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"That Bites!" is a documentary being made by 12 year old director/filmmaker Jack Y. about the fears and frustrations of food allergies.
"That Bites!" is a documentary being made by 12 year old director/filmmaker Jack Y. about the fears and frustrations of food allergies.
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216 backers pledged $10,502 to help bring this project to life.

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My name is Jack, I’m 12 years old, and I suffer from a tree nut allergy. Since my diagnosis a little over a year ago, I have been very frustrated by people’s ignorance about life threatening food allergies. People simply don’t understand that food can be deadly. My friends, my extended family, food workers, and sometimes even teachers don’t understand the threat that food allergies pose to people like me. I knew I had to do something about the issue, which not only affects me, but one in every 13 kids under the age of 18. 

Ever since I can remember and long before I had a food allergy, amateur film making was my primary hobby. Last fall, I took a documentary film course at Facets film school in my home town, Chicago. That is when it all came together that a documentary could be an effective educational tool. After many frustrating experiences with uninformed food workers, friends, and family, I decided to find a way to raise awareness for this serious condition invisible to most people. And that is why I decided to make a documentary about food allergies and the problems kids like me face everyday. I’ve been studying and researching all types of food allergies, their causes, and it’s impact on the life of a food allergy sufferer and I want to bring this information to the public. 

Eating is one of the great joys of life, but for 8% of the population, it can be a nightmare. The food allergy epidemic is on the rise and hundreds of people a year are dying from even small exposures to food allergens. Imagine if you are one of these people with a serious food allergy. Welcome to a birthday party, where this seemingly harmless piece of cake can send you to the emergency room within minutes. Welcome to a restaurant, where your server doesn’t know what is safe and what is dangerous. Welcome to having a new babysitter who accidentally feeds you something unsafe. Food allergy sufferers put their lives into the hands of hosts, waiters, and caregivers everyday and someone is bound to make a mistake. 

With this deadly disease on the rise, food allergies are becoming a major public health issue. Teenagers and young adults with food allergies are at the highest risk for fatal reactions. Alarmingly, the number of people with food allergies has skyrocketed over the last few years but the cause remains a mystery to doctors and scientists. The scariest part is that food allergies have no cure. Strict avoidance of food allergens and early recognition of allergic reactions are the only way to prevent serious health consequences. Reactions can strike at any time and at any place without warning. In fact, more than 15% of school-age kids with food allergies have had a reaction at school. 

Although there are 160 foods that can cause reactions, only 8 substances account for 90% of all food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, wheat, peanuts, and soybeans. For those with food allergies, reactions can range from mild irritation to deadly anaphylactic shock. A reaction can be sparked by direct contact with an allergen or from a food made next to an allergen. This makes it hard to find foods that are truly safe. Six million kids have severe food allergies, where every bite can a be a potential problem. Every three minutes a food allergy reaction sends someone to the emergency room. And every six minutes, one of those reactions can be anaphylaxis. Luckily for those who suffer from food allergies, awareness has increased - but not enough. 

In 1999, the Food and Drug Administration found that 25% of randomly selected manufacturers of sampled foods failed to list peanuts and eggs as ingredients on the labels - posing a major risk for people eating those foods. If you had a fatal peanut or egg allergy and the label was inaccurate like the ones the FDA inspected, the labeling mistake may have seriously harmed or even killed you. Recognizing that people were dying from food allergies, the U.S. congress and the FDA passed the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 in an effort to protect the public. For many of us with food allergies, the labeling laws have been helpful and make us feel safe when eating; however, some people find them confusing and frustrating. Food manufacturers sometimes use the phrase “may contain” in their labels to indicate there is a chance that a food contains a particular allergen. Sometimes it seems like companies use this to protect themselves in case someone has a reaction eating their food. If there is no statement on the label stating that it contains a certain food, according to the guidelines it is still extremely important to read the ENTIRE ingredient list to make sure it’s safe. That process can be deceiving, especially for someone like a babysitter who isn’t used to reading labels. Even with the new law, danger still exists from “cross contact” situations during manufacturing. This occurs when a residue or a trace amount of an allergen becomes mixed into a food not intended to contain it. 

Pizza is a staple of the American diet. What many people don’t realize, however, is that pizza is not food allergy friendly. This popular dish is served on a regular basis at birthday parties, school lunches, and play-dates, but it is off limits for people with allergies to eggs, wheat, and milk. Even places like Pizza Hut can be dangerous for food allergy sufferers in unexpected ways. For example, the BBQ chicken Pizza contains fish products. One of the problems with the FDA food labeling law is that it only pertains to packaged food and not food served at restaurants or food stands. Keeping track of ingredients and cross contact that can happen in restaurant kitchens is difficult and challenging and is part of the reason why food allergies can be so dangerous. Five Guys, a popular national hamburger joint, is extremely dangerous for someone with a severe peanut allergy because of the frequent use of peanuts in their food and preparation. 

