Thank you to everyone who has helped us to make our project successful! We not only hit our $15,000 goal eight days before the end of our campaign, but we hit our stretch goals and beyond! In addition to producing our feature, we will be producing a short online video about the Trans Women's Theatre Troupe and the debut of their piece "In My Skin," and we will have a free community screening of the feature film when its done.
The Red Umbrella Diaries is a feature-length documentary film about seven LGBTQ sex worker storytellers as they prepare for the biggest performance of their lives, a night at Joe’s Pub in NYC. The performers will tell true stories about their experiences in front of an audience of over 200 people and as they prepare for the big night they'll share intimate portraits of their lives, all documented by an Emmy Award winning film crew. The film explores the question: what happens when people whose voices are never heard in mainstream media take control of their own stories and how they are presented to the world?
Since 2009, the Red Umbrella Project (RedUP) has created a safe space for sex workers from diverse backgrounds and experiences to share their stories, their frustrations, their triumphs and tragedies at a monthly storytelling event, the Red Umbrella Diaries, at Happy Ending Lounge (a former massage parlor turned cocktail lounge) in New York City’s Lower East Side. More than 100 sex workers have told their stories at the Diaries over the years, and now its time for a bigger venue and a celebration of some of the series' brightest stars. On November 14th, seven Diaries performers will take the stage at Joe's Pub - and we're documenting the performers on their journey.
Press We've Gotten During Our Kickstarter Campaign
"Because of her firsthand knowledge of sex work I believe in Audacia’s ability to accurately depict each dimension of the sex workers’ experiences and the variety of motivations that comes with entering the commercial sex trade." - Stoya, Vice
"The cast is a handful of charismatic unknowns whose diversity is practically unprecedented on the screen.” - Lori DiLetto, Slixa
"I did sex work throughout my twenties, and started telling stories about my experiences to make sense of the weird stuff I had been through, and to try to connect with other people in the sex trades. In 2009 I began producing a monthly sex worker storytelling series in a tiny bar, and it has become a hub for our community. We tell these stories for each other, mostly - but its time the world hears more about what we have to say about our lives." - Audacia Ray, quoted on IndieWire, where our film was Project of the Day on October 29
“The “audacity” of this project includes witnessing, chronicling and sharing the first-person narratives of sex workers, many of whom continue to work in the field to the present day.” - Jaye Johnson, GayAgenda
"The anxiety about sharing my story and being so visible as a sex worker and as speaking really honestly about all of my identities usually comes after the fact. The thing about both The Red Umbrella Project and Diaries is that, from the beginning, I’ve always felt that I’m sharing with family." - performer Anna Saini interviewed on Feministing
"I hope my writing helps those of us in the business connect. It’s not like we know each other, hang out in a lounge and chat, compare notes. I’ll say this and I think some guys will agree; there is an isolating quality to a lot of how men behave at night, alone, online. Wanting, and yet staying alone, hooking up, and maybe not being satisfied repeatedly. This translates even deeper in the business. I want to address that." - performer Sailor interviewed on Hook ONLINE
"Sex workers are ready-made performers, as strippers, dominatrixes, go-go dancers, escorts, or anything else. ...Far from the desperate denizens of an underworld that the media and our moralistic society like to paint sex workers as, the group before me was tuned-in, highly empathetic, and connected in a very real, very deep way." - Lynsey Lagsalot
TICKETING for NOVEMBER 14 at JOE’s PUB
For those of you in NYC or planning to be in NYC for our November 14th event at Joe’s Pub, backing our Kickstarter is the ONLY way to purchase tickets for the show. There will not be tickets available at the door of the event. During the show, you can expect to see not just the seven storytellers who will be featured in the documentary, but also the debut performance of our Trans Women’s Theatre Troupe, who will be presenting an original piece of theater about the experiences of trans women of color. TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT!!
How Our Film is Different
Since our very first shoot with the performers, we’ve recognized the power and drama inherent in a sex worker sitting down in front of the lens and talking to the audience directly.This is the fundamental core of our film.
We are working closely with a trusted film crew to realize our vision. Our filmmakers have been working with us on smaller projects over the past few years, so they know and understand our work - they collaborated with us on our short video Advocacy in Albany, which this past summer screened at the Lights. Camera. Help Cause-Driven Film Festival in Austin, Texas. And because they’ve been filming at the Red Umbrella Diaries events for the past year, all of our performers are comfortable with and trust the crew.
The is film formatted much like a classic “concert documentary.” We’ll have seven cameras shooting in the theater on the night of the performance, as well as extensive backstage coverage. We’ll work closely with our subjects using small crews and an unobtrusive style that will engender trust and allow for a real open flow of ideas and personality.
