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How does one create their funeral wishes when it challenges society's and their own family's views?
How does one create their funeral wishes when it challenges society's and their own family's views?
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122 backers pledged $22,500 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

$22,500

122

Ash-special thank you everyone for helping us dust our funding goal. 

With 2 days left, we are excited to announce ... 

STRETCH GOALS!

$25,000 = Increased footage from web short (5-8 min) to an episode - ~15 minutes or more

$30,000 = We will add a short segment of "Making Coeio" as part of the story to let you in the backstory of how Jae Rhim's and my story led us to come create Coeio and eventually to Dennis. 

We are excited for your continued support.

Original story

We are making a film that tells the amazing story of a man's unique, final journey. Dennis White is a 63 year old self-made carpenter, residing in his hometown of Woburn, MA. He has been diagnosed with a terminal disease, Primary Progressive Aphasia, and wants to have a natural, environmentally-friendly burial that isn't offered with conventional funeral practices. 

Neither he nor his family anticipated all the troubles in making this dream a reality. I've been honored to follow his journey. His story asks some very basic questions about life: Why is it so hard to die differently? How do you explain your final wishes to your family and loved ones? How does embracing your death help you live life better? 

The material we have captured so far has been so compelling that we've attracted the attention of award-winning filmmaker, Grace Lee. She has offered to tell this story in documentary format, and we need your help to make this a reality.

SOME BACKGROUND:

In 2011, my business partner, Jae Rhim ("JR") Lee gave a TED talk about how we ought consider the environmental impacts of our funerals and deaths. She did this while dressed head-to-toe in a prototype of an eco-friendly alternative to traditional coffins, called the The Infinity Burial Suit.

Jae Rhim Lee - My Mushroom Burial Suit
Jae Rhim Lee - My Mushroom Burial Suit

Four years and 1.2M+ views later, JR's work has amassed a following of over 1,200 people who support her work, but one email she received has set us us on the path where we are today:

Dennis' note to JR, which started us on this journey
Dennis' note to JR, which started us on this journey

No one predicted the trials that would arise

We set out to help grant his wishes; however, no one predicted all the trials that would arise.  These range from finding a burial ground that would accept the suit to lingering fears and worries from his family not only about his death, but how Dennis' choices impact their lives after he has gone.  

Dennis White - Seeking a final and green resting place
Dennis White - Seeking a final and green resting place
Dennis demoing the suit as only he can
Dennis demoing the suit as only he can

JR and I have been lucky to be part of the difficult conversations they’ve had with their families and the funeral industry in trying to make this dream a reality.  We realized that these challenges are just common trials we all ought consider. 

Dennis discussing options with his wife, Maura
Dennis discussing options with his wife, Maura
JR and Dennis discussing home funeral options over a family lunch
JR and Dennis discussing home funeral options over a family lunch

These challenges are far ranging from the existing funeral industry to even the deep seeded fears and worries of their own families. We try to shed light on the process to show that you do have a choice and their choice impacts the world at large.

MEET OUR FILMMAKER: GRACE LEE

I can't tell you how honored that Grace and Eurie are working with us on this.  

Grace Lee directed the Peabody Award-winning documentary AMERICAN REVOLUTIONARY: THE EVOLUTION OF GRACE LEE BOGGS, which The Hollywood Reporter called ”an entertainingly revealing portrait of the power of a single individual to effect change.” 

The film premiered at the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival where it won its first of six festival audience awards before its broadcast on the PBS series POV.  Most recently she produced and directed two documentaries for PBS, MAKERS: WOMEN IN POLITICS  and OFF THE MENU: ASIAN AMERICA

Other directing credits include the feature film JANEANE FROM DES MOINES, which premiered at the 2012 Toronto Film Festival, AMERICAN ZOMBIE which premiered at Slamdance and is distributed by Cinema Libre and THE GRACE LEE PROJECT, a documentary that aired on Sundance Channel. Grace received her MFA in Film Directing from UCLA Film School where her short film BARRIER DEVICE, starring Sandra Oh, won a Student Academy Award. Grace returns to her alma mater and other universities frequently as a guest speaker and lecturer. She has served on many panels including the Independent Spirit Awards, POV’s EdComm and the International Documentary Association.

