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Filming a documentary showing the impact of huge cuts to America's social safety net, from the point of view of families in crisis

ABOUT THIS PROJECT

CRISIS CALL 211 is a feature documentary film that will shine a light on the dramatic personal stories behind the country’s worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  Produced and directed by Emmy award-winning filmmakers Joe and Harry Gantz (creators of HBO’s Taxicab Confessions and executive producers of CBS’s The Defenders) the film will interweave the stories of a diverse group of families in the midst of financial crisis.  Starting with their desperate phone call to a Portland 211 emergency call center, we will follow each subject’s search for help as 211 operators attempt to connect them with the social services that they need.  Ultimately, the film will present a powerful portrait of the effects of the nation’s economic downturn, as well as the impact of billions of dollars in budget cuts to America’s social safety net, from the point of view of families in crisis.  As pressure is mounting to slash funding for social and human services even further, our goal is to complete the film and release it before the 2012 elections in order to put a human face on the budget decisions that lie ahead.

WHY THIS FILM?  WHY NOW?

Every day, more Americans find themselves descending into a perilous economic situation.  Lost as to what to do next and desperate to meet their basic needs, many call a number looking for help: that number is 211.  In a nondescript building in downtown Portland, men and women answer these calls day after day. The sole mission of the 211 call center is to connect people with the social service agencies that may be able to provide the urgent housing, health, or financial assistance that they need.

We are producing CRISIS CALL 211 to reveal the dramatic struggle of these individuals and families in their time of need, beginning with their phone call to 211.  From there, with the caller’s permission, a camera crew rushes to the caller’s location and captures the events unfolding as the subjects try to find a solution to their crisis.  We intend to follow several families as they struggle to get their life back on course, weaving these powerful stories into a narrative that will give viewers insight into the impact of budget cuts to social services on a growing number of families who desperately need help. 

Not surprisingly, it is no longer just the chronically poor who are affected by our nation’s economic downturn-- the impact has spread to the middle class.  Chances are that you, or someone in your family, have been hurt by this economy, or you know someone who is still suffering.  The volume of calls at the 211 call centers nationwide is exploding as many families find themselves in need of assistance for the first time in their lives.  211 calls come from a mother who can’t feed her children and needs to find a food bank for help… A homeless vet with chronic medical problems… A family just evicted from their home in need of shelter for the night… A single mother with an asthmatic child whose electricity is about to be shut off, making it impossible to use his breathing machine… A single father of four whose unemployment has run out and now can’t cover their bills.  These are the daily battles that 211 operators face on the frontlines of America’s current economic crisis.

Right now, lawmakers are talking about slashing budgets and eliminating even more social programs and assistance, at a time when individuals and families need this support more than ever. With this in mind, our goal is to complete this film and release it before the 2012 elections next fall.  We believe that CRISIS CALL 211 can provoke positive change by giving audiences a powerful firsthand view of Americans caught in today’s financial undertow, and by seeing these families’ courage and determination as they struggle to keep from being dragged under.

WHY US?  WHAT WE BRING TO THE FILM 

As Emmy award-winning filmmakers with over twenty years of experience making authentic, life-in-progress documentaries about real people, we have the ability to sensitively record these personal stories of families in their moment of crisis.  We have a compelling interest in connecting with people from all walks of life, and telling their stories with authenticity, honesty, and without judgment.

Our approach to making CRISIS CALL 211 is to show the economic downturn through the eyes of those most affected, and to reveal an evocative portrait of how one billion, ten billion, or fifty billion dollars in budget cuts to America’s social safety net trickles down to working class Americans desperately trying to get by. 

We are committed to getting CRISIS CALL 211 made and distributed because the stories of these American families in financial turmoil need to be told.  By documenting and presenting these very relatable views of American families battling to get by, our goal is to move viewers to understand and genuinely empathize with the increasing numbers of people facing very challenging circumstances.  Our hope is that the general public and legislators around the country will gain a greater appreciation of both the difficulty and the dignity inherent in our subjects’ fight to preserve their families at this moment when the social safety net is rapidly shrinking.

THE IMPACT – WILL THIS FILM MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

The human toll of the recent economic crisis has huge implications for the future of our country, and very few of these stories are being told.   This fact was just acknowledged in a poignant article in the LA Times called “Documenting the Misery: Where’s Today’s Dorothea Lange”. (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-oneill-culture-20110912,0,4657813.story)

CRISIS CALL 211 will give struggling families a voice in the debate, and can potentially be an extremely powerful catalyst for positive change.   That is why we want to get this film out next year, because questions about the budget cuts, and about who is taxed more or less and whose services are cut, and the repercussions of those decisions, will be front and center in the 2012 elections.  

In addition to getting this film into theaters and on television to reach the widest audience possible, we will be launching an aggressive outreach campaign to ensure that this film makes an impact.  We will be reaching out to social service agencies, community service organizations, local and regional charities, housing advocates and other organizations across the country and making them all aware of the film and its message.  Once the film is complete, we will help set up screenings across the country with a goal to inform the public and to inspire advocacy to preserve America’s social safety net. 

We are also confident this film will provide a persuasive tool for non-profit organizations and agencies to use in their own fundraising efforts.

