This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
Word Is Bond: An LGBTQ/Hip-Hop Story
Word Is Bond: An LGBTQ/Hip-Hop Story
Hip-Hop's best-kept secret... Can you really fit into a world you love so much when that world refuses to accept who you are?
Hip-Hop's best-kept secret... Can you really fit into a world you love so much when that world refuses to accept who you are? Read more
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by .
Somebody Say YEAH: We Made It!
Thanks to the outpouring of love from around the world, we have made our funding target! This $15,000 total was the bare necessity to cover our costs to make this film, and put a little drop towards marketing & festival submissions.
BUT WE'RE NOT DONE!
A portion of your generous contributions above and beyond - i.e., our truly limitless STRETCH GOAL - will go back to both the Hip Hop & LGBTQIA communities.
As mentioned below, we partnered with Hip Hop For Change (an Oakland-based non-profit), but we will also be choosing an organization benefitting the LGBTQIA community over the next couple of weeks (Kouraj - a group aiming to help the community under fire in Haiti, or the brand new LGBTQ Center in Oakland).
So c'mon & join us! Not only will you help us tell this important story, you’ll give real people the means to write a happier ending of their own.
It's The Things Left Unsaid...
This isn't a film about Hip-Hop, and it's not just about brotherhood. The idea for Word Is Bond came to writer and director Alexandra Mastoon when she was just 10, watching music videos on MTV in the twilight of rap's golden era: the late 90's. Rewinding to that time to set the stage, we follow a day in the life of an upcoming LA rapper named Tracey, his crew's best bet at stardom.
While your word is your bond, it is your secrets that can threaten everything.
Word Is Bond is really about the struggle shared by so many who feel they need to hide their sexuality in order to be accepted, a story which still goes largely ignored - especially in the rap world. Not only do we want to start a conversation with this film, we want to raise our voices for everyone to whom this common predicament speaks - whatever their reasons may be.
Helping us to address this sensitive issue is our new partner, Bay Area non-profit Hip Hop For Change: a 501(c)3 non-profit that uses grassroots activism to educate people about socio-economic injustices, and advocates for their solutions through Hip Hop culture. With a strong history enriching marginalized and historically oppressed communities through fundraising and outreach efforts, we are proud and grateful to have them by our side to tell this story.
From childhood scribbles in margins next to homework in her black & white composition books, Alex resurrected and finished the screenplay for this powerful short in early 2017. Little did we know how hard it would be to cast the film...
Many gifted actors submitted to the project, but most felt uncomfortable portraying a gay character, even though there were no sexual situations whatsoever: all we got were tons of excuses, last minute cancellations, and flat out no shows. Just as in our search for on screen talent, we were met with some plain haters on the crew side:
We did eventually land the perfect team to capture Alex's vision, and set our shoot dates for May of 2017. Initially struggling to scout the ideal house for the filming location throughout east and south Los Angeles, serendipity lead us to the one the director now shares with her husband, the film's producer/composer! However, time was ticking and we still hadn't found our lead...
On the final day of auditions - just weeks before shooting - our last actor arrived early to audition for another role.
"So, to be honest, that role has been cast... But would you be open to playing a homosexual character?"
"Yeah, absolutely", he said.
"Let me say that again: the character is gay. Are you sure you are OK with that?"
"Completely fine", he said.
That talented artist - a straight male looking to challenge himself and grow as an actor instead of worry about his image or ego - became our "Tracey" after the amazing audition which set him apart.
Recognizing the trouble we had even putting our team together to tell the story makes it that much more important to share!
After unseasonal and completely bizarre rain, a dead car battery during on-location shooting, and lost footage from a faulty backup, we definitely needed a "cheers" at wrap!
Sounds Great, How Can I Help?
While we absolutely love what we do, we can't do it without YOU!
Your support will go towards the production costs which have already put us deep in the red, help take us through post (editing & sound mixing), and finally cover festival submission fees and marketing so we can bring our talented cast to the screen.
Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing model, so we've taken this chance knowing full well the great challenge we have to face. Our financial goal barely covers loans we've already begun paying interest on to bring everyone and everything we needed together, but this project means so much more to us than breaking even...
We need to be the change we want to see in the world. Women in the film industry are an underpaid minority, and write or direct only a fraction of the media enjoyed by so many. Now more than ever, we need to come together to tell each others' stories.
