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An elderly "outsider" artist living in at-risk conditions befriends two filmmakers and causes controversy at his first major exhibition
An elderly "outsider" artist living in at-risk conditions befriends two filmmakers and causes controversy at his first major exhibition
370 backers pledged $26,089 to help bring this project to life.

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FINAL UPDATE • AUGUST 8TH

It's true! We reached our goal of $20K a few days ago because of your unbelievable generosity! We can now support the rollout of our film and further our core mission, which is to help Peter share his story with as many people as possible. THANK YOU!

Speaking of sharing, and with ONLY ONE DAY LEFT in our campaign, we're excited to announce we're honing in on our $25K stretch goal, which means we'll be able to share Peter’s art online by having enough money to curate a digital archive of his scrapbooks and autobiographical writings. This will allow people from all over the world to compare Peter's textured and unedited presentation of himself and his story with our more technically savvy, but equally obsessive, approach. We're so close to making this possible - please help us if you can!

Special Scrapbooks of Peter Anton and His Life / photograph by Dan Rybicky & Aaron Wickenden
Special Scrapbooks of Peter Anton and His Life / photograph by Dan Rybicky & Aaron Wickenden

And if we reach $30K or beyond, we plan to put those additional funds towards creating a personalized interactive storytelling experience where users will be able to navigate their way through rooms inside of Peter Anton's house and contextualize his art by seeing the environment in which it was created. The prototype we made with Chicago-based designers 11hundred is really cool, and we've been developing this transmedia aspect of our project - including at an amazing Tribeca <Data/Docs> Hackathon last summer - for almost as long as we've been making the film. The more money we can raise by August 8th, the more we'll be able to put towards making Peter's condemned home come back to virtual life. Your support as always means everything.

Thanks again everybody, and please read on for more about the project and our special rewards - including one brand new one!

OUR STORY

82-year-old Peter Anton has spent decades obsessively chronicling his life in a massive, illustrated autobiography titled "Almost There," and nothing - not poverty, isolation or crippling disabilities - will keep him from sharing his story with the world. 

Peter’s work, which can be best described as "outsider" art (art created outside the cultural mainstream) was made in – and, at times, physically on - his current/childhood home in Northwest Indiana. But with his immediate family now dead, his house has fallen into squalor and his health is failing. What happens when Peter befriends us and we try to help him tell his story and get his work shown publicly for the first time forms the dramatic center of the film. 

Almost There delves into Peter’s controversial art exhibit and documents the tumultuous transition he must make out of his childhood home. Along the way, the directors meet people in Peter's community who like them are compelled to help this charismatic yet curmudgeonly character survive, while asking: Why do they do it? What responsibilities do we have to those in need, and where should boundaries be drawn?

We've been working with Peter for eight years now, and our film is the result of this in-depth and life-altering experience. As Peter says in the video above, we are 90% done with the process, but now we need you to help us fund that last, crucial 10% to cover the distribution and impact producing-related costs that will ensure our feature is able to be seen.

OUR AUDIENCE

Almost There - our directorial debut - is an innovative subject-maker collaboration appealing to various art and film communities, including those like us who embrace DIY aesthetics and are fascinated by people purely and passionately motivated to create work outside of the cultural and commercial mainstream. 

Our character-driven narrative will interest anyone confronting issues involving poverty, senior living, the disabled or those with mental illness. Peter's seemingly "small" story inspires larger questions, such as: How does society measure the quality of art? What makes a person an outsider, and how is this classification impacted by that person's economic position and living conditions?

Although our project deals with illness and end-of-life issues, it is filled with humor – both the goofy humor of our subject and the humor that arises during times of unimaginable struggle. 

OUR PASSION

Because Almost There originated as a photo documentary, it utilizes a unique archive of 15,000 still images, as well as a treasure trove of Peter's art: paintings, photographs, scrapbooks, hand-drawn VHS covers and other ephemera - several of which were featured in the acclaimed exhibit at Chicago's Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. Based on the strong and complex reactions people have had to the exhibit and early cuts of the film, we realize Peter's way of living and working is rarely seen by the public this closely - and even less so in an artistic context.

