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A documentary film about the first "black Tonight Show." Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL!

Mr. SOUL! THE MOVIE

Join the Mr. SOUL! Journey.

We're making a documentary film about Ellis Haizlip and the SOUL! show. We need YOUR support to continue shooting our interviews for the film!

LET'S GO VIRAL!

We love social media. Please "Like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. For more about the project, check out our website: mrsoulmovie.com

BE A SOUL! SOLDIER

Most of all, thanks in advance for sharing this link to our Kickstarter page with your friends and family, on all of your social networks -- we can't do this without you!

ABOUT THE FILM

Before Oprah, before Arsenio, there was Mr. SOUL! 

From 1968 to 1973, America got SOUL! -- the first "black Tonight Show" -- a groundbreaking PBS television series called SOUL! produced and hosted by Ellis Haizlip. The show was both entertaining and revolutionary, while launching the careers of many of the African American icons of the 20th century, and marking the beginning of diversity in television.

For much of America, SOUL! offered the first glimpse of black culture, music, politics and community, as well as first-ever televised performances and appearances by Earth, Wind & Fire, Arsenio Hall, James Baldwin, Nikki Giovanni, Maya Angelou, Al Green, Ashford & Simpson, and more.

WNET/Channel 13 in New York City - celebrating it's 50th anniversary this year - was the original presenting station of SOUL!, making it a real New York story, one about the arts, culture, and a black, gay, broadcast pioneer who changed the media landscape at the onset of public television. In 1972 and 1973, at the height of the show’s success, Lincoln Center invited Haizlip to produce Soul At The Center, a critically acclaimed, two-year, twelve-day black arts festival at Lincoln Center, which became the first collaborative venture between Lincoln Center and the black community.

The film offers a behind-the-scenes look at this revolutionary program, from its initial conception to its final broadcast, including the very public battle to keep it on the air despite a shifting political landscape. The documentary interweaves Ellis Haizlip’s biography into the narrative following the five seasons of SOUL!, interspersing contemporary interviews, archival material, excerpts from the show, and narration by Keith David.

WHO WAS ELLIS HAIZLIP?

Ellis Haizlip (right) backstage with Stevie Wonder
Ellis Haizlip (right) backstage with Stevie Wonder
Behind-the-scenes at SOUL! with Ellis Haizlip and the MANDRILL Band. Photo courtesy Alex Harsley. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Behind-the-scenes at SOUL! with Ellis Haizlip and the MANDRILL Band. Photo courtesy Alex Harsley. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Widely recognized as the impresario of black arts and culture, Ellis B. Haizlip (1929-1991) devoted a lifetime of artistic excellence to the communication of black perspectives through stage and television productions. Born in Washington, D.C., Haizlip went to Howard University, and soon after became a theatrical producer who would break boundaries in television, creating opportunity that hadn't existed before for all people of color and women. Haizlip became affectionately known by friends and artists alike as                   “Mr. SOUL,” as he continued to promote the world of African American culture and art throughout his lifetime.  

PAYING IT FORWARD

This is the remarkable story of how despite many challenges, one man and one show changed the face of television and paid it forward for all of us. There never would have been a Soul Train without Ellis Haizlip and SOUL!

WHY DO WE NEED SOUL! NOW?

SOUL! has been sitting in the vaults for over 40 years.  It's time to bridge the history gap, especially for our youth. The film is an incredible opportunity to revisit and reintroduce this critical moment in broadcast television that's still relevant today, because it created a ripple effect that's still evident in the entertainment world. We're also telling the story of the advent of 20th century black pop music -- pre-Soul Train, pre-Michael, and pre-MTV! It's American history. It's our history. Help us tell this story!

SNEAK PEEKS OF OUR WORK IN PROGRESS:

Harry Belafonte on Ellis Haizlip and SOUL!

ASHFORD & SIMPSON ON ELLIS HAIZLIP AND SOUL!

Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson share a rare and touching moment, reminiscing about Ellis Haizlip and SOUL! Haizlip was the one who encouraged them to become a duo and sing their own compositions, devoting  several entire "Club SOUL!" episodes to their music, thus helping to launch their act. We were very lucky to have been able to sit down with them that night at the Sugar Bar. Sadly, Nickolas Ashford passed away on August 22, 2011 just 4 months after this interview was taped. We were honored by his generosity and kindness.

