
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    Pledge US$ 35 or more About US$ 35

    Digital Download of the Film

    We'll send you a special link to a digital download of the finished film upon its release!

    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    197 backers
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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker

    Exclusive Limited Edition BEING BEBE Laptop sticker, based on our key art still frame of footage from the film.

    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    Limited Edition Autographed Print

    Limited Edition print of our key art still frame, from footage in BEING BEBE, autographed with a personal message to you from BeBe Zahara Benet.

    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    DVD of Finished Film

    Own your very own DVD hard copy of BEING BEBE once it becomes available!

    And in the meantime:

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Signature BeBe Spotlight Tee (Medium)

    Signature Spotlight Tee, with BeBe serving her best Jessica Rabbit realness! (Available in "Mens" size Medium only for this Limited Reward). Illustration by Eve Summers Creative!

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Savage Beauty Tank (Medium)

    Savage Beauty leopard print tank! (Available in "Mens" size Medium only for this Limited Reward). Illustration by Eve Summers Creative!

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Signature BeBe Spotlight Tee (Large)

    Signature Spotlight Tee, with BeBe serving her best Jessica Rabbit realness! (Available in "Mens" size Large only for this Limited Reward). Illustration by Eve Summers Creative!

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Savage Beauty Tank (Large)

    Savage Beauty leopard print tank! (Available in "Mens" size Large only for this Limited Reward). Illustration by Eve Summers Creative!

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Linecutting Privileges at Dragcon LA

    Get a special VIP badge (available only through this Kickstarter!) that allows you +1 friend to cut to the front of the Meet & Greet line at BeBe's booth at RuPaul's Dragcon LA (May 11-13 at the LA Convention Center)!

    Includes photo op and extended meet & greet with BeBe in the booth!

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Linecutting Privileges at Dragcon NYC

    Get a special VIP badge (available only through this Kickstarter!) that allows you +1 friend to cut to the front of the Meet & Greet line at BeBe's booth at RuPaul's Dragcon NYC (Sept 28-30 at the Javits Center)!

    Includes photo op and extended meet & greet with BeBe in the booth!

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Private Screening in NYC

    Two (2) Private Screening tickets to BEING BEBE in **New York City** after we premiere and before the film is widely released! (Does not include transportation or accommodation)

    And in the meantime:

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    Set of Four Vintage BeBe Art Prints

    Exclusive set of Four (4) Vintage BeBe Art Prints (featuring photographs by our dear friend and film participant Terry Hastings) taken in the early days of BeBe's career!

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Premiere / Screening Tickets

    Screening tickets to BEING BEBE for you +3 friends in New York, San Francisco, or Minneapolis once we premiere! Includes extended meet & greet with the team, and invite to the screening's after party. (Does not include transportation or accommodation)

    And in the meantime:

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pair of Screening Tickets - Minneapolis

    Two (2) Screening tickets to BEING BEBE in **Minneapolis** once we premiere! Includes extended meet and greet with the team, and invite to the screening's after party. (Does not include transportation or accommodation)

    And in the meantime:

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Pair of Screening Tickets–San Francisco

    Two (2) Screening tickets to BEING BEBE in **San Francisco** once we premiere! Includes extended meet and greet with the team, and invite to the screening's after party. (Does not include transportation or accommodation)

    And in the meantime:

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Pair of Screening Tickets - NYC

    Two (2) Screening tickets to BEING BEBE in **NYC** once we premiere! Includes extended meet and greet with the team, and invite to the screening's after party. (Does not include transportation or accommodation)

    And in the meantime:

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Onscreen Thank You Credit

    Get an onscreen Thank You in the movie's final credits! (Placement and language, etc, TBD per the producing team)

    And in the meantime:

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    Backstage Pizza Party with BeBe at ROAR

    Pizza party backstage with BeBe herself, plus you and up to 3 friends, at BeBe's new Dance Party, ROAR! Includes 4 Tickets to Roar.

    (Transportation & accommodation not included - currently the scheduled Dance Parties are in Minneapolis, MN - additional dates and locations to be announced and scheduled in additional US cities throughout 2018. If you choose this reward we will be in touch to set up the details!)

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    BeBe's AS3 Warhol Ball Gown

    BeBe is offering her Warhol Ball Gown - the one made and worn on the runway in Episode 5 of RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars 3 - as a reward to the first amazing backer who joins us on this journey at the $2500 level or higher!

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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    Associate Producer Credit

    Get an Associate Producer credit on the movie! (Placement and language, etc, per the producing team)

    And in the meantime:

    + Limited Edition Autographed Print
    + Exclusive BEING BEBE Laptop Sticker
    + Digital Download of the Finished Film
    + an Electronic Smooch from BeBe!

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Funding period

- (33 days)