Eurie Chung will also be managing and post-supervising the project with Lee, previously partnering with her on Off the Menu: Asian America and American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs. Chung runs Flash Cuts, a production facility based in Los Angeles specializing in post-production/online services for independent documentaries and feature films, including most recently City of Gold, Makers: Women in Politics, Afternoon Delight, Inequality for All and Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings.

We need your help to bring this amazing story and these amazing talents together to tell a story that needs to be told. 

Risks and challenges

The biggest dependency with all documentaries that cover highly emotional, sensitive topics, is that the subjects of the documentary may have different thoughts as shooting develops.

There may be parts of that are shot that may not be able to be seen by the general public and that may challenge the final quality.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    HI FIVE - For just $1, I will give you a patented* solo-hi five as thanks for your support. While you won't know when I do it, it looks & sounds like this -
    https://vine.co/v/eJWzAEhbZhY

    *not really patented, but the tech in our suit is!

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    FUNERAL PUN SHOUT OUT - We will thank you on Twitter or Facebook with one of our very best puns about working in the funeral industry. For example, "Thanks for supporting out of the box thinking." You're welcome for that freebie!

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    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    DIGITAL COPY -- Get a digital copy of the Being Dennis film.

    Includes funeral pun shout out at $5 level.

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    Pledge $45 or more About $45

    DIGITAL COPY W/ PERSONAL Q&A - Be listed as a producer in credits, receive a digital copy of the work with a thank you and an answer to an emailed question on video from Jae Rhim or Mike.

    Includes all above rewards, too!

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    SUIT FABRIC - We will send an autographed 9" x 9" patch of the proprietary fabric in the creation of the Infinity Burial Suit.

    Includes all above rewards, too!

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    SKYPE/HANGOUT 1-1 INTERVIEW - Have a 30 minute conversation with Jae Rhim and Mike from the film.

    Includes all above rewards, too!

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    PET BURIAL POD - Receive a prototype of a prototype for pet burial that incorporates the same decomposition technology seen in Dennis' suit.

    Includes all gifts at lower levels too (interview, digital copy, etc.)

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    BURIAL SHROUD - Receive a prototype of a burial shroud that incorporates the same decomposition technology seen in Dennis' suit.

    Includes all gifts at lower levels too (interview, digital copy, etc.) with the exception of the pet pod.

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    Pledge $750 or more About $750

    YOUR OWN SUIT - Receive your own burial suit like the one you see Dennis using in the work.

    Estimated savings is 50% off market retail once it goes into production and a fraction of a traditional casket.

    Includes almost all gifts at lower levels (except the Shroud + Pet Pod)

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    VISIT & PRIVATE SNEAK PREVIEW -- JR or I will fly to you to host a private screening of the film and be available to both answer questions about the film for you you and your friends (Travel from NYC and venue costs not included)

    We will also bring the Infinity Burial prototypes for display for you and your group.

    This reward includes all lower rewards with the exception of products (e.g. pet pod, shroud or suit)

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    Pledge $3,000 or more About $3,000

    CUSTOM COLOR BESPOKE SUIT - Receive a tailored, fitted burial suit like the one you see Dennis using in the work but with COLOR of your choice.

    We would also do a screening after your fitting where you can share show off your suit! (Travel from NYC not included)

    Includes almost all gifts at lower levels (except the Shroud + Pet Pod)

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    PRODUCER credit on Being Dennis. Although this is an honorary title, you are a huge reason this project is getting made, and your name will appear in the credits.

    Also includes ALL lower digital rewards (screening, copy, etc.) and one product of your choice (suit, shroud, or pet pod)

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit on Being Dennis. Although this is an honorary title, you are a huge reason this project is getting made, and your name will appear in the credits.

    Also includes ALL lower reward (screening, products, etc)

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Funding period

- (30 days)