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In 2014, America's death penalty is in a state of emergency. This film traces the human impact behind the headlines.
In 2014, America's death penalty is in a state of emergency. This film traces the human impact behind the headlines.
In 2014, America's death penalty is in a state of emergency. This film traces the human impact behind the headlines.
502 backers pledged £27,349 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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The Penalty - executing justice in America

£27,349

502

WOW An incredible 30 days, THANK YOU we were overwhelmed by your support. The success of this campaign will allow us to keep filming. 

But that's only a portion of what we need to achieve to bring this film to a screen near you. If you want to join the hundreds of people helping us on our journey, you can still donate, follow our progress and share. Contact Laura at laura@reelnice.co.uk to find out more. 

www.thepenaltyfilm.com

Thank you!

STRETCH GOALS

Additional funds will enable us to tell the story of America's death penalty and all the myriad people it affects, more fully. We can be reactive, respond to an evolving situation and make sure our cameras were where they need to be. We will be able to react to developing situations, rather than sticking to our schedule. In short, we will be able to capture the death penalty's impact on more people and paint a truer picture of how it affects and infiltrates society. 

If you have any problems making a donation, would like to pay with a check or bank transfer, or just have a question you'd like answered, please email laura@reelnice.co.uk

What is The Penalty?

America’s most controversial punishment is running into trouble. The Penalty is a feature film that finally paints the true picture behind the headlines. 

The Penalty is a feature-length (90-minute) documentary film examining the state of modern capital punishment in the USA. Our three main stories follow people who – in different ways - live with the death penalty every day.

We have been filming for a year now and are on to some amazing stories that will take you right to the heart of the shockwaves that the death penalty leaves in its wake. While our stories continue to unfold, however, we find ourselves without the funding to continue filming them. That's why we need your help.

Your contribution will ensure we can capture the remainder of our stories, and get this film made. All contributions no matter how big or small, make a huge difference. Please give what you can. 

Why now?

This year has seen the American death penalty debated as never before: 3 severely botched executions, 6 innocent men found and released from death rows in North Carolina, Ohio, Louisiana and Texas, a battle for repeal and talk of returning to gas chambers or firing squads. The struggle to keep executing is taking its toll on both public funds and the public’s psyche.

Public opinion on capital punishment in the US has never been more equally divided. We find ourselves living a unique moment in history which may mark the beginning of real societal change. This film aims to document this moment, to capture this slice of history and to be a tool for the discussions on this topic that are igniting globally.

Why does this film need to be made?

There have been many films made about capital punishment in America – many great films. But none has attempted to put the punishment into a national context, none has joined the dots between this outlier of the criminal justice system and the way it affects people in our society.

We were the only film crew on the ground for the botched execution of Dennis McGuire in Ohio in January. The ongoing fight over lethal injection drugs forms one of our core stories along with the fight of an exonerated inmate putting his life back together after 15 years on death row and a family struggling to find the closure that they are looking for through the execution of their family members' murderer. 

These stories are interweaved with expert interviews to put the human experiences in the national context of the issue.

This year the death penalty conversation has never been far from the global stage and the American public's support for executions is at its lowest in over 40 years. It's time to be having a frank discussion with all involved about what place executions have in society. 

Hear a little more about our motivations for making this film from one of our co-directors, Mark Pizzey

Why are we the people to make it?

Last year, we set out on a 5 week road-trip across the US to make the award-winning documentary series One For Ten, meeting ten innocent people who had been released from America’s death rows. We made two films a week, for five weeks, all from the back of our trusty RV. One For Ten was a world-first in interactive, web doc-making. The project went on to be nominated for a Webby for Best Documentary Series and made it onto The Guardian’s top 10 web-series of 2013.

At the end of One For Ten, we found ourselves uniquely embedded in the world of capital punishment and with a burning sense that there was a much larger story to be told, not just about the nuts and bolts or morality of capital punishment but about its quietly far-reaching and often indirect affect on so many people.

With extensive access to victims’ families, death row exonerees, public defenders, and policy makers, this film will offer a unique insight into the hoards of people throughout the country who are touched by the death penalty, but who are far from death row. 

What do we need?

We have an enormous amount of support from charities, organizations and individuals working in the world of the death penalty. We have ambitious plans to work alongside high schools and law schools across the country to put on debates and open up some real conversations. We have impressive partners willing to help us shape the educational arm of the film, thought leaders in learning who are behind us. 

The impact of this film will be big.

Right now, we don't have the funds to finish filming. We have been filming for a year and have gathered huge amounts of material, but we're not done. Our stories continue to unfold and we are now out of resources to capture them. 

