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An anti war activist declares that his last political act will be to commit suicide and he wants it all on camera.
An anti war activist declares that his last political act will be to commit suicide and he wants it all on camera.
An anti war activist declares that his last political act will be to commit suicide and he wants it all on camera.
331 backers pledged $52,140 to help bring this project to life.

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Left on Purpose: The Disruptive Life of Mayer Vishner

$52,140

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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.

Mayer Vishner and "Left on Purpose" Director Justin Schein
Mayer Vishner and "Left on Purpose" Director Justin Schein

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.

Our Team

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.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    MAYER PRIMER

    For being a part of this campaign, we’ll send you a digital selection of some of Mayer's writing, as well as a link to playlist of his favorite music, including tracks performed by close friends (e.g. The Fugs, Phil Ochs and Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys).

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    YIPPIE FLAIR

    We’ll send you buttons with recreations of classic Yippie or War Resisters League designs for you to sport on your jacket or bag.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    SEE IT FIRST!

    Get a digital download of “Left on Purpose” when the film is finished, and a thank you on the Left on Purpose Facebook page!

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    FOR YOUR COLLECTION

    Get a DVD of “Left on Purpose” (when the film is finished) with amazing bonus scenes not in the film.

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    MAYER STYLE

    Mayer said “fashion is my life”. To Mayer that meant awesome t-shirts. There are two to choose from: Option 1: A recreated design from the Yippie heyday. Option 2: an original shirt with a cool drawing of Mayer and his cat, Adrienne, and a quote from Mayer on the back. Check the image on the page to pick your favorite.

    Plus you get a digital download of the film when it's finished!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    ENVIRONMENTALIST FAN PACK

    It all started when Justin and Mayer met while filming the environmental documentary No Impact Man. Receive a DVD of this award winning film or a signed poster of the film signed by one of the directors. You also get a copy of the book "No Impact Man", signed by Colin Beavan!

    Plus you get a digital download of "Left on Purpose" when it's finished!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    FAN PACK

    Get a digital download of Left on Purpose (when film is finished) plus your choice of t-shirt. We’ll also throw in your own authentic Yippie or War Resisters League button!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    SUPER FAN PACK

    Get everything in the Fan Pack above plus a signed DVD of Left on Purpose (when the film is finished)!

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    SHOUT OUT IN FILM CREDITS

    Not only will we send you a Super Fan Pack and a signed poster of the film, we will also list you in a special Kickstarter thank you section in the credits of our film.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    SIGNED BOURNE IDENTITY POSTER

    An original Bourne Identity poster, signed by that film's director, Doug Liman, executive producer of Left on Purpose.

    Plus you get everything included in the Fan Pack!

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    **BOOK SIGNED BY MICHAEL VENTURA**

    "If I was a Highway", Essays by Michael Ventura Photographs by Butch Hanock Book signed by author (Michael Ventura)

    Michael Ventura is a journalist, columnist, poet, and novelist, not to mention a long-time friend of Mayer Vishner's. This book contains many of his writings that appeared in publications like LA Weekly and the Austin Chronicle, and which stem from the hundreds of thousands of miles he has driven his 1969 Chevy Malibu across the American continent.

    Plus you get everything included in the Fan Pack!

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    **ORIGINAL ABBIE HOFFMAN MASKS**

    When Abbie Hoffman -- legendary activist, co-founder of the Yippies, and Mayer’s friend and mentor -- was on the run from the FBI, Mayer was chairman of his defense committee. One of the events Mayer helped organize was a Bring Abbie Home fundraiser at Madison Square Garden. Abbie wanted to attend, but didn’t want to get arrested, so they decided to make these Abbie masks for everyone to wear. Get yours to keep, nicely framed for you to hang commemoration of this historic event.

    Plus you get everything included in the Fan Pack!

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    **BOOK SIGNED BY JUDY GUMBO**

    “The Sixties Papers: Documents of a Rebellious Decade” By Judith Clavir Albert (Yippie Girl) and Stewart Edward Albert

    Plus you get everything included in the Fan Pack!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    **ORIGINAL FAKE POSTAGE STAMPS**

    These are the actual stamps sold by Mayer at the St Mark's Bookshop . A Framed selection of 6 stamps bring together the mischievous Yippie spirit of art and politics.

    Plus you get everything included in the Fan Pack!

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    **BOOK SIGNED BY PAUL KRASSNER**

    “Sixties Radicals Then and Now: Candid Conversations With Those Who Shaped the Era” By Ron Chepesiuk

    Interviews with revolutionary figures, signed by Yippie Founder Paul Krassner. Interviewees include Krassner, Abbie Hoffman, Cleveland Sellers, Jane Adams, Dave Dellinger, Bill Ayers, Warren Hinckle, Peter Berg, Noam Chomsky, Tim Leary, Philip Berrigan, Anita Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Erica Huggins, Jim Fouratt, Bernadine Dohrn, Barry Melton, Peter Coyote.
    **Also signed by Jim Fouratt

    Plus you get everything included in the Fan Pack!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    **BOOK SIGNED BY PAUL KRASSNER**

    "How a satirical editor became a Yippie conspirator in ten easy years” By Paul Krassner, Hardcover – 1971, signed by Paul Krassner

    Plus you get everything included in the Fan Pack!

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    **BOOK SIGNED BY PAUL KRASSNER**

    “Confessions of a Raving Unconfined Nut! Misadventures in the Counterculture” By Paul Krassner (Hardcover)

    The memoirs of counterculture icon Paul Krassner traces the manic adventures of the man who founded The Realist.

    Plus you get everything included in the Fan Pack!

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    **ORIGINAL BOOK EDITED BY MAYER**

    “When the Mode of the Music Changes: An Anthology of Rock 'n' Roll Lyrics” 1971, War Resisters League, edited by Mayer.

    Plus you get everything included in the Super Fan Pack!

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    **BOOK SIGNED BY ABBIE HOFFMAN**

    “Square Dancing in the Ice Age” Book signed by Author, Legendary Activist and friend of Mayer, Abbie Hoffman

    25 essays and articles written by Hoffman while he was underground as a fugitive and after he turned himself in.

    Plus you get everything included in the Super Fan Pack!

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    MENTORING SESSION WITH EDEN

    A one-on-one meeting with our producer, Eden Wurmfeld to discuss any and all aspects of your current film project - budget, business plan, sample reel, etc (online)

    Redeem by: June 30, 2016

    Plus you get everything included in the Super Fan Pack!

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    GREENWICH VILLAGE TOUR WITH JUSTIN

    Director Justin Schein will give you a historical Yippie-themed tour of Greenwich Village, including lunch at one of Mayer’s favorite spots.

    Redeem by: June 30, 2016

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    LUNCH WITH DOUG LIMAN

    Lunch in NYC with acclaimed film producer and director Doug Liman, executive producer of Left on Purpose.

    Redeem by June 30, 2016

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    EDITING SESSION WITH DAVE

    A one-on-one documentary editing feedback session with our co-director, Dave Mehlman (online)

    Redeem by: June 30, 2016

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    KICKSTARTER PRODUCER

    Your name will be added to the film credits as a "Kickstarter Producer" in recognition of your generous contribution.

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Funding period

- (35 days)