We made it to Kickstarter's home page rotation!
Mulberry in the Press!
The Ledger: http://goo.gl/LgIhR
Bay News 9: http://goo.gl/nNgyT
The Alligator: http://goo.gl/Exk5K
It's 1946 in Mulberry, Florida, the beating heart of the U.S. phosphate industry. When Clarence Barnes, a black veteran of the Second World War, seeks employment at a local phosphate mine, the racism he endures to provide for his young family may be too terrible to shoulder.
Through Clarence’s struggles, Mulberry revisits a time and place in which racism didn't merely subject blacks to second class citizenship: it drowned them to death in clay pits.
Fresh from his break-out role as Connell Lambert in dir. Billy Bob Thornton's upcoming film Jayne Mansfield's Car (starring Robert Duvall, John Hurt, and Kevin Bacon), Wester Joseph will Produce and star as Clarence Barnes alongside Hollywood veteran Ron Clinton Smith (The Mist, The Firm, We Are Marshall, Lawless) in this true story of pride and perseverance in the face of adversity.
Kickstarter projects work on an all-or-nothing basis: if we fail to meet our funding goal by the end of our 20-day deadline, we receive nothing.
Your pledged funds won't be charged from your account until 7/14, and only if we reach our funding goal. So pledge now and pay later!
If we fail to reach our $9600 goal by the deadline, all pledges will be cancelled and no funds will be charged to your account. Sadly, this would also mean the loss of a terrific little film, not to mention the great rewards we're offering.
We know you won't let that happen :)
Born in Miami, Florida to Haitian immigrants, Wester Joseph is an accomplished actor, musician and martial artist. After years of performing in bands and composing scores for independent films, Wester recently made his break-out acting debut as Connell Lambert in dir. Billy Bob Thornton's upcoming film Jayne Mansfield's Car.
Ron Clinton Smith, a veteran character actor and writer, has played memorable roles in films such as The Mist, The Firm, We Are Marshall, Jayne Mansfield's Car, and John Hillcoat's upcoming film Lawless. Driven by a passion for civil rights and Southern culture and history, Ron has also appeared in films such as Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story and The Rosa Parks Story.
Laurence Weeks, a lifetime rock-n-roll keyboard player and singer, played in Nicky Hopkins piano driven Stones/Kinks/Skynyrd style kick ass rock bands in New York City, Milwaukee, Santa Barbara, and San Francisco from the age of 15. After studying acting for 7 years at Greenwich Village’s venerable HB Studio, Laurence appeared in a string of 22 full blown productions of William Shakespeare plays, which culminated in a rave New York Times review of his ‘note perfect’ portrayal of a ‘sleazy’ Claudius in a Gorilla Rep production of Hamlet. A “Downtown Manhattan” boy to the core, he currently resides in Chelsea, New York.
A veteran musician and actor, Jason Hedges' life-long love affair with the performing arts began during childhood, when he performed as a magician. As a teenager and adult, Jason has entertained thousands of people with his music while appearing in numerous independent feature films, short films, national commercials and stage plays.
Jason is currently enrolled in acting courses at the prestigious HB Studio in Greenwich Village.
Born June 18th 1988 in beautiful Clearwater Florida, arriving two days late or rehearsing for the real performance, as Letecia's mother likes to tell it, the actress arrived. Letecia has been an actress and student of the the performance arts since age five. At The American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York, Letecia she studied theater, movement, voice and speech, speech practicum, styles, and vocal production.
Letecia has performed in many stage plays, including directing and performing in her own adaptation of the one woman show Twilight: Los Angeles. Her past performances include Ruth in A Raisin in the Sun, Mrs. Bellotti in Hot L. Baltimore, and various roles in adaptations of Civil War, The Dining Room, and Hamlet.
R.H. Norman - Writer/Director, Producer
A writer, director and recovering music journalist, R.H. got his start writing features and producing video content for popular music outlets, including concert promos and interviews with GZA (Wu-Tang Clan), Black Lips, Deerhunter, Mountain Goats and others. R.H. graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in Philosophy, and continues to work on narrative film projects and as a freelance videographer.
Friends (and backers!) call him “Chip”.
Sean McDaniel attended the University of Florida with a degree in Film and Media Studies. During his studies he began work in experimental film production alongside narrative film work. His background also includes work in television news and freelance videography. Currently in the M.F.A. program at USC's School of Cinematic Arts, Sean has served as both Director and Director of Photography on narrative fiction and documentary projects.
J.B. Roe is a a guy who makes art. Pray for him. (Right after you pledge.)
J.B. received his B.F.A in Drawing from the University of South Florida.
