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$30,886 pledged of $75,000 goal
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About this project

“We’re making people choose between the family they love and the job they need. No other nation on the planet is making these choices.” -U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez

Every month, thousands of Americans are forced out of their job due to an illness or an injury. Countless others step out of the workforce due to the birth of a new child or an aging parent. A majority of these workers want to keep working but are forced to choose between tending to a loved one and keeping their paycheck. This is an unconscionable choice that nobody else in the developed world is forced to make. The United States is the ONLY developed country without guaranteed paid family leave, leaving matters largely up to an employer's generosity—and frequently forcing people to make a difficult choice to avoid extreme financial hardship or being terminated from their jobs. And the statistics are staggering:

  • Only 13% of American workers had access to paid family leave through their employer
  • 44% of American households do not have enough savings to cover basic expenses for three months of unpaid leave, meaning the birth of a new child or a medical emergency can lead to financial ruin
  • 25% percent of new mothers return to work within just 10 days after giving birth, dangerously under the World Health Organization's recommendation of 6 weeks 
  • Without protections of paid leave, new mothers are 40% more likely to end up on food stamps or public assistance.

Once a fringe topic, paid leave has now become a hot-button issue amongst politicians, business leaders, economists and working families. While corporations such as Google, Netflix, Microsoft, Facebook and progressive cities have implemented individual paid leave policies, the path to universal policies for all Americans is far from reality. While certainly a complex political and economic issue, the truth remains that 86% of Americans want paid family leave. Though the FAMILY Act, co-sponsored by Senator Gillibrand and Rep. DeLauro, would provide workers with up to 12 weeks of partial income when they take time for their own serious health condition, the serious health condition of a child, parent, spouse or domestic partner or the birth or adoption of a child, it has yet to be brought up for a vote. 

And paid leave is great for business. More small business employers say they support family and medical leave insurance than oppose it. The FAMILY Act spreads the cost of leave, reducing the burden on individual employers and allowing many more employees access to paid leave. Paid leave contributes to reduced turnover and increased employee engagement and loyalty. In California, where a family leave insurance program has existed for more than a decade, workers in low-wage, high-turnover industries are much more likely to return to their jobs after using the program.

The feature-length documentary ZERO WEEKS, by award winning Director Ky Dickens will explore why national paid leave is so important, weaving powerful emotional stories together with insightful interviews from leading policy makers, economists, and researchers, laying out out a compelling argument for guaranteed paid leave for every American worker. We’re traveling around the country speaking to experts on this issue, including the U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, White House Council on Women & Girls, the National Partnership for Women & Families and the Center for American Progress. We’re talking to small business owners and corporate leaders who are navigating the complex balance of employee needs and company economics. We're talking with agents of change and activists, including Ellen Bravo, a national spokesperson that is leading the charge on worker's rights.

But most importantly, we’re capturing stories of American workers who want to be at the bedside of their sick child. We’re talking to Americans who can’t be there for their ailing parent in their last weeks of life. We’re talking to young mothers and fathers who will have to use up all of their savings and in order to take a few weeks of maternity or paternity leave. Or mothers who have to return back to work within days of having a c-section because they can’t afford to go without a paycheck.

Every single American is touched by this topic.Together, we can make a difference. We can make recovering from an illness easier for millions of Americans. We can make the end of life easier for our parents. We can make the beginning of life easier for our babies. We can make the unexpected twist and turns in life, more manageable by ensuring they don’t turn into economic calamities for families.

1. BACK ZERO WEEKS at whatever level you can. Each and every dollar raised will go directly towards the production of Zero Weeks and creating visibility for the critical need for paid family leave.

2. SPREAD THE WORD! Paid leave laws affect every American, so let's create a groundswell. Please share our page on Twitter and Facebook. Email your friends, family and co-workers. Let's make this an issue that can no longer be ignored.

3. FOLLOW US on Twitter. LIKE US on Facebook. We'll keep you up to date on the film's progress, as well as critical paid leave news.

If you'd like to participate more deeply in Zero Weeks, email the production team at zeroweeksfilm@gmail.com — we'd love to talk to you!

Risks and challenges

Conversations about the importance of paid leave have swiftly entered our national discourse and the time is NOW to make paid leave a reality for every American, regardless of where they work or where they live. The sooner this film is made, the sooner we can create change.

Paid leave for American workers must be discussed in an election year. Our goal is to have this film out by next summer, in advance of the 2016 Presidential election. There’s too much at stake for too many families to let our country’s outdated stance on paid leave drag on any longer.