Allergic reactions can include: hives, rash, swelling of the face and tongue, vomiting, wheezing, difficulty breathing, low blood pressure, and loss of consciousness and even death. It is also possible to have anaphylaxis without seeing any hives, rashes, etc so that witnesses may not recognize a serious reaction when it is occurring. 

Food allergies are not only dangerous but they are expensive too. One study estimated that families with food allergies paid more than $5 billion dollars per year for things like doctors visits, medications, and special diets. It can be a big hit to a family's finances. Researchers have shown that up to 5% of parents have restricted their career choice or given up a job because their kids have food allergies. All of these expenses can really take a toll on the whole family. 

I will be documenting the struggles of people like me through interviews with kids like me I will also be documenting real life experiences and will include advice from doctors who treat food allergies. For so many people, the concept of food causing harm is hard to comprehend. 

My goal with my feature length documentary, titled: “That Bites!”, is to raise awareness about food allergies - I am going to try and make my documentary a part of school assemblies to teach kids about food allergies - and I hope to be able to also raise money for FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) organization, a Washington D.C.-based nonprofit group. I am asking for your help and support to finish this important project. My movie means a lot to me and I think it will help people understand the fears and frustrations that food allergy sufferers face everyday. Please help me make this movie! Thank you!

I NEED TO RAISE MONEY FOR:

AUDIO EQUIPMENT, MOTION 5 SOFTWARE, HIGH QUALITY TRIPOD WITH GOOD TRACKING CAPABILITY, DOLLY, LIGHTING, LICENSING FEES, AND LEGAL FEES, and lots of little expenses that are adding up! 

I AM CURRENTLY USING A LOT OF BORROWED EQUIPMENT, AND I DESPERATELY NEED A BASIC VIDEO CAMERA OF MY OWN

MAKING MOVIES IS VERY EXPENSIVE (especially for a 12 year old!)- I AM ON A STRICT BUDGET BUT I NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKE IT A HIGH QUALITY PRODUCTION 

Risks and challenges

I am determined to make this documentary and have already started. I hope to get funding to through 'Kickstarter' so I can get better equipment to make a REALLY AWESOME documentary that will be more powerful, more effective, and more memorable. I know there will be obstacles in making my film, but I know they will not stop me!

I NEED TO RAISE MONEY FOR:

AUDIO EQUIPMENT, MOTION 5 SOFTWARE, HIGH QUALITY TRIPOD WITH GOOD TRACKING CAPABILITY, DOLLY, LIGHTING, LICENSING FEES, AND LEGAL FEES, and lots of little expenses that are adding up!

I AM CURRENTLY USING A LOT OF BORROWED EQUIPMENT, AND I DESPERATELY NEED A BASIC VIDEO CAMERA OF MY OWN

MAKING MOVIES IS VERY EXPENSIVE (especially for a 12 year old!)- I AM ON A STRICT BUDGET BUT I NEED YOUR HELP TO MAKE IT A HIGH QUALITY PRODUCTION

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Every little bit counts! Thank you so much for your support!!

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    How can I thank you? For starters, your name will appear in the "Thank You" section of the credits.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    I'm so grateful! For your generous support, you will receive a free DVD of "That Bites!" along with a "Thank You" in the credits.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Wowzer! You'll get an autographed copy of the "That Bites!" DVD, as well as a "Thank You" in the credits.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    I'm speechless. As a thank you, you will get everything listed above, as well as a "That Bites!" coffee mug.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    This is humbling, and you are truly amazing. You will receive everything listed above plus an "Extra Special Thank You" in the credits.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    You are rocking my world! For your extreme generosity, you will be listed as a "Contributing Producer" -- plus you'll also get the autographed DVD and the "That Bites!" mug.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    I just might break into hives! You will receive "Contributing Producer" status, the autographed DVD, a mug AND 4 free tickets to the screening. (Time/Place TBD)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    What can I say? You are helping educate the public about food allergies right by my side. For your unbelievable support, I will name you an Executive Producer of this film, and you will also receive all of the other great rewards above.

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    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    You are my hero! As a gesture of thanks, we'd like to take you and a guest out for an allergy friendly STEAK DINNER (Dinner for 2 in Chicago- Meal, tax, tip included. Transportation not included.) If you are a vegetarian, we can skip the meat...but in either case, we'd love to thank you in person and over a special celebratory meal.

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Funding period

- (36 days)