We are looking to raise $30,000 (£20,000) in 30 days. 

Where will your money go? 

This money will allow us to capture the remaining stories missing from the film. While we are all dedicated to making this film happen no matter what, there are certain unavoidable costs we are raising this money to cover. 

Our stories take place across the United States and we need to be able to get our directors Will and Mark out to where the events are happening. Whether that be the forthcoming Christmas in Austin where one of our death row exonerees will introduce his girlfriend to his extended family for the first time, or the execution our victims' family has been waiting for in the South where we'll finally see the impact of the justice they've been promised.

Everything we've filmed so far has been done on a shoestring budget and our target here will allow us to continue in the same vein. We'll be stretching every cent to bring you a beautiful film on a barebones budget. With the money raised here, we'll be able to capture the remainder of our stories, making this film edit-ready. 

...and to repay our gratitude?

Loads of great perks!

We've got some fantastic perks to offer in return for your generous donations. We've named each perk after a US state that no longer has capital punishment on its books. Take a look down the sidebar to the right for details and make your selection. 

Shiny perks in return for your kind contributions!
Shiny perks in return for your kind contributions!

 Something to note: As we're aware that it may be some time before we can get the film to you (seeing as we're still making it!), the advance downloads and DVDs of The Penalty will be delivered separately to other perks. Expected delivery dates on the perks refer to everything except the download or DVD of The Penalty. We expect that to be delivered to you mid 2016. 

For example, if you go for MARYLAND for £50, we'll send you your One For Ten goodies ASAP, and then your The Penalty goodies as soon as they're done. If you want to wait and receive everything at once, just let us know!

But it’s not all about the money - how can you get involved?

While we need to raise money in order to make this project possible, the most important goal of the project is to raise awareness of the film and the issue. You can help us achieve this, by spreading the word far and wide.  

TELL your friends, family, colleagues, neighbours, students about this campaign and share this page: http://bit.ly/PenKick

SHARE it through FACEBOOK, you'll find us here: www.facebook.com/thepenaltyfilm

SHARE through TWITTER with our handle @thepenaltyfilm

SIGN UP to our Mailing List for updates on the film as it progresses

BLOG about the film, TWEET and RETWEET.

A huge thank you from The Penalty team!

The Team - Who Are We?

WILL FRANCOME AND MARK PIZZEY - CO-DIRECTORS

Mark and Will have been directing together for the last 4 years. In 2013, they co-directed the much-lauded series of interactive short films - One For Ten - about innocent people who were on death row in the USA. One For Ten was nominated for a webby and was accepted to many international film festivals, winning best web series at Raindance 2013.

Before Mark and Will began collaborating, Mark had been working as a director for over ten years winning the Royal Television Society's prestigious Craft Award for Camerawork and making TV programmes for all of the UK's major channels.

Will had written and presented the death row focused feature documentary 'In Prison My Whole Life' which premiered at the BFI London film festival and was officially selected for Sundance. The film went on to win best film at both the Paris and Geneva Human Rights Film Festivals.

LAURA SHACHAM – PRODUCER

Laura has been working with Mark and Will for the last two years after coming on board to make One For Ten a success. Laura's background is in high energy, high impact social issue documentaries producing Just Do It: a tale of modern-day outlaws, the feature documentary that gained unprecedented access to the secretive world of environmental direct action.  Following a sell-out premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest, the film had an extensive cinema release in the UK alongside community and festival screenings stretching from Quebec to Kosovo. Laura co-runs Kino London, the capital's only open-mic short film night. 

CHRISTOPHER HIRD - EXECUTIVE PRODUCER

Christopher Hird is a leading figure in UK independent documentary making. He is the founder and managing director of Dartmouth Films, which has pioneered new ways of funding, producing and distributing documentaries in the UK, as well as promoting the work of new and emerging filmmakers. Among the films which Christo has executive produced: Black Gold (2006), The End of the Line (2009), The Flaw (2011) Fire in the Blood (2012), McCullin (2013) and Still the Enemy Within (2014). He is a former chair of the Sheffield International Documentary Festival and was the founding chair of the Channel Four Britdoc Foundation. He is currently a trustee of the Wincott Foundation, One World Media  and the Centre for Investigative Journalism.

Risks and challenges

Back when we were making One For Ten, we faced a lot of road blocks. Traditional funding routes weren't interested in a project that wanted to create content in a format that hadn't been tested before: the live web series. We knew the stories of these death row exonerees needed to be told, we knew the filmmaking community would find new stomping ground in the arena of the "as live" web doc.

