Set against the turbulent atmosphere of the U.S.- Mexico border, 34 Seconds is a feature -length documentary exploring the death of a number of children in association with U.S. immigration policy.
On June 7, 2010, 16 -year, old Sergio Hernandez was gunned down at the U.S.-Mexico border that separates El Paso Texas, and Ciudad Juarez. Sergio and his friends were playing a game in which they dared one another to run and touch the border wall. Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa came on to the scene and shot and killed Sergio as he hid behind a pillar.
The justification was that the children were throwing rocks. Cell phone and security footage contradict those claims. This fall, the Supreme Court will decide if the Hernandez family has the right to sue the agent in a civil court.
On October 10, 2012, Sixteen year, old José Antonio Rodríguez was shot and killed by Border Patrol officer Lonnie Swartz. Rodriguez was shot ten times in the back as Swartz fired his weapon through the border wall that separates Nogales, Arizona from Nogales, Sonora.
The Border Patrol alleges that Jose was throwing rocks at them. Witness testimony, counters those claims. A videotape documenting the nights events went missing or was destroyed. Swartz was tried twice in a criminal court but was acquitted on all charges. Both cases were similar in how they were handled by the US Government
Claudia Patricia Gómez González was from a rural village in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. 76% of people living in that area live below the poverty line. Claudia saw migrating to the United States as her only hope. She was coming to America to pursue her love of numbers and accounting. On May 7, 2018, Claudia started the fateful 1,500 - mile journey to the United States. Two weeks later, on May 23, 2018, Claudia was shot and killed by a US Border Patrol Agent. She was killed one mile north of the border in Rio Bravo, Texas. Agents originally stated that Claudia and the group she was with attacked them with plywood.
The Border Patrol changed their story twice leaving many questions unanswered. Claudia's story of migration is not unique. Roughly 1% of Guatemala's population attempted to migrate north in 2018. Nine out of ten say it was due to severe drought, lack of work, and extreme poverty.
15,000 children are currently being held in ICE facilities. In December of 2018, two of those children died while in custody. Jakelin Caal and Felipe Alonzo were respectively 7 and 8 years old. The two children were from similar villages as Claudia. Both were from families that felt their last option was to finally attempt the long journey to the United States. The cause of death was loosely determined to be influenza and bacterial infection. A team of doctors observed all the migrant detention centers in the country and the results were scathing. The findings were reports of uninhabitable conditions including lack of food and water, and widespread accusations of sexual and physical abuse.
In April of 2018, the Trump Administration enacted the zero-tolerance policy that began separating migrant children from their parents to deter other migrants. In May of 2018, it was reported that the federal government lost track of more than 1,500 migrant children. Lawyers and border activist worry that some of those children may never be reunited with their rightful guardians. On July 29th, the ACLU confirmed that the Trump administration had continued the family separation policy even after a court had ordered in June 2018 to put an end to routine family separations. The final number was nearly 1,000 children separated after the court order of 2018.
The US - Mexico border is a complicated place. There is a saying on the border used by Latinos and Native Americans which states, " we didn't cross the border, the border crossed us." Before the wall was constructed, these cross-border communities thrived off of each other. Today, you cannot walk along the international border without the fear of being shot. Walls, militarization, for per profit detention centers have now taken over these once vibrant communities. Profit has been put over the safety of humans and innocent children are dying. History is repeating itself! America has a checkered past of racism, xenophobia, polarization, and treatment of immigrants. As a country, we have not learned from our mistakes. Join us on the journey as this film asks critical questions and examines the root causes of these tragedies. This is 34 Seconds!
" Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." Helen Keller
Director - Director of Photography - Creator -Adam Markle is an Emmy award-winning filmmaker based in Los Angeles. He won an Emmy for his cinematography and production on the TV series “Deadliest Catch.” Adam has worked on documentaries, features, and commercials in the United States and abroad. His client list includes National Geographic, History Channel, Discovery, ABC, CNBC, and The Intercept. Adam is a B.A. graduate of the University of Oregon.
