Re-Writing The High School Movie...
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My name is Jeremy Engle. I was a classroom teacher for over 10 years and I would like to tell you about the film I will be directing this summer about the struggles of an idealistic first-year, public high school teacher...and how you can help me make it!
Previously, I made a short film called "Mosquito" about kids growing up in NYC in the 1970's. It won several awards and screened at festivals across the country and around the world.
Now I am making my first feature film and we have already begun rehearsing with a ensemble of talented teenage actors. But we need your support to make this project a reality.
THE TEACHER is the coming of adulthood story of Vance Stewart. Young, white and idealistic, Vance has always been successful in everything he has done. Now he faces his biggest challenge, teaching in a NYC public high school. Vance doesn’t want to be a traditional, “authoritarian” teacher who stands up in front of the classroom and lectures all day. He wants to be a different kind of teacher – creative, original. He wants to give his students a voice, to hear their stories.
His ideals are put to the test when his students challenge his every step and misstep. Despite his best intentions, his students see him as just another teacher and they interrupt, ignore, question, and resist his efforts.
Will Vance survive the year? And will he survive with his ideals intact?
I was a high school teacher for over 10 years and have worked with schools and teachers across the country as a professional developer. I have drawn upon these experiences to create an intimate story about the relationships between a teacher and his students.
I hope to challenge some of the conventions of the high school film. There is no sex, drugs, gangs or teenage pregnancy in THE TEACHER. And there also won't be any heroes, white saviors, convenient villains, easy answers or false uplift that we often see in Hollywood films about high school.
I was initially reluctant to make a film about high school. But increasingly I have felt the need to challenge the growing consensus (as embodied in the documentary "Waiting for Superman") that the problem in education lies in bad teachers and a bad teacher’s union – and if only we could fire the bad teachers and pay the good ones more money, most of our problems would go away.
In telling the story of one teacher, Vance Stewart, I want to tell the story of a larger, almost hidden story in the crisis of public education – that schools are designed to fail teachers. Today, while it is common to read headlines about student dropout rates, we have in many ways a more alarming teacher dropout crisis. 1/3 of New York City teachers are in their first 3 years in the profession – many just out of college -- and almost 60% leave the profession within 5 years.
With the THE TEACHER, I want to explore the struggles, choices and compromises of these young teachers. Vance Stewart is one of the thousands of teachers who will join the profession this year, and with little support, are faced with the blunt choice of quitting or compromising their ideals.
Meet Alexis, one of the stars of THE TEACHER. Check out other cast bio videos on our Youtube Channel: www.youtube.com/user/TheTeacherFilm
The process of making THE TEACHER will be highly collaborative. The script will serve more as a guide than a blueprint and will be developed in acting workshops over 6 months with an ensemble cast of teenage actors.
It was really important to us that we have real teenage actors in the student roles. And so we went on an intensive three-month casting search for young actors (over 400 teenagers auditioned!) and we have begun rehearsals with our primary cast of 13 teenage actors.
The rehearsals have begin as a series of improv workshops and slowly over time we will introduce situations, scenes, characters and dialogue from the screenplay. By the time we begin production and film this July, we will have shaped and reshaped the script to fit the actors and to incorporate the work from our rehearsals.
2 Original Artworks by De La Vega!
We are very happy to announce an exciting new reward! NYC-based artist De La Vega has generously created a striking and inspirational multimedia artwork exclusively for “The Teacher!” De La Vega’s work is familiar to all New Yorkers and can be seen in murals, streets and tee shirts throughout the world.
His “Inspire Children To Become Powerful Thinkers” is a 36x48 canvas and is available at our new $2,500 reward level. Backers who receive this powerful work will also be invited to join us for DAY ON THE ON SET and watch how “The Teacher” is made. Receive a SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH OF YOU AND THE CAST from your day ON set. A SPECIAL THANK YOU ON THE CLOSING CREDITS to the movie. And an invitation to the WORLD PREMIERE of “The Teacher!” (Travel and housing not included).
De La Vega’s “Become Your Dream” is a 24x30 canvas and is available at our new $1,750 Reward Level. Backers who receive this powerful work will also be invited to join us for DAY ON AT A DRESS REHEARSAL AN OFFICIAL “THE TEACHER” SWEATSHIRT AND HOODIE. TWO TICKETS TO THE FESTIVAL SCREENING OF YOUR CHOICE anywhere in the world. AND 5 SIGNED COPIES OF THE COMPLETED DVD. (Travel and housing not included).
HOW KICKSTARTER WORKS
Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors. Kickstarter is powered by a unique all-or-nothing funding method where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands. In other words, if we don’t raise our goal of $50,000, we lose everything.
Once we have reached our goal we will contact you to get your address and then we will start working on getting those awesome incentives to you!