Combined with intimate shoots leading up the event and a series of sit-down interviews, we’ll be able to achieve a level of intimacy between our subjects and our audience, all the while adhering to a strict schedule and budget that will guarantee the successful completion of our project.
anna saini is brown and proud, a femme-crip-working-class survivor. she is a community organizer and author currently building grassroots power to expand access to medical marijuana for seriously ill and dis/abled new yorkers while also writing her first book-length memoir. she is a hustler and a strong proponent of hating the game not the players.
Audacia Ray was an escort, fetish worker, and bodyworker throughout her twenties, and became an activist and storyteller in conjunction with these experiences. She is the founder and executive director of the Red Umbrella Project.
Ceyenne Doroshow was raised in Brooklyn and has fought for her survival as a black transgender woman. Learning to cook became a source of power for Ceyenne, and several years ago when she was in prison on a prostitution charge, she began writing a cookbook on scraps of paper. Post release, she met Audacia, began telling her story at the Diaries, and worked with RedUP to Kickstart and publish her book Cooking In Heels: A Memoir Cookbook.
Brooklyn-born Dominick spent his twenties as the kept boy of a drunken English society decorator. In the aftermath of his own addiction and recovery, he turned to escorting, marketing himself as a Guido stud for hire. He mines his sex work experience to seek larger truths about work, sex, and love.
Essence Revealed is first generation Bajan, born and raised in Boston. She is a former lap dance engineer of the upscale gentlemen’s club scene, from NY to Vegas & sweet, sticky places in between. She performs and teaches burlesque and other dance workshops both solo and as co-producer of Shades of Burlesque (NY's only all Black Female Burlesque Review).
Page Campbell is a second generation stripper from California. She's a classic extrovert and a self proclaimed bar stool philosopher. She's been writing for as long as she can remember, poems and journals, stories and love letters. She is an ardent believer in storytelling as self-empowerment and the fastest route to empathy building. She is honored and proud to be a part of Red Umbrella and to join other talented writers on stage in the first annual gala.
Sailor has bartended, waited tables, worked as a freelance prop-stylist, a bathhouse attendant, go-go bear, schoolteacher, and house painter. Reared in Johannesburg and Tel Aviv, he is now a “freelancer of the night” or “your average next door beefy furry cub for hire.”
RedUP's Executive Director Audacia Ray is the Executive Producer of the film, and is responsible for fundraising, overseeing the ethical production of the film, and community collaborations once the film is completed.
Director David Kornfield is a seven-time New York Emmy Award winning director and producer specializing in documentary and live-event-based television and film. As a staff producer for East Pleasant Pictures and CBS College Sports, David created, directed, and produced documentary content for clients including NFL Players, Atlantic Records, Microsoft, the NCAA, and Glaceau, on subjects as varied as hockey players, subway musicians, youth poetry, and the band Paramore. In 2011, as an independent producer and director, David created the hit series “Beginnings” for MSG Network. Most recently, David partnered with Act Zero Films to produce “Lost And Found: The 73 Knicks Championship Tape,” another critical and rating success. He has also directed television and web content for The Travel Channel, Food Network, MTV, Fuse, ESPN, and more.
Cinematographer Rob Hobson is a an Emmy award winning camera operator and DP who has worked on shows for Bravo, Travel Channel, Food Network, Discovery Channel, and many more. He has shot and developed a multitude of live concert events for clients ranging from MSG Network to MTV.
We have been filming at the monthly Diaries events for a year, and have done a round of sit down interviews with most of the performers. The success of this $15,000 Kickstarter campaign -which is all or nothing- will mean we will be able to do a seven camera shoot at the the November 14th event at Joe’s Pub with some of NYC’s best camera operators, as well as film the rehearsals and events leading up to the big night. We’ll also be able to pay for several weeks of top-end editing to prepare a rough cut that we can then use to secure our finishing funds. We plan to have a rough cut by March 2014 and have the film completed and ready for festival submissions by September 2014.
Rewards include hand written thank you postcards, downloads of the complete film, digital and print subscriptions to RedUP's literary journal Prose & Lore, collections of books and magazines produced by the storytellers, visits to rehearsals, special conversations and lessons from the performers, tickets to the show, all the way up to producer credit on the film. Check out some of our goodies, below!
Risks and challenges
The main challenges that face many documentarians are scope, budget, and experience. The timeline of the theater event will keep the focus of the project tight and the stories sharp; because of this structure we will avoid falling prey to the open-ended universe many documentary projects encounter. Our Kickstarter campaign will be enormously helpful in raising the initial funds to shoot the film, and we are also pursuing sponsorship and grant opportunities that will help to meet the budget needs of the film. Our crew are very experienced with the successful production of documentaries for television, which often have small budgets and extremely tight deadlines. They work efficiently and have a track record of completing projects that get good ratings and win awards.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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