WHY ARE WE FUNDRAISING, AND WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?

We've been researching and working on the film since 2009, and will complete the entire project by the end of next year. We've shot enough interviews to make the fundraising trailer above. The money we raise will allow us to continue shooting our interviews. The funds will go directly toward all the expenses of film production, including paying for camera equipment, travel, and of course our fantastic crew. Since the original SOUL! show was all about community, we want to give everyone the opportunity to be a part of Mr. SOUL!

WHAT IS KICKSTARTER, AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

IT'S EASY: YOU MAKE A DONATION AND YOU RECEIVE A REWARD! Kickstarter is the world's largest online funding platform for creative projects, with an "all-or-nothing" approach to supporting independently crafted projects in return for rewards.   

Check out the column on the right to find a level of giving that works for you and some swag you'd like to receive. We're offering some great rewards, each named after an episode of SOUL! Once the funding window is completed, we will thank you on our website, Facebook and Twitter, and ship all the other goodies by mail.

HERE'S THE THING: IF WE DON'T MEET OUR GOAL, WE DON'T GET A DIME. (Nope, not even a penny.) That means we won't make any money at all even if we're short by $5.00, and none of the backers' credit cards will be charged. That's why we need your support!

THE GOOD NEWS IS, IF WE DO MEET OR EVEN SURPASS OUR GOAL BEFORE THE DEADLINE, WE GET TO KEEP THE WHOLE AMOUNT. Even though our $75,000 goal is only part of our entire budget, it will allow us to launch principal photography and finish shooting our interviews. If we raise more than $75,000 it will go directly toward post production costs and expenses such as editing, color correction, music clearances and licensing.

PREFER A TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATION? NO PROBLEM!                    Mr. SOUL! The Movie is fiscally sponsored by Women Make Movies, a 501(c)(3) non-profit media arts organization registered with the New York Charities Bureau of New York State. Women Make Movies has accepted grants or tax deductible donations on behalf of filmmakers for the last 40 years. We will happily accept your tax-free donation.  Contact Producer/ Director Melissa Haizlip at info@mrsoulmovie.com to learn more.

MEET THE TEAM AND JOIN THE MR. SOUL! JOURNEY IN MAKING THIS FILM

Samuel D. Pollard
Samuel D. Pollard

DIRECTOR - SAMUEL D. POLLARD

As producer, director, editor and creative consultant, Sam has collaborated extensively with many filmmakers, bringing programming that illuminates the Black experience in America to both television and theatrical audiences for over twenty-five years. Sam produced and edited the award-winning Spike Lee documentaries WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE: A REQUIEM IN FOUR ACTS, IF GOD IS WILLING AND DA CREEK DON’T RISE, and FOUR LITTLE GIRLS (all for HBO), and the features INSIDE MAN, GIRL 6, CLOCKERS, JUNGLE FEVER, 25th HOUR and MO’ BETTER BLUES. Sam directed SLAVERY BY ANOTHER NAME (PBS), which premiered at Sundance 2012; edited JOE PAPP IN 5 ACTS (Tribeca Film Festival 2012), BY THE PEOPLE: THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA, and CHISHOLM ’72: UNBOUGHT AND UNBOSSED, andproduced “Eyes on the Prize: The Civil Rights Years" (PBS). Sam has been a professor on the faculty of New York University for nineteen years, teaching courses on The History of Editing at the Tisch School of the Arts.

Melissa Haizlip
Melissa Haizlip

PRODUCER/DIRECTOR - MELISSA HAIZLIP

Melissa is a Firelight Media Producers' Lab Fellow, a  Film Independent Project: Involve Fellow, Class of 2012-2013, and a 2011 Producers Guild of America Diversity Workshop Fellow. Melissa first collaborated with her uncle Ellis Haizlip on “Three by Three” for Great Performances: Dance In America (PBS). After a 25-year career as a professional Broadway stage performer and film/TV actor, Melissa moved to Los Angeles to work in Development at the American Film Institute. She began casting for independent features, including the feature 40, which premiered at Toronto International Film Festival 2010. Melissa founded Shoes In The Bed Productions, an independent film production company producing cinematic works of non-fiction with an emphasis on diverse new voices and filmmakers of color.

