Announcing our new project-in-development for Latino Public Broadcasting -- the "New American Girls"
The stories of young women raised in the USA, aiming for careers in medicine, law and education. Only they're not "documented" -- they could even be deported.
Have you heard of the Dream Act? This legislation applies to them. Youth who were raised here but born elsewhere, brought here by undocumented parents.
These kids grew up as Americans. They're probably more patriotic than you or I. But lacking a social security number, they can't get goverment grants or loans for college, or work legally. They also live in fear. They're stuck.
The Dream Act bill would provide a pathway to residency for children of undocumented immigrants who came here as children, graduated high school, and attend college or serve in the military. It failed to pass last December.
Why this story?
I don't consider myself an "activist" or "social issue" filmmaker. I just like telling stories about people I like. That's how this thing started.
I first met one of our subjects, Patricia, in Denver two years ago. She was in a high school program introducing academically talented girls to engineering. I discovered she was undocumented.
I started learning about others in her situation, and about the Dream Act. I realized this was a huge national issue. But sort of under the radar. With all the rhetoric about "illegal immigrants," who was talking about the 2 million-plus studying in our schools, raised as Americans?
I started following more news on TV and online about immigration, and was appalled by the rhetoric, bullshit, and sheer inaccuracy of most of it.
What I hope to do is share some personal stories about undocumented youth, in their own words. Put a face on the issue.
To state the obvious, especially if you know me personally:
I like immigrants. I think it's what makes the US special. I don't believe in opening the borders to anyone. I respect the law. I do support the Dream Act because current immigration laws are flawed. You may disagree. That's Ok. I don't want to preach to the converted. Just inspire some sane conversation.
Our characters include:
We're doing this as a "new media" series
That's a sort of vague term for videos for the web, where viewership is exploding. We are making a series of short (1-3 minute) "Webisodes" about the subjects, that can be easily viewed and shared online.
"OK, enough talk, when can I actually SEE it?"
We're editing these "webisodes" now, and still shooting. We'll be putting together a short (45-60 second) "trailer) for early August. A website and Facebook page are in the works too.
Best case scenario -- we finish by September for Latino Public Broadcasting to distribute to PBS or other public media for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Here's the thing (and some of you could see this coming): lots of work remains, and we're running out of money.
We got three grants -- from Latino Public Broadcasting, Paul Robeson, and Puffin Foundation. That's an achievement, and I'm grateful. But grants these days aren't enough, and we just got turned down for one I was expecting. Ouch.
That's where you guys come in (you saw this coming, right?)
I'm going to launch a fundraising campaign in August focusing on fans, friends and supporters. We have a big (several thousand) fan base from Soy Andina, and online tools to spread the word.
We need to raise about $25,000 (most of that will go to pay my co-producers/editors, all Latin American women themselves who know a thing or two about immigration. More about the team in the weeks ahead.)
"Crowdfunding" is how we made Soy Andina (before that term became in vogue). We'll offer incentives, make it fun. You pledge what you want. If half our mailing list kicks in $15, we're done. It's highly doable. In fact, there is no way we won't succeed, because the project depends on it.
Please bare with me. First we have to make the trailer so you get to see something! Then we'll launch the campaign.
If reading this is enough and you want to get behind this now, or find out more, great. Write me.
"What about that Scissors Dance project you were all hot about?"
This time last year I was in Peru, plotting a documentary with Peruvian filmmaker Gaby Yepes about the remarkable "scissors dancers" from the Andes.
We traveled to a fiesta in the deep Andes, shot material, edited clips. We learned that Japanese public TV (NHK) was interested. The project was pitched. And we waited, and waited...then the horrifying Japanese Tsunumi struck.
We were told NHK stopped funding new international projects after that. So there went our major funding prospect.
This is a film that could still happen some day. But with New American Girls looming, I had to move on.
Meantime -- want to see those clips? They're on Gaby's website.
I'll be back real soon. Thank you! - Mitch