Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
BELLWETHER 2016 — Who will win the presidential election? project video thumbnail
Replay with sound
Play with
sound
$16,302 pledged of $35,000 goal
backers
$16,302 pledged of $35,000 goal
backers

About this project

THE BIGGEST STORY IN AMERICA

Every four years the hopes of 320 million Americans boil down to a single mark on a ballot—who will be the next president? 

The media turn the election into “reality TV". News anchors and pundits obsess over every word the candidates utter. BELLWETHER takes a different approach. 

BELLWETHER looks at the election through the eyes of voters—voters in the one community that always reflects who Americans want as their next president: Vigo County, Indiana, and its county seat, Terre Haute.

Since 1888, voters here have picked the winning president in every election except two, 30 out of 32 elections. BELLWETHER looks at why Terre Haute hasn’t missed a winner in 60 years, whether they’ll do it again, and what that tells us about America today. 

AN EVOLVING ONLINE DOCUMENTARY

BELLWETHER is a series of mini-documentaries—real films, with heart and stakes. We’ll focus on people and places where political and personal fault-lines intersect, and produce character-driven short films that frame national issues in local lives. We’ll publish these pieces on our website (under construction), regularly updating and adding new stories. 

Our films will link to other resources to put stories & issues in national and historical context—opinion polls, social media, “snapshots” of locals, current news, data, and stories of elections past. This digital “hub” will evolve throughout election 2016 to shed light on the big picture. 

What makes people vote the way they do? What shapes their points of view on “deal-breaker” issues? Income and inequality, immigration, race, the environment, religion, taxes, abortion, guns. Why do people get turned on by politics—and why are so many turned off?

Terre Haute and Vigo County are the perfect place to explore these issues... 

A thriving farming community, an aging industrial center, a growing college town, a former stronghold for radical labor and the KKK, a prohibition-era Red Light district, the birthplace of the Coke bottle, host to a Federal prison holding major terrorists, and the hometown of labor icon Eugene Debs and "Citizens United" lawyer James Bopp—Terre Haute is not only the most accurate presidential bellwether in the nation, it also stands at the junction of major strands in the American experience. 

Join BELLWETHER and explore the state of the nation at the heart of the heartland. 

OUR TEAM

BELLWETHER is being produced by a team from the worlds of publishing, digital design, & documentary film. The project is directed by Emmy-winning writer & producer Don Campbell, long-time Director of Development for NY-based Partisan Pictures, in collaboration with award winning documentary producers Lise Zumwalt and Louis Galdieri; Director of Photography Andrew Baker; Jeff Seelbach, Commissioning Editor for AJ+; and David McGowan, founder of the Woodstock Digital Media Festival.

We’ve been on the job for over a year, scouting stories and places, meeting people in town from all walks of life and starting to film their stories. We've rented a house in town, and since July, Don's made Terre Haute his home.

We’ve enlisted local supporters, including Terre Haute's daily paper, the Tribune-Star, and launched internships in documentary production and journalism with Indiana State University. We’ve set up offices and begun production—but one element is missing: your support.

REAL COSTS — 1 FULL YEAR

Our plan—to publish a set of short films on a particular theme or subject every month from January 2016 through December 2016—means shooting in Terre Haute all year round, editing pretty much non-stop, and constantly revising our website. We project a minimum $130,000 out-of-pocket costs. 

Here's a breakdown of where the money goes:

We’ve already secured $30,000 in grant awards, we're applying for another $35,000 and we're approaching individual donors to raise another $30,000. This Kickstarter campaign fills in the gap—$35,000—to help cover the first 6 months of producing segments and building the website. 

All contributions are tax deductible and will be processed by our fiscal sponsor, Center for Independent Documentary (CID), who will send you a receipt. Kickstarter is all or nothing. We have to raise the whole $35,000 or we don't keep any of it!

Please join us in this breakthrough journey to investigate the forces shaping American lives and political choice in this critical election year. 

                                               √  √  √

REWARD YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE... FOR BELLWETHER 

Stake your claim to a Bellwether thank-you—not just stuff but personalized services as well:

  • Vintage postcards or historic campaign buttons reproduced by Bellwether... 
  • An original poster based on Terre Haute poet Max Erhmann's beloved "Desiderata" and created by an iconoclastic Vigo County artist...
  • Add your voice to the project's direction with personal blog posts and editorial ideas...
  • Or meet 1-on-1 with our core crew of award-winning filmmakers for insights on cinematography, editing, and writing your own documentary projects.  

