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A documentary about 17 year-old Claressa "T-Rex" Shields, the youngest woman - and one of the first - to ever box in the Olympics. Read more

Flint, MI Documentary
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pledged of $52,500 goal
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This project was successfully funded on August 4, 2012.

A documentary about 17 year-old Claressa "T-Rex" Shields, the youngest woman - and one of the first - to ever box in the Olympics.

Flint, MI Documentary
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About this project


Thanks to each and every person who has helped us reach our minimum goal for covering our production costs. With just a few days left, we've set ourselves a stretch goal of 70k to help begin to chip away at our post-production costs which will include licensing fees for Olympic footage of Claressa's fights.  Not a cheap piece to the puzzle.  Any additional contributions will go directly to the costs associated with those licensing fees. We thank you all for your continued support and generous contributions! 


T-Rex isn't her real name.  Her real name is Claressa.  Friends and family just call her Ressa.  She's from Flint, Michigan, and next year she'll be a senior in high school.  The first day we met, it was her 17th birthday.  She had a water balloon fight and a big, yellow cake.  She carries her money around in a plastic bottle.  She wears her hair in braids (sometimes).  She takes the bus to school. She likes Twitter.  She likes boys.  She writes in her journal.  Pretty everyday for a teenager.  But this is hardly an everyday story.  Six years ago her dad took her to a local boxing gym.  She said she wanted to box.  He said, "Hell no. Boxing is a man's sport."  She ignored him.  Next month, women will box in the Olympics for the first time ever.  Claressa will be the youngest among them. And that's just where her story begins.

This last year has been anything but normal for Claressa.  She turned 17 years old.  She finished her junior year of high school.  She lived in 4 different houses. She was named "Most Outstanding Boxer" at the Olympic Trials. She flew on a plane for the first time in her life. She beat the number 1 ranked female middleweight boxer in the world.  She became a member of the USA Boxing team.  She finally moved in with her coach and his family.  In August, she'll be the youngest woman to ever box in the Olympics.  And then in September, gold medal or not, she'll be back, sitting in first period, at Northwestern High School in Flint.

It didn't take much for any of us to know that Claressa was unique.  For Sue, it only took one fight.  For Drea, it was a birthday party and a Sadie Hawkins dance.  And Zack was looking at homes for sale the moment he landed in Flint. Needless to say, Ressa is special and we knew right away that her story was worth telling.  

Everything you read about her will mention how much she has overcome to get to this point:  Growing up in Flint, broken family and being a female in a male dominated sport.  Everything you read about her will mention the incredible set-up for the Olympics.  It's the first time in 2000 years that women boxers will compete at the games and she's the youngest of all of them.  All of it is true. But that's just the surface.  Claressa is a complex, dynamic, and strong young woman with a complicated past.  For the past 6 months we have followed her around the world as she navigates both the promise and the pitfalls of her newly acquired success and celebrity. From Flint to the Olympic Games, this is Claressa's story. 









We've been shooting for six months now.  Flint.  Canada.  China.  Las Vegas. Colorado.  And London is looming.  The almighty Olympic Games!  As you can imagine, making a film on 3 continents can get expensive.  Which is why we are here.  We want to finish strong but we need your support.  

The funds we are hoping to raise will be used to cover the hard costs of our production.  Flights.  Hotels.  Visas.  Hard drives.  Sandwiches.  Steadicams. Minivans.  Cameras. Batteries.  You get the idea.  We've have about another 4-6 months to go. 

Brass tacks: We need your help!  We need support and love and if you have any, we need money.  We wouldn't be asking if we didn't believe in this project, Claressa and ourselves.  We'll take whatever you are willing to give.  And we'll be forever grateful to you for giving it!

We don't make films in bubbles, vacuums or ivory towers so we promise a steady (but not annoying) stream of words and photographs from the road. In addition to all the fine gifts/rewards/prizes that are available, most importantly, a donation of any size makes you an official member of Team T-Rex.  So feel free to make little dinosaur arms and roar like an animal.  We do it all the time...


Zackary Canepari and Drea Cooper began working together in 2009 right after Zack shot Drea's wedding and then proceeded to lose all the photos. Since then, they've produced an online series of short documentaries called "California is a place", and have directed a handful of commercial films for clients such as Apple, Toyota, Ray-Ban, Adidas and Chevrolet.  They are the proud owners of 3 fancy glass awards from film festivals you've never heard of and one that you have (Sundance!).  What else do you want to know? Drea is better at racket sports. Zack has a red beard. Neither one of them really speaks Hindi or Spanish but they sure do like to pretend...

