May 10, 2013 Update!
We passed 9 thousand dollars!!! We are beyond thrilled. It would not have happened without so much love, encouragement and support from everyone. We're both super grateful and inspired to have so many amazing people join us on this journey. But it's not over yet!
We now have 53 HOURS before our Kickstarter campaign is over. We successfully hit our goal (AWESOME!) and are using these remaining hours to stretch!
So, with that time, we thought we'd share what we could do if we reached our stretch goals. In other words, if we keep spreading the word, we can do even more with our project during the Deaflympics! This is the part where we can really take our project to the next level.
- $10,000: We can send a small crew to D.C. to film the swimmers train together when they first meet up as a team before heading to Sofia.
- $12,000: We can hire two production assistants to help us run a smooth operation at the games in Bulgaria.
- $15,000: We can send another producer/cameraman from the U.S. to Sofia to help us capture more amazing moments on film!
Every dollar added helps us bring these incredible stories to life! We want to keep dreaming big so that we can make a landmark film for our U.S. deaf athletes who have worked so hard to get to the games!
Again, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!!
Click the links below for our previous updates:
- Update 1: Where do heroes come from? [VIDEO]
- Update 2: Closer to our Goal!
- Update 3: We're in the News!
- Update 4: More Press!
- Update 5: Hitting the Hawaiian Headlines
- Update 6: The Biggest Week Yet!
For information the fundraising efforts for the USDS Swimmers, click here.
About Our Project
Hi! We are thrilled to introduce our film, Swimmer’s Ear, here on Kickstarter. It’s our first time trying to raise funds on the site … so we’re a little nervous, but we hope that you will find our project just as inspiring as we do!
Swimmer's Ear is a captivating documentary that follows Jazmin Hernandez, a 15-year-old deaf athlete on her journey to break through the stereotypes of growing up in South Los Angeles -- as well as those associated with the deaf community -- by going for the gold at the 2013 Deaflympics in Sofia, Bulgaria.
When we first met Jazmin two years ago she had just returned from competing in the Deaf World Championships in Portugal. She helped the United States Deaf Swim Team win a medal at the meet, so she was really pumped to begin training to qualify for the Deaflympics in 2013.
Jazmin was such an amazing kid that we thought telling the story of her journey to the Deaflympics would capture an audience. Doctors told Jazmin's mother, Alicia, her daughter would never speak due to her level of hearing. But, here she was, busily chatting just like any teen. Jazmin chose swimming as her passion ... a sport that required her (due to the water) to remove the hearing aids and cochlear implants she relied on in the hearing world ... yet she was an incredibly driven athlete. And while she was growing up in a single-parent home, Jazmin and her mom were an inseparable team, willing to do anything to help each other reach their dreams.
These were all moments we wanted to share with the world. But, when we went home after meeting Jazmin, we thought, “Deaflympics? She must have meant the Paralympics or the Special Olympics.” Nope. She meant the Deaflympics … a completely separate set of international games exclusively for the deaf, which actually predates the Paralympics by over 20 years.
About 80 countries participate in the Deaflympics in 20 different sports. This July, over 3,000 deaf athletes are expected to descend upon Sofia, Bulgaria, for the 2013 games.
But, why didn’t we know about this? And when we talked to friends, relatives, colleagues … why didn’t any of THEM know about this?
That’s when we realized, although Jazmin was striving for big things … most of the country didn’t even know she was making a mark. While Jazmin and a handful of amazing deaf athletes go overseas to compete in the Deaflympics ... to represent our country ... we would never even know they left.
Shortly after we began filming, we found that there’s even more to this story. While there are U.S. funds set aside for Paralympians and Special Olympians, every Deaflympian must pay his or her own way to the games. According to United States Deaf Swimming officials, the U.S. is one of about three countries that don’t provide funds for their deaf athletes.
Jazmin’s journey lead us to many more deaf athletes like veteran Deaflympians Samantha Elam, Peggy Liang and Jake Hammack … as well as other first-timers like Catherine Parker. We met families, coaches and friends … all people who spend countless dollars to support their kids and countless hours by the pool cheering on the young men and women who represent our country.
Meeting more athletes and learning about the lack of funding was definitely a turning point for us. The scope of Swimmer's Ear expanded to include the heartbreaking financial struggle each athlete must face to get his or her shot at a medal.
Through this film, we hope to show how important deaf athletics are to perpetuating a sense of community within the deaf culture. And how important it is to provide funding for such programs. But, we also want to prove that great cinematic stories happen with real characters that Hollywood overlooks. There haven't been many movies featuring a deaf hero who saves the day. The heroes of Swimmer's Ear are deaf, and we think that's pretty awesome.
Why We Need YOUR Help
In short: we have a lot more filming to do.
Our film follows Jazmin and her teammates as they attempt to qualify for the U.S. Deaflympic Swim Team, train and then compete at the 2013 Deaflympics this July in Sofia, Bulgaria. We need at least $8,000 to fly ourselves over to Bulgaria for the games, to pay media entry fees and to rent equipment. It's the biggest moment in our movie, so we need to be there!!
Swimmer’s Ear is a unique movie you should get behind. It’s perfect for Kickstarter because a project like this would never be made by traditional Hollywood. We’ve been funding this project for the past two years ourselves, but the culminating event in our film is a bit over our heads, financially. So, we need your help in order for us to finish the film.
We have a few goodies to give away for every donation you are able to make. So, please browse and pick whichever level best suits you. Every single dollar helps and we sincerely appreciate your support and enthusiasm for this film and for these athletes!
If we don't raise 100% of our goal by the deadline we won’t receive any money. So, please help us get there!!
For more about this project, please visit our website, by clicking here.
Risks and challenges
Obviously, we are traveling far away from home (Los Angeles) to get to the Deaflympics (in Bulgaria). So, there are always challenges when traveling overseas with some hefty equipment. Of course, we don't forsee anything delaying our project, but should we run into any difficulties, we will overcome them as quickly and professionally as possible.
Stephen Fell is a seasoned documentary filmmaker with critically-acclaimed films under his belt and Amanda Salem is a multi-media journalist who has covered stories from Baltimore, to Texas to Los Angeles. We know how to adjust to the challenges and situations thrown at us, so you're in good hands.
Whether we hit rough waters, or have nothing but smooth sailing, in the end, we will make this movie and we will tell this story. Be a part of the journey with us!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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