While Peter's story may be extreme, it's ultimately universal: most everyone has a "soft spot" for an eccentric friend, relative or neighbor. Sooner or later, everyone copes with having to make difficult decisions about a parent or grandparent. And we all know how hard it is to let go and face the fear that comes with making any long-term change, even when that change may be for the better.

OUR HOPE

Because of its rich mix of tones, provocations and POVs, Almost There can catalyze a deeper exploration – artistic, academic and otherwise – into the way stories are told, as well as motivate a closer consideration of the ethical complexities and potential conflicts inherent in every subject-filmmaker, artist-curator relationship. Our project can become a touchstone in the field of outsider art scholarship, but only with your help will we be able to reach and fully engage our intended audiences.

We really, truly are "almost there," but we still need money to cover all of the costs associated with launching our film into the world, including:

  • Post-production assistance for our final festival and theatrical cuts (color correction, sound mix, additional graphics, etc.)
  • Duplication and shipping costs for prints, masters and screeners
  • Hiring a trailer-making wizard to make a top-notch trailer 
  • Hiring a designer and printer to make a movie poster that brings us all joy
  • Hiring an assistant to help coordinate and publicize all of the screenings we plan to do: at film festivals, art galleries, museums, senior centers, colleges and universities - maybe even in your living room if we're lucky!

We chose our target goal because if we don't reach that minimum amount, we won't be able to do any of this. If we raise more (and we hope to), we also want to hire someone to curate a digital archive of Peter’s scrapbooks and autobiography online as well, so viewers can compare the artist’s textured and unedited presentation of himself and his story with our more technically savvy but equally obsessive approach.

We've already been incredibly lucky to receive financial and creative support along the way from many exceptional organizations, including the Independent Television Service (ITVS), the Wexner Center for the Arts Film/Video Studio Program, IFP's Spotlight on Documentaries, the IDFA Forum, the Indiana Arts Commission, the Illinois Arts Council, and Columbia College Chicago. But now we need you - our friends, families and future audiences, as well as those who love and support independent art and cinema - to fill in that last, beautiful piece of this epic, eight-year puzzle. Your donation at any level means the world to us. We've got some really sweet and substantial rewards to the right, so please check them out and please help Peter and us finally bring our labor of love into the world. We can't do it without you!

OUR TEAM

Our production company Kartemquin Films has been making documentaries for the past 48 years that examine and critique society, and Almost There continues Kartemquin’s tradition of using film as a vehicle to deepen our understanding of society through everyday human drama. The organization is best known for 1995's seminal masterpiece Hoop Dreams, but it has also produced award-winning work on the visual arts, including A Good Man, a profile of choreographer Bill T. Jones for PBS’ 2011 American Masters series, and Golub, a profile of the late painter Leon Golub. In reviewing the latter film, critic Jonathan Rosenbaum writes: “Golub conveys the exhilarating sense that art is inseparable from both the world that engenders it and the world that receives it." It is in this spirit that we bring you Almost There

Dan Rybicky (Co-Director/Producer) is an artist and teacher whose photographs, installations, and plays have been seen in venues in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. After receiving his MFA at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Dan began working with and consulting in various production capacities for filmmakers Martin Scorsese, John Sayles, and John Leguizamo. Dan is currently an Associate Professor in Cinema Art + Science at Columbia College Chicago where he designs and teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses.

Aaron Wickenden (Co-Director/Producer) is a filmmaker with extensive experience as an editor and cinematographer. His recent accomplishments include: Editing and Additional Cinematography for the 2014 hit Finding Vivian Maier, which premiered at the prestigious Toronto International Film Fest, won Best Doc at Miami International and is currently selling out movie theaters throughout the US. In 2013, Aaron received an Emmy Award nomination for co-editing The Interrupters. Aaron’s editing credits include: The Trials of Muhammad Ali, Scrappers, and At The Death House Door.

