About this project
"The Police say they have no crime. I have no son." - Noreen Gosch
Johnny Gosch disappeared delivering newspapers in West Des Moines, Iowa on the morning of September 5, 1982. He was 12 years old.
More than any other missing child case, Johnny's story has spawned countless theories and has instilled intrigue in the millions who remember the kid on the side of a milk carton.
WHO TOOK JOHNNY is a feature documentary that examines the infamous case by focusing on his mother Noreen's epic quest to figure out the truth behind her son’s disappearance. She has dedicated her life to finding the answer to what happened that morning. Along the way, there have been mysterious sightings, strange clues, bizarre revelations, and an emotional confrontation with a person who claims to have helped abduct Johnny. Mixing new interviews with archival footage, home video and film material, we'll see three decades of the case unfold. The viewer will explore the same clues and information that Noreen and law enforcement have seen. The answers to what happened are in the material. The idea is collectively to solve this mystery.
We are pre-selling 1000 limited edition DVDs to pay for post-production costs which include licensing, music, sound mixing and coloring costs.
*All backers get an advanced copy of the film. ￼
About ten years ago, at the suggestion of journalist Nick Bryant, we began looking into the story of Johnny Gosch. Even though police could never establish a crime, many believed his abduction was connected to an interstate pedophile network that used troubled teens for prostitution and pornography. While it became difficult to make sense of all the possible connections, we were intrigued and inspired by Johnny's mother Noreen, who stood out as an incredible character. Smart, tireless, and feisty, she was the kind of person you'd want on your side in a fight. She wanted to find out what happened to her son and would do anything to get to the bottom of it.
Over the past 30 years, Noreen has worked tirelessly not only on behalf of Johnny, but also to change laws and protect other children. She helped establish the Johnny Gosch Law in Iowa, which requires law enforcement to act immediately when a child is reported missing. Along with John Walsh and other parents of missing kids, she helped push the creation of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
This summer, around the 30th anniversary of Johnny's disappearance, we went with Noreen to visit a family whose daughter had disappeared a few weeks earlier. Noreen was asked to give them some guidance. Their incredible meeting and the dramatic intersection of their lives exposed the heart-wrenching stress parents endure when a child goes missing. It brings the story full circle, and reminds viewers what it was like for Noreen in 1982. While we've been following the developments in the case since 2002, and shooting periodically, it was just this past year that MSNBC hired us to produce a one-hour special, Missing Johnny, about the case. We shot with Noreen, John Sr., the last adult to have seen Johnny, law enforcement, the reporters who covered the case, neighbors, witnesses, and the man who claims to have helped kidnap Johnny. We're very proud of this project, but the story is so big that we need another hour to tell the entire history. MSNBC* generously agreed to let us independently make a full-length feature film from all of the material, and we're calling it Who Took Johnny. ￼
At RUMUR we make films about people who fight tenaciously for things they believe in, especially when their ideas clash with prevailing attitudes. In Horns and Halos we chronicled the efforts of an underground publisher as he tried to get a controversial George W. Bush bio back on the shelves. In Battle for Brooklyn, a determined activist tries to save his neighborhood from being condemned by New York State for the benefit of a private developer. With Who Took Johnny, we've turned our camera towards Noreen Gosch, a mother who must fight for her missing son because nobody else will.
"If I wasn't looking for Johnny, then nobody would be." - Noreen Gosch
A first cut will be finished in and will be made available for review for those who contribute $250 or more to the campaign.
Who Took Johnny will premiere at film festivals.
DVDs and Downloads are made available to Kickstarter Backers.
Who Took Johnny is released commercially. ￼
*MSNBC and NBC Universal Inc are not affiliated with this campaign or WHO TOOK JOHNNY and none of the views expressed here reflect those of NBC Universal or its affiliates.
Risks and challenges
The risk of Who Took Johnny not being completed is little to none. All of the material has been shot, and the rough cut and library of footage are backed up in a redundant archival system.
Funds raised by pre-selling will be used for licensing, post sound mix, music and coloring costs. The plan is for Who Took Johnny to be completed and released during the Summer 2013 festival season.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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