Feature-length documentary, “The Trouble With Ray," spotlights U.S. Supreme Court-branded “Citizen Provocateur” Ray Hill’s 50 years of activism in shaping a Texas LGBT community and contributing to the greater national movement.
"The Trouble With Ray" documents the history of LGBT heroes in Texas, of all places, and provides a lively overview of a life lived courageously in a world where fear and shame ruled. Thanks to a small group of activists – with Ray Hill’s shocking mouth at the megaphone – a thriving LGBT community was born in the heart of ultra-conservative Texas and proudly marched their concerns to the national stage.
The struggle for LGBT rights continues. “The Trouble With Ray” connects Texas’ unique LGBT history to today’s ever-changing political and cultural landscape. We appreciate your support in bringing Ray Hill’s relevant, rich story of activism to life!
We met Ray Hill at a party a few years ago, where he was serving up perfectly spun tales of being Tennessee Williams’ driver, drunken dinners with Truman Capote, collaborations with Harvey Milk and Frank Kameny, clashes with Anita Bryant, finagling his way out of a 160-year prison sentence, and winning civil rights cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. We got up from the table two hours later knowing we had to find a way to record these stories for posterity and bring them to life on the big screen.
Our short documentary premiered at the Directors Guild of America Theater in Los Angeles as part of the 2014 Houston Film Commission’s Texas Filmmaker's Showcase, which highlights the year’s best Texas-made short films. Additional festival screenings include:
- Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival
- Qfest Houston
- Chicago Reeling Gay & Lesbian Film Festival-Best Short Doc Prize
- Raindance Film Festival in London-Top 5 Short Docs
- Dallas VideoFest-Best Short Documentary of 2014
- International Documentary Festival Amsterdam
In March 2015, "The Trouble With Ray" screened at the American Documentary Film Festival in Palm Springs, California, where we successfully pitched our feature-length project for consideration for the AmDocs Film Fund. After the competition, AmDocs judges indicated they were excited to support the production of “this important and timely film.” AmDocs is now an official supporter of this project and will screen the final version upon completion.
Wherever we’ve screened the short version, audiences have expressed they want to see more of Ray’s story, so in July 2015 we officially began production on the feature-length version of "The Trouble With Ray." Check out this article from Houston Press writer Craig Malisow who writes, “We hope they raise enough to complete a feature-length documentary. This history ought to be given its due.”
Raised in Texas by labor activist parents, high school quarterback, Ray Hill, came out in 1958, and went on to be one of 20 gay rights pioneers actively fighting repression and discrimination in the 60s. His fierce battle with Anita Bryant helped galvanize the LGBT community in Houston, and resulted in the formation of political and community organizations that still serve the city today. Ray debated with Harvey Milk on how to best propel the movement forward and was a lead organizer of the first LGBT March on Washington in 1979. He was a co-founder of Houston’s Pacifica Radio station KPFT, and a founder of the Houston Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus – one of the first LGBT political action groups in the South – that empowered out lesbian Annise Parker to be elected mayor of the 4th largest city in the United States in 2010.
Whether or not he actually played an active role in all he claims, Ray served as the face of a movement that has brought his community to the brink of full equality. He has been a fearless opponent who never hesitates to be the lightning rod for controversy in the interest of advancing civil rights. Ray Hill has a bottom line. And that bottom line is full equality for all.
Ray’s unabashed style and uncanny knack for working the system has made him many enemies throughout the years. He’s spent over 40,000 hours behind bars for criminal activity and civil disobedience. A police chief recently gave him a “DO NOT ARREST THIS PERSON!” t-shirt, knowing that his incarceration would unleash a Pandora’s box of litigation and media attention. Young activists both admire and despise him. Some counter his old methods of political changemaking with, “Get down off the cross, we need the wood.”
The face of activism has changed and so has Ray Hill. How does one stay true to the lessons of labor activist parents and the goal of equality for all when you’re the only one playing the game? As he nears the end of his journey, and in spite of considerable backlash, Ray Hill continues to do what he’s always done: give voice to the voiceless, whatever the cost.
"The Trouble With Ray" presents a wide spectrum of views on Ray and the growth of community, and includes commentary from: Houston Mayor Annise Parker; Texas’ first trans judge Phyllis Frye; first woman elected to Texas State House of Representatives, Sissy Farenthold; former state representatives Debra Danburg and Ron Waters; former chair of the Houston Gay Political Caucus, Larry Bagneris; “All In The Family” actress and Grand Marshall of the 1977 Anita Bryant Rally, Liz Torres; and writer/performer and Chairman of the Meeting of the International Order of Sodomites, Justin Sayre commenting on the evolution of gay culture and civil rights. Not everyone loves Ray Hill, hence the name, "The Trouble With Ray," so we’ll also be including cameos from Ray’s critics, who will present a different view of the man some call a hero.
Over the past few months, we, and our remarkable team of supporters have been scouring archives around the world for new images, footage, and elements to bring these stories to life. We’re working to create an immersive background for Ray’s captivating storytelling that will help audiences experience the times and places that formed the beginnings of freedom. We’re also working to secure the rights to vintage gay publications that we intend to bring to life on the big screen through animation, sound design, and voice over.
