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In researching this film/series, I inadvertently wiped out 100 years of family secrets that had hidden one abortion-related death.
In researching this film/series, I inadvertently wiped out 100 years of family secrets that had hidden one abortion-related death.
In researching this film/series, I inadvertently wiped out 100 years of family secrets that had hidden one abortion-related death.
53 backers pledged $13,521 to help bring this project to life.

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Unintended 1900: Unlocking Myrtle's Century-Old Secret

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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.

Unintended 1900
Unintended 1900

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. 

Pre-Production Shoot: Cast and Crew
Pre-Production Shoot: Cast and Crew

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.)

West by Orphan Train
West by Orphan Train
 

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.)

Train to Nowhere; Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation
Train to Nowhere; Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation

 

 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

Escape from Firebase Kate
Escape from Firebase Kate

 

 

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.

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Episodes Access

    "Episodes Access" - A huge thank you for helping us tell these stories. You will receive regular updates on the progress of our film, and free and early access to the "episodes." (The number of them depends upon our total raised over goal but at least three.) You will also receive a personal thank-you message.

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    Episodes and Film

    “Episodes and Film” package -- An advance digital download of the completed film as soon as it's ready. Plus regular updates, and the episodes and thank-you message mentioned above.

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    Film Credit: Thanks

    "Film Credit: Thanks" package -- Your name will be listed in "thanks" credits of film and on the film's website, plus you'll receive an advance digital download of the completed film as soon as it's ready. You'll also receive regular updates, episodes and the thank-you message mentioned above.

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    Film Box Set

    Film Box Set package -- We will send you a DVD of the completed film once it's ready, plus three other DVDs of award-winning documentaries produced or directed by filmmaker Colleen Bradford Krantz and/or Paul Kakert. Besides Unintended 1900, the films include the regional Emmy Award-winning "West by Orphan Train" documentary from 2014 and "Train to Nowhere; Inside an Immigrant Death Investigation" from 2010. Also, Kakert's 2015 movie, "Escape from Firebase Kate." The "Film Credits: Thanks" package is also included.

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    Chat with Director or DP

    Chat with Director or Director of Photography package -- Meet with either the director or director of photography (your choice). This would be either a phone call up to one hour or an in-person meeting if you are within 2 hours of Des Moines. Also includes the "Film Box Set" package.

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    Film Credit: Associate Producer

    "Film Credit: Associate Producer" package -- We will list you in the film's credits, on the film website and on IMDB as an associate producer. Also includes the "Film Box Set" package.

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    House Party

    House Party package: Host one of only five home-based advance screening events. You will have these screening rights and a personalized video introduction from the director to share with those attending. Sorry, we can't come and cook for you. The "Film Box Set" package is also included.

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    Join the Crew

    "Join the Crew" package - Help us during a U.S. shoot. If you wish, you not only help during the shoot, but you are welcome to post updates to the other backers, and document your experience along the way. "Film Box Set" package also included. (This won't arrive until Dec 2017)

    (Note: Previous film experience isn't required. Airfare and other travel expenses are not covered. We expect to film spring and summer 2017, but will try to make a date work. We can not, however, promise to adjust to fit your schedule.)

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    Location Selection

    Location Selection package -- One person will name a state from which they would like us to find a true story from the early 1900s of a particular unplanned pregnancy case. We will film there (Sorry, but Iowa is excluded as we are already telling a story from there and want to include multiple states). We reserve the right to select the specific case as older court records are sometimes destroyed/vague. This can make it too difficult to find reliable information about some cases. Also includes the "Film Box Set" package (this won't arrive until December 2017).

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    Join the Cast

    "Join the Cast" package - Be part of a reenactment during a U.S. shoot. If you wish, you will play a "character" from one of the real stories that we are telling. Remember, we are creating a documentary that will meet PBS standards so dialogue is rare (i.e. please don't expect to have lines.) You will be on screen, however. This also includes the "Film Box Set" package (delivered in Dec. 2017).

    (Note: Previous film experience isn't required. Airfare and other travel expenses are not covered. We expect to film in spring and summer of 2017. We will try to work with you, but can not promise to alter filming plans to fit your schedule.)

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    Film Sponsor

    "Film Sponsor" package - Your company or your family can have a 15-second sponsor message at the beginning and end of the film. Please note that we adhere to PBS standards for these sponsor messages, which aren't like traditional advertising. Also, we have to avoid any companies or individuals whose sponsorship might create the perception that we aren't trying our best to tell an even-handed story. So, while we appreciate your interest and passion, please avoid becoming a sponsor if you have been strongly vocal in the abortion debate, one way or the other. It might create problems with having the documentary broadcast on PBS affiliates. Also includes the "Film Box Set" package.

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Funding period

- (45 days)