BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE PEACE MOVEMENT
Search for “Mayer Vishner”, and you’ll read all about the Yippies, the radical branch of the 1960’s anti-war movement that took the Hippie ethic into the political sphere. These were the guys and girls who threw pies in the faces of important men, and nominated a pig for president. They practically shut down the New York Stock Exchange one day by raining $1 bills down on the trading floor. But the reverse, sadly, isn’t true: search “Yippie” and you’ll rarely come across the name Mayer Vishner. Though Mayer was a friend and collaborator with legendary activists Abbie Hoffman, Paul Krassner, and Jerry Rubin, his contribution is often overlooked.
I met Mayer in 2007, during the shooting of my documentary feature, No Impact Man. I became fascinated by this untold story and his wit, and so I started making a film about his life. When I suggested to Mayer that the film be 30 minutes long, he scoffed: “You couldn’t explain to an intelligent person why you want to do a film about me in half an hour; you couldn’t explain how complex I am… I wasn’t just hanging out with giants, I was helping them be giants.” He was crazy…. but he was right.
It is often the case with powerful documentary films that the story we set out to tell is not the film we ultimately make. In 2010, Mayer revealed to me that he was in the midst of what he called his “existential project”-- a project to commit suicide. I continued to shoot with him, all the while wrestling with my own role in Mayer’s plan. What he saw as his last political act and assertion of personal liberty, I could not help but see as the suicide of my friend and subject, who was struggling with depression and alcohol.
It was an unexpected journey that prompted me to come out from the relative safety of being behind the camera. I was forced to deal with difficult questions. What ethical limits did I have as a documentary filmmaker? What responsibilities did I have toward my friend Mayer, and what right did I have to try to and stop him? Was my filming preventing Mayer’s suicide, or the opposite: was it compelling him to follow through?
Now is the time to finish this film. Help us honor Mayer’s consequential life, the brave movement to which he was so dedicated, and his complicated journey. It is an important story about powerful issues that are too rarely discussed.
END OF LIFE ISSUES AND THE BABY BOOMERS
The suicide rate has gone up dramatically in the United States over the past decade, but it is in the men of the Baby Boomer generation---Mayer’s generation---that the rise has been the most extreme. In 2013, the CDC reported a 47.8% increase in suicide for Mayer’s age group between 1999 and 2010. That is an alarming statistic, but behind each of those numbers is a story---often of loneliness, isolation and mental illness. Left on Purpose tells one of those difficult stories.
There is no question that Mayer’s generation was different from those that came before. The political, social and economic climate in the country came together to form a youth culture that challenged the conformity that came before. Their impact on the nation---from sexual politics, to race relations and environmental consciousness---is undeniable. Now that they are entering the last decades of their lives they are bringing the same unorthodox worldview to the end of life discussion. They are issues that many of us will be addressing in our lives for years to come.
WHY WE STILL NEED FUNDING
We have already been honored with some major grants, including the Sundance Documentary Fund, The Catapult Film Grant and a Jerome Foundation Grant. But the film production has lasted more than 4 years and we need to cover the costs of music composition, licensing archival material, and major post production costs like color correction and sound mixing. Please help us honor Mayer’s story by finishing this film and getting past these last few hurdles! We cannot do it without your support.
Hard Cost Breakdown:
- Archival Footage: $16,500
- Original Score $5,500
- Asst. Editor $3,750
- Music Licensing $3,950
- Color Correction/Online $10,750
- Sound Mix $7500
These are the hard costs we've identified, but any additional funding we receive will open up new doors for us, especially when it comes to promoting the film during launch.
GET THESE AMAZING REWARDS
Over the years, Mayer had amassed a treasure trove of items from the protests and movements he'd participated in, dating back to the 1960s: these items helped directed us as we worked to find suitable rewards for your support.