Airrion Copeland
Airrion Copeland

PRODUCER - AIRRION COPELAND 

Airrion produced the documentary WHITE WASH, a film about black surfers, directed by Ted Woods, and narrated by Grammy Award-winning musician Ben Harper.  The film features an original score by Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter of the legendary hip-hop group The Roots. Airrion produced JOURNEY FROM ZANSKAR, directed by Frederick Marx (HOOP DREAMS) and narrated by Richard Gere, featuring the Dalai Lama. He’s currently producing his first narrative feature, STAND THE GAFF, directed by Renata Green-Gaber.

Bradford Young
Bradford Young

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY - BRADFORD YOUNG

Bradford lensed Dee Rees' short, PARIAH, which won the Audience Award at the 2007 Los Angeles Film Festival. The feature length expansion of PARIAH premiered at Sundance 2011, where Bradford was honored with the (U.S. Dramatic Competition) Excellence in Cinematography Award. His cinematography includes AIN’T THEM BODIES SAINTS, MA’ GEORGE, RESTLESS CITY, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, MISSISSIPPI DAMNED, and ENTRE NOS. Bradford received his MFA from Howard University, where he studied under Haile Gerima.

Read more about the whole Mr. SOUL! team and advisers on our website, mrsoulmovie.com.

PRODUCTION STILLS

Valerie Simpson and Nickolas Ashford interview at the Sugar Bar 4/29/11
Valerie Simpson and Nickolas Ashford interview at the Sugar Bar 4/29/11
Harry Belafonte interview at Belafonte Enterprises, NYC 5/2/11
Harry Belafonte interview at Belafonte Enterprises, NYC 5/2/11
Interviewing Harry Belafonte at Belafonte Enterprises, NYC 5/2/11
Interviewing Harry Belafonte at Belafonte Enterprises, NYC 5/2/11

Additional questions? Feel free to contact us at info@mrsoulmovie.com

IT TAKES A VILLAGE...

Filmmaking is a community. Join us! Please help us share this Kickstarter project: "Like" us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest. For more about the project, check out our website: mrsoulmovie.com.

 We really appreciate your help and can't do this without you!

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT - IT'S BEEN BEAUTIFUL!

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

This film is what they call "rights intensive" - containing some of the biggest names (and songs) in music. One of our potential challenges might be clearing the rights to the music publishing of some of the most recognizable songs in history; "Over the Rainbow," for example, as sung by Patti LaBelle on the very first episode of SOUL! on September 12, 1968. This is why we've hired the best and brightest, qualified music clearance professionals to handle our complex rights and clearances, so that we may tackle these challenges and use the performances that best tell the story of SOUL!

FAQ

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    TO THE PEOPLE, THANK YOU: Thanks for being a “SOUL! Soldier” and championing the film -- your support means the world! You’ll be thanked on our website, and receive regular email updates about the film’s progress and eventual screenings in your area. Your pledge helps bring Bill Withers to the screen!

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    THE YOUNG PEOPLE’S SHOW: You’ll be thanked on our website + personal email thank you message from the film's directors and producers, Sam Pollard, Melissa Haizlip & Airrion Copeland. PLUS since we live for social media, a shout out on Facebook or Twitter because we love you. Your pledge helps bring Melba Moore to the screen!

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    THE YOUNG PEOPLE’S SHOW - LOS ANGELES: All the above, PLUS Love documentaries AND live in LA? 2 tickets to annual Day of Black Docs, an all-day mini-film festival presented by Black Association of Documentary Filmmakers West, at American Film Institute in Hollywood, November 10, 2012! (Though you guys are all great, due to location, this award is extended to Angelenos and nearby neighbors. *Travel/ accommodations not included.) Your pledge helps bring Amiri Baraka to the screen!

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    SHADES OF SOUL!: All the above + film poster, digital download (when available). Includes shipping in the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount.) Your pledge helps bring interviews with Felipe Luciano, The Last Poets and Patti LaBelle to the screen!

