About this project
Leaving Independence is an episodic feature that follows an eighth grade class on an adventurous journey of discovery, character growth development, and independent thinking.
The Long Version
Who is Dave Vixie
In short Dave Vixie is an eighth grade teacher out of Northern California. The long, well, it's going to just take way too much time to really tell you about him. Nevertheless, it is not too often that you come across an educator who is so passionate about learning that he will do what it takes to get that “ah-ha” moment even if it’s only for one student. It was in seventh grade that Dave made the decision to be a teacher. Why, because he wanted to help young people. At the time Dave’s visual of a teacher and his methods were “black and white”, rigid, and very traditional. Influenced by some key moments in his growing life he adopted an unorthodox way of educating young people. What do we mean by ‘unorthodox’? Traditional education as it stands, programs students with predictable, testable knowledge; memorize and you pass and move on. Do the students really learn and understand the subject matter? Have they become solid, innovative, independent thinkers, enabled to critically and logically navigate through life’s situations or are they just reflectors of another man’s thoughts, doing the minimum required to get by? Dave wanted to move past this conventional way of educating and desired his students to gain more than book knowledge; he wanted them to have an experience. On top of all this we got to have him as Director and Co-Producer on this project.
What does this experience look like?
While Dave’s teaching methods have evolved and become more elaborate over the years, one of the consistent implementations into his curriculum is that of simulation, where the students are put into a historical context, a full immersion into place, time and lifestyle. The rows of desks go away (temporarily) and are replaced with time period structures, wagons, maps, animals and clothing. Do the students still learn their math, science, english, and other subjects? Of course, but now they learn in the context of history. While they may have only learned from the textbook a paragraph or two on a particular subject they are now learning by experience, an experience that goes way beyond words, grades and 2D pictures. Dave guides them on a journey of thinking for themselves by encouraging them to make decisions that have consequences which teach, nurture, and mature students towards better decisions. We thought this was brilliant enough to capture on video.
We set out nearly a year ago to document the unique teaching style of Dave Vixie, a multi-award winning educator, using one of his simulations as the canvas for our project. The one we chose was Dave’s simulation of the historic American wagon migration from the East to the West via the Oregon and California trail. The pinnacle of this simulation is when Dave dresses his eighth grade class in 19th century clothing and takes them in authentic covered wagons to retrace the footsteps of America’s ancestors in an attempt to bring to current life and contemporary application the history of that great migration.
Mr. Vixie uses the wagon trip experience to create an environment where young people are given reigns to make their own decisions as they embark upon a great adventure. A teenager coming into the eighth grade year enters upon a monumental time of their life; as the cords of parental control start to loosen, their life journey of real world decision making starts to become more prominent.
What we sought to capture in this wagon trip experience exceeded our expectations. It became immediately clear that we weren’t just filming wagons rolling across a desert trail but the reality of individual experiences, decisions and consequences that followed. There was a lot of joy, laughter, tears, fear, and overcoming which is precisely the experience of the early pioneers. Watching these teenagers reminds us that no matter what time of earth's history you were born into, we all share similar struggles, failures, triumphs and joys.
We feel that this is a project that every STUDENT, TEACHER, PARENT, HOME SCHOOL TEACHER, HISTORY BUFF, BUSINESS LEADER, and AMERICAN, for that matter, needs to see. It is not only our heritage, but it is who we are and what we have become as a nation.
What has gone into this simulation.
Dave Vixie has been simulating wagon trips for over 15 years now, spending upwards of $200,000 of his own money to make these trips happen. Some of the expenses that Dave has had to spend include but are not limited to: wagons, animals to pull the wagons, feed for the animals, trucks and trailers to haul the wagons and animals to location, clothes, tools, permits, research and books, and this is all for the sake of immersing the students' imagination into the historical context and culture of the simulation. He has personally restored by hand actual wagons even rebuilding old parts that were originally used. What these kids are experiencing on this wagon trip is as close as you can get to the real thing without going through a time warp, the coordination and logistics are astounding. Everything is created simply to make our history come alive, history used as a backdrop for life lessons that are applicable to all of us no matter our profession or walk of life. This is the story of timeless American lives, theirs, yours and mine.
This is where you have the opportunity to become partners with us in this project, to share in this heritage and bring this history back to life. This project is already shot. In fact we have already captured hundreds of hours of footage. Now we need your help to finish the film. We originally set out to film a documentary but after capturing all the footage we realized we had so many amazing scenes and scenarios that if we drastically cut away the “fat” to make it into a documentary it would compromise the whole end product experience. Therefore we decided to turn "Leaving Independence" into an episodical feature.
The amount we are asking for help with may seem like a good chunk of change but let’s put it into perspective; it is approximately 1/1000th of the cost of your typical episodical program on national TV. Let's break it down what your investment will go for: hours of editing, color correcting, sound design, music scoring and the rights to the music, motion graphics, promotion of the series and finally distribution avenues.
We have many great incentives so check them out in further detail in the column to the right, everything from a custom designed “Thank You” postcard to a copy of the Leaving Independence series to replica artifacts of that time period. The incentive we are most excited about is the top tier reward where you can actually go on your own wagon trip, retracing the footsteps of the early pioneers using the same wagons as in the film. You will get to meet and be guided by Mr. Dave Vixie himself. Not only will you have an experience of your own, but we as film crew will come along and document your experience so you can relive the memories. We should note that a trip like this isn’t your typical pleasure trip, no fluffy pillows to lay your head down on at night. Its dirty and rough. Its the wild west! One last little incentive worth noting, all contributions for this project are tax deductible, yes, that's right, a tax write off.
Thanks for checking us out and supporting this project and we know you’ll enjoy the series.
Risks and challenges
The main risk lies in not being able to complete the project in the allotted time. There are literally hundreds of hours of footage and audio to pour through and organize to make the project one complete piece.
Our team has worked in video production long enough for us to gain years of experience in all phases of production from pre-planning to shooting and the nitty gritty of editing. We are confident that we will not only deliver a great product but that we will deliver on schedule.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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