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Framed for murder by mafia cops Barry Gibbs was finally free after 19 years in prison only to discover his nightmare had just begun.
331 backers pledged $73,131 to help bring this project to life.

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$73,131

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To be wrongfully imprisoned is an inconceivable horror. To become free, a miracle. To begin life again after decades behind bars is a struggle which never ends. 

2015 Brooklyn
2015 Brooklyn

CHAINS is a brutally honest portrait of life after wrongful conviction, seen through the eyes of Barry Gibbs, a larger-than-life character who was framed for murder by Mafia Cops in the most notorious case of NYPD corruption. 

Equally humorous as it is heartbreaking, Barry's story is one of trauma, redemption, and survival of the human spirit for a man who emerged from prison, and spent a decade searching for closure, only to find that the loss of freedom can never be undone. 

Picking up where every other wrongful conviction story leaves off, this raw and unfiltered narrative, shot over the course of a decade, forces the audience to walk in Barry’s shoes because to truly understand this surreal experience is to live it - day after day and over time.

WHY I’M MAKING THIS FILM

In 2008, when I met Barry Gibbs, I knew him as my sister Vanessa’s client, a man she’d helped free from prison, an Innocence Project Exonoree who was showing up at our East Village apartment because he had no where else to turn. Barry had been exonerated in 2005, but years later his world was still shattered by his wrongful incarceration, and while his Kafkaesque tale of movie-star mafia cops, and unjust decades behind bars immediately drew me in, it was the horror of Barry’s life AFTER prison that truly captivated me - a general state of emotional and psychological incarceration despite his newfound “freedom.” Prison had taken everything from Barry, his family, his health, even his sanity - all he had left was his story (and my sister Vanessa). Barry was struggling to put the pieces of his life back together, and it was there in our apartment that I began to film Barry’s journey, not knowing that I was embarking down a road that would span the next ten years.



2008 New York City
2008 New York City

At this point, I’ve been filming Barry’s story for a decade, I’ve seen him go from rags to riches, winning the largest civil rights settlement in New York, we’ve traveled on two cross country road-trips in his search for closure, I’ve been at his side in hospital beds and hotel rooms across the U.S, seen him reconnect with his son, break-up and make-up with his partner Myrna, bring his best friend home from prison, face his demons, extreme illness, psychotic episodes, and witnessed the most private and vulnerable moments in his life - even his death.

2009 Las Vegas
2009 Las Vegas


SYNOPSIS 
Gritty and raw, this film lives with Barry Gibbs through years of destitution and poverty as he fights the City and State of New York for redemption. When he finally wins the largest civil rights settlement in New York City’s history, he finds that not even millions of dollars can undo the damage prison leaves behind.  As Barry tries to regain all that has been taken from him—his livelihood, his mental stability, his physical health, his relationship with his only son—we witness a heartbreaking human narrative about friendship, family, and love. 

In the end of the film we see Barry far from the destitute place we first met him, but having overcome all he believed stood in the way of his truly being free, Barry is still haunted by the demons of his past. 

The last chapter of the film takes place in Deerfield Beach Florida.  Barry decides to buy a condo in the Jewish community where his parents used to live, and where some friends from prison have moved but he faces challenges because of his prison past. In this final chapter we see Barry find closure with his parents, open a pizza restaurant for his friend Mikey Kolb who was the prison baker for 16 years, and then suddenly pass away. 

2017, Deerfield Beach Florida
2017, Deerfield Beach Florida

MY INTENTION FOR THE PROJECT

I believe an intimate verite film like this has the power to truly humanize the issue of wrongful conviction, and its aftermath, in a way we have never seen before, and to serve as a serious tool for impact.

I want this film to help turn the dial, and establish fair mandatory compensation laws nationwide, and to provide services for individuals after they are exonerated. 

I want people to watch this film, and understand that the trauma of wrongful conviction doesn't stop at the prison gate, and that it’s our responsibility to restore the lives of wrongfully convicted individuals to the best of our ability.