More information about other members of our team can be found on Kartemquin's website.

OUR REWARDS

You'll be thanked in quiet, gentle ways you'll probably never know about, and you'll be thanked in big, public ways - like on our website - that you might.

Also, because our production company Kartemquin Films is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, your donation is considered tax-free to the extent of the law (as your accountant will determine on your personal tax return).

Photograph by Environmental Cinematographer David Schalliol based on an image from the film
Photograph by Environmental Cinematographer David Schalliol based on an image from the film

And if you prefer to keep your contribution completely anonymous and off of all social media - or if you have any questions whatsoever - please feel free to email aaron@kartemquin.com and/or dan@kartemquin.com directly.

Below is a sampling of some of the rewards we're offering to the right. Please check them out, and once again THANKS FOR YOUR HELP!

Risks and challenges

Completion - The good news is that our film is so close to being finished that, as a backer, you don't have to worry we'll never really make it. But as Peter says in the video above, we're only 90% there - and that's why we need you.

Exhibition – Our film is all but done, and we're thrilled we've made it to this point. But now we need that last 10% to get what we spent eight years making seen so it can engage and impact as many audiences as possible. And that's where you come in. Although exhibition of "Almost There" is still in the works, based on the support we've received from a variety of organizations and institutions, we're confident it will play across the country and have a national television broadcast - especially with your support. THANKS AGAIN!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    WE THANK YOU! From the bottom of our hearts - and soon from the tops of our Facebook and Twitter pages! We're emailing you AN EXCLUSIVE DIGITAL IMAGE from our project, too. Plus, you're getting a subscription to our JAZZY NEWSLETTER featuring exciting updates about our film. As Mother Teresa said: "Be faithful in small things because that is where your strength lies." And she's right! Thanks!

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    YOU'RE ADORABLE! You're receiving everything above and much more, including a digital download of THE THEME SONG FROM OUR FILM COMPOSED BY JOSHUA ABRAMS featuring some of Chicago's best musicians, as well as a download of THE 82-YEAR-OLD STAR OF OUR FILM SERENADING YOU with one of his favorite tunes from the 1950's. The song begins: "‘A’ You’re Adorable, ‘B’ You’re So Beautiful”...and, well...we couldn’t agree more.

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    YOU ARE THERE! It'll feel like you're at our world premiere because we're sending you A WORLD PREMIERE STREAMING LINK OF OUR FILM (powered by VHX) as it screens at a festival for the very first time. This will be a huge moment for us, and it would be an honor to share it with you. We'll happily give you all of the rewards offered above, too!

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    YOU OWN IT! That's right, we're sending you A DIGITAL DOWNLOAD OF THE FILM along with a digital package chock-full of more images and information about our project. You'll also get the world premiere streaming link, as well as the newsletter and all of the image and music downloads from the Adorable Level. Oh - and our eternal gratitude, too.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    IT'S IN YOUR HANDS! We're sending you A DVD COPY OF OUR FILM signed by the directors and the film's star. You'll also get a GLOW-IN-THE-DARK BUTTON, our world premiere streaming link, and everything above. Enjoy!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    YOU REALLY OWN IT! And you might even want to frame it, because we're going to personally choose and mail you A SIGNED PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT FROM OUR 2010 EXHIBITION at Chicago's Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. Each image was lovingly printed on heavyweight archival inkjet paper, stamped on verso in a unique edition of "1 of 1" - and signed by Anton, Rybicky, and Wickenden. It's a special piece of our history and we hope you like it. The world premiere streaming link, our jazzy newsletter and both music downloads (including Peter's serenade) are all yours as well. Good choice!

