At the very end of December 2011, we went to Akka, Israel, inspired by the image of its jumpers, to test the waters, meet some people and see if there was a story there to be told. Within the first day, we realized there was one and that it held a beautiful metaphor about life.
With nothing more than a camera, a couple days and an idea, we began our journey.
This journey would bring us back to Akka four more times within the course of 2012 for much longer periods of time and with as many as seven cameras. The filming included the three filmmakers (Patrick & Mouna Stewart and Gina Angelone) and an additional local cameraman (Ahmed Masry) who served as a guide to the ancient town as well as a trustworthy introduction to its people. And so with nothing more than volition, we began our process of knocking on the doors of strangers, making ourselves known to the people of the town and gaining their confidence. Soon, we were ushered into houses, while coffees were served along with abundant portions of sweets and stories. People opened up. They recommended other townspeople we could speak with and interview. And so it went. The story unfolded before our eyes. At first, we thought about concentrating on the lives and struggles of just a few of the people there, but soon it became apparent that there were too many relevant voices and thoughts to convey.
We remained steadfast, but moving forward wasn't easy.
The obstacles were many: driving a large production van down a packed pedestrian cobbled road with blind turns; getting the weather to cooperate with the jumpers; fighting all temperatures, cold and hot, to get the shots we needed; setting up multiple cameras to capture the jumping sequences; finding a pilot and a plane for aerials. We did everything on our own, just the three of us--from all the travel arrangements, transporting and carrying of heavy gear, meeting and interviewing people, to navigating a land rife with political and social unrest. We rose early and ended late each day. We never knew exactly what the day would have in store for us. It was always an adventure, always a surprise to see which door would lead to what kind of story or insight or amazing character.
We fell in love with Akka and its people.
We were welcomed with unimaginable hospitality and open hearts. We forged ahead month after month, planning the next trip, thinking about the next season of jumpers and storytellers. And we did it all through private funding and personal resources. The commitment was there to do this independently and in our own way, and not compromise the storytelling by others who might want to leverage it in a certain way or use this particular plight to personal advantage. We worked honestly and diligently, knowing that finishing was the only goal to get this worthwhile film out to the world. At times, it felt like a nearly impossible task. We felt rushed by the limitation of our visits and the distance between Los Angeles and Israel/Palestine. But we were vested in making it happen and so we motored forward.
The edit process was another seemingly insurmountable hurdle.
We had dispensed our remaining funds to an editor but had not gotten nearly enough done in the time at hand. We were at a crossroads. Then Alejandro Treviño stepped in and became our partner. Not an editor by trade, he took on the humbling task of not only learning how to edit on a totally new system and software, but also how to piece together a very complicated documentary with over 50 hours of footage and interviews in Arabic and English. An extensive edit was drafted on paper and used as a guideline, but there was still a long way to go and many critical decisions to make. We realized almost immediately that we needed to add the voice of an established historian, and this was another quest that took us down many roads, some quite frustrating. Then we found Professor Beshara Dumani of Brown University, and his commentary became the glue for historically and politically contextualizing all of the interviews we had gathered.
Our final shoot was August 2012.
From that point on, were were in full post-production mode and didn't stop until January 2013. Everything was completed, from conception to realization, in 13 months. Some good people came along the way to help with sound, graphics, color correction, translations and transcripts. All efforts still came from personal funds and deep desire to shed light on a subject and a people that are often misunderstood. It took nearly six months of squeezing time and energy and schedules whenever possible to complete all the stages of post-production.
The music was another issue.
We decided to only use Palestinian music in order to keep the piece authentic as well as help promote some little known and extremely talented artists in the region. As we laid down the tracks, we realized that we needed the ears of a composer and music supervisor to complete the task. Zafer Tawill came to the rescue and poured his heart into the work.
We are extremely proud of our undertaking and of its outcome.
In truth, we continue to tweak picture and sound whenever goodwill or funds are available. We have had a wonderful experience at festivals these past 10 months, and have even won some top awards as well as been nominated for others. But mostly, we have felt true gratitude for the accomplishment at hand and are now looking forward to the next phase of film distribution and release. We are hopeful to get the film out on as wide a scale as possible, and are partnering with the best professionals we can find to help in this regard.
We are finally at a juncture where we need to ask for help.
We can no longer do it alone. And that is the purpose of this campaign: to help us get the film to as many eyes and ears and hearts as possible. The sense of shared humanity that the film seeks to portray is so critical at this time in our world. We are humbled by the journey we were able to take on behalf of this message and we look forward to moving it forward with your support.
Our hope is that this film will put a spotlight on a people and a perspective that is not usually heard or understood.
We ultimately hope to create a positive and thoughtful image of today’s Palestinian citizens as opposed to the negative media-generated ones. As one person said “Simply being called a Palestinian is already an accusation.” We hope our film can help shift this perspective and return some humanity and dignity to those who deserve it, as well as to illuminate the current situation in Akka.
All funds will go toward direct costs for PR and marketing in Los Angeles and New York, including publicity efforts, ads in major papers, press outreach, four-wall theater expenses for upcoming screenings, print materials, out-of-pocket expenses for final stages of editorial post-production, creation of files and formats and titles and graphics. We have hired professional public relations specialists in NYC and LA, who are taking on this effort to help us achieve our goals. We are not reimbursing any of our own expenses at this juncture. The KickStarter goal is for new, upcoming costs that must be covered in order to get the film released in theaters. It's time to have this story make some noise in the world and bring a change to those who need it most. Please help us shed some light on the Palestinian dilemma by supporting the ongoing outreach of "It's Better To Jump."
PLEASE HELP US GET THIS AWARD-WINNING FILM TO THE BIG SCREEN!
Risks and challenges
We're asking for assistance to get our film through the last steps toward distribution. Our film is not just an idea, or in the middle of production. It's done. Not only that, it's proven itself in festivals around the world. We've gotten it this far all under our own auspices. What we have before us is the last necessary, critical, expensive step toward recognition and distribution throughout the world. We're asking all who are interested, active, and capable, to become recognized as being a part of this step together.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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