When, close to two decades ago, I first started drafting a screenplay about a mixed status separated family, I had big dreams and reasons for wanting to make the movie. Over time, however, I’ve learned that there are only two things are really important when it comes to this film. The first is that the picture actually gets made, which in this case means that this rare collaboration of community members, activists and professional artists actually gets to tell the story we want to tell. And the second is that the movie is seen by the right person at the right time. Most of those people will be deported immigrants and their families, but some of these audiences will include families separated for other reasons, artists who are just trying to make it, and hopefully people who truly want to learn about and relate to what mixed status families are experiencing and how they can become allies to support them.
Fundraising has historically been my least favorite part of bringing any creative project to fruition. Drafting grant applications, calling, texting and e-mailing friends and family for support I’ve internally met with dread and surprisingly, with fear. There is no way of getting around the immense vulnerability that arises when I have to squarely tell someone: I need help. I’ve found, however, that being too afraid to ask can quickly become an excuse for hiding out, packing it in and giving up, resolved to a lack of resources.
“Fundraising is the most creative piece to making a film,” a friend told me yesterday. “You have to come up with a way to find the money to make the movie.” After getting over being flabbergasted and downright annoyed with this idea, I realized that he was right. Fundraising is perhaps the ultimate film making challenge of which there is indeed a solution or perhaps many solutions as the case may be. It’s true that I don’t enjoy the asking, but I do appreciate the value of connecting with people in a way that I might not have if I didn’t happen to need them. I like the idea of collectively tapping into our higher calling to create art that helps others and that represents diverse community. I am grateful that I get to provide an opportunity for folks to meaningfully engage with their values when it comes to human rights and to experience the generosity that comes with putting their intentions into action.
I must confess that I often tend to experience the creative process as akin to what indie filmmaker Jay Duplass describes as
"kind of like creating a Frankenstein; it’s way bigger than you, it’s terrifying, and that movie or that TV show is threatening to destroy your life and happiness at all times."
Fortunately, I am also aware that the intertwining five stories of America’s Family belong to many people and were born out of many communities. I’m lucky to be a part of these communities and I have to remind myself to trust them more and to worry about the movie less.
It’s like when George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life gets so caught up in thinking that all hope is lost that he never thinks to ask the community for help when he needs it the most. And help him they do.
Should the holiday spirit move you, you are invited to join our collaboration and contribute to America’s Family here.
Happy holidays everyone.