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Documenting the secret society of female bodyguards who defended the radical suffragettes.
Documenting the secret society of female bodyguards who defended the radical suffragettes.
Documenting the secret society of female bodyguards who defended the radical suffragettes.
100 backers pledged $6,582 to help bring this project to life.

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No Man Shall Protect Us

$6,582

100

I am here tonight and not a man is going to protect me, because this is a woman’s fight, and we are going to protect ourselves ... I challenge the government to re-arrest me!

- Suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst

What's this all about?

By 1913, social and political conflicts over women's voting rights had reached a boiling point and many militant suffragettes were fugitives from the law.  To protect them from arrest and assault, the radical Women's Social and Political Union established the Bodyguard Society.

The WSPU Bodyguards - also dubbed the "Amazons" - were required to be quick-witted, physically strong and fit, trained in martial arts and willing to risk their own safety and freedom.  They employed disguise, evasion and decoy tactics as well as hand-to-hand combat when necessary to defend their fellow activists.  

Suffragette Bodyguard trainer Edith Garrud demonstrates jujutsu.
Suffragette Bodyguard trainer Edith Garrud demonstrates jujutsu.

Their missions included the infamous "Battle of Glasgow" of March 10, 1914, when armed bodyguards brawled with squads of police who were attempting to arrest suffragette leader Emmeline Pankhurst.  Taking place on the stage of St. Andrew's Hall in front of thousands of shocked witnesses, the riot involved about two hundred people and left dozens injured.

In the aftermath, a furious controversy arose over charges of police brutality and activist provocation, as both sides claimed the moral high ground of self-protection.  The Battle of Glasgow also sparked a new escalation of suffragette protests, including the vandalism of the priceless "Rokeby Venus" painting in London's National Gallery and a street fight outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.  

 Although the Bodyguard Society was widely reported upon during 1913/14, memories of their confrontations with anti-suffragists and with the police were lost amidst the cultural chaos of the First World War and their story is little-known today.

How will you tell this story?

A cartoon from Punch Magazine (1910)
A cartoon from Punch Magazine (1910)

No Man Shall Protect Us is closely based on detailed accounts by witnesses, journalists, police constables and radical suffragettes.  Narration, graphics and rare archival film will portray the dangerous work of the Bodyguard Society during this spectacular clash of wills and ideologies.

We will also be using a theatrical "black box" docudrama format, with dramatic performances by costumed actors representing Emmeline Pankhurst, martial arts trainer Edith Garrud, Canadian Bodyguard leader Gert Harding, political radical Princess Sophia Duleep Singh and Chief Constable James V. Stevenson of the Glasgow police force.  

In collaboration with the Babes With Blades Theatre Company's production of Anne Bertram's play The Good Fight, the documentary will also feature dynamic re-enactments of the Bodyguard Society's origins, training and tactics, performed by a cast of twelve actors.

The Amazon Bodyguards prepare for action (concept art by Yasmin Liang).
The Amazon Bodyguards prepare for action (concept art by Yasmin Liang).

How do we know you can do this?

Our video production credits include the 2011 feature documentary Bartitsu: The Lost Martial Art of Sherlock HolmesThe Scarlet Line web series (2012-14) as well as corporate promotions and the comedy short Chi-Town Showdown (2014), starring Doug Sohn and George Wendt.  

Co-producer Tony Wolf wrote the biography Edith Garrud: The Suffragette Who Knew Jujutsu (2008) and the graphic novel trilogy Suffrajitsu: Mrs. Pankhurst's Amazons (2015) and is regarded as an expert on the history of the radical suffragette Bodyguard team.

What have you already done and what still needs doing?

We're fully prepared with all requisite production equipment and we already have all of our archival media, including rare silent film footage, newspaper articles, graphics and photographs.  The script, which incorporates text taken verbatim from media reports and memoirs, will be in progress until we start editing. 

Most of the funds raised by this Kickstarter project will go towards the black box and re-enactment sequences, including:

  • cast and crew fees
  • studio rental
  • set design and construction
  • costume and prop construction/rental

with the remainder going towards

  • narration and voice-over
  • editing

On-set production will take place during the first weeks of January, 2018.

How will No Man Shall Protect Us be viewable?

It will be freely available via Vimeo as an educational resource for schools, libraries, historical societies and interested individuals. 

Risks and challenges

The history of the radical suffragette Bodyguards is a subject that appeals strongly, but to a relatively niche audience. That's why we have set a modest funding target and are planning for an agile, small-scale production.

Our collaboration with the Babes With Blades Theatre Company's staging of The Good Fight, however, affords us a cast and production values well beyond what we would otherwise be able to achieve on a $6000 budget.

If we experience a catastrophic equipment failure - if our editing suite explodes, for example - we have backup facilities to continue production at a technically simpler level.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Footsoldier

    You've just earned a "thank you" credit on our website and a scan of a rare, 1914-vintage newspaper article describing the "Battle of Glasgow"!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Militant

    All previous rewards plus a copy of "Edith Garrud: The Suffragette Who Knew Jujutsu", a 112-page e-book by co-producer Tony Wolf!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Brawler

    All previous rewards plus your name in the credits and the opportunity to participate as one of our beta viewers. You'll see the documentary as a work-in-progress and will be invited to offer creative feedback!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Combatant

    All previous rewards plus an image of your face, or the face of a nominated family member or friend, digitally inserted into a group photograph featured in the documentary. It will look as if you (or they) were right there in 1914!
    You will also receive a high-def jpg image of this scene.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Champion

    All previous rewards plus access to our "behind the scenes" featurette focusing on fight choreography for "No Man Shall Protect Us" PLUS a video of co-producer Tony Wolf's lecture on the hidden history of the suffragette bodyguards!

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    Amazon

    All previous rewards plus a genuine, antique hardwood Indian club of the type used as concealed weapons by the radical suffragettes!

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Funding period

- (30 days)