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A teenage coming-of-age story. A live event that reveals what people really think. A way to more meaningful political dialogue in 2012.
275 backers pledged $27,082 to help bring this project to life.

Fording the River Together!

Over strong coffee earlier today, our incredible Graphics Producer Emily Branham told me about The Oregon Trail. And she compared a common scenario in the classic video game to what we're up against now here on Kickstarter:

In our covered wagon we now approach the raging river (aka our final week of this all-or-nothing campaign!), and we need to get across to survive and move forward. Do we take our time and build a boat or a raft to get across? Do we build a bridge? Or do we just charge ahead with our oxen pulling us through the raging water as best as they can?

Right now, we are fighting the raging waters and – at the risk of stretching this metaphor too thinly – our outreach team are our oxen and you, our backers, are the spirit and the strength that drives us forward. Your enthusiasm, emails of support, and many great conversations have taken us along the trail safely, brought us to the water's edge, and now taken us into the rapids...where TODAY we are confident that at the one-week-to-go mark we will cross over 50% of our goal. Thank you for all you are doing to pull us along – it's working, and we are building steam to reach the other side...one week from now when we will be on dry land again!

To help us move forward, we've also brought in some fresh “oxen” who've already joined the team (yes, a group of oxen is actually called a team!). We're excited to be working with publicist Brian Geldin of BGPR to help generate interest and coverage during this final week. Sometimes what we've been doing might have been missed when only announced briefly through social media; so even if you think you know all we're up to, we hope you'll check out (and share) the press release that was released to media outlets earlier today:

http://www.followtheleaderfilm.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/Follow-the-Leader-Kickstarter-Press-Release-FINAL.pdf

Today we crossed over 2000 “likes” on Facebook, and over 120 Backers here on Kickstarter – can you recruit one more like-minded person to become a backer today? Together we can “ford this river,” bring our campaign to the other side, and do our part to help improve the political dialogue at this important moment for the country!

More specific announcements, new video, and new rewards coming by tomorrow night!

Jonathan & Team FOLLOW THE LEADER

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Middle of the night lovin' for FOLLOW THE LEADER!

Dear amazing backers,

We have to tell you what an amazing, incredible feeling it is to post something on Facebook at 2am -- and within minutes have 2 new backers as a result. Thank you for responding to the call, as you all have!

Sadly, less amazing is the feeling of having your internet browser crash right at the moment of publishing the first version of this update -- Oh no! Why didn't I write it first in a Word Document!??! But even though it is now 3:30am, it is still worth re-writing more briefly (maybe our updates are too long anyway!) so that you are updated on our progress!

Backers #116 & #117 were responding to reading about our campaign in a very generous new article by the lovely Nicola Lees on her UK blog TV Mole:
http://www.tvmole.com/2012/07/want-to-know-about-crowdfunding-follow-the-leader/

A few days ago, Nicola's book "Give Me the Money and I'll Shoot" -- about creative and traditional documentary financing in a post-recession world -- was published by Bloomsbury in the USA...and we can't wait to finally see it in print, only in part because there's an extended case study / interview about FOLLOW THE LEADER. The book is available as a reward at the $125 level -- and Nicola has now very generously offered to give a 30-minute Skype consultation with anyone who chooses this reward here on Kickstarter. Thank you, Nicola -- and I'm sure that anyone who now chooses this option will be truly impressed by what a great value this reward now is!

We also thought you might be interested to read some of the other press we've received in the past few days:
http://newjerseyhills.com/the_progress/news/w-essex-alumnus-releasing-first-documentary-film/article_fdf4ab04-ccb2-11e1-9446-0019bb2963f4.html

http://newslang89.wordpress.com/2012/07/15/follow-the-leader-film-experience/

We'll be updating you more in these coming days as the campaign enters its final week -- during which we know that, together, we can put this campaign over the top! Keep the faith...and watch this space for news of supporter screenings (for backers above a certain level, to be announced), new reward levels, and video of a few of our team members -- and from some of our events during the campaign (at the Franklin Delano & Eleanor Roosevelt Institute and Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, namely).

Thank you again for what you're already doing to share what we're doing via personal email (with the link to the main Kickstarter page!) with your friends & family. And thank you for sharing also through social media (it would be awesome if you downloaded the below image, and shared it today to raise general awareness of the project at this critical time!)

YOU are making a real difference and helping to build the momentum that is going to make it all happen in the next 8 short days! Now is the time, backers!

Jonathan & Team FOLLOW THE LEADER

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Ken Cuccinelli says “It goes to 11!” – and introducing Blu-ray!

