In an effort to address the obesity problem among American youth, lawmakers in twenty states passed a controversial mandate forcing schools to perform body mass index, or BMI, tests on their students. What soon followed sparked a heated national debate. Coined the 'Fat Letters' by students, letters were given to overweight kids whose BMI did not fall within a narrowly accepted range; essentially telling children, even as young as kindergarteners, that they are fat.
When a determined sixth-grader in Ohio voices her protest against the letters, student journalist Bailey Webber is inspired to take up her fight. Convinced that her fellow students are being unfairly profiled and bullied by the government, Bailey's investigation soon turns into a battle of wills between her and the state bureaucrats who sponsored and passed the law.
The Student Body is a true underdog story of two brave girls who take a stand against government intrusion and hypocrisy while exploring the complex and controversial truths of the childhood obesity debate.
More than just state mandates and letters, The Student Body also explores the the highly debated epidemic of childhood obesity, eating disorders, school lunch, self image, lawmaking and the role of government.
MEET THE FILMMAKERS
Bailey Webber - Investigative Journalist/Writer/Co-Director When I was thirteen, my dad sat down with me and my sister for a "family talk". Oh, no. I didn't do it! Apparently, he had a dark secret and had decided to take on a risky venture and needed the support of our family to get him through it. As it turns out, he had decided to... make a documentary. A child's worst nightmare come true! Why me!!! :)
For the next three years, this film became the center of my family's life and a great fascination of mine. The experience was amazing. Noticing my interest, my dad began teaching me the principles of writing, storytelling, photography, editing and basically everything about non-fiction filmmaking.
My most vivid memory took place when Dad's movie was playing the festival circuit. He arranged for me to join him at Michael Moore's film festival in Traverse City, Michigan. There, I was introduced to so many great films and had the opportunity to listen to Michael Moore, my dad and other filmmakers as they discussed the art of non-fiction filmmaking. I was in awe! It was there that I fell in love with this medium that so beautifully combined brave journalism with creative storytelling.
But watching other people make films was not enough for me, I was ready to tell my own story. That's when I met Maddy, a girl at my school who suffers from a human growth hormone deficiency and received a letter from our school explaining that her current BMI didn't meet "normal" standards. Maddy was devastated and I was, well, infuriated. I had found the story I was looking for and a personal cause that I could believe in. This began my two year investigation into these letters, the state laws mandating them and the controversial issues surrounding it.
I have put my heart and soul into The Student Body and I desperately want to share this revealing journey with others. If this story and cause inspires you as much as it does me, then please consider joining me on the final leg of this journey. Thank you!
Michael Webber - Producer/Co-Director While spending seven years of my career producing theatrical feature films, I became more and more fascinated with the documentary genre. Eventually, after shooting two films in Europe, I resolved to go on hiatus and spend more time with my family by working on my passion project; a documentary entitled The Elephant in the Living Room. Little did I know that the years to follow would be the most difficult, terrifying, liberating and rewarding of my life. But for all the challenges that come with producing and funding a non-fiction film, witnessing the social impact makes every struggle and sacrifice worth while.
It should come as no surprise that my daughter Bailey, who has always had an affinity for filmmaking, came to me and said, "I'm ready to make a documentary of my own." Pretty ambitious for a fifteen year old high school student! So, I recommended that she make a short documentary during the summer break and offered to mentor her through the process. By the end of the summer, Bailey's story had exploded in ways neither of us could have anticipated, as it quickly became far more than just a short student film. In fact, it was one of the more unique, promising and relevant projects that I had seen.
At the time, I was in the middle of production on another documentary that stands to be unprecedented in the world of filmmaking. But what Bailey was accomplishing was simply amazing. So, I decided to put my own production on hold in order to give this project, and Bailey, the attention they deserved. Not to mention how exciting it was to have a teenage daughter who was actually interested in spending time with me! My excitement was short-lived as I realized the following year would mostly involve her bossing me around.
Michael Webber is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and producer of The Student Body. He has produced numerous films for 20th Century Fox and Lionsgate and is producer/director of the runaway hit documentary The Elephant in the Living Room. Praised by critics as one of the best films of the year, the movie went on to win 5 Best Documentary Awards and became the #1 Independent Film in the nation for three weeks in a row – remaining in the Top 10 for nearly a year.
Michael has been guest on countless radio and television talkshows including appearances on The Today Show, ABC World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News and Nightline. He was also the subject of an ABC 20/20 special by Emmy Award winning journalist Jay Schradler.
