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Re-examining violence through the story of two murders in the American South.
Re-examining violence through the story of two murders in the American South.
307 backers pledged $34,075 to help bring this project to life.

About

Re-examining violence through the story of two unbelievable ritual murders in the American South.

AMERICAN MONSTER | A Non-Fiction Crime Thriller

$34,075

307

WE NEED YOUR HELP! 

We have unprecedented access to our subjects, an incredible team, and a scoop on the story that the media has missed. We’re all set to knock this one out of the park — except for one thing: FUNDING!

Funding is now more urgent than ever. The Algarad Trials are fast approaching. If we don't make our goal, we will miss the trials and lose our story. American Monster is a story that needs to be told — and without you, we won’t be able to tell it!

This is an all-or-nothing campaign. If we don’t raise a minimum of $30K in 30 days, American Monster may never be complete. 

WHERE DOES YOUR DONATION GO?

THE STORY

John Lawson grew up in the affluent suburbs of Clemmons, NC. Rejected at home, at school, and by the community at large; he earned his respect the only way he knew how: FEAR.

At the height of America’s Islamophobia and the end of the “Satanic Panic,” John Lawson changed his first name to that of the demon from The Exorcist, and his last name to an Arabic word meaning “a brief hostile incursion.” It was thus that Pazuzu Algarad, the “Islamic Satanist” of Forsyth County, was born.

He would go on to raise a “brotherhood” of outsiders — mostly mentally-ill addicts, all poor. Together, they would torture, murder, and cannibalize two strangers from similar backgrounds, burying them in the backyard of the house where he and his mother lived.

Eight shots rang out through the quiet and densely-settled suburb of Clemmons the night that Josh Wetzler was killed. How is it that none were reported? Despite the fact he was buried in plain sight, it took five years to discover his body. Why?

Using the Algarad trial as a narrative spine, American Monster will document the intimate struggles of three individuals, as they attempt to come to terms with their respective roles in these horrific ritual murders.

Columbine, Aurora, Newtown, Virginia Tech. Besides a gun, the most prominent feature in each of these atrocities is an outsider seeking revenge on a society that has rejected him. Is this a coincidence? Or a story we have been too afraid to tell, because it implicates us all?

A NOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR

I remember the day I got the call. My childhood best friend's voice was shaking at the other end of the line. 

              "They found my brother," she wavered. 

              "Oh, thank God," I said, "Is he okay?" 

There was a pause. And then, almost too calmly, she replied, 

              "No, no. He's dead. Mike is dead." 

In the coming weeks, we learned that Mike’s death was not an accident. He was tortured and murdered by two friends, not far from the house he shared with his mom and sister. There was a tiny blurb in the paper, and then everyone forgot. “Not my kids,” the townspeople said. “Those boys were wayward. They didn’t fit.”

Wayward they were: party kids, I guess you could call them. Kids who had trouble at home. They needed help, and if they’d gotten it, Mike would be alive today. It was not Mike’s waywardness alone that put him in the ground that spring. We all did. 

After Mike died, I became obsessed with to the “True Crime” genre. It was comforting to see the atrocities of violent crime reduced to facts. Facts can’t hurt you. The existence of gun powder residue, the trajectory of blood spatter, the time of death—it all seemed so tidy—as if to console us with the idea that once the data is properly arranged, justice will be served and all will be right again in the small American town. My life has shown me that this is not the case.  

As a culture, we are good at asking “how,” but too often fail to ask “why?” American Monster is here not only to ask why, but to plumb the murky depths of this sordid tale for an answer with real world applications. 

American Monster examines the Algarad case—not as a symptom of one man’s “evil”—but as a community problem with community solutions. 

Algarad’s case has the makings of a true crime thriller: Sex, Drugs, and Satanism. However, beneath its prurient appeal, lies a much bigger story—a story that could change how we approach violent crime in our nation today. Please, help us tell it! 

HOW KICKSTARTER WORKS

Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing fundraising platform. That means, if we don’t raise our full $30,000.00 goal, we don’t get to keep any of it! American Monster is an important film, and we want to get it out into the world as soon as possible. The success of this Kickstarter campaign is integral to the survival of the film. Take a look at our timeline here: 

THE TEAM

OTHER WAYS YOU CAN HELP 

SHARE OUR CAMPAIGN!

Better yet, pick five people to share it with, and ask each of them to share it with five more! Know someone in print media? Even better! Send our story their way! Every new set of eyes brings us closer to our goal!!

Risks and challenges

We're independent filmmakers — and we wouldn't have it any other way. No one controls our message. We are allowed to tell our stories on our terms — which is a big part of what allows us look at the Algarad case from a new perspective. It's a privilege to be an indie filmmaker, but with that privilege comes some inherent obstacles. Funding is one of them.

Of course there will be challenges beyond raising funds on deadline. However, if we are able to reach our goal of $30K in 30 days, we are confident that with our talented and dedicated team and the support of everyone who has contributed to the film's story, American Monster will be a truly impactful film that has the capacity to truly change the conversation around violence in America.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    THANK YOU!

    In addition to our unending gratitude, you'll get a shoutout on our Facebook and Twitter, as well as access to all our updates!