HOW TO PLEDGE
Kickstarter is safe, quick and easy. Just click the green “Back This Project” button in the upper right-hand corner. You will be asked to input your pledge amount and select a reward. From there, you will go through the Amazon checkout process. You must finish the Amazon checkout process for your pledge to be recorded.
WHAT IF WE DON’T REACH OUR GOAL?
If funding fails, all pledges are canceled and that's that. Your card is not charged, it’s like nothing ever happened. We hope this doesn’t happen! Those 32 days will fly by, so please donate today!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
One of the most interesting and unique aspects of this film is that we made a commitment early on to cast real teens for our actors. This is the first film experience for most of the young actors and working with them will be a unique and authentic experience. All of us are looking forward to the challenges of working in a highly collaborative environment.We will learn to trust ourselves and each other, and we will learn to value the experiences and cherish the validity of our own stories!
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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“FRESHMAN” ~ Hello "First-Year" student, brimming with hope and ambition! Your five dollar contribution will earn our eternal gratitude in the form of a SHOUT OUT on the social medium platform of your choice, either Twitter, Instagram, or on our Facebook fan page (please tell us the name you want us to use and where)! And of course, our eternal thanks!Estimated delivery:
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“SOPHOMORE” ~ You're not an upperclassman yet, but at least you survived the dreaded first year! Since you made it, you get an OFFICIAL DESKTOP BACKGROUND and the SHOUT OUT on a social media platform of your choice.Estimated delivery:
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“JUNIOR” ~ Upperclassman! How you play it this year will determine where you go to college, what kind of job you'll get and ultimately every single thing about your future, including where you'll live and whom you will marry. Okay, maybe we exaggerate a bit. But by making it this far, you have earned a HD DIGITAL DOWNLOAD of "The Teacher" upon its completion and all of the above rewards!Estimated delivery:Add $3 USD to ship outside the US
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“SENIOR” ~ Now that you have reached your final year of high school, you rule the school. How else better to show off your senior status than an OFFICIAL HIGH-RES DIGITAL MOVIE POSTER for your virtual locker, plus all of the above.Estimated delivery:Add $3 USD to ship outside the US
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“HONORS STUDENT” ~ Hey smarty pants! You didn't get this far not planning ahead. We bet you'll see the potential long-term value in owning your own frame-worthy AUTOGRAPHED OFFICIAL MOVIE POSTCARD of the cast of the “The Teacher” signed by one of our teen cast members. Plus, you still get all of the above.Estimated delivery:Add $6 USD to ship outside the US
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“TEACHER'S PET” ~ You know there's a lot of benefits to being teacher’s favorite, and it's not just having a hall pass that never expires, (but that is a big one). Get yourself a personalized THANK-YOU LETTER from the Director of the film, Jeremy Engle, and you'll never have detention! Plus, all of the above.Estimated delivery:Add $6 USD to ship outside the US
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NEW "Wild Card" REWARD!: For this special reward we are offering an EXCLUSIVE BEHIND-THE-SCENES, MAKING OF "THE TEACHER" DVD along with a SIGNED COPY OF THE COMPLETED DVD. Plus an OFFICIAL "THE TEACHER" TEE-SHIRT, AND ALL OF THE ABOVE!Estimated delivery:Add $12 USD to ship outside the US
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“FIRST-YEAR TEACHER” ~ We know that the first year can be hard. And you might feel like you’ll never get out from underneath that pile of student papers to grade. But when you finally get that 3-day weekend, you'll have your very own SIGNED DVD of “The Teacher” to watch and relax to! And you still get all of the above rewards too.Estimated delivery:Add $6 USD to ship outside the US
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NEW "Wild Card" REWARD LEVEL! For this special pledge level we are offering an IMPROV ACTING WORKSHOP FOR TEENAGERS for the teenager of your choice with writer/director Jeremy Engle. PLUS you still get ALL of the above! Thank YOU!Estimated delivery:
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NEW "Wild Card" REWARD LEVEL! For this special pledge level we are offering an IMPROV ACTING WORKSHOP FOR DIRECTORS with writer/director Jeremy Engle. Plus you still get ALL of the above! Thank YOU!Estimated delivery:
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“VETERAN TEACHER” ~ You've seen it all, and there's really no way we can ever repay you, but we'll try by offering you an EXCLUSIVE ON-LINE VIDEO CONFERENCE with Writer/Director and former teacher, Jeremy Engle about filmmaking, education and other issues + A SIGNED COPY OF “MOSQUITO” – Jeremy’s award-winning short film about kids growing up in NYC in the 1970’s. Plus, all of the above.Estimated delivery:Add $15 USD to ship outside the US
