The War on Women

candleIt’s a political phrase, this war on women. Maybe a metaphor or a tag. It started as a ploy by one political party to define the workings of the other political party. Despite that,  it may very well be a reality.

The number one cause of death among pregnant women is murder. The number one cause of work place death for women is murder. There are more statistics, not pretty to look at, but important. This war on women goes unrecognized for the most part because it’s not the usual type of war that starts with a line in the sand or congressional declaration. It’s all done within the confines of intimate relationships. Lovers everywhere are killing their loved ones.

The problem is solvable. As with many of America’s current problems, the answer lies in education. Take a look at the left sidebar at domestic violence website listed above. “55% of women perceive violence as a normal part of their marriages.” I’m quite sure violence has no place in a marriage. Or any relationship. I’m also quite sure someone should get the word out about that.

The goal of Tracy Schott’s “Finding Jenn’s Voice” is just that. It’s a tool to educate the general public about the problem, and to raise awareness among those most at risk.

Narcissistic people capable of heinous crimes, such as murder of a loved one, send up red flags even if they are not outwardly violent. If we learn to recognize these red flags, we can save lives.

The word needs to get out. Documentaries, such as “Finding Jenn’s Voice,” need to be made and distributed. But films are expensive to make. That won’t happen without funding. Please consider a contribution to “Finding Jenn’s Voice,” today, so we can get the word out. There are only 13 days left in the fundraising campaign and it is only 40% funded so far. Please help.

Keep in mind this is a pay now, or pay later deal. Each murder in the U.S. costs the taxpayers 2 million dollars. This is preventable. Help now.

Sue Lange

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Your Personal Murder Bill

MurderStatAccording to the World Health Organization, a murder in the United States costs the American taxpayers 2 million dollars. First off there’s the loss of productivity and wages the victim would have earned. Then there are the costs incurred during the processing of this murder. The investigation, the prosecution, the incarceration. There are additional costs if the victim is hospitalized prior to death.

With roughly 15,000 murders a year committed in the U.S. that ciphers out to 30 billion bucks. It’s a luxury I don’t think we need.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, most murders are committed against someone known to the perpetrator. Sadly many of these people are victimized by intimate partners. It’s hard to believe, let alone understand, that truth.

The key to preventing such horrible acts is education. There are red flags in a relationship that can indicate a person is at risk. But currently we are not educating ourselves as to what these red flags are. What if there was a vehicle for disseminating this important information? Would you help to get the word out?

If the answer to that question is yes, then get yourself over to the crowdfunding site for the film, “Finding Jenn’s Voice,” and make a donation. The very purpose of this film is to educate and help those of us at risk for intimate partner violence (IPV). It explains what IPV is, how to recognize it, and how to prevent it.

The film’s producer, Tracy Schott, is only 22% funded at this point. She’s half way through the campaign. If she doesn’t reach her goal she will not get her funding. She will not finish the film. It will not get distributed. The word will not reach the people who need to hear the message.

And if you think the number of people dying via IPV is small and so not worth fretting over, consider this:

The FBI has reported that 11,766 American women were killed by IPV between 9/10/2001 to 6/6/2012. According to the Center for Disease Control, every day more than 3 women are killed by their intimate partners.

You can do something about this. You can help educate people. All you have to do is give ten bucks to the film. Ten bucks now might just prevent a 2 million dollar bill later on. And it’s not just about murder. IPV in all its forms incurs costs to all of us.

According to the World Health Organization, from 56% to 80% of the costs of care for gun and stabbing injuries are either directly paid by public financing or are not paid at all — in which case they are absorbed by the government and society in the form of uncompensated care financing and overall higher payment rates.

So you are paying for IPV whether or not you are involved, are related to someone involved, or even remotely know someone involved. If you are a million miles away from IPV, you are still paying for it. So do yourself a favor, take one small step in preventing it.

Sue Lange

Tracy Schott: Finding Jenn’s Voice

tracy01671The “Jenn” in Tracy Schott’s documentary is Jennifer Snyder. In 2011, she was murdered by the father of her unborn child. When Jenn’s aunt Trina called Tracy to ask her to make a movie about Jenn, Tracy shook her head. As a commercial film producer she is too often requested to make a movie about someone’s life story.

But Jenn’s story is different. It’s not so much about the brutal murder of Jennifer Snyder, as it is about an alarming statistic: the number one cause of death among pregnant women is murder.

After Trina contacted her, Tracy did a little research. Although she was dubious about the story’s importance, she Googled “homicide and pregnancy” and was shocked to learn the above statistic. How could that be true, she wondered. And more importantly: what could she do about it.

