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
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
HOW YOUR MONEY WILL
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
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
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.
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.