HOW YOUR MONEY WILL HELP

We need to get the cameras rolling as soon as possible in order to finish and release the film before the 2012 elections.  We plan to start production November 1st to make our deadline.  So, the clock is ticking… 

We are actively pursuing grants from major philanthropic organizations to help finance this project, and we have already secured a part of the funding.  Your support will help us start production in November, before the funding from other sources kicks in.

Your money will actually KICKSTART the first day of filming.

Our immediate goal is to raise $25,000 now to start production.  And we hope that this campaign will allow us to reach our larger funding goal, to raise the $200,000 that we need to complete production.  Personal donations from individuals like you, who are concerned about the issues addressed in this film, will go a long way to make this feature film successful.   

Even a $25, $50 or $100 donation to the project can bring us one step closer to getting this film made.  

HOW KICKSTARTER WORKS 

Kickstarter uses a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands. In other words, if we don’t raise our goal of $25,000, we don’t get a penny from anyone.  Once we have reached our goal we will be able to keep in touch with you, and eventually start delivering all those rewards to you!

HOW TO PLEDGE 

Just click the green “Back This Project” button in the upper right-hand corner. You will be asked to input your pledge amount and select a reward. From there, you will go through the Amazon checkout process using a credit card.  You must finish the Amazon checkout process for your pledge to be recorded.

WHAT IF WE DON’T REACH OUR GOAL?

If funding fails, all pledges are canceled and that's that. Your card is not charged, it’s like nothing ever happened. We hope this doesn’t happen!  Please don’t wait until the final hour to make a pledge, donate today! 

CAN WE EXCEED OUR FUNDING GOAL?

Yes, and we need to!

WANT TO HELP BUT CAN’T DONATE? 

Become a CRISIS CALL 211 Outreach Operator. Spread the word about this film in your community.  We’d love to discuss partnering with you, your organization, or your community to help get the word out about the film. Please contact us directly, or become a $1 backer to receive project updates and communicate with us through Kickstarter.

INTERESTED IN PLAYING AN EVEN LARGER ROLE ON THE FILM? 

There is a Co-Executive Producer credit available at $50,000.  This donation, or any other large donation, can be tax deductible.  Please contact us directly, before pledging here, for information on how to make your donation tax deductible.

Please note that these credits are honorary titles and do not engender any creative or business involvement nor does the credit entitle any claim of ownership.

SPREAD THE WORD

Please pass along information about this project to anyone you know who believes that it is critical to give a voice to American families who are fighting to get back on their feet, at a time when the resources to help them are facing unprecedented cuts.

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    6 backers

    Become an official CRISIS CALL 211 Outreach Operator to spread the word about the film. Receive exclusive project updates to share on your Facebook page, Tweet away on Twitter, Favorite a trailer on YouTube –work those social networks to help get this film made!

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    Get a signed print of a production photo shot on-location in Portland, and receive exclusive project updates.

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    4 backers

    Receive a copy of the CRISIS CALL 211 DVD upon its release, plus a signed production still, and exclusive project updates.

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    6 backers

    Receive a DVD episode of Taxicab Confessions, autographed by the Gantz Brothers, plus a copy of the CRISIS CALL 211 DVD and a signed production photo

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    1 backer

    Get a limited edition CRISIS CALL 211 T-shirt created by the production team, plus a DVD episode of Taxicab Confessions (autographed by the Gantz Brothers), plus a copy of the CRISIS CALL 211 DVD and the signed production photo

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    Autographed Taxicab Confessions DVD Set (6 episodes), plus a limited edition CRISIS CALL 211 T-shirt created by the production team, copy of the CRISIS CALL 211 DVD, and signed production photo

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    1 backer

    On-screen “Thank You” in the film’s end credits, plus the autographed Taxicab Confessions DVD Set (6 episodes), a limited edition CRISIS CALL 211 T-shirt created by the production team, the CRISIS CALL 211 DVD, and the signed production photo

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    1 backer

    An invitation to the Premiere and a dinner with the directors, Joe and Harry Gantz. Plus you’ll get the on-screen “Thank You” in the credits of CRISIS CALL 211, the autographed Taxicab Confessions DVD Set (6 episodes), a limited edition CRISIS CALL 211 T-shirt, the copy of the CRISIS CALL 211 DVD, and the signed production photo

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  • Pledge $2,500 or more
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    Receive on-screen “Associate Producer” credit in the film’s end credits. Plus you’ll be invited to the Premiere and a dinner with the directors, Joe and Harry Gantz. And you’ll get the autographed Taxicab Confessions DVD set (6 episodes), the limited edition CRISIS CALL 211 T-shirt created by the production team, plus the copy of the CRISIS CALL 211 DVD and a signed production photo

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    Receive on-screen “Co-Producer” credit in the film’s end credits. You’ll be invited to the Premiere and a dinner with the directors, Joe and Harry Gantz. And you’ll get the autographed Taxicab Confessions DVD set (6 episodes), the limited edition CRISIS CALL 211 T-shirt created by the production team, plus the copy of the CRISIS CALL 211 DVD and a signed production photo

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    This generous pledge will be rewarded with a round-trip ticket to Portland and the opportunity to spend a day alongside our production team, helping make this film. You’ll also get a “Producer” credit in the film’s end credits, along with an invitation to the Premiere, a dinner with the directors, Joe and Harry Gantz, plus an autographed Taxicab Confessions DVD set (6 episodes), a limited edition CRISIS CALL 211 T-shirt, a copy of the CRISIS CALL 211 DVD, and a signed production photo

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Funding period

- (40 days)