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    Pledge US$ 100 or more About US$ 100

    YOU ARE THERE BEFORE EVERYBODY ELSE! You'll receive 2 VIP TICKETS FOR A PRIVATE SNEAK PREVIEW SCREENING - AND PIEROGIS!!! Be our guest on July 26th at the historic Hoosier Theater movie palace in Whiting, Indiana. We chose this special time and location because it's during Whiting's annual Pierogi Festival where we first met Peter in 2006. You'll meet the 82-year-old star himself, the directors and many other cast and crew members. All of this and a glow-in-the-dark button, plus everything from the Adorable level, including Peter's serenade - which he just might sing to you live and in person on July 26th. We look forward to seeing you there!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    YOU REALLY ARE THERE! You'll receive TWO VIP TICKETS FOR OUR INTIMATE AND MEMORABLE CHICAGO PREMIERE, including a Q&A with the directors and a post-reception with the whole filmmaking team. Exact date TBA. (Travel and lodging not included). We'll give you your glow-in-the-dark button at the event, and we're sending you everything from the Adorable level above, including our theme song by the ever-amazing Joshua Abrams.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    YOU LOVE ART! And you'll be rewarded for it at this premium level with your own one-year MEMBERSHIP TO CHICAGO'S INTUIT CENTER FOR INTUITIVE AND OUTSIDER ART. This means you'll get free admission to Intuit and their special lectures and programs, discounts at the the gift shop, a complimentary copy of Intuit's magazine The Outsider, and so much more. Plus you get our world premiere streaming link and all the rewards from the Adorable level to boot!

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    YOU LOVE GOOD MOVIES! We do, too, and we're proud "Almost There" is a Kartemquin Film. To honor that, we're offering THREE SIGNED KARTEMQUIN DVDS of films that thematically relate to ours, including "Stevie," "Home for Life," and "Golub: Late Works are the Catastrophes." All this, and a signed copy of our DVD, the world premiere streaming link, all the digital downloads (film, image, music), and you're good to go.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    YOU LOVE GOOD MOVIES EDITED BY AARON WICKENDEN! And you'll be getting three of the greatest: "Finding Vivian Maier," "The Trials of Muhammad Ali," and "The Interrupters" with Steve James! You get these three DVDs signed by Aaron, and a signed copy of our DVD, the world premiere streaming link, and all of the digital delights above. A sweet package indeed!

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    YOU REALLY LOVE THE LOOK OF THOSE SCRAPBOOKS! Since our campaign began, so many of you have remarked on the image that appears just below our video at the top of this page that we decided to create a special last-minute offer: A VERY LIMITED EDITION PRINT OF PETER'S 12 SCRAPBOOKS TAKEN BY AARON AND DAN! Substantially sized at 13x19, this richly colored print will arrive to you on Hahnemuhle Natural Art Duo 256gsm paper signed by the filmmakers and their star, Peter Anton. And we of course want you to have our world premiere streaming link, a signed DVD, the glow-in-the-dark button, and all of the digital downloads, including Joshua's theme song and Peter's sweet serenade. Show some last-minute love or maybe even up your existing pledge so you treat yourself or someone you care a lot about to this stunning photograph of Peter's snazzy scrapbooks. We can only print 10, so get yours now!

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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    YOU'RE GETTING THE FULL TOUR! That's right, you and a friend can GET A PERSONAL TOUR THROUGH NORTHWEST INDIANA AND HANG OUT WITH CO-DIRECTOR AND GARY RESIDENT DAN RYBICKY. Dan will drive you around the region, show you Michael Jackson's childhood home, show you some of the film's locations, and talk about the process of making "Almost There" - hopefully over a delicious beer at the new 18th Street Brewery - first one's on him! Also, you'll get our world premiere streaming link, a signed DVD, and the entire digital package (completed film, photograph and music). And if Peter (who lives in the region) is home and available, maybe you'll be able to meet him, too!

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    YOU CAN LEARN FROM A PRO! If you've made a film or just want to, here's your chance to get a PERSONAL ONE-HOUR CONSULTATION with co-director Aaron Wickenden, who recently edited "Finding Vivian Maier," "The Trials of Muhammad Ali" and "The Interrupters" with Steve James. Aaron will watch material and provide feedback on editing technique, either via Skype or in person (schedules permitting). And yes, you get the streaming link to the film, a signed DVD, the button and ALL of the digital delights.

