The phones don't stop ringing. People call to confide in strangers - looking for advice, entertainment, or just human connection.
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What comes to mind when you think of telephone hotlines?
Suicide? Sex? Ms. Cleo? He-Man? Hulk Hogan? Teen party lines?
Yes, those are a few, but hotlines are everywhere and millions of calls are made to them each week. While you may not think you've called one, chances are many people you know have. There are hundreds of people on the phone with hotlines all over the country right now.
Our film, HOTLINE, is a documentary about the intense connections that are made between strangers over the telephone, and explores these anonymous conversations people are often too hesitant to have with the people closest to them.
We had the opportunity to spend some time with Ms. Cleo (a/k/a Yourée Cleomili Harris) and talk with her about her experiences - from her start on the hotline, to her rise to cultural stardom, to what she has been up to since the days of "Call Me Now!" Take a look below!
We also have a new reward! Pledge $500 and you can choose the reward that gives you a psychic reading with Ms. Cleo herself!
Check out the new $3 backer reward! A little hotline nostalgia for everyone who donates above that level. We also put together a video of some of our favorites:
We need your support to begin editing the important stories behind these hotlines and the people who call and who work for them -- tales that are shocking, tragic, funny, heartwarming, taboo -- a window into raw, human experience.
We've traveled across the country putting faces to the voices on the other end of the line, learning about the struggles of non-profits providing vital services to at-risk communities and exploring the stigma of other, more controversial hotlines.
But what we've heard over and over is that, whether they're help lines or chat lines, there's an enormous demand for these services - a demand that only seems to be increasing. And while many hotlines have adapted with technology like chat and text messaging, there continues to be something special about the human voice.
Who is this film about?
Here are some of the hotline workers we've found in our travels for HOTLINE:
That's not all, but you get the idea. All of these people have amazing stories -- amazing things to show and tell about their time on the telephone.
Who Are We?
Tony Shaff (Director/Producer) is a filmmaker from Brooklyn, NY who received a Student Academy Award Nomination for his short GET OUTTA HERE. As a theatre artist, Tony created BLOG 2.0, a project that explored the text of bloggers during the dawn of that subculture. Seeking ways to develop work that contributes positively to society, Tony has worked on documentary films and is a producer on MTV’s groundbreaking doc series TEEN MOM 2 and 16 & PREGNANT.
Lauren Ashley Belfer (Producer) is a documentary and television producer with an interest in social interaction and change. After earning her BFA in Cinema Studies at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, she worked in nonprofits as a grassroots community organizer and ran arts education programs for inner-city youth in New York’s Lower East Side. She earned a Masters certificate in Documentary Media Studies at The New School and has since produced numerous documentary films on subjects ranging from street harassment to gentrification to mixed-orientation marriage.
Bryce J. Renninger (Producer) is a film journalist, film programmer, and Ph.D. candidate in Media Studies. He has worked since 2009 as a staff contributor to Indiewire, where he is the Editor of the Filmmaker Toolkit. After developing his film programming skills as a programmer for NewFest: New York’s LGBT Film Festival for the four years, he has since branched out, programming the Winter 2011 Films for the Occupation series with Rooftop Films, July 2012's Dirty Looks: On Location with several New York-based curators, and a currently on-view video and technology exhibit at Rutgers University called Trans Technology.
We are so excited by this film and can't wait to share it with you. Your donations are very important and your support is so appreciated!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
We have been making this film as a passion project with no money and through the generosity of our supporters. We are so proud of the work that we have done over the past two years planning and shooting the film, and now the HOTLINE team is ready to start putting together these stories and edit the film. But to do that, we need to cover the basic costs of post production.
At this point, we've got about 80% of the footage we know needs to be in this film, so there's no turning back now. With the money raised with this Kickstarter, we'll be able to hire an editor to take us through to a rough cut. As any filmmaker knows, that's not the end of the editing process.
When we have the rough cut we'll need to search for more money to be able to hire a few other professionals to make sure our film looks and sounds as good as it can, and we'll need to bring back our editor to dot the i's and cross the t's, smooth the edges, etc. And that, we know, is going to be even more hard work. As with any project, there's a small chance that something will come up that will hinder us from getting to the point where we can share it with festivals, distributors, television networks, you...but we don't think that will happen.
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