2010 Rockaway
2010 Rockaway

What makes this story stand apart is not only Barry’s journey, but the way this film lives and breathes his extraordinary character with brutal honesty, over a ten year period. At no point does the film spell out the issues surrounding wrongful conviction or its aftermath, instead they are lived and breathed in every moment of this character-driven narrative. In many ways this is a simple human story, a portrait of a broken man, a journey to find peace and happiness, for a truly original character - who happened to be framed by NYPD detectives working as hitmen for the mafia.

Telling this story meant everything to Barry who recently passed away this March 2018. It is a terrible loss not to have such a charismatic and compelling voice to push this message out, but regardless this story must be told.


2009 Colorado
2009 Colorado

I NEED YOUR HELP

I am 100% devoted to this documentary. I’ve been filming since 2008, have hundreds of hours of footage following Barry’s life in the years after his exoneration, and am ready to begin editing - the most important and expensive part of making a documentary. In order to begin the edit full-time I need your help. 

Whatever you can do to support the edit and finishing of this film would mean so much to me, to Barry’s memory, to the hundreds of thousands of wrongfully convicted individuals currently in prison, and to those who are coming home from that nightmare, and having to face all that comes next. Please help me get this important story out.

PRIMARY COST TO COVER :

- Editor x 1 year 

2017, Deerfield Beach Florida
2017, Deerfield Beach Florida

FILMMAKING TEAM

Since 2008 I’ve worked on this film solo - producing, directing and filming mostly on my own. As the project has moved into post, I have rallied support around the film, and brought on a fantastic team of collaborators, including Executive Producers Katie Couric, Tony Goldwyn, and most recently the amazing Sanaa Hamri ! ! !


 

 

 REWARDS

EXCLUSIVE FILM SCREENING (PRIOR TO FILM RELEASE!)
EXCLUSIVE FILM SCREENING (PRIOR TO FILM RELEASE!)

 

CHAINS FILM MATCHBOOK
CHAINS FILM MATCHBOOK

 

CHAI NECLACE
CHAI NECLACE

 

FILM PHOTOBOOK
FILM PHOTOBOOK

 

Tickets to Innocence Project Gala 2019 !
Tickets to Innocence Project Gala 2019 !

 

5x7 FILM STILL
5x7 FILM STILL

 

I will film anything you want !
I will film anything you want !

 

COUNTRY HOUSE GET-AWAY
COUNTRY HOUSE GET-AWAY

 

PHOTOSHOOT by ME ! (headshots, dating profile, family portraits ...nudes!)
PHOTOSHOOT by ME ! (headshots, dating profile, family portraits ...nudes!)

 

WEBINAR WITH INNOCENCE PROJECT ATTORNEY VANESSA POTKIN
WEBINAR WITH INNOCENCE PROJECT ATTORNEY VANESSA POTKIN

 

 

Risks and challenges

There are many risks involved in making a film, but I've dedicated 10 years to documenting Barry's life in a way that wrongful conviction has never been seen before, and with the current desire and appetite for this type of content, with so much conversation and concern in this country about criminal justice on all fronts, this story must be told, and I will continue working on it for however long it takes to get this out.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 10 or more About US$ 10

    THE SNITCH

    We will happily tell everyone about your generous contribution to this film with a special shout-out on social media in your honor !

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    • Social Shout Out
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    HARD KNOCKS

    Life can be hard but you can get invaluable words of wisdom from Barry Gibbs - a man who's seen it all. These life lessons will come once a month (in video form) directly from his mouth to your inbox for the next year.

    Includes:
    • Barry Gibbs' "Words of Wisdom" Monthly Email
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    MATCH THE DESCRIPTION

    Light it up Barry Gibbs style with this CHAINS film Match Box

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    THE JAIL BIRD

    Set of 10 Postcards with stills from the film, which you can send to friends in prison or anywhere around the world !

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    BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

    Prior to the official film release you get exclusive access to a PRIVATE SCREENER link of the full film

    Includes:
    • Access to Private Screener Link of FULL FILM
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    YOUR PRINTS

    Get a 5x7 print of Barry Gibbs taken by Director Zoe Potkin. Printed on Epson Luster photo paper, and signed by Zoe Potkin.

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    INSIDER INFORMATION

    Get a private link to 3 scenes from the film to watch NOW !