In addition to several packages that include versions of the film once it's complete, and a digital primer that includes Mayer's writings and a playlist of his favorite songs, we are pleased to offer a few original artifacts of the era to those who can back the project at higher levels. These range from several signed books by notable figures in the Yippie movement, including Paul Krassner, Judy Gumbo and Abbie Hoffman himself.
Perhaps even more unique, there are several artifacts from important phases in Mayer's life: Abbie Hoffman masks from the "Bring Abbie Home" rally in 1978, and a collection of fake postage stamps that Mayer once sold from behind the desk at the St. Mark's Bookshop.
We appreciate every dollar of your support.
Justin Schein -- Director Justin has been shooting and directing character-driven social issue documentaries for more than 20 years. As a cinematographer he has shot on over 60 films internationally for broadcasters including The BBC, The Discovery Channel and PBS. His film No Impact Man premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and has screened throughout the world. Justin received his Masters in Documentary Filmmaking from Stanford University and went on to found Shadowbox Films with fellow graduate David Mehlman in 1998.
David Mehlman -- Co-Director, Editor David was supervising editor of the 2007 Oscar-winning short subject documentary, Freeheld, that also won a Special Jury Prize at Sundance. He edited and sound designed the 2005 Academy Award-winning animated short documentary, The Moon and the Sun. Recent film and television credits include Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Oscar and Emmy nominee), Iconoclasts, My So-Called Enemy, IFC Media Project, Small Town Security, Chuck Jones: Memories of Childhood; and MTV True Life: I’m a Gun Owner and I’m a College Baller, which he directed, produced and edited. David received a master’s degree in Documentary Film and Video Production from Stanford University. He founded Shadowbox Films with Justin Schein in 1998.
Eden Wurmfeld -- Producer Eden has been making both fiction and documentary films since 1994. She has produced the award-winning indie hit Kissing Jessica Stein, acquired by Fox Searchlight to hit box office success. She went on to produce Puccini For Beginners, which premiered in competition at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Eden’s first documentary effort, the critically acclaimed ITVS Sunset Story aired nationally on PBS Independent Lens in 2005, won the jury award at the Tribeca Film Festival and the audience award at LAFF. No Impact Man premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2009, and is currently in worldwide distribution. Her other documentary credits include My So-Called Enemy (PBS) and Romeo Romeo (FilmBuff).
Yael Bridge -- Co-Producer and Assistant Editor Yael has made several award-winning films. Her work has screened at festivals world wide including, Slamdance, Big Sky, DOC NYC and Full Frame. She holds an MFA from Stanford University in Documentary Film and Video Production as well as an MA from the New School in Media Studies. She teaches film and works as editor, producer and director.
Doug Liman -- Executive Producer Doug is director-producer with a solid track record creating both commercially successful and critically-acclaimed movies, including SWINGERS (1996; starring Vince Vaughn), GO (1999; starring Katie Holmes and Timothy Olyphant), THE BOURNE IDENTITY (2002; starring Matt Damon and Chris Cooper), MR. & MRS. SMITH (2005; starring Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie), JUMPER (2008; starring Samuel L. Jackson and Hayden Christensen), FAIR GAME (2010; starring Sean Penn and Naomi Watts) and his sci-fi action thriller EDGE OF TOMORROW/LIVE DIE REPEAT (2014; starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt). Liman has also directed cutting edge commercials for the likes of Nike, Levi’s, and Playstation. He also developed and produced several TV series including THE O.C., COVERT AFFAIRS, and SUITS. Liman serves on the board of the Legal Action Center and the Arthur Liman Public Interest Program at Yale Law School.
Music used in campaign video:
- Ben McElroy "Oak" freemusicarchive.org
- Red Trees "Driving Just To Drive" freemusicarchive.org
Risks and challenges
Any film project is a struggle to finance and produce - and Left on Purpose has not been an exception.
But there's good news: our team has already put in years of work, and we only have a few pieces left to drop in place.
Even more importantly, we have a realistic budget for the last steps of production, based on the team's years of film experience. If we can raise our target goal amount, we are confident that we can bring this film to completion in a timely manner.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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