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    DIGITAL BUDDY

    You'll get a digital download of American Monster in addition to the above rewards!

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    MASTER COLLECTOR

    You’ll receive a limited-edition DVD complete with special features designed exclusively for the Kickstarter community! But that's not all! You'll also get an official American Monster sticker: suitable for your car, laptop and just about any other place you can imagine! We'll make sure you get a permanent "Thank You" on the American Monster website as well as a digital download, and a thank you on social media!

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    YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS!

    Always wanted to see your name on the silver screen? At this level, you receive a "Thank You" in the credits of the film! Your limited edition DVD will come to you personalized by the director with a special message just for you! For your generous support, you'll also get the digital download, a thank you on our website and the social media shout-outs.

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    THE SWAG PACK

    Get your style on with an American Monster “CREW” T-SHIRT made exclusively for Kickstarter Backers! SWAG PACK backers also receive an official "Thank You" on IMDB!

    **PLUS everything from “YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS”**

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    THE VIP PACK

    A ticket to a private screening in NYC, followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers! PLUS get a SPECIAL THANKS on IMDB and in the credits of the film!

    **PLUS everything from “THE SWAG PACK”**

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    THE PLATINUM VIP PACK

    Two tickets to our private screening and Q&A —PLUS an invite to the after party! Come rub elbows with the artists, and let us give you a night out on the town you won’t soon forget! Get a keepsake photo of you partying with the crew, shared straight from American Monster’s official Facebook!

    **PLUS everything from “THE VIP PACK”**

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    Pledge $650 or more About $650

    LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!

    Trying to make your first film? Need a camera lesson? Maybe you need some help with your Grant Proposal, Pitch, or Film School Application? You’ll receive a 1 hour Skype consultation with director Patricia Gillespie on any topic you choose!

    **PLUS everything from “THE PLATINUM VIP PACK”**

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD!

    American Monster will COME TO YOU! We’ll go to your hometown and screen the film wherever you like, followed by a Q&A with director Patricia Gillespie. *Travel and accommodations must be provided*

    **PLUS everything from “THE PLATINUM VIP PACK”**

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    SPONSORSHIP LEVEL

    You or your company will be listed as a sponsor—not only on our website—but on all promotional materials for our private screening!

    **PLUS everything from “THE PLATINUM VIP PACK”**

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    HORSEBACK RETREAT

    Enjoy a team-building equine workshop for your company or family in the heart of rural North Carolina, taught by certified equine therapist, and star of the film, Stacey Carter. *Travel and Accommodations not included*

    **PLUS everything from “THE PLATINUM VIP PACK”**

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    FILMMAKER BOOTCAMP

    In addition to her film work, Patricia teaches at the New York Film Academy—and she’s ready to come teach you! Trish will offer a 1-day filmmaking workshop for up to 20 students at your business, community center, or home. *Travel and accommodations must be provided*

    **PLUS everything from “THE PLATINUM VIP PACK”**

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    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER

    Welcome to the team! You’ll be credited as Associate Producer in the credits, and on IMDB! You’ll get access to producer-only updates from the field, and be invited to celebrate with us at our INDUSTRY ONLY wrap party in NYC!

    **PLUS everything from “THE PLATINUM VIP PACK”**

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    CO-PRODUCER

    You’re in the big leagues now! Being Co-Producer is more than seeing your name in the credits and on IMDB—you’re our partner! Now, you’ll join the SELECT FEW invited to a screening of a rough cut of the film—here in NYC with the director or, if you prefer, in the comfort of your own home. But that’s not all: you’ll also receive tickets to our North Carolina PREMIERE where you’ll be recognized as a member of the team! All this plus the perks of the “Associate Producer” level (with a new title, of course).

    **PLUS everything from “THE PLATINUM VIP PACK”**

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

    THIS IS THE BIG TIME! As an Executive Producer, your name will be featured in the OPENING CREDITS of the film! You’ll also receive two tickets to our WORLD PREMIERE where you can hang with the director, take in the sights, be recognized for your part in the film! It’s your moment to shine on that red carpet! Don't forget to leave time for our North Carolina premiere, NYC screening, and, of course, our industry-only wrap party, where you’ll be invited to make a speech! You get it all: the credit, the swag, the personalized DVD and a lifetime of memories!

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    WRITTEN IN THE STARS

    All of the above, plus an in-depth astrology reading with North Carolina’s favorite master astrologer, Alan Wrick.

    **PLUS everything from “YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS”**

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    VIP SPECIAL EVENT ACCESS

    Welcome to the inner circle! You and a guest will have access to an intimate VIP event that the American Monster team is hosting in Brooklyn on October 27th, 2015 from 6-8PM. Come hang with the crew and enjoy what will be a very special night out!

    **PLUS everything from “THE SWAG PACK”**

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    VIDEO SERVICES

    Trish will come with a small crew to shoot and edit a video for your company/wedding/event!
    Not only that, but we’ll list you as a SPONSOR on our website and promotional materials for our private screening! Goodness gracious! That’s a whole lot of advertising at a steal of a deal! *Travel and accommodations must be provided, some restrictions apply*

    **PLUS everything from “THE PLATINUM VIP PACK”**

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Funding period

- (30 days)