To see all of Michael’s motion picture and television credits, visit the Internet Movie Database (IMDB.com).
THANKS FOR THE SUPPORT!
Hollywood Supermodel, Katie Cleary, shows her support for The Student Body. Thank you, Katie!
Hollywood Actor, Lew Temple, tweets about the film! You're awesome, Lew!
Filmmakers discuss making The Student Body on television morning show.
Films like these can have enormous success from a societal, historical and even entertainment standpoint, but unfortunately they do not fit into the standard Hollywood financial model. For that reason, these stories require alternative financing from donors, grants, in-kind services and gifted artists who believe in the cause enough to contribute their time and talents - all of which are happening with this film!
Even so, it's just not enough. There are processes, services and expenses that are simply impossible to complete without financing. These films always have others who share the same passion for non-fiction film, strong storytelling and social engagement who are willing to step up and financially carry the film (and sometimes the filmmaker!) across the finish line.
It would be wonderful to have you join us in this aspect and personally become part of this exciting journey. Hopefully you will love the cool rewards and incentives we have to offer too!
A NATIONAL FIRESTORM
What makes this story so compelling is the personal journey of discovery and investigation by student filmmaker Bailey Webber and her fellow student who decided to take a stand for what is right. Little did they know that their finger was on the pulse of a nation, as the same controversy began to play out across the country and has since developed into a heated national debate.
HOW KICKSTARTER WORKS
If you are new to crowd funding, it's basically a way to finance creative and ambitious projects, like documentary films, that may not otherwise appeal to traditional investment financing. Kickstarter is a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully funded or no money changes hands. For instance, if our film doesn't raise the minimum $28,000 goal, then the project gets nothing and your credit card is never charged. But don't let that happen! If you help us reach our goal (or go beyond it) then Kickstarter will release the funding to the film at the end of our campaign. We will then be able to contact you in order to stay connected as the film moves forward and also get started on fulfilling those awesome rewards and incentives!
CAN WE EXCEED OUR GOAL?
Yes! In fact, we certainly hope to. This is what the Kickstarter community calls a "stretch goal" and will help us further guarantee the successful completion and release of the film to the widest audience possible. We've set our goal to the minimum amount needed to get us through the next phase of post production, giving us a complete cut of the film that can be used to submit to film festivals and distributors. But there are still more expenses along the way that will be needed to make the film and its release the best it can be.
WANT TO HELP BUT CAN’T DONATE?
No problem. We encourage you to post this page on Facebook, Twitter, etc. We can use as many outreach partners as possible to help us spread the word through social networking, so if you have an organization newsletter, blog, active Facebook page or Twitter account with a strong following, we would love to collaborate with you on the best way to get the message out while engaging your followers. Feel free to contact us with your promotional ideas at email@example.com.
TO MY SUPPORTERS
A message from Bailey Webber: I want to give a warm shout-out to the people in my life who have believed in me, helping me get to this point! Without you, even this new finishing campaign would not be possible. My heartfelt thanks to:
MainSail Productions - The Karimi Family - Ms. Patterson - Christopher Cassidy - Aunt Tonia - Mimi and Papaw - Mr. Hendricks - Grandpa Webber - The Conertys - The Shirleys - The Rigmaidens - Mr. Jacobson - The Coates Family - The Babbs, Uncle Ricky - Mr. Cacciolfi - Mr. Morgan - Mr. Thomas - Mr. Stier - Ms. Prieto - The Markles - The Lothes - The Evans - Mr. Siewny - The Meibers - The Owens - Mrs. Pyle - Mr. Shaw - The Tomlinsons - The Trapps - Kate Morgan - The Morgan/Lyons Family, The Catrines, The Farleys.
Thank you all so much for believing in me!
Risks and challenges
As mentioned above, documentary films are particularly challenging projects to complete, especially from a financial standpoint. Unless a film is fully financed from the offset, the filmmakers involved accept a tremendous risk in taking on these films and make huge personal sacrifices along the way to complete them. Financing, including this Kickstarter campaign, is typically an ongoing process and can continue up to and even through the release of the film.
In addition, the most difficult documentaries to make are what we call "unscripted" non-fiction stories; meaning that the production is taking place while the story is still unfolding before our eyes. These unscripted productions are especially challenging to produce as you consider that throughout the production, the conclusion is completely unknown! This is also what makes these films so exciting to make, compelling to watch and satisfying to be a part of.
The completion and success of any movie is directly related to the creative talent and production company behind making the film and experienced producer championing it. To that extent, The Student Body is in a very good position to achieve its goals and become an important part of this national conversation.
