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A documentary film following Patty Stonefish's quest to bring empowerment and self-defense training to indigenous women across America.
Arming Sisters profiles Native American women who are fighting on a grass-roots level to end violence against indigenous women in the Northern Plains.
Arming Sisters profiles Native American women who are fighting on a grass-roots level to end violence against indigenous women in the Northern Plains.
353 backers pledged $21,945 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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Arming Sisters Documentary Film

$21,945

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According to the US Dept of Justice, Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to experience sexual assault than all other American women. Amnesty International found that one in three Native women reports having been raped during her lifetime and that 86% of the offenses are committed by non-Native men. By making a film documenting the Arming Sisters’ campaign of self-empowerment through self-defence, we will raise awareness of these issues by following the unique story of Patty Stein Stonefish’s effort to effect positive change.

Arming Sisters is a women's self-defense project developed by Patricia Stein Stonefish, a young Lakota Sioux martial artist with a black-belt in Hapkido. Patty first started teaching women's self-defense in Egypt during the revolution, where she worked in tandem with the group Tahrir Bodyguard to combat the ubiquitous violence perpetrated against female protesters. Having witnessed the positive effects her workshops were having abroad, Patty realized the impact self-defense training would have back at home on Native American Reservations, where statistics reflect the alarmingly high rates of assault & sexual violence experienced by Native women.

Patty plans the route for the 2014 Arming Sisters' campaign
Patty plans the route for the 2014 Arming Sisters' campaign

The Arming Sisters' compact workshops include two consecutive days of training, empowering women through mental awareness, psychological conditioning, and the physical application of 10 moves that can save a woman's life. The moves are simple enough to be shared and retaught by each participant.

Patty teaching a self-defense move, Tulalip Reservation, WA
Patty teaching a self-defense move, Tulalip Reservation, WA

The Arming Sister’s Documentary will follow Patty Stein Stonefish as she tours her workshops around reservations in the Midwest and Northwest this summer. Brad and Willow plan to document Patty's daily progress, the stories of the women whose lives Arming Sisters touches, and the communities they call home.

Willow and Brad directing a video for BATALA NYC
Willow and Brad directing a video for BATALA NYC

The strength of the Arming Sisters' campaign is that it works to empower women on a grassroots level as well as raise awareness and begin a conversation. The prevalence of violence faced by Native women demands exposure, as does the community working for change.

We feel that this project captures the zeitgeist of voices fighting to end targeted violence against women. Join us in this expanding global conversation and help us share the unique, local story of Arming Sisters.

Arming Sisters workshop, Hibulb Cultural Center, Tulalip Reservation WA
Arming Sisters workshop, Hibulb Cultural Center, Tulalip Reservation WA

 How Will We Spend Your Money?

$20,000 is the bare minimum of what we need to cover our costs and shoot this project with the level of professionalism it deserves. Every dollar we raise - including any above our goal - will enable us to raise the production value and maximize the accessibility of our film.

Below are some examples of how we will spend your donation:

$5 Pledge - 1.5 gallons of gas. We need an estimated 550 gallons to complete our journey.

$10 Pledge - Rubber Microphone Mount w/tax and shipping. We need 2.

$25 Pledge - 20'XLR Cable to connect our microphones to our recorder. We need 6.

$50 Pledge - Intervalometer allowing us to take beautiful time-lapse videos (the sun set and rise, clouds forming, stars moving across the sky at night), important for use as transitions in the documentary.

$75 Pledge - 1 External Hard drive. We need a minimum of 16 to store and backup our footage!

$100 Pledge - Repair the fluid head on a tripod (that was generously donated to us by The Shway)

$150 Pledge - A portable camping stove and fuel. You know, so we can eat and drink coffee.

$200 Pledge - A boom pole to get the microphone close to our subject.

$300 Pledge - A second tripod for our second camera for those nice, steady shots.

$500 Pledge - A wireless microphone system so that our subjects can be untethered while practicing self-defense and generally running about. We need at least 2.

$1,000 Pledge - A shotgun microphone and accessories to get the really high quality audio. 

