CROSSING THE RIVERis a narrative short film about a modern-day hate crime. Teenaged brothers Grant and Shawn, estranged from their mother, find the connection they are seeking with a racist older man. Michaela, an innocent 13 year old from a mixed-race family, is new in town. After tensions in the boys’ lives escalate, a cross is burned on Michaela’s lawn. The film will explore the points of view of both the victim and perpetrators, and seeks to reveal how someone can be influenced to do something morally unspeakable.
A year ago, I met my friend Martha’s grandsons Tyler and Landon in South Carolina, and immediately felt that they would be compelling onscreen. A short time later, I received an article from a friend of my family's who runs a civil rights watch group. The article was about teenagers who were accused of burning a cross on a family’s lawn, and how the family was affected, especially their 13 year old daughter. I was very moved by the story, and especially by how it was apparent that the girl truly believed that people were good and wanted to continue to believe it despite her experience. When I later read that the two boys turned to the family in court and apologized, it gave me hope. The seed of an idea for a powerful short film quickly developed.
I plan to shoot CROSSING THE RIVER on location in Camden, South Carolina March 14-17, 2012. The film will be shot on high-quality digital HD, providing the ability to capture improvisational moments with the young actors, while at the same time maintaining a visual quality that will fully capture the beauty and tension of the South Carolina landscape.
We have an incredible team lined up to work on the film: Producers Tammy Arnstein (P.O.V.’s Waging a Living), Natasha Giliberti (Journeyman), and Robyn Mackenzie (Act Zero Films); Editor Erin Fisher (co-writer and lead actress of the Independent Spirit Award-nominated Quiet City; http://movies.nytimes.com/2007/08/29/movies/29quie.html); Marketing Director Andrea Rose (former Managing Director of IFP Market); Sound by Robert Kennedy (Superdoll); and Bruce Smolanoff (The Sopranos; http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0810554/) in the role of Ted. See full bios under the "Project By" section on the bottom right.
A little bit more..
The cast will be a combination of seasoned professionals and real people, including local residents from South Carolina. Check out our tumblr page for visual references: http://crossingtheriverfilm.tumblr.com/
We are looking for participation to help bring this important story to life and to raise awareness about this pressing issue. You can support us in a variety of ways:
DONATIONS: We will need funds to pay crew, for travel to South Carolina including airfare, car rental, lodging, and food, as well as production insurance, equipment, catering, post-production costs, festival entry costs, and the percentage we need to pay to Kickstarter and Amazon (around 10%).
SPREADING THE WORD: Spreading the word makes all the difference to a Kickstarter campaign. As many of you know, Kickstarter is an all or nothing platform, meaning if we don’t reach our funding goal by the deadline, we don’t raise ANY funds (all pledges returned to the donors). So it is especially important to share this NOW if you are able. We really appreciate it! (more info on how Kickstarter works here: http://www.kickstarter.com/help)
EDUCATION: I am working with a team to create an educational distribution component of the film, including a curriculum and teacher guide for educators to incorporate the film into their lesson plans, hopefully at colleges and high schools around the country and Canada. We are interested in working with anti-racism and social justice teaching organizations such as Teaching Tolerance and Facing History and Ourselves, and will target film festivals that make a difference such as Media That Matters. The film’s website will also link to anti-racism advocacy efforts happening all over the U.S.
Please check out our rewards section on the right to see some of the cool perks we are offering, including an exclusive screening in NYC, downloads of CROSSING THE RIVER, Associate or Executive Producer credits, an educational screening in your own community, and a Skype conversation with a community organizing expert.
If you live in South Carolina and think you may have some resources to help with the film, please let us know this also. Frequent flyer miles would be a huge help as well!
Thank you so much for your support!
Emilie McDonald has a guest post on HerFilm: http://herfilm.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/emcdonald/
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