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    THE BLUE NOTE SHOW: All the above, PLUS special limited edition t-shirt. Includes shipping within the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount.) Your pledge helps bring interviews with T.S. Monk and Herbie Hancock to the screen!

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    CLUB SOUL!: All the above PLUS 2 Kickstarter exclusives: Limited Edition Backer DVD copy of the film way before anybody else on the planet + Naturally 7, Vocal Play CD courtesy of our Mr. SOUL! team. Includes shipping within the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount.) Your pledge brings to the screen a special interview with Ashford & Simpson!

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    BLACK FIRE: **NEW REWARD** All of the above PLUS a LOS ANGELES EXCLUSIVE: the 1st LA backer enjoys a SOUL FOOD DINNER on us at the new Dulan's On Crenshaw! *Travel/ accommodations not included. Includes shipping within the USA, since this one is for our friends in CA. Your pledge brings to the screen a special interview with Dr. Billy Taylor!

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    ELEMENTS: All the above just got better: limited edition backer DVD will be AUTOGRAPHED by the Directors and Producers. Includes shipping within the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount.) Your pledge helps bring Earth, Wind & Fire to the screen!

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    IF YOU DON'T KNOW ME BY NOW: All the above, plus a "special thanks" credit in the film. Includes shipping within the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount.) Your pledge helps bring interviews with Cicely Tyson, Clifton Davis, Ruby Dee, James Earl Jones and Sidney Poitier to the screen!

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    LIKE A RIPPLE IN A POND: All the above, PLUS become ASSOCIATE PRODUCER with your name listed in the end credits! Includes shipping within the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount.) Your pledge helps bring interviews with award-winning poets and authors Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez, and Dr. Maya Angelou to the screen!

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    LIKE A RIPPLE IN A POND – NEW YORK: Who says there’s no such thing as a free lunch? All the above, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER end credit PLUS the first NY backer enjoys a SOULFUL BBQ LUNCH on us at The Hog Pit NYC! *Travel/ accommodations not included. Includes shipping within the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount.) Your pledge helps bring interviews with Dr. Loretta Long and Gladys Knight to the screen!

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    LET’S STAY TOGETHER - NEW YORK: Another one-of-a-kind reward: all the above, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER end credit, PLUS special perk for first NY backer: SOUL FOOD DINNER on us at Red Rooster Harlem! *Travel/ accommodations not included. Includes shipping within the USA, since this one is for our friends in the Big Apple. Your pledge helps bring Harry Belafonte’s interview to the screen!

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    LET’S STAY TOGETHER - LOS ANGELES: One-of-a-kind reward: All of the above, ASSOCIATE PRODUCER end credit, PLUS special perk for first LA backer: SOUL FOOD DINNER on us at Post & Beam Restaurant in Baldwin Hills! *Travel/ accommodations not included. Includes shipping within the USA, since this one is for our West Coast friends. Your pledge helps bring Arsenio Hall’s interview to the screen!

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    IT’S BEEN BEAUTIFUL: All of the above, + become a CO-PRODUCER with your name listed in end credits! PLUS 2 tickets to Mr. SOUL! premiere or festival of your choice, we’ll treat you and your +1 to dinner afterward with the directors and producers.* *Travel/ accommodations not included. As Ellis Haizlip would say, “It’s been beautiful!” (his favorite phrase). Includes shipping within the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount.) Your pledge helps bring interviews with original SOUL! team to the screen: Ivan Cury, Anna Maria Horsford, Christopher Lukas & Stan Lathan!

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    WONDERLOVE: JOIN THE PRODUCER'S CIRCLE! All of the above + CO-PRODUCER (and official Angel) of the film, with your name listed in the OPENING credits + personal thank you call from the producers + limited reward of 2 tickets to world premiere screening of Mr. SOUL! in New York or Los Angeles* + “very special thanks” in the credits + private screening of the film in your home, a party, or even a hall or nightclub (within 300 mi of NY or LA) with your friends and the Producers. Includes shipping within the USA. (Shipping to Canada add $10, International add $15 to pledge amount.) *Travel/ accommodations not included, advance notice required for tickets. Your pledge helps bring Stevie Wonder to the screen!

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