Here are the expected release goals for The Student Body:
• Film Festivals
• Theatrical Release
• Video-on-Demand Release (iTunes, Amazon, Cable/Satellite)
• Subscription VOD (Netflix, Hulu, etc)
• Broadcast Television/Cable
Absolutely! It's true that many documentaries do not experience this level of release, but we have high expectations for what the film can achieve and the social impact it can make, and this expectation extends to its release.
All of the films that I have produced have achieved a national theatrical release, including my last documentary which premiered at Hollywood's Mann Chinese Theater, New York City, and 70 other cities across the US. We were also able to release it on video-on-demand in over 100 million homes and virtually every other platform such as iTunes, Amazon, Netflix and Television Broadcast. With this much experience and successful track record behind us, The Student Body is in a great position for a successful release.
Working on both studio and independent films for so many years has taught me a great deal about marketing a film, the importance of which can not be overstated. Together with experienced motion picture marketing companies, we have developed our own strategies for promoting non-fiction films such as this, and even implemented those strategies with tremendous success, even out performing independent and many studio financed films from a promotion standpoint.
Having a compelling, quality, relevant, inspiring and entertaining film is an absolute must. And with your help, we're going to have this. But again, we need financing to make a successful promotional effort a reality, so hopefully you will be able to help us reach our stretch goals!
Producing a film, even a lower budget documentary, is an expensive endeavor. We are so fortunate to have come this far with our production and to be in the position we are today - seeking mostly finishing funds. To date, thanks to our production partners and supporters, we have been able to successfully finance:
• √ 90% of production
• √ Secured financing for remaining production
• √ Assistant editor work and scene rough-cuts
Your contribution will be needed for the following post production processes:
• Editing, Sound Design, Motion Graphics, Title Design, Kickstarter Fulfillment Expenses
Our Secondary Stretch Goal will go toward finishing expenses such as:
• Music, Song Rights, Picture Finishing, Mastering, Delivery Requirements
Additional Stretch Goal funding will be necessary for promotional material such as:
• Poster Art, Trailers, Movie Website, Marketing and Promotion Expense
SIGNATURE PACK! Receive and Autographed Poster Postcard from the filmmakers + DVD and Digital Screener + DVD of The Elephant in the Living Room + Downloadable Artwork and Private Filmmaker Blog Access!
THEATRICAL PACK! Receive a Full Size Theatrical Poster + Autographed Postcard + DVD and Digital Screener of The Student Body + DVD of The Elephant in the Living Room + Downloadable Artwork and Private Filmmaker Blog Access!
COLLECTOR'S EDITION! For the true movie buff, receive a limited edition autographed theatrical poster, autographed DVD, and autographed postcard along with Digital Screener + DVD of The Elephant in the Living Room + Downloadable Artwork & Private Filmmaker Blog Access!
4 Free tickets to the film's LA, NY, OH, or Film Festival premiere (travel not included) with
prominent credit on the movie website + limited edition autographed theatrical poster, autographed DVD, and autographed postcard along with Digital Screener + DVD of The Elephant in the Living Room + Downloadable Artwork & Private Filmmaker Blog Access!
HAVE YOUR PEOPLE CALL MY PEOPLE! Enjoy a one-on-one phone call with filmmakers Michael and Bailey Webber! Talk about the issues explored in the film, the status of the production, creative aspects of filmmaking, have your questions answered and even provide feedback! In addition, you will receive a Special Thanks credit permanently connecting you with the film, prominent credit on the movie website and all other rewards and perks listed above!
YOU'VE ARRIVED! Enjoy behind-the-scenes access directly into the edit suite (travel not included) or via Skype! Join the creative process with the producers, director and film editor during a scheduled one-hour edit session where you can witness the creative process, ask questions and hear everything that's happening with the film. Who knows what you might see and hear! Plus, enjoy all of the above rewards and perks!
ONE OF US! Earn an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER CREDIT in the movie including your name/credit listed on IMDb.com! PLUS join us and our editor for lunch and two hours in the edit suite (travel not included) or via skype to experience the movie making process. Did we mention you'll also receive all of the above rewards and perks? Yes!
THE EXECUTIVE: Become a CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER on the movie and your name and credit prominently displayed in the film's credits and listed on IMDb.com! PLUS, you'll earn personal, one-on-one access to the filmmakers and filmmaking process itself. And of course, you'll even enjoy all of the above rewards and perks too!