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    YOU REALLY LOVE PHOTOGRAPHY! Our film's environmental cinematographer is also an amazing and celebrated photographer, and we are offering A SPECIAL LIMITED EDITION OF A DAVID SCHALLIOL PHOTOGRAPH based on an image he took (see left) during the filming of our project. This is the real deal - a 13x20 archival, Digital-C print on 16x24 Kodak Professional Endura Premier Paper signed by Mr. Schalliol himself. We'll also send you our world premiere streaming link, a signed DVD, the glow-in-the-dark button, and all of the digital downloads, including Peter's mellifluous serenade. Go for it!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    YOU REALLY LOVE ART! As Peter says in the video at the top of this page, he wanted to help out with this campaign, so if you donate at this level, you get YOUR VERY OWN PORTRAIT PAINTING BY THE ARTIST AND STAR OF OUR FILM ESPECIALLY MADE FOR YOU. This is a limited, one-of-a-kind offer to own an original piece of artwork by Peter Anton. Using acrylic or oil paint (your choice) and based on the photograph you send him (of no more than 2 people), Peter will create a portrait on an 11x14" canvas just for you. You'll also get our world premiere streaming link, a signed DVD, and everything from the Adorable level - jazzy newsletter and all.

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

    YOU ARE PART OF THE TEAM! We're going to be really excited about your support at this level. Moved, even - and we'll start by writing you a personal, heartfelt thank you note. Peter will write one, too. You are special to us and deserve the full experience: an opportunity to host a PRIVATE SNEAK PREVIEW SCREENING & DISCUSSION in your living room for a bunch of your art- and independent film-loving friends. The filmmakers will even call or Skype in for a post-screening chat with you. Also, a specially chosen exhibition print will be signed and sent to you, and you'll get ALL of the digital downloads, as well as A "MADE POSSIBLE BY" CREDIT on our website and in our film's DVD and digital download packaging. For those about to doc - we salute you!

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

    YOU ARE GETTING A REAL TREAT! With the three portraits Peter offered to paint already spoken for, we asked him if he'd do a couple more - and he said yes! Just for you - AN ORIGINAL ARTWORK ON A LARGER 16X20 CANVAS OF WHATEVER YOU'D LIKE. Whether it’s of you, a favorite landscape, your family and friends, a beloved pet, a piece of fruit...it doesn't matter. Peter will do it for you. Using acrylic or oil paint (your choice) and based on the photograph you send him, Peter will create the painting of your choice on a 16x20" canvas. You'll of course get our world premiere streaming link, a signed DVD, and everything from the Adorable level, too. Congratulations!

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    YOU'RE COMING TO OUR WORLD PREMIERE! You're beyond adorable. You're a superpower, and we're getting you TWO TICKETS TO OUR FIRST FESTIVAL SCREENING and an invitation to have a private dinner with the directors and their team afterwards. (Travel to screening and lodgings not included.) Also, you're getting a signed DVD, a button, all of the digital downloads, two signed photographic prints from our Intuit exhibition and your name in a special "thank you" section of our website. We're thrilled. See you THERE!

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    WE ARE THERE TOGETHER! We wouldn't even know how to thank you, but we'll try. First we'll send you a special personal note of thanks stained with our tears of joy. Once we've regained our composure, WE'LL COME TO YOU ANYWHERE IN THE CONTINENTAL USA FOR YOUR OWN PERSONAL SCREENING and answer in person any questions you and your friends have - about the project, about our careers in film...basically, we'll tell you anything for as long as you can stand us. We take care of our own travel expenses, and we'll be excited to meet you and share what we know. What's more, you'll of course get MAJOR CREDIT on our website and in future print materials, two signed photographs from the Intuit exhibition, two signed DVDs, all of the digital downloads, and an extra special personal serenade from Peter, because "'A' You're Adorable, 'B' You're So Beautiful, 'C' You're a Cutie Full of Charms..." THANKS FOR THE LOVE!

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Funding period

- (39 days)