$5,000 Pledge - Don't call us the morning after, we'll still be celebrating.

$10,000 Pledge - We will question our atheism. 

Risks and challenges

This is the first time we have produced and directed our own documentary film. That said, we have been embedded in the film industry for over a decade and possess much relevant experience to draw upon -- including working on other people's features.

We are currently in the process of building an advisory board, and have already been fortunate enough to enlist Charles Dye and Bess O'Brien as advisors. Charles Dye is the Emmy award-winning producer of "Before There Were Parks: Yellowstone & Glacier Through Native Eyes," and the director of "Indian Relay." Bess O'Brien is co-founder of Kingdom County Productions and producer/director of numerous award-winning documentaries including "The Hungry Heart," "Ask Us Who We Are," and "Journey Into Courage." With Dye and O'Brien's seasoned field experience to back us along the way, we will always have knowledgeable counsel and support when needed.

Documentary film requires intimate access to subjects with whom the filmmaker sometimes does not have an established relationship. We embark on this project conscious of this risk but also reassured by the warmth and inclusion Patty has already extended to us, as a friend and as an ambassador. As outsiders we approach this project with great humility, respect and openness.

Making a documentary is an adventure between pre-visualization and discovery. What we anticipate as filmmakers may be radically different from what we encounter. Arming Sisters is a volatile subject in that the locations, dates and specifics of each workshop may change. Patty and her mission are an important and compelling story independent of the location, timing or frequency of her workshops. By devoting all of our attention and time to following the Arming Sisters' campaign this summer, we will have the flexibility and light-footedness to adapt to changes as they occur. Wherever Patty goes, we will go.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    A THANK-YOU shout-out on our facebook page + weekly production updates.

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    POSTCARD from the road! We will mail you a postcard (featuring photography by the directors) while traveling with Arming Sisters this summer + weekly production updates + thank you on our facebook page.

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    LINK TO DOWNLOAD COMPLETED FILM BEFORE RELEASE + weekly production updates + thank you on our facebook page + postcard

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    DVD COPY OF THE COMPLETED FILM + postcard + thank you on our facebook page + weekly production updates!

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    PERSONALIZED DRAWING CREATED FOR YOU BY EITHER WILLOW OR BRAD + DVD copy of the completed film + thank you on our facebook + postcard + weekly production updates

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    LIMITED-EDITION SIGNED MOVIE POSTER + DVD copy of the film + thank you on our website & facebook + postcard + weekly production updates

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    TWO TICKETS TO A US SCREENING (does not include travel/lodging expenses, only tickets and venue fees included) + thank you on our website & facebook + postcard + weekly production updates + signed limited-edition movie poster

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    SKYPE CHAT/TELEPHONE DATE WITH THE FILMMAKERS ON THE ROAD THIS SUMMER + thank you on our website & facebook + postcard + weekly production updates + signed movie poster + two tickets to a US screening (travel/lodging expenses not included)

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    TWO DVD's OF COMPLETED FILM + thank you on our website & facebook + postcard + weekly production updates + signed limited edition movie poster + two tickets to a US screening.

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    HEADSHOT PHOTOGRAPHY SESSION (FOR YOURSELF OR A FRIEND), SHOT BY WILLOW & BRAD (includes 4-hour photo session & 10 retouched images. Travel/lodging expenses not included) + special thanks in the credits & website + postcard + weekly production updates + signed movie poster

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    FOUR TICKETS TO MOVIE PREMIERE + DINNER WITH THE FILMMAKERS IN NYC (dinner on us, travel/lodging expenses not included) + DVD of completed film + special thanks in the credits & website + postcard + weekly production updates

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    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER CREDIT + DVD of completed film + weekly production updates

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    A 10-MINUTE VIDEO CREATED FOR YOU (or the person of your choice), to commemorate an event/graduation/memorial/wedding/birth/anniversary/engagement, etc (travel expenses not included) + Associate Producer credit + DVD of completed film + postcard + weekly production updates

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Funding period

- (30 days)