    Includes:
    • IMMEDIATE access to a real scene from the film !
    • Access to Private Screener Link of FULL FILM
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    AIDING & ABETTING

    For your generous assistance in making this film possible you will receive a “Special Thanks” credit in the film.

    Includes:
    • "Special Thanks" credit in the film
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    THE RELEASE

    Prior to the official film release you will be invited to a preview screening and panel discussion with Innocence Project Attorneys and characters from the film (New York)

    Includes:
    • Invite to preview screening + panel discussion in NYC
    • "Special Thanks" credit in the film
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    20 YEARS TO LIFE

    "Chai" is the Jewish symbol for life, represented by the number 18. Celebrate life with this "Chai" necklace (as worn by Barry Gibbs in the film) handmade in the Holy Land.

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    • "Special Thanks" credit in the film
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    GET BOOKED

    Receive book of photographs with stills from the film signed by filmmaker Zoe Potkin, and Executive Producers Katie Couric and Tony Goldwyn.

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    • "Special Thanks" credit in the film
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    MUG SHOTS

    Have your headshot, professional photo, tinder profile, personal or family portraits, nudes - whatever!?! taken by Zoe Potkin

    (NOTE: NYC area only)

    Includes:
    • "Special Thanks" credit in the film
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    CROSS EXAMINATION

    In your own webinar, have the opportunity to ask a question or have a discussion with Innocence Project Attorney and Director of Post-Conviction Litigation, Vanessa Potkin - national authority on wrongful conviction and the use of DNA in wrongful conviction cases.

    Includes:
    • "Special Thanks" credit in the film
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    ON THE RECORD

    Have a special moment or event recorded by an amazing documentary filmmaker - ME ! (NYC area only)

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    THE WITNESS

    Come watch the film at an exclusive pre-release screening, and hear from the those who lived the experience, then get the film photobook to remember all you heard and saw.

    Includes:
    • PhotoBook w/ film stills signed by Director + Executive Producers
    • Invite to preview screening + panel discussion in NYC
    • "Special Thanks" credit in the film
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    ROB THE BANK

    Get away with all the goods...

    Includes:
    • Photoshoot -headshots, family, tinder profile etc- by Zoe Potkin
    • PhotoBook w/ film stills signed by Director + Executive Producers
    • Invite to preview screening + panel discussion in NYC
    • "Special Thanks" credit in the film
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    THE CHAIN GANG

    Become part of the "CHAINS" gang and receive an Associate Producer Credit on the film

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    GET OUT OF JAIL

    Escape the city, and head upstate for a long weekend of your choice in the countryside of Craryville NY (20 minutes from Hudson) On 18 acres of land be surrounded by nature, lay by the pool, and enjoy the peace and quiet. (house sleeps 6-10 people comfortably)

    Includes:
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    ATTORNEY PRIVILEGE

    Have the privilege of an actual EXONOREE + Attorney Vanessa Potkin (Innocence Project’s Director of Post Conviction Litigation + National Authority on Wrongful Conviction + Character in the film) come speak on a Panel at your school, event, club, or social event (NYC only)

    Includes:
    • Invite to preview screening + panel discussion in NYC
    • Access to Private Screener Link of FULL FILM
    • "Special Thanks" credit in the film
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    Pledge US$ 7,500 or more About US$ 7,500

    BE EXONORATED

    Become part of the fight against wrongful conviction as a guest at the annual Innocence Project Gala.

    At the Gala you will hear powerful speeches from Innocence Project Founders Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, profound testimonials from the Exonorees themselves, and special appearances and performances from Innocence Project ambassadors (recent years include: Nmamdi Asoumugha, Meryl Street, Joan Baez, Esperanza Spaulding)

    Includes:
    • PhotoBook w/ film stills signed by Director + Executive Producers
    • "Special Thanks" credit in the film
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    CO - CONSPIRATORS

    Become an Executive Producer on the film.

    Includes:
    • Executive Producer Credit in Film
    • Private Film Screening for you and your guests (NYC area)
    • Invitation to film a festival screening (travel not included)
    • Invitation to visit the edit room
    • Access to Private Screener Link of FULL FILM
    • PhotoBook w/ film stills signed by Director + Executive Producers
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Funding period

- (31 days)