Eleven days to go. Eleven thousand dollars raised. And the next backer will be our 111th!

We are reminded of the moment on our shoot when we captured our main character Ben meeting then-State Senator Ken Cuccinelli (now Virginia's passionate Attorney General, running for Governor of Virginia, and on the verge of national prominence according to a Politico article last week) for the first time. Ken didn't miss a beat and made a joke about Spinal Tap the first time we filmed him – “This vote goes to 11!” as you'll see IN THE VIDEO BELOW! Ben went on to work on Ken's next campaign as you'll see in the film. Now how many teenagers can say that they have the moment they met their political hero on film?

On this campaign, now is the time for action. As a lot of month-long campaigns go on Kickstarter, it's been a slow middle stretch. We're sitting at around a "5" (in This is Spinal Tap terms), and at the 10-days-to-go mark (rapidly approaching!) we need to turn up the dial! We're so grateful to you for taking the biggest step and becoming a backer in the first place – and we know that means you want us to succeed in reach our goal (because as you know, if we don't reach our goal, we get NOTHING – and all pledges disappear).

Some of you have asked if you can increase your pledges – which you can certainly do at any time if you'd like. If you "manage your pledge," you can also raise your reward level...and we'll be announcing new rewards throughout this coming week. Today's new reward is Follow the Leader on Blu-ray at $80 (thanks to our amazing, talented, absolutely dedicated colorist, Pedro Padilla at Rif Raf Creative!)!

Essentially we now have $16,000 to raise in 10 days – and YES, we can turn it up & do it! Since we have 110 backers – we calculate that if every backer convinces just ONE OTHER BACKER to give $20 EACH DAY for the next 10 days (or perhaps brings in TWO new backers at $100!), we will exceed our goal!

We will be sending out more updates and doing everything we can – as we have been for the past 7+ years, which have included several brushes with bankruptcy along many other rather serious challenges. Will you do something more to help make this happen – and start forwarding this link (personal emails to one other person have the greatest chance of success!) with your own brief, empassioned endorsement to your friends, family & colleagues so that we can change the political conversation in our country for the better?

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/followtheleader/follow-the-leader-and-reality-check-interactive

We also have serious news this update -- and we send out two wishes for speedy recoveries to full health for important members of our Follow the Leader community. Though we don't want to name her for privacy reasons, the husband of one of our core team members was rushed to the hospital a few days ago for what we all hope and pray are simply tests – our hearts are with you, and you've really gone way beyond what we would expect to even stay in touch and be as active in the campaign during this difficult time. And we also extend wishes for continued recovery to Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity (who introduces Ben to Ken in the clip below in this update, when he was first running for the position!). We hear Pat's making a strong recovery from open heart surgery and doing very well – our thoughts and prayers have been with you since we heard this news only a few days ago!

Let us close by pointing out that Follow the Leader's Director himself was actually born on November 11th (that's 11/11!) – so we do feel the stars are aligned for this to be an important moment to make a big push toward our shared goals. We can feel the electricity in the air as the amp is turned up. Can you feel it too? Together, we can turn this campaign up to 11!

With gratitude for everything you have done and anything you might do,

Jonathan & Team Follow the Leader

P.S. Changeworx's first ever E-Newsletter went out on Thursday – if you're not already on our mailing list and interested to know about what else we have in the pipeline, it's up now on our website!

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New Blog posts, Exclusive July 4th Tribute Video, and A Request for Your Help!

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For backers only. If you're a backer of this project, please log in to read this post.

Ben, D.J. & Nick want to wish YOU a Happy Independence Day!

Dear awesome supporters,

The best thing about the films we make are the participants -- and we're so fortunate to have three amazing main participants who make Follow the Leader the film that it is. The boys -- along with their families & friends -- are going to be a big part of our release, and I can't wait for you to meet them, in the film & in-person later this year. For now, the three guys want to wish you a Happy 4th themselves (Please see video message BELOW!)

We're so grateful to everyone who's supported us so far, and to everyone who's checking us out and considering joining us on this journey. For anyone who's willing, we're counting on you to share the link:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/followtheleader/follow-the-leader-and-reality-check-interactive

via personal email to anyone you think might be interested, and for your Facebook posts and Tweets (which have been amazing -- thank you!!!). It's a vulnerable, make-or-break time for us, and we can't thank you enough (though we will try!).

As the boys say even better than we can, we hope you're taking some time off for July 4th -- to celebrate our country and to reflect on what it means to be American. And thanks especially to Ben, D.J. & Nick for doing such a great job of recording these messages over the past couple of days!

Happy Independence Day(!) from

TEAM FOLLOW THE LEADER

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