A PLACE TO GATHER

Terre Haute proudly claims the nickname "The Crossroads of America”—where the old National Road, US 40, crosses US 41, once the Midwest’s busiest north-south route. Now, the city stands at the intersection of America's past and the road to tomorrow.

Many voters today feel America is at a crossroads, a fork in the road where we can right our economy, or lose the American Dream; rebuild our cities and towns, or watch as our children leave for greener pastures; revitalize our democracy, or surrender to polarizing forces.

Poised between progressive and conservative forces, Terre Haute and Vigo County represent another American crossroads, a unique cross-section of American stories—and voters whose choices may forecast our future. 

Risks and challenges

Rather than wait for institutional support from a broadcaster or publisher, we've plunged into production. Our team is all-in on the project, and we're covering much of the initial up-front costs—production, housing, editing, and web development—with in-kind support. There's no turning back, but sweat-equity alone won't get us to the finish line.

This crowdfunding campaign will spell the difference between just "getting by" and critical steps to making BELLWETHER a go-to destination throughout Campaign 2016.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    "My Fellow Americans..."

    Our thanks to you on a vintage Terre Haute postcard replica, with bellwether facts on back and a signed note from the team. Delivered via .pdf

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Fund It, Pundit.

    Join our exclusive Bellwether predictor pool.
    Who do you think will come out on top of the 2016 presidential election—and why? We’ll post your prediction on the Bellwether website.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    8 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  3. Select this reward

    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Old School Campaign Style!

    Do You Like Ike? Feel Madly for Adlai? Claim a pair of replica 1952 campaign buttons—reproduced by Bellwether and marking the only time Vigo voters missed in over 100 years! (BTW: Vigo's latest winning streak kicked off with the same two candidates in their 1965 rematch!)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    5 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    The Online Soapbox

    Guest blog spot. What’s YOUR top issue for the 2016 election? What matters in this election, what do you believe Campaign 2016 tells us about America? Get on the soapbox, tell us and we’ll post it on our website.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    3 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    DESIDERATA poster
    "Go placidly amid the noise and haste..."

    Terre Haute native Max Erhmann penned his poem in 1927. In the 1970s his Desiderata became a pop-culture phenomenon. In 2016 Sasha Krautskaya, a Ukrainian transplant to VIgo County, is reinterpreting Erhmann's new age wisdom in a poster-sized digital print created exclusively for Bellwether backers.

    The print is a work-in-progress, we'll post Sasha's design soon. Meanwhile, you can sample her work at www.art.sasha-k.com

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 12 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    The Man in the Street

    What do YOU want to know? Suggest a line of questioning for Bellwether "Man on the Street" interviews and we’ll shoot it.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    2 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Documentary Spin Doctors...
    Personal 1-on-1 Skype session with one of our core crew:

    • Insight and advice on filming video or still photography from master cinematographer Andrew Baker.

    • Writing documentary scripts with power and clarity with award-winning writers Don Campbell or Louis Galdieri.

    • 1-on-1 with veteran editor/producer Lise Zumwalt for advice and feedback on YOUR storytelling project.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 4 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  8. Select this reward

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

    Radio Free Vigo!

    Live hook up with Terre Haute political commentator Frank Rush. Go 1-on-1 with Frank, a local broadcasting legend, and test your bellwether insights in an interview for station WBIQ with Vigo County’s talk-radio king.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  9. Select this reward

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

    $2500
    Associate Producer Credit

    We’ll credit you online and in the finished full-length program. Participate in a story meeting with the core Bellwether team.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  10. Select this reward

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

    $5000
    Executive Producer Credit

    Get Executive Producer credit online and in the finished full-length program, and the opportunity to pitch an idea for a segment or subject in a personal story conference with the core Bellwether team.

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.
  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Preserve, Protect, and Defend!

    2 tickets to the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States of America. Go the extra mile for us, and we'll call in a big favor and get you on the Mall when America's next chief executive takes the oath of office. (Travel costs not included.)

    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Only United States
    Limited 0 backers
    $
    Kickstarter is not a store.

    It's a way to bring creative projects to life.

    Learn more about accountability.

Funding period

- (30 days)