Meet Our Team!
(from top left)
Alexandra Mastoon - Writer & Director
Raised in South Florida on Spielberg and music videos, Alex knew she wanted to make movies for the rest of her life. The self-taught artist quickly went from creating worlds in spiral notebooks to working in blockbuster productions with directors like Michael Bay & Zack Snyder. In between these extremes, she’s thrived in everything from art direction and locations departments on indies, freelance editing, and experimental video art - not bad for a high school dropout. Her ongoing advocacy in the non-profit world has had her defending and educating front line communities. Through those she has helped, she has gained true inspiration to transform these once hidden life experiences into stories to share on screen - too universal to ignore.
Julio Garcia Escames - Director of Photography
Born in Granada, Spain, this award winning director and editor first grew passionate about film through watching cartoons and westerns at the age of three. With degrees from University of South Wales and a Master’s from New York Film Academy, Julio excels in everything from film through commercials and music videos.
Ace Anderson - "Malik"
This renaissance man is not only an actor, but a graphic designer and prolific photographer. Currently based in Dallas, Florida-born Ace is one of eight actors in the Regional Tony Award Winning Dallas Theater Center - along with his new fiancee!
Jaan Kristian Utno - Gaffer
A self-professed “multi tool” and lover of all things technological, Jaan Kristjan studied in both his native Estonia and here in Los Angeles, recently receiving a Master’s in Cinematography from New York Film Academy.
G. Lane Hillman - "Tracey"
Beginning with local theater productions of Lord of The Flies in Ohio and graduating to numerous television and film roles in LA, this Atlanta-born actor fell in love with battle rap over 4 years ago. When he’s not in the cypher, he uses his clever wordplay to craft scripts for theater and his own films.
Yu-Chen Tsai - Assistant Camera
Born in Taipei, Yu-Chen has somehow found time to quickly become ingrained in the Los Angeles film world while continuing her studies at New York Film Academy. She was indispensable on set and a rockstar on follow-focus - thanks Yu-Chen!
Harlan Doolittle - Editor
An auteur of short films to music videos and more, this night owl originally from the east coast was recently promoted at LA’s Encore Post, where he works on editing everything from American Horror Story and Westworld through the Golden Globe nominated Feud.
Dominique Willingham - "Obi"
An actor, singer and dancer with an infectious laugh, Dominique left his native Memphis to pursue the big screen in LA just a year ago. He has already landed roles on ABC and in a national commercial for HD Radio.
Zachary Mastoon - Executive Producer, Assistant Director & Composer
Recording some of his first music at age six in his Evanston basement, Zachary went on to study with avant-garde giant Anthony Braxton, played gamelan aboard a ship sailing around the world, and graduated from NYU's Gallatin School. Recording over ten full length albums as Caural and Boy King Islands as he bounced between homes in NYC, Chicago and the Bay Area, he broke into the film world on both sides of the camera here in LA. He also loves his wife Alex very much.
Amir Miller - "Lew"
As PlayBizness, this fiery emcee originally from Pittsburgh has shared the stage with Wiz Khalifa, Gucci Mane & Souljah Boy. We were grateful to work with him on his 3 day hiatus from the mic to play our character, Lew.
George Tataje - Sound Recordist
With over thirty years’ experience of sound mixing - 17 of which were in over a hundred films - George brings his love of music and life to set, dressed proudly in his Iron Maiden tee.
Catherine Mudd - Wardrobe Designer
Before working in visual merchandising for everyone from Ralph Lauren to John Varvatos, Catherine helped dress stars of NBC’s Chicago Fire, Chicago PD & Chicago Med in her hometown of - you guessed it! - Chicago.
Join The Conversation
We want to involve everyone in bringing Word Is Bond to life. Through Kickstarter and our Facebook page above, we hope you join us to inspire, and build the conversation in our community. Click me to follow us on Facebook!
Thanks for your support - it means the world to us!
Risks and challenges
As we continue the journey of making this film, it is only through the generous support from people like you that we can finally bring this narrative to light. Filmmaking is a commitment that takes the heart and hard work of many people - and a lot of money.
While the film is shot, we expect post production to take us through at least spring of this year as long as our goal is met and we can afford to continue.
Thank you for taking the time to be with us along the way!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- All gone!