HOW YOUR FUNDS WILL HELP THIS PROJECT
We’ve been capturing footage and interviews with key characters since August 2015 and need funding to pay crew and gear expenses as we finish filming important personal histories of local and national LGBT movement figures. Your generous contributions will also cover licensing images and music, transfer and preparation of newly discovered archival content, and editorial and finishing costs for the film. Our production timeline includes completion of principal photography by December 2015 and beginning post-production in January 2016. Our current deadline for the completion of the film is Spring 2016. With your support we can make that happen!
HOW YOU CAN HELP
1. DONATE TODAY at whatever level you can. Every contribution counts!
2. SPREAD THE WORD! Crowdfunding is about lots of people donating modest amounts of money. Know someone who might be interested in supporting our film? Please share our page on Twitter and Facebook and email your friends and family. Your enthusiastic sharing is our guarantee for success!
ABOUT THE TEAM
Director, Travis Johns
Travis is a multi-disciplinary filmmaker and co-founder of Proud Pony International, a new-media collective focusing on high quality video products and creative dressage. Also an accomplished editor and motion designer, Travis has worked for clients like Red Bull, BP, New Balance, Scion, and Howard TV. His short films have screened at festivals worldwide, including the web- series “Get out! Of the Closet!” at The 15th Annual Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival and Chicago’s 29th Annual Reeling Festival. Two of his shorts were selected for the Texas Filmmakers Showcase: “It’s For Her,” in 2009, and “The Trouble With Ray,” in 2014. With a background in acting, Travis translates creative from storyboard to screen with a unique perspective. He specializes in taking a sidelong glance at the comedy and meaning found in everyday, relatable experiences.
Producer, Jarrod Gullett
Jarrod is a principal and co-founder of Proud Pony International, and has produced award-winning broadcast content for more than nine years. Since the beginning of this creative partnership, he has expertly guided commercial work, web series, music videos, and original narrative and documentary content with an invisible touch. Jarrod is a friend and champion of the Houston arts scene, and remains active with artists and donors, engaging his passion for bringing new creative material to life.
Raul has worked for 25 years all over the world, framing award-winning shots, working with light, and contributing creatively and technically to every project he’s crewed. Whether in pre-production or on set, Raul’s expertise, generosity, and creative vision get the best results for every project.
In addition to our unending gratitude, we have a host of incentives to thank you for your generous support of "The Trouble With Ray".
GRASSROOTS LEVEL $1 or more:-Thanks for your support! Every dollar gets us closer.
AGITATOR LEVEL $10 or more-To show our thanks, we’ll give you a great big shout out on Facebook or Twitter.
CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE LEVEL $25 or more-You’ll receive a digital download of The Trouble With Ray upon completion, plus all of the above!
PROTESTOR LEVEL $50 or more-You’ll receive the Blu-Ray DVD of The Trouble With Ray delivered to your door, along with a hearty shout out on Facebook or Twitter.
REBEL LEVEL $100 or more-You’ll receive a poster of the film, and your choice of Blu-Ray or digital download of the film. We’ll also ring out your name on Facebook and Twitter.
RADICAL LEVEL $200 or more-There’ll be a “The Trouble With Ray” t-shirt coming your way that includes our promo graphic, “The Man. The Mouth. The Movement,” along with a poster from the film, and a Blu-Ray or digital download of the film.
FREEDOM FIGHTER LEVEL $300 or more-You’ll receive an autographed photo from the man himself, Ray Hill, along with a t-shirt, Blu-Ray or digital download, and social media shout-out.
REVOLUTIONARY LEVEL $500 or more-You'll receive two tickets to join us at the premiere of the film (travel/lodging not included), an on-screen thank you credit, a poster, a t-shirt, choice of Blu-Ray or digital download, and a shout-out on Facebook or Twitter.
NOBLE CITIZEN LEVEL $1,000 or more-You’ll receive an invitation for you and a guest to the film premiere, plus dinner with the director and special guests (travel & lodging not included) plus all of the above.
CITIZEN PROVOCATEUR LEVEL $5,000 or more-You'll receive an Associate Producer title in the film's credits plus an invitation for you and a guest to the film premiere, and dinner with the director and special guests (travel & lodging not included), a poster, a t-shirt, and your choice of a Blu-Ray or digital download of the film.
LIVING LEGEND LEVEL $10,000 or more-You'll receive a Co-Producer title in the film's credits, an invitation to the film premiere, and a very special lunch or dinner with the film's creative team and the man himself, Ray Hill (travel & lodging not included). You'll also receive a poster, a t-shirt, and your choice of a Blu-Ray or digital download of the film.
Risks and challenges
Challenges and risks usually come out of nowhere in film production. These can include production delays caused by scheduling interview subjects, negotiating licensing and rights issues, and more.
Any unexpected delays can in turn cause delays with delivery of the final film and incentive packages. We will update backers with complete and transparent reports as we move through production, post-production, and beyond.
We're confident that our years of experience dealing with unexpected issues and "no problems, only solutions" company motto will allow us to overcome any obstacles that may arise.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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