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Kickstartable: A Documentary about Malnutrition in Uganda

This week’s Kickstartable project is a the production of a documentary called “From the Ground Up.” The project will specifically fund the editing of footage and creating a documentary that tells the story of Harvard students who are improving the lives of children suffering from malnutrition in Uganda. Humanitarian journalist Karen Day is looking for funding to complete the editing and producing of the film. I surprised Karen by sending her my Kickstartable questions about 45 minutes after she posted her project, her very first on Kickstarter.

What has been the most pleasantly surprising thing since your video has been live? Your response is definitely the * biggest surprise* of the Kickstarter campaign. I imagined the video had just launched into cyberspace and would idle listlessly until I spammed all friends, relatives and Harvard students for attention and pity.

Is this your first Kickstarter project? If so, what made you make the leap to engaging the world community to promote your cause? What was the most challenging part of getting your Kickstarter presentation together?

As a humanitarian journalist, I often focus on women’s issues. One of my personal projects blossomed unexpectedly from articles I wrote for Marie Claire. The Afghan Women’s Justice Project (AWJP) is a non-profit organization that supports women and children imprisoned in Afghanistan for moral crimes. Unfortunately, AWJP is not ” Kickstartable” since it’s a “charitable cause,” no matter how purposeful it may be.

Which brings me to the “School of Hard Kickstarter Realities” and my biggest challenge in setting up the current project.  I first imagined submitting a Kickstarter to NOT GUILTY t-shirts to raise funds for our AWJP literacy program in the Afghan prisons. However, Kickstarter absolutely makes it clear that their crowd-sourcing is ONLY to facilitate the creators of the
projects. Nothing can be charity or cause driven, which is difficult since I only choose to work on documentaries or humanitarian-driven stories. Don’t get me wrong – I am totally sweating that my overly-earnest Kickstarter appeal for this new film “From The Ground Up” will crash in ignominy compared to the clever, uber-successful KICKSTARTER Pick of The Day and Staff favorite: Zombie Rocks! I think those witty little pebbles raised 50K! To this end, we submitted the Kickstarter last week and were told to, “Restructure the text so it focuses on our project and does not sound like it’s pushing a charitable cause or message…” Obviously, I finally succeeded.

BTW, why doesn’t someone start a similar crowd-sourcing engine for “good causes”? Maybe one of your readers will be inspired!

What made you make the leap to engaging the world community to promote your cause?

As far as reasoning and inspiration to jump into the Kickstarter whirl, well, every film producer will tell you the hardest part of making a film is convincing people to invest in something they can’t even see yet. My partner and I, Andy Lawless, already raised 40K to shoot the film in three trips to Africa. And we’ve already worked hundreds of hours for free to keep the film alive when funding ran out. BUT No matter how altruistic we are about shifting the paradigm to feed starving African children, the truth is that my own 7-year-old son needs to eat too, so we turned to Kickstarter, hoping to raise the last 25K to cover final editing. We figured it would be a good bet as we have nothing but our time and pride to lose if it fails.

What’s your project’s biggest selling point?

The biggest selling point of our campaign has very little to do with us, even though we do have plenty of filmmaking street cred. Our biggest hook is the subject of the film – these incredible Harvard students who are changing the world by getting their hands dirty, literally, in Ugandan gardens. It offers an amazing story that could have global impact on the efficacy of international aid programs. Andy and I are committed to sharing that story; in fact, we feel lucky to make our meager living telling great stories like this, even if we have to resort to what I’ve heard others call “online begging.”

In the end, it’s much better than standing on a corner with a sign that says, ” Will make great films for food.”

Our goal for this Kickstarter, if we successfully raise 25K, is to finish the editing and premiere the film at Harvard on March 9th. We will also send the film out to as many media sources as I can arm-twist for publicity. If we are more successful than our 25K goal, we will use the funds to submit the film to major film festivals for consideration and hope to be picked up for global distribution. Call me a sucker for the cinema, but I still believe a movie can change to world. As can a great blog!

So there you have it: a Kickstarter project that can then go on to educate people about malnutrition, and promote innovative ideas to help quell it. “From the Ground Up”  can be funded for the next twenty three days.

Disclaimer: Please do not take this review or my personal endorsement of this project as investment advice. I am a lady blogger on the Internet, not an investment adviser, nor am I an angel investor myself.

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