Supervising Producer - Co Creator - Jessica is a bilingual journalist and activist from Mexico City. Jessica and I teamed up and decided this was a story the world needed to see. Although she is a storyteller, she is passionate about activism and the arts. This project would not have happened without her. Jessica is a graduate of the UCLA School Department of Communication Studies.
Advisor - Author Peg is a retired nurse (RN, MS) who lives in Arizona close to the Mexico border. She is also a published author that has gained notoriety with her memoirs about her time living on the border. She says life in the borderlands is like having one foot in Mexico and one foot in the United States—a lifestyle rich in culture, diversity, and political discourse. When she crosses into Mexico several times per week and volunteers at an aid station known as el comedor, she serves breakfast, passes out needed clothing and medical supplies, and provides counsel to migrants and asylum seekers. Peg also gives talks and presentations on border issues, and campaigns for human rights. Peg was an integral part of the production as she advised us on various issue along the border.
2nd Unit Director of Photography - Armando is a Los Angeles based Salvadoran/American filmmaker and artist. After almost a decade living and working in Central America on commercials, music videos, and narrative films, he returned to Los Angeles where he now works as a director, cinematographer, and editor on progressive, short-and-feature-length documentaries. His most recent work can be seen on such platforms as The Intercept, The Nation, Fusion, and KQED.
Sound Supervisor - Lellan was born and raised on the Navajo Nation in Arizona. He is a young and talented sound tech. Although he resides in Los Angeles, he is very involved in the events and politics back on the Navajo Nation. He is currently writing a fictional piece regarding the experience of growing up as a young member of the Navajo tribe. He is a graduate of the film program at Arizona State University.
Andra Carlson - Associate Producer Andra majored in Theatre performance at the University of Idaho and studied Script Analysis, Theatre History, and Acting at Yale University. Andra worked on several award-winning and nominated theatre projects in LA and has worked in many facets of filmmaking. She is from Idaho but currently lives in Los Angeles, California.
Sandra Dar - Associate Producer Sandra is a Texas born singer-songwriter and actress. Sandra is passionate about the arts, whether it be on a canvas, music, or in film. As a native Texan, and humanitarian, the human rights issue on the U.S.- Mexico border hits home for her. As a member of the Creative Empowerment for Kids organization, she has worked with children of all ages who are living on Skid Row, providing encouragement and inspiration through music and art. Sandra came to Hollywood, CA via Nashville, TN. to continue pursuing a career in music and film. Her music ranges from soft sweet melodies, to funky grooves, and rocking blues.
Jamila Lane - Associate Producer Jamila is an Oregon native turned Southerner. When she's not busy being a full-time mom, she spends her time advocating for science and social justice. To unwind, she puts on some Jason Isbell, pours a glass of sweet tea and watches the baby sleep.
Adamo Pulzone - Associate Producer Adamo attended UMass Amherst where he earned a Bachelors in Journalism and Communications. Born and raised in Boston, MA, Adamo naturally developed a love for sports. After college he worked on various film projects in the sports world. He recently move to Los Angeles where he is pursuing his career as an actor. Along with being a producer on 34 Seconds, Adamo was also one of the leading roles in the recreations that we shot.
Melinda Stephenson - Associate Producer Melinda attended Kent State University. After a bachelor's and two masters' (English and journalism), Melinda moved to Los Angeles to pursue film and television. Melinda has worked in art direction and production on various projects for Spike TV, Warner Brothers, Fox, Animal Planet, and more.
Ryan Cho - Associate Producer Ryan is originally from the Bay Area. He is a freelance director and works production on feature films, music videos, TV, and commercials. He aims to tell stories through the use of meaning and inspiration. When he is not on set, he spends his time advocating for mental health and spending time with loved ones.