Our film team is working closely with Ellen Bravo and Family Vales @ Work, a non-profit with national reach, to create a comprehensive impact campaign the second this film is complete. Through this combined effort, we will have a team on the ground, in almost every state, to impact paid leave laws on the federal level, state level and city level.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    HIGH FIVE: It's official! You supported us so you're a friend of the film. Receive a handmade FRIENDSHIP BRACELET and a subscription to our production newsletter with important updates and news from the filmmakers.

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    Pledge $35 or more About $35

    THE VALUE OF TIME: You clearly care about this issue and you're ready to educate others. Let us help you! Receive a 2016 PAID LEAVE WALL CALENDAR, hand-painted by Detroit-based graphic designer Julie James, which lists how much paid leave each country in the world guarantees its citizens.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    PART OF THE CREW: You’re integral in getting this film made so welcome to the team with an official FILM CREW T-SHIRT. The front corner of the shirt reads "Film crew'; back of the shirt reads "Paid leave. It's about time."

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    ZERO WEEKS ADVOCATE: Thanks for joining our coalition of friends and advocates. Receive a combo pack of BOTH the Film Crew T-SHIRT and WALL CALENDAR.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    ZERO WEEKS AMBASSADOR: You've invested a lot to help paid leave and we want to help you even more. Receive a copy of the final ZERO WEEKS film on DVD as well as the Film Crew T-SHIRT

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    A MOTHER'S LOVE: Receive a HAND-KNIT SCARF, made with lots of love by Ky's mom, in your choice of either navy blue or burgundy and a DVD of the final film.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    SUPER HERO: You just paid for a plane ticket for a crew member to capture another story. That's a big deal. We need a lot of people like you to keep us going. You'll get all of our love back: a copy of the final film DVD, the Film-Crew T-SHIRT, hand-painted WALL CALENDAR, and listed on the "donors" page on our website.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    MUSIC MAKER: You are now a sponsor the film's MUSICAL SCORE by Rachael Cantu! Your name will be listed in the film credits and IMDb page as a sponsor of Rachael's score. You will also be getting a Hohner Mini Harmonica so you can make music anywhere you go. Music is key to any production so thanks for helping make ours great.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: Welcome aboard, you are now an Associate Producer of ZERO WEEKS! Your name will appear on the official film poster, in the film credits + website, on the IMDb page and on any award the film receives. You will receive an EXCLUSIVE INVITATION to watch an early rough cut of the film and give feedback with the rest of our team and you get an official DVD of the film signed by the filmmakers and subjects and the film crew t-shirt.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER TITLE PLUS! : Welcome aboard, you are now an Associate Producer of ZERO WEEKS! Your name will appear on the official film poster, in the film credits + website, on the IMDb page and on any award the film receives. You will receive an EXCLUSIVE INVITATION to watch an early rough cut of the film and give feedback with the rest of our team. You also get ALL the goods: The official DVD of the film signed by the filmmaker, an official film poster featuring YOUR NAME on the Associate Producer line and signed by the filmmaker and film subjects, the Film Crew t-shirt and screen printed calendar. Thank you for your love!

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: You are now an Executive Producer. We look forward to sharing the filmmaking process with you, including an EXCLUSIVE first look at the film's rough cut and sitting with you at a PREMIERE. Your name will appear on the official film poster, in the film credits + website, and on the IMDb page. You get a shirt, a DVD and a calendar and will be given complimentary tickets to at least one of our festival screenings, and be invited to them all! Finally, you'll be able to sit with our director and editor in one of our editing sessions, if you wish. (Travel to any of the above is not included). And, you get ALL the goods: The official DVD of the film signed by the filmmaker, an official film poster featuring YOUR NAME on the Executive Producer line and signed by the filmmaker and film subjects, the "Film Crew" t-shirt and handmade, screen printed calendar.

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: You are now an Executive Producer. We look forward to sharing the filmmaking process with you, including an EXCLUSIVE first look at the film's rough cut and sitting with you at a PREMIERE. Your name will appear on the official film poster, in the film credits + website, and on the IMDb page. Unlike the lower level $5,000 EP title, your name will be appear in the opening credits of the film - on screen alone - not just in the end credits! You get a shirt, a DVD and a calendar and will be given complimentary tickets to at least one of our festival screenings, and be invited to them all! Finally, you'll be able to sit with our director and editor in one of our editing sessions, if you wish. (Travel to any of the above is not included). And, you get ALL the goods: The official DVD of the film signed by the filmmaker, an official film poster featuring YOUR NAME on the Executive Producer line and signed by the filmmaker and film subjects, the "Film Crew" t-shirt and handmade, screen printed calendar.

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Funding period

- (49 days)