Before becoming a film producer, Tracy was a Social Worker. She left that field because she knew she could make a bigger impact elsewhere. Her training though, the fortuitous call from a friend, and her subsequent quick research on the subject led Tracy to a logical conclusion. Finding Jenn’s Voice is the film that was waiting for her.

She started doing deeper research and learned how preventable intimate partner violence (IPV) is if we are educated about it. She knew that Finding Jenn’s Voice would be the perfect vehicle for education. She’s been passionately working on it since then.

I spoke to Tracy a year ago about the project. Now that’s she’s in the midst of a fundraising campaign to finish the film, I thought it’d be good to check in on her. I stopped by her office in the Goggleworks of Reading, Pennsylvania for a chat.

Sue Lange: The last time we talked you had interviewed Jenn’s family, a number of the law enforcement officers who had dealt with the case, and a few experts in the field of IPV. Where are you at in the process now?

Tracy Schott: We’re about half done with shooting. Then, of course we’ll have about 100 hours of footage to edit.

SL: Wow, that’s a lot. I remember you were trying to talk to David Rapoport’s ex-wife (David Rapoport is the murderer.). Were you able to do that?

TS: No, she has not responded to our requests. And frankly, she too, was a victim of her husband’s coercion and control, and I feel that it’s important to respect her desire for privacy.

SL: I agree. So let’s talk about your process. The new trailer you’ve put together is fantastic. And I noticed you added interviews with more experts on IPV. Now you’ve been reaching out to survivors. What have their stories been like?

TS: I’ve talked to over 30 survivors of attempted murder, many of whom were pregnant at the time. These were all women who contacted me after the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence posted information about my project. These women have had unbelievably harrowing experiences. And they are all incredibly strong. They want to tell their stories. They want to help other people that may find themselves in similar situations.

SL: How will their stories help?

TS: Each one of these women is unique—their scenarios are all different in terms of specific events, murder weapon, location and such—but there are strong commonalities.

SL: Such as?

TS: Each of the survivors I spoke with described the perpetrators as charming and likeable. One woman felt like she’d “hit the lottery” because he was so perfect. But eventually, these men became intensely jealous many resorting to stalking and monitoring the women’s activities. They were very controlling, financially, about what the women could wear, who they could see, and their communication with friends and family. All described how they became isolated so that when the abuse escalated or they realized that the relationship was dangerous, they had nowhere to turn. If we can educate women about these red flags in relationships, I do believe we change the outcomes.

SL: So how will this film do that? How will it have an impact?

TS: In addition to the normal distribution channels—film festivals, online distribution, and possibly television—we plan to directly distribute to college campuses. I hope to travel and do talks along with the film. We want to educate women, especially when they’re young. And men. One in four women, and one in six men, will find themselves in an abusive relationship. It’s important for people to start talking about this. It’s surprising and disconcerting how uncomfortable people are with this topic. That needs to change.

SL: Yes. You need to get this film out there. It will be a starting point for the conversation. So how is the fundraising at Seed & Spark going?

TS: Seed & Spark is an amazing crowdfunding platform. There are a lot of platforms out there, but Seed & Spark is the best for our purposes.

SL: Why’s that?

TS: They only do film and it is curated.

SL: I saw that at their website. In fact I posted about that at my blog. I think curation is so important these days with anything, but it’s especially helpful here. We may want to support a project that we know nothing about. If the project makes it to Seed & Spark, at least it’s been vetted.

TS: Also Seed & Spark is woman-run. And they are extremely supportive.

SL: Those two things might go hand in hand.

TS: Maybe. All I know is that within an hour of my launch, I had three donations from Seed & Spark staff. The first one was from the executive director. They know how important it is to have something in the pot right away. They also tweet my project every day. Crowdfunding is about getting the word out on the Internet. Facebook and Twitter are key.

SL: I know you’re looking for funds mostly because you’ve still got shooting to do. Why is that so expensive?

TS: We’ve still got to fly to where the interviews are going to take place. We’re scheduled to be finished on October 10th, but I’ve got about a dozen survivors to shoot yet. They’re located all over the country. One is in the U.K. We might not be able to get to that one. The final shoot is going to be a group interview with as many of the survivors as we can get together.

SL: Where are you going to do that?

TS: I think right here in my office.

SL: Perfect. It’s so comfortable here and conducive to conversation. I look forward to seeing that on the screen. Good luck with all of it especially the crowdfunding. With the funds, you can make all the rest of that happen. Thanks for talking to me about this crucial project.

TS: Thank you for your support and getting the word out about the film!