La Muna - Original Music
Natalia Serna, also known as La Muna, is a Colombian-American musician and sociologist that moved to the border city of Nogales, Sonora as a volunteer at the Kino Border Initiative, Soup Kitchen. Her album Corazόn Norte has been presented at migrant soup kitchens, detention centers, universities, and theaters across Mexico, Guatemala and the U.S. Her music on social justice has been used by the Discovery Channel, Two Americas' film, Jesuit Refugee Services, Bread For the World, and Creighton Backpacker film El Deportado among others. La Muna is a global artist with a distinct sound. The 34 Seconds team thanks Natalia for her devotion to the Rodriguez family and social justice through the arts and music. Check out her music below athttps://lamuna.bandcamp.com/
This film is not for us. This film is for those living in the border community. It's for those people whose absolute last resort is to make a treacherous 3,000 mile journey to the United States in search of a better life for them and their children. This film is also dedicated to a future where there are no more police shootings of innocent people and the first resort is community policing and not pulling a trigger. Once the film is complete, a portion of the proceeds will go towards a legal fund for the families dealing with these tragedies. Thank you to the individuals and families along the border that shared their heartbreaking stories. Hopefully this project can be a doorway to finding justice in an unjust world.
We have been filming for three long years. Till this point, the film has been self funded. We have used the money from freelance gigs to fund our travel and production costs. Together, we have volunteered money, time, and resources to this project. We have also had an immense support system from our community back home and along the border.
- Editing - We have hundreds of hours of footage and audio that we need to organize and craft into a story arc. This takes a lot of time, expertise, and labor in the cutting room.
- Graphics - Graphics play a large role in contemporary documentary films. We plan to use them for maps, statistics, and some animation.
- Sound Design and Score - We need to create and mix ambient sound for the film. We also need to have someone compose a dramatic score that fits the look of our film.
- Archival - A large portion of funds will go towards accruing the rights to archival footage at the border. This includes family photos, government/historic photos and stock footage for places we were unable to film
- Pickup shoot - (Budget pending) In case we need to fill in some pieces during the editing process
- Film Submissions and Distribution Outreach - At the end of the day, we need people to see the film. That takes work, persistence, and many hours of applying for film festivals and pitching to distributors.
Who is our audience and what films inspire us? These films all have a similar look, tone and pace to 34 Seconds. Similar to 34 Seconds, these films analyze and breakdown societal issues and human rights abuses. Documentary films are in a golden era. Last year, documentaries slashed prior box office records and flooded streaming services. The time is now for this film and we need our audience and community to help us get there. Thank you for your support.
" If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. " - African Proverb
Thank you for taking the time to check out our project. You can help us by making a pledge now! We would also really appreciate it if you could help spread the word by sharing this page. Kickstarter is all-or-nothing so we need to reach our goal of $60,000 by September 27, 2019 in order to receive any of the pledged funds to make this film! Your credit card won't be charged unless we raise the entire amount.
If you have any problems with the payment system, or have questions about the film, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org To stay updated, you can follow us at https://www.facebook.com/34secondsmovie/?modal=admin_todo_tour https://twitter.com/34secondsfilm and https://www.instagram.com/markleadam/
You are now part of a grassroots movement to bring this film to life. None of this happens without our community. Thank you!
We want to thank our wonderful team who worked tirelessly to get this campaign off the ground. We could not have launched this on time without your help and dedication.
Jessica Solis, Peg Bowden, Greer and Donna Markle, Jaime Watts, Adamo Pulzone, Andra Carlson, Melinda Stephen, Sandra Dar, Ryan Cho, Natalia Serna, Jamila Lane, and Krystal Gallegos.
Risks and challenges
Our first challenge was getting the cross- border community to trust us. That took time, communication, and a general understanding that the film is much bigger than us.
Documentary filmmaking is a labor of love. It's also really expensive. In the beginning, we were financing this film out of savings but at the end of the day, that wouldn't have allowed us to tell this impactful story at the level of quality it deserves. That's why we are reaching out to our community to help us get across the finish line.
- (38 days)