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“VALEDICTORIAN” ~ As the top student in your class, you will be invited to an exclusive ONLINE TEST-SCREENING of the film where you will be given the opportunity to provide notes on the draft cut of the movie. Later, you will receive TWO TICKETS TO ATTEND A PRIVATE CAST & CREW SCREENING of “The Teacher" in New York. (Travel and housing expenses are not included).Estimated delivery:Add $6 USD to ship outside the US
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“PROM KING AND QUEEN” ~ We're not quite sure what the secret to your success is (we were nerds in high school) but we're sure it must have something to do with your ability to shine and stand out. That's why at this level you (or a friend of your choice) are invited to BE AN EXTRA in “The Teacher”! Plus, all of the above (Travel and housing expenses are not included)Estimated delivery:Add $6 USD to ship outside the US
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“TEACHER OF THE YEAR” ~ What’s better than being a beloved teacher? Well, we are hoping that an exclusive invite to attend the OFFICIAL WRAP PARTY in NYC. A DVD OF “HIGH SCHOOL 2” by acclaimed documentary maker Fredrick Wiseman about Central Park East Secondary School in East Harlem where writer/director Jeremy Engle was a teacher (And if you watch real closely, you can see a close-up reaction-shot of him late in the film). And an OFFICIAL MOVIE POSTER will come close. (Travel and housing not included),Estimated delivery:
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“DEAN OF STUDENTS” ~ All the students know you and fear you (in a good way, of course!) You are invited to ATTEND A REHEARSAL with the ensemble teenage cast and join in one of the group's famous improvisations! NAME A CAST member. And receive a SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH of the cast member you named! (Travel and housing not included).Estimated delivery:
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WILD CARD REWARD LEVEL "ONE" An original DE LA VEGA ~ “Become Your Dream” is a 24x30 canvas... Backers who receive this powerful work will also be invited to join us for a DAY AT A DRESS REHEARSAL AN OFFICIAL “THE TEACHER” SWEATSHIRT AND HOODIE. TWO TICKETS TO THE FESTIVAL SCREENING OF YOUR CHOICE anywhere in the world. AND 5 SIGNED COPIES OF THE COMPLETED DVD. (Travel and housing not included). You will receive your painting sooner than the other rewards.Estimated delivery:Add $50 USD to ship outside the US
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"VICE PRINCIPAL” ~ Unlike the Vice President, your job actually matters and it probably involves more politics. But there should be some perks to the job, that's why we'd like to offer you a chance to SPEND A DAY AT A DRESS REHEARSAL as we furiously prepare for the shoot. We will give you your own OFFICIAL "THE TEACHER" SWEATSHIRT & HOODIE to strut about the set in. And if this isn't enough, you will also get TWO TICKETS TO A FESTIVAL SCREENING OF YOUR CHOICE anywhere in the world when the film is complete. (Travel and housing not included).Estimated delivery:Add $6 USD to ship outside the US
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WILD CARD REWARD LEVEL "TWO": An original DE LA VEGA entitled, “Inspire Children To Become Powerful Thinkers” is a 36x48 canvas. Backers who receive this powerful work will also be invited to join us for a DAY ON THE ON SET and watch how “The Teacher” is made. Receive a SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH OF YOU AND THE CAST from your day ON set. A SPECIAL THANK YOU ON THE CLOSING CREDITS to the movie. And an invitation to the WORLD PREMIERE of “The Teacher!” (Travel and housing not included). You will receive your painting sooner than the other rewards.Estimated delivery:Add $50 USD to ship outside the US
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"PRINCIPAL" ~ You're the Big Man or Woman on campus, but there is a lot of stress that comes with being everyone's boss! You deserve to blow off some steam and join us for DAY ON THE ON SET and watch how “The Teacher” is made. You will get a SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH OF YOU AND THE CAST from your day ON set. And a SPECIAL THANK YOU ON THE CLOSING CREDITS to the movie! (Travel and housing not included).Estimated delivery:
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"CHANCELLOR OF SCHOOLS" ~ An important person like you is of course used to making tough decisions. SPEND A DAY IN THE EDITING ROOM and help us choose between hours of film footage. You'll get an ASSISTANT EDITOR credit too! And if that doesn't sound exciting enough, as Chancellor, you also get 5 SIGNED, LIMITED EDITION DVD’S and a BOUND COPY OF THE SCRIPT. (Sorry, travel and housing not provided!)Estimated delivery:
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"SECRETARY OF EDUCATION" ~ Now that you are at the head of the educational pyramid, you have earned an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER CREDIT on “The Teacher”. A PRIVATE DINNER at an exclusive NYC restaurant with Writer/Director Jeremy Engle. 2 TICKETS TO THE WORLD PREMIERE and its accompanying parties. And, oh yes… Our eternal gratitude! (Sorry, travel and housing not provided!)Estimated delivery:
- (32 days)