What is The PrEP Project?
Part documentary, part short film, and with a standout cast featuring Eric Paul Leue (Mr. LA Leather, former health & outreach director at Kink.com, and current executive director of the Free Speech Coalition), Leo Forte (gay adult film star), Rock Evans (Miami's Miss Toto, the bodybuilding drag queen—appearing here in male beefcake form), and more, The PrEP Project is sex ed for the 21st century, taking the fear out of the HIV epidemic with fun and outrageous frankness. With Eric as our guide, scenes illustrate the issues at hand with levity and "wow, they went there!" sensibility. Over the course of the four planned 5-minute episodes, we explore the new drug that prevents HIV and the backlash against it, testing, treatment as prevention, fear and stigma.
The Problem: less than 17% use condoms, and only 12% use PrEP
PrEP is a breakthrough in HIV prevention: it's a once a day pill that protects you from HIV with over 99% effectiveness. This is huge! But it isn't catching on as fast as we'd like, the most recent available data suggests that only about 12%* of the gay guys who meet the US Center for Disease Control's risk criteria and should be on PrEP are actually on it. There have been a few education campaigns, especially in places like San Francisco and New York, where as many as one in three gay men are HIV positive. In our opinion, none have been willing to acknowledge, front and center, that using a condom every time doesn't work for everyone. Some people are, and that's great! They also prevent other STIs that PrEP does not, and we're not out to tell anyone to stop. But the fact is, less than 17% of gay men use condoms every single time, so there has to be more than one option on the table.
Adding to the problem is that only one in eight adults in the US have had an STI test, and there's still a lot of confusion about how different versions of the test work. On the other side of the coin, a big of the problem facing the gay community is all the stigma and shame faced by HIV-positive men, who've been historically demonized for the sake of public health.
How do we fix this?
The PrEP Project will spread the word about PrEP through bite sized, sharable (hopefully viral!) videos that are fun to watch and use all the tools of cinema to educate and inform, in language you won't get from your average doctor. We want to explain what PrEP is and how to get it, and tackle head on some of the arguments of those who're against it. We'll make a case for why you should get tested regularly, even if you think you're not at risk, demystify what being HIV+ and undetectable means, explain how Treatment as Prevention and PrEP can finally bridge the divide between positive and negative guys.
Eric (and the filmmakers) firmly believe that knowledge conquers fear. By illuminating one of the most taboo topics in gay culture with humor, fun and a little bit of skin, we hope to write a new chapter in HIV prevention, one where being afraid of HIV and feeling out of control of your own health ends.
Finding an audience
We're taking a departure from the usual filmmaking model of running the festival circuit because we want these videos to be in front of as many eyeballs as possible, as fast as possible, so we can make the biggest impact. Although there will be a theatrical screening, this means the target distribution is an online release and a full court press on social media. Aside from our target audience of gay men, we hope the medical providers who serve them will enjoy the series too!
We think it's important for our target audience to see themselves in the project. The population affected most is young minority men, so we made sure to cast accordingly. We're also proud to include kink-positive and poly-positive scenes.
Chris Tipton-King, the San Francisco filmmaker behind the project, put up over $10,000 of his own cash to get the project started. There's been an amazing outpouring of support from the SF filmmaking community, from actors working for minimum wage to crew volunteering their time and equipment because they believe in the project. San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Strut community health and wellness center generously donated use of their space to shoot in. If this were a commercially-backed project, it would have to have a budget of over $250,000!
We hope to use this round of funding to get the series to completion: your contributions will fund things like editing, music licensing, motion graphics, color grading, sound design, mixing, etc…. But most importantly, it'll fund the online advertising through Google, Facebook and YouTube to get the videos seen by the people who need to see them.
We hope you share our vision for a sex-positive world with no new infections, no stigma and no shame. Help us make a difference!
PS: Please help us by sharing this page with your friends!
*The number quoted in the fundraising video is 5%, recent data suggests 12%—but that's still too low!
We've got some great stretch goals in mind, and we'll announce specifics as we gain momentum. We'd love to expand our ad buys, hold public screenings and more!
See the column on the right for how to score one of these sweet rewards created for our awesome backers.
**Reward designs and project content subject to change
Chris Tipton-King, writer/producer/director/editor, is a San Francisco-based filmmaker whose work has been featured at featured at over twenty festivals across the globe. He also co-founded a production company that counts the San Francisco Museum of Modern art as one of its clients. You can watch one of his previous shorts, Boys & Girls, here.
Robyn Kopp, co-producer and co-director, brings her considerable skill in managing talent, time and resources to the project, and collaborates on major creative decisions. She spends her weekdays as an assistant producer and assistant editor at Actual Films, the production company behind the new sequel to An Inconvenient Truth, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, headed to theaters in July.
Director of Photography John Kiffmeyer once played in a well known rock band, but his true calling has been his second act as master of light & lens. We always wanted the project to be well-shot, but John brought it to an entirely new level. Notable credits include the Sundance-premiered, Jamie Redford-helmed doc The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia.
Many others have contributed time and talent so far—look for their names in the credits!
Risks and challenges
The film is already in the can at this point, so the toughest part is over! But it does no good to have the footage sit on a hard drive, and that's where we need your help.
The only possible delay we foresee is if the director's day-job doing corporate filmmaking gets too busy and puts the post production work behind schedule. With enough funding, he can afford to devote more time to the project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (28 days)