We found other ways to make it happen. We didn't give up.

Between us we have decades of experience making films. The types of films we make tend to require creative thinking, problem-solving and above all: unwavering passion and commitment. Looking at the team behind this film I can unquestionably say that we have these qualities by the bucket load.

In the making of this film to date, we have faced hurdles. We have seen our stories unfold before us, and we've not had the resources to continue filming. But we have always found a way.

We have already invested buckets of passion in this project - we believe in its potential to be an instigator for change and have been working pro bono to make it happen. All we need now is a crowd behind us to help us finish filming. We can do it! (With your help!)

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FAQ

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About $1.60

    ALASKA - Every contribution makes a difference - have our eternal gratitude and know that you're part of starting a global conversation about our criminal justice system.

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    CONNECTICUT - Welcome to the crowd! We'll do you a personal social media shout out and put your name in lights on our website!

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    HAWAII - You’ll get a social media thank you and we’ll also print your name on our campaign wall in our office, for everyone to see, forever more. You can even pop down and come see it if you want.

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    ILLINOIS - Advance download of the film, delivered straight to your inbox. Be the first to get your mitts on the finished film! Includes everything above too.

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    Pledge £20 or more About $32

    IOWA - All of the above plus a personal thank you video message recorded by the directors of the film!

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    Pledge £25 or more About $40

    WEST VIRGINIA - Put everything thus far into your reward satchel PLUS we'll give you a digital download of our ten exclusive One For Ten landscape prints.

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    MAINE - All of the above plus your very own copy of The Penalty on DVD!

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    Pledge £50 or more About $80

    MARYLAND - Double DVD and Tote bag!

    All of the above but as well as a digital download and DVD of The Penalty, you'll get a DVD of One For Ten, our series of ten films about innocent people who were on death row and a lovely cotton tote bag. Oh! And everything at WEST VIRGINIA too.

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    Pledge £50 or more About $80

    A copy of Shaun Attwood's renowned memoir, Hard Time (2nd edition)!

    All of the above but as well as a digital download and DVD of The Penalty, you'll get a copy of Shaun Attwood's memoir Hard Time (2nd edition). Oh! And everything at WEST VIRGINIA too.

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    Pledge £75 or more About $120

    NEW PERK! Eight lucky people can get their hands on a photograph by the genius hand of Scott Langley. Scott's stunning images are also part of the Death Penalty Photography Documentary Project.

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    Pledge £100 or more About $160

    MASSACHUSETTS - Get yourself a signed copy of Bryan Stevenson's newly-released "Just Mercy". A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time".

    You'll also receive everything at MARYLAND too.

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    Pledge £100 or more About $160

    MICHIGAN - Get yourself a signed copy of Surviving Justice: America's Wrongfully Convicted and Exonerated, from award-winning author Dave Eggers.

    You'll also receive everything at MARYLAND.

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    Pledge £150 or more About $240

    MINNESOTA - Bag your own exclusive one-of-a-kind ceramic tile from renegade potter Carrie Reichardt. Each of these tile's is a one off! Carrie's tiling work is currently the centrepiece of the V&A's Disobedient Objects show.

    You'll also receive everything at MARYLAND.

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    VERMONT - Invitation for two to a premiere screening of the finished film near you (travel and accommodation not included). Plus everything from MARYLAND.

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    NEW JERSEY - Come with us on a shoot. Everything up to MARYLAND plus the opportunity to come with us on a day of filming for The Penalty when we're closest to you. Travel not included.

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    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,601

    NEW MEXICO - A very special thanks to you before the rolling credits in the film! This can be done as a collective if you want, run a fundraiser to raise £1,000 or more (maybe a ‘One For Ten’ film night? or get 10 friends to donate £100) and we will give very special thanks to the group rather than an individual (it is a lot of money after all!) PLUS everything at NEW JERSEY (travel not included)

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    NORTH DAKOTA - INSIDER INFO: Everything at NEW MEXICO, plus one of our directors (Will Francome & Mark Pizzey) will screen footage from the film and give an exclusive Q&A to your organization, group or family and friends! (Does not include travel and accommodation)

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    RHODE ISLAND - ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Everything from NORTH DAKOTA, plus a credit of Associate Producer, plus an invitation to a private producers' screening with the filmmakers in London or New York. (Travel not included)

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    NEW YORK - Executive Producer - You've just become a major part of this film. As an executive producer, you're the big cheese and get to see the film before anyone else at rough cut stage and feedback your thoughts.

    You'll also everything at NORTH DAKOTA.

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Funding period

- (30 days)