Josh and Kyle (born and raised in Mulberry, Florida) have been releasing cassettes in the underground tape scene for nearly ten years. They have been creating ambient drone works under the name "Perspectives" since 2009 for a small but loyal audience.
While studying computer science at the University of Florida, Vishal became a founding employee of Grooveshark.com, the popular online music streaming service. Driven by a love of music, technology and events, Vishal has served as the web master of L.A.'s notorious rock n' roll outlet Buddyhead and is the founder of Garage Mahal Presents. He recently moved to NYC in pursuit of a career at the intersection of art and marketing. He spends his free time enjoying rye whiskey with the Dalai Lama and going on long jogs with Stephen Hawking.
Vishal is an incredible asset as the head of marketing and publicity outreach for Mulberry.
Richard A. Fifer - Associate Producer
A retired engineer and historian, Richard A. Fifer is the foremost historical authority on the Florida phosphate industry and the mining company towns he was raised in as a child. With his extensive knowledge of the phosphate industry and massive archive of photos and documents, Richard is an indispensable asset to the production of Mulberry.
(Coincidentally, Richard's parents were close friends of Chip's (non-racist) great-grandparents from his grandmother's side, who also happened to be his sister's second grade teacher in the mining company town of Pierce.)
From the late-1800s to the mid-1960s, my great-grandfather Harlen J. Norman served as a Washer Foreman at a Mulberry, Florida phosphate mine owned by International Agriculture Corp.
A hard and uneducated man, my great-grandfather was pulled out of school by his father to work on the family farm full-time. He never had the chance to progress beyond the third grade, and was consequently illiterate. While some of my family remember Harlen as a stubborn, but kind man who loved his grandchildren immensely, others may have remembered him as a violent, unapologetic racist.
And, sadly, he was all of those things.
Quite unlike his wife and children, Harlen carried the regrettable belief that black people were akin to animals -- soulless. And while this perspective wasn't novel among uneducated white men in Florida circa 1940, my great-grandfather's resentment and hate escalated as young blacks were increasingly employed at his mine.
When a well-liked, white member of his crew was replaced by a young black man, Harlen decided to make an example of the newcomer. As the black miner arrived to his first, early morning shift-change meeting, my great-grandfather and his crew were ready-and-waiting to make their point.
I first heard this story as a child, when a family member related to me the tragic events that occurred between the two men. And I've never stopped thinking about it.
While I certainly reflect on my great-grandfather, on the insecurities that drove him to hate, it's the anonymous black miner who enters my thoughts most often.
I wonder about his family, about the humiliation and harm they endured. I wonder whether his actions have affected the lives of his great-grandchildren today, as knowledge of my great-grandfather's cruelty has affected mine. Perhaps most of all, I've asked myself what the black miner might have done the very next day.
Mulberry was born from these questions. In directing it, I hope to answer them.
Our primary objective is simple: create a beautiful film that tells a hard truth as artfully as possible. We aim to produce a film that our backers can be proud of.
Beyond our artistic intent, we have two primary objectives:
- Complete Mulberry on time and under budget, and screen it in as many high-profile film festivals as will have us.
- Use the short film to build support for a feature film adaptation already under development (it's gonna be good!).
WHY DO YOU NEED MY HELP??
Although Mulberry is a short film, it tells a story with great scope, demanding exotic locations, professional stunt coordination, and costly insurance coverage. Our funding goal, $9600, is the bare minimum we need to make our film; any funding beyond that goal would be used to increase our production value and marketing.
We have already funneled thousands of our own dollars into this production, and have most of the equipment in place. We likewise have a talented crew of professionals ready-and-waiting to lend their skills to our production at no cost. However, we simply cannot do this story justice in lack of financial support.
Your pledged monies will be used exclusively for the following production expenses:
- Insurance, permits, etc. (Our insurance will be around $3K alone, due to stunts)
- Transportation, accommodations and food for cast and crew
- Post-production (color grading, transfer, etc.)
- Marketing and film festival promotions (press kit, entry fees, etc.)
WHAT IF I CHOOSE NOT TO HELP??
In lack of your generous support, our vision for Mulberry won't be realized.
Also, Chip's next project will almost certainly be a prison documentary about what it's like to be arrested for trespassing in a phosphate mine, or sued for horribly disfiguring SAG members in unsupervised stunts. Possibly both.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
Yes. Not only will your pledge make you our collaborator in this great project, we'll also send you things in the mail. Like fossils. And original music and art. Check out the reward tiers in the right-hand column.
We appreciate your time in checking out Mulberry, and hope you'll consider making a pledge toward a film to be proud of.
- (20 days)