About this project
Over 250 backers helped us reach our minimum financial goal of $50,000, and over 600 backers helped us reach our stretch goal of $110,000! We are humbled and grateful, and we are committed to showing our appreciation by producing a compelling film and distributing it widely. Yet we have more work to do in the meantime.
From the beginning, we have hoped that this film would build and inspire a community of people concerned about the media's role in today's society. Therefore, we set an outreach goal of 750 backers. With eight days left in the campaign, we hope you will help us reach that goal.
We can assure you that the additional funds will be applied to the ideal budget we have developed to produce the film at the highest quality and market it and distribute it widely. In other words, additional funds raised through Kickstarter will reduce the amount we have to raise privately to reach that ideal budget.
Again, this campaign is about more than raising money: this campaign is also about building and inspiring a community. If you have already joined that community, we thank you sincerely. We welcome those who have yet to join, and we hope you will help us reach our goal of 750 backers.
“In the end, the discipline of verification is what separates journalism from entertainment, propaganda, fiction, or art.” — Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism
Unverified will recount one man’s efforts to stand up for what he believed was the truth when the press reported otherwise.
In the summer of 2011, a local journalist began raising suspicions about UNC football players’ enrollments in African and Afro-American Studies classes. Shortly thereafter, a University investigation discovered that a department chair and his assistant had conducted a large number of lecture classes as independent studies and graded them leniently. Subsequent investigations determined that the so-called “paper classes” were not created specifically for athletes, nor did any investigation find evidence that coaches knew the classes were inappropriate. Yet the press began depicting the classes as part of an insidious athletics scandal. Bradley Bethel, a reading and writing specialist at UNC, watched the media perpetuate what he believed was a sensationalized narrative for over two years before he decided he could remain silent no longer. He began blogging about the alleged athletics scandal and within a short time became a widely recognized figure in the public debate over UNC athletics.
Unverified will be a documentary film that tells the story of Bradley’s attempts to set the record straight about the controversy at UNC and to challenge a press he now believes is more concerned with creating narratives than with telling the truth.
Why This Film Is Important
Unverified will challenge the popular understanding of the alleged athletics scandal at UNC, but the film will be about much more than that: it will be about the effects the media’s sensationalism can have on real people. Bradley Bethel saw and felt those effects and, as a result, became determined to stand up for what he believed to be true. Many of us acknowledge the media’s tendency to sensationalize narratives, but we rarely examine the ways our beliefs and judgements have been influenced by such sensationalism. Bradley will challenge viewers to do just that, using his personal experience with the alleged athletics scandal at UNC as a case study. By recounting his fight for the truth and providing a platform for those whose voices have been mostly excluded until now, Bradley hopes to raise awareness about the power the media has to shape our perceptions of reality and truth. Unverified will thus be a critical contribution to discussions about the role of the media in today’s society.
How You Can Help Make Unverified
Unverified is at the end of the pre-production phase, which means we, the filmmakers, have outlined the general vision for the film, recruited the production team, secured commitments from critical interview subjects, and established a tentative production schedule.
To begin production, we needed to raise at least $50,000. We were awestruck when over 250 people, many of whom are members of the Carolina community, helped us reach that minimum goal within one day! That money will help cover legal fees and initial travel expenses, buy and rent quality equipment, pay for the costs of archiving and storing footage, and purchase insurance for the crews and locations.
Ultimately, however, we still need a significant amount more to produce, edit, market, and distribute a compelling film. To complete the production phase, we need to raise $110,000, which we have set as our stretch goal. By raising the entire $110,000 through Kickstarter, we will be able to direct the money we raise privately to post-production costs (e.g., editing, marketing, distribution). Quite simply, the more the public contributes through Kickstarter, the more compelling the film will be, and the less we have to raise privately.
We are confident you will see the importance of this film and make a contribution, and we sincerely thank you in advance. Please see the various rewards we have selected to express our gratitude for your helping make Unverified a reality.
Kickstarter Fundraising is All or Nothing
How does it work?
Project creators establish a financial goal and a deadline to reach that goal.
If the goal is reached by that deadline, the creators collect all the contributions minus the 5% Kickstarter fee.
All contributions exceeding the goal go to the project creators’ budget (which, in this case, would help with post-production).
If the goal is not reached by the deadline, no money is collected, and the project receives nothing.
The Production Team
Bradley Bethel (Writer & Executive Producer) studied writing at The Ohio State University and earned a master’s degree in English Education from the University of Toledo. For three and a half years, he was a reading and writing specialist at the University of North Carolina, until he left to work on Unverified. Bradley maintains two blogs and writes for the popular culture and sports website Raleigh & Company. In late February 2014, he began publishing a series of essays challenging the sensationalized narrative of an athletics scandal at UNC, and his blog Coaching the Mind has been widely read since then. Unverified is his first documentary film.
Read Coaching the Mind here: coachingthemind.org
Connie Lo Ferrara (Producer) has been working in video production for over 16 years. She was the associate producer for 365 Days: A Year in Happy Valley, a feature documentary film that challenges the media's narrative of the Penn State scandal and examines the effects of that scandal on the Penn State community. Connie earned a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin in Radio-Television-Film, and her projects have spanned a variety of categories, including advertising, documentary, educational videos, and news. She is also the founder and managing partner of the production firm Pharm to Market, which she established in 2004. Connie has worked on productions for MTV, Fox, Eastman Kodak, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and other top pharmaceutical companies.
See the trailer for 365 Days:
Louis Tynan (Director) is a longtime filmmaker who spent over 20 years making documentaries for public and network television and whose narrative films have been distributed around the world.
Ned Phillips (Director of Photography) recently completed shooting Truth Underground, a feature documentary film that follows three spoken-word poets in North Carolina and explores how the spoken-word community gives meaning to its member poets. In 2006, Ned graduated with honors from Goucher College, where he played lacrosse and double-majored in Spanish and Communications & Media Studies. Two years later he completed a Certificate in Documentary Arts at Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies. Since then, Ned has worked as a video editor for the Chapel Hill production company Warner & Company, and he has written and produced for the Durham-based online publication Clarion Content.
See the trailer for Truth Underground:
Ed Barnes (Editor) has written and directed seven short films, including his latest, “Blackwell,” due for release later this year. Originally from England, Ed attended college at the University of Manchester, where he studied Psychology and graduated with honors in 2007. In 2009, he was accepted into the prestigious Graduate Film Program at New York Univerity’s Tisch School of the Arts. Since graduating with his MFA in Film Production, Ed has collaborated as a cinematographer and a film editor on numerous films in addition to writing and directing his own.
See the trailer for “Blackwell”:
Michael Pogoloff (Assistant Producer and Animation & Motion Graphics Artist) is a freelance videographer and motion designer, currently in graduate school at North Carolina State University’s College of Design, where he is concentrating in New Media. His previous work includes collaborations with New York Times bestselling author Edwin Black. Michael began studying photography and other visual arts in high school and became interested in filmmaking after earning his bachelor’s degree in History from the University of North Carolina. Through his experience and studies, Michael has developed technical skills in animation, cinematography, color grading, editing, virtual effects, and 3D modeling.
See the promotional video for Edwin Black’s book War Against the Weak:
Risks and challenges
With all projects, there can be unforeseen complications and delays. We are committed to our supporters and will honor your contribution by keeping you informed of our production progress. Most importantly, we are dedicated to producing a quality documentary film that will tell a compelling story and engage a wide audience.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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