Ferguson Rises – A Hope, Love & Beauty Project
All donations to the “Ferguson Rises” Documentary are tax deductible.
By Mobolaji Olambiwonnu
Ferguson Rises is the first in a series of films to be produced by the Hope, Love and Beauty Project. Our goal is to produce inspiring films and events that bring hope, healing, dignity and investment to communities in need around the globe.
I felt compelled to begin this project in Ferguson, Missouri, because what happened there had a personal resonance for me. When I was 19 years old, while working a summer job in a small town in New Jersey, I was framed by white police officers for a rape and robbery that I did not commit. I narrowly escaped being convicted.
As the son of African and Jamaican immigrants who came to the U.S. when I was 9, I didn’t fully identify with the African American experience. But after this shocking and terrifying event, all that would change. I would spend the next 25 years struggling with a deep sense of anger. I had learned a painful lesson that so many African American people are forced to learn much earlier in life: that regardless of how I see myself, I will always be seen by some people simply as black, and therefore less than human.
When Mike Brown Jr. was killed in Ferguson, something hit home for me. He was just 18 years old, a year younger than I had been when I had my traumatic experience with police. It was a jolting reminder that America was still not a safe place for black boys, or black people in general. I was about to become the father of a baby boy. I knew I had to do something to help transform the narrative of racism and division being played out by the media with regards to Ferguson and the world. I wanted to see and experience a more human side to all this.
Ferguson Rises is my best and most sincere offering toward that goal. It is the story of a small town that suffered a powerful loss and became the flash point for a modern day civil rights movement. It features interviews with some of the most interesting and inspiring people we met on our many visits. Their voices form a conversation that gives us a variety of perspectives. They show us how they have transformed their own struggle and adversity into action, healing and empowerment. They teach us that even in times of tragedy and hopelessness, there still can be — and must be — room for hope, love and beauty. It is our hope that this film will provide much-needed healing around the global issues that were brought to light in Ferguson.
Progress so far: We are currently in the middle of post-production. We’ve completed a year and a half of focused work, including over two months of principal photography in Ferguson. We have over 120 hours of material, including exclusive interviews with protesters, police, citizens and government officials. We’ve assembled a rough cut of the film.
I don’t want to jinx it, but this film is shaping up to be pretty special. What we currently have is a moving, inspiring, thought-provoking and boldly original film … and it’s not even done yet! With your support, we will get this film finely tuned and accessible to a wide audience.
We are now in need of funds for the final half of our post-production schedule. If we meet our goal we will be able to keep our talented editor on for the next few months and take the project into an audio mix, music composition with our Grammy Award winning composer, color correction and more. We have applied to the Toronto Film Festival and have a quickly approaching deadline of August to complete our edit should we be accepted into the competition in September.
TOTAL FUNDS NEEDED TO COMPLETE THE FILM:
These funds will allow me to bring together our team of incredible collaborators to start working on the film full-time.
OUR BENCHMARK GOALS ARE:
$40,000 gets us through the next 3 months of editing in time for the Toronto Film Festival.
$73,000 enables us to cover editing, composition of original music, color correction, and sound mixing.
$110,000 covers everything above + legal, accounting, fiscal agent, and other fees associated with completion that will enable us to sell the film.
$133,000 includes everything above + title/graphics design, insurance and archival footage which will be everything we need to complete the film and have it ready for sale at Toronto in September.
STRETCH GOAL #1:
$145,000 allows us to complete the movie, as well as develop a website and distribution strategy.
STRETCH GOAL #2:
$200,000 provides us with all of the above plus the funding to cover some festival costs and social media.
STRETCH GOAL #3:
$350,000 covers all of the above plus a portion of distribution costs, including PR, festivals fees, social media, community engagement and marketing for the film.
Mobolaji Olambiwonnu – Writer, Director and Producer
Tanayi Seabrook, T.J. Odebunmi and Sherry Simpson-Dean (Emmy Award winner) – Producers
Andre Akil, Blanche Haley, Obioha Nwokorie, Khalfani Love –Associate Producers
Eric Anderson (Emmy Nominated), T.J. Odebunmi, Daisy Mo –Writers
Jerry A. Henry – Director of Photography
Bret Hoy, Dane Iwata, Jeremy Borg, Christpher Gallo, Lisandro negromanti, Christopher Phillips – Additional Photography
Jeff Striker – Editor
Tina Imahara – Consulting Editor
Wil-Dog Abers (Grammy Winner) – Composer/Original score
Lisa Smithline – Community Engagement Specialist
and many more…
ADVISORS – MENTORS – SUPPORTERS
Anurag Gupta – Business Consultant/Owner of The Difference Engine
Josh Tickell – Sundance award-winning filmmaker
Jay Levin – Founder of L.A. Weekly
The Vines Brothers – STL-Style Store, St. Louis, MO
Behzad Tabatabai – Pixsoul, Inc
DJ Al Jackson – Soul Children
Armik Agakanian – Quetico LLC
RISKS AND CHALLENGES
Filmmaking is a challenging undertaking, but with all photography and most of the editing done, we are certain that we will complete this film. Beyond completion is the challenge of engagement. Ferguson Rises is the first in a series of films to be part of a movement and online platform called the Hope, Love and Beauty project. This will enable the film to have a much longer life and reach, because it will exist within a larger global online dialogue that will continue from film to film. We also have a producer and Community Engagement Specialist with decades of experience building grassroots audiences that will enhance our distribution strategy.