Sue Jaye Johnson has worked in pretty much every medium there is -- radio, photography, video and sometimes all of them together in award-winning productions.  She has been following the women who are attempting to be the first ever to step into the Olympic Boxing ring for the New York Times Magazine, NPR and WNYC.  She boxed just enough to know that her best shot at the Olympics is probably in curling.  No offense to curling.  

Bianca Darville is a documentary and commercial line producer.  A film theory graduate from UC Berkeley, she has produced films and commercials for the Pearson Foundation, Apple, Toyota, Ray-Ban and Chevrolet.  She dreams of one day directing a mocumentary about professional skipping.  You'll have to ask her...  


Spread the Word.  FACEBOOK.  TWITTER.  Handwritten letter.  Morse code. Megaphone.  TELL ANYONE!  TELL EVERYONE!  And we thank you.  


Drea, Zack, Sue and Bianca


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  • You selected
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    94 backers

    A big thank you. A virtual hug. A digital hi-5. Good karma. Undying friendship. Smiles and sunshine. Any help is good help. All press is good press. Health is wealth!

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    Pledge $25 or more

    171 backers

    A hearty back pat (awkward shoulder squeeze is an option as well) AND a digital print of the official T-Rex poster AND a digital download of the final T-Rex film (when available) AND a whole lot of love on Facebook and Twitter.

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    171 backers

    This is where things get really good. You’ll be one of the first to receive a fancy new DVD of the film plus you’ll be thanked personally in the credits of the film. If that’s not enticing enough, you’ll briefly be the talk of the social media world when your name appears in a font both bold and italicized. Beat that!

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    Pledge $100 or more

    80 backers

    Party time! Official DVD of the T-Rex film. And the official DVD of Canepari/Cooper's epic "California is a place" series. Plus a bite-sized 5"x7" Canepari photo print with the word "Thanks" written on the back with a sharpie. Not to mention the wide variety of thank you's, back pats and congrats that are mentioned above.

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    Pledge $150 or more

    13 backers

    The shiny sizzling fresh-of-the-press T-Rex special! Everything from above but in crystal clear High Definition. Blu-ray copies of both the T-Rex film and the California is a place collection. And the Canepari photo is now a gigantically enormous 8in tall by 10in wide and I will even sign the front. Anyone interested in an upgrade?

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    17 backers

    Same as above but with one special adrenaline shot. The one-and-only-and-original T-Rex film poster, printed on sexy paper (luster!) in a sexy size(16"x20")!!! And of course all the lovely items mentioned above. If that's not worth two hundreds and a fifty then I'm not sure what is...

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    Pledge $500 or more

    6 backers

    The bigger and badder special kit. Exotic hams and jams in a gift picnic basket! Just joking. More DVDs and more posters. This time the T-Rex poster increases to a full-sized-glorified 27"x40". And for good measure we'll toss in a 16"x20" poster from the ZCDC epic "Aquadettes", designed by the magicians at ilovedust. Plus all of the above. Plus the undying love of some very lucky filmmakers...

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    Pledge $1,000 or more

    0 backers

    Posters. DVDs. Glory. Fame. And Eternal Life (not guaranteed). Plus a photo print of Rex in action. Of your choosing. Signed by the photographer. A Canepari creation? A Johnson original? You choose. To be clear, the gift basket now includes...

    T-Rex DVD, California is a Place DVD, 27" x 40" T-Rex Poster, 16" x 20" Signed photo print, Thanks/Hugs/Love/Devotion

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    2 backers

    Welcome to Hollywood! You are now a film producer. Specifically, you are an Associate Producer but no one at your cocktail party will know the difference. Any way you slice it, you're living the dream. Other goodies (DVDs/Posters/Prints/DVDs/Posters) will come with your credit but at this level, who really cares?

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    3 backers

    Well, congratulations. You are now officially our boss. Executive Producer is your new title. You get all the other stuff from above but when you're the EP who cares about posters and photographs and DVDs cuz you've got a fancy trailer with leather seats that massage your lower back and surround sound speakers in the latrine (trailer/leather/latrine not included)…

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Funding period

- (24 days)