What if I played a sort of game with this film?
What if I imagined I was meant to tell one particular century-old story that was told to me three years ago? The true story of a college girl whose quietly conducted abortion in 1913 and the events afterward shook a small Midwestern town? And what if I decided to not only tell you about her, but also about other stories of how society reacted to "unintended" pregnancies a century ago?
We are doing it. And the video production is called "Unintended 1900."
But I gave us some rules:
1) We don't hunt down stories to include. Because our own (sometimes unacknowledged) bias may lead us. They must find us, and must all somehow branch off the first story's investigation. That's Myrtle's story. We will tell you about her in a minute.
2) We can't force our views or opinions on you. We do, however, need to tell you about as many aspects of these true stories as we can so maybe you can better understand each other. That might include the views of the young women, the young men, the doctors who knew abortions were a crime then, the parents who tried to guide their children through these unintended pregnancies and the descendants - when applicable. And we offer them all - and their living descendants - our calm courteous consideration in the retelling.
3) We will follow the journalism ethics guidelines of the Society of Professional Journalists and also work to the written standards of PBS.
"Unintended 1900" will include two pieces: First, it will be a traditional based-on-actual-events film, and, secondly, if this fundraising goes well, it will also include web-based episodes that allow us to follow these tangential tales that are, frankly, sometimes just as compelling but which time limitation may not allow us to include in the film itself.
Our team, led by award-winning filmmaker Paul Kakert and myself, Colleen Bradford Krantz, was just told we will receive a $9,800 grant from Humanities Iowa to begin work on production. However, we must match those funds. And this is where we need your help. We also have expenses that go well beyond the amount of the grant and matching funds.
Because of the open nature of our planning (where the stories choose us), we already know we need to travel and film in these states: Iowa, Indiana, Oklahoma, Illinois and, perhaps, Georgia and Wisconsin. The money will help cover those travel expenses. It will also cover our costs for videographers, video editing, actors for reenactments, narrator, location rental, equipment rental, etc.
I will pay myself for my research, writing, editing and filming only if our other expenses are first covered. Ideally, I will pay myself when we sell this for broadcast or streaming, as we have done with the last two documentaries I helped produce or direct. ("West by Orphan Train" was the most recent, and it won a 2015 regional Emmy. It can be viewed on Amazon Instant Video.)
The first film, which Paul Kakert and I co-produced, offers the best example of how we can navigate a story that touches on a difficult political topic (illegal immigration) without pushing an agenda. Watch at DocumentaryTV to see how we did it. (It was based on my book of the same name.)
Please read about the various rewards for donating Note: donations are tax deductible because our production partner, Storytellers International is a 501(c)3 (run by Paul Kakert, our directory of photography.)
We think it's time we stop ignoring some of these painful stories from our past and begin the healing. We hope you'll help us.
-Colleen Bradford Krantz and Paul Kakert
Risks and challenges
We have only done one day of filming so far (to get enough material for this video), but we have already run into problems with some not wanting these types of stories to be told. In this case, a local community board told us in an email the week before we were to shoot:
"(It) was the general consensus that this can of worms should not be opened. In a small town like this, where everyone knows everyone through many generations, someone might be hurt."
I respectfully explained that I had informed them as a courtesy, not to ask permission. But after our day of filming, this was in the next email:
"You made a very positive impression during the few hours you were in (town.) People ... were impressed with your professionalism and friendly manner."
While this community was receptive in the end, we fully expect to run into this kind of reluctance again in other areas. However, it is the living descendants of the pregnant women whom we will defer to in deciding whether a story should be told. And, so far, all have been very supportive of our project.
We even have the blessing of one woman for whom we inadvertently revealed a century's worth of lies that her family had used to keep the truth from her about her aunt's abortion. And, considering we rewrote family history - at least in her mind, that is a very reassuring show of confidence.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (45 days)