Tracy Schott is in the process of raising funds to complete Finding Jenn’s Voice. She needs $50,000 to conduct the final interviews and get through post-production. Please help.

Seed & Spark: New Kids on the Crowdfunding Block

seed&sparklogoConfession: I tried and failed at Kickstarter. Granted my campaign was back in the early days when Kickstarter lured prospectives with this pitch: A lot of people with money want to contribute to projects. It makes them feel like a part of it. Get on Kickstarter to connect with these people.

My problem was I didn’t read the fine print. It went something like this: the “people with money” are actually your friends and it will be your job to make them want to contribute to your project. And not just your friends, oh no. “People with money” includes anybody you’ve ever come across in your lifetime, even if they don’t have a day job or some other source of income. You will need to hound every person in your Rolodex, your elementary school teachers, truant officers, college professors, %*!k buddies, neighborhood homeless, best pals, sworn enemies, and barely passing acquaintances to meet your goal. If you don’t meet your goal you will not only lose all those people you nagged for money, but the amount they promised to donate. You will need to take a vacation from your job and life in order to run the campaign. You will lose any scrap of creativity you have in your chosen field of expression as you transform yourself into a fundraiser. What’s cool about that is when you’re done, even though you will probably have failed, you’ll have the job skills required to work for a non-profit.

What I discovered in those early Kickstarter days is that nobody trusted it. “Why can’t we just give you the money?” people asked when I tried to send them to Kickstarter. “We don’t really trust weird Internet sites.” I didn’t have an answer so I gave up and went about my business, creative soul intact.

Today everybody’s more sophisticatd. Crowdfunding is no longer scary. People with money love donating to projects at Kickstarter. It makes them feel like they’re part of it. Unfortunately you still have to mortgage a couple of months of your life in order to succeed there or on any platform.

Kickstarter has a less than 50% success rate. Sounds bad, but it’s probably not. Almost half the projects are getting funded. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean 1 out of 2 ideas are good and come to fruition. It just means 1 out of 2 project owners are good at selling. Talent at selling is never an indication of worthiness, but that’s another blog post.

Enough about Kickstarter, let’s move on to Seed & Spark, a filmmakers’ crowdfunding platform that got started only last year. Their website states they have a 70% success rate. How’d that happen when they are new and nobody likes weird new Internet sites? One word answer: gatekeepers.

I know, I know. In this post-monarchic Internet world, democracy is king. No gates allowed. But as we’ve quickly seen, when everyone owns the means of production you get a lot of, well, cat videos. At this point a little filtering is a good thing.

So getting a project on Seed & Spark is an accomplishment. It implies an organized campaign, a good product, and an energetic filmmaker. Anyone accepted at Seed & Spark is probably hard-wired to accomplish their goal.

I discovered Seed & Spark through Tracy’s campaign for Finding Jenn’s Voice. My previous posts have details on that, but in short, she’s about half done with production with a lot of interviews left to do. She has all the editing and distribution to do as well. The subject of Finding Jenn’s Voice is dark: Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and the fact that the number one cause of death among pregnant women is murder. The premise of the film is that IPV is preventable, but the statistics won’t change unless we start talking about it. Finding Jenn’s Voice is the starting point for the conversation.

Good topic. Important topic. Worthy topic. Damn hard to get people interested. The subject is one that people don’t want to think about. We prefer the reports in the evening news which at best give us lurid details, and at worst side with the murderer (“He’s really a nice guy. Something made him snap.”)

Tracy’s a great filmmaker. Check out the trailer to see what I mean. I hope she succeeds. I hope Seed & Spark succeeds. If for no other reason than the belly-warming bit about themselves they have at their site:

Seed&SparkIntro

So let’s hear it for the new kids on the crowdfunding block. Good luck to Seed & Spark and their clients. I look forward to some great indie movies in the years to come. If you feel the same way, head over to Seed & Spark and check out some of the flicks that have been funded there already. Their categories are great. I find “Made by Irish people,” and “Trouble in Paradise” more helpful than the typical Netflix categories like “Stuff you like,” or “Movies with Brad Pitt.”  At Seed & Spark you can actually view the movies online without having to wait for them to come to a festival in your town. Three bucks. “One Hundred Mornings” is on my list of things to watch.

See you at the show.

Sue Lange

If you haven’t donated a few bucks to Tracy’s movie, please do so now. She’s still only 14% funded at this point.

Pregnancy and Intimate Partner Violence

FJVsmallTracy Schott’s documentary, FINDING JEN’S VOICE, is about half-way completed. She’s still got some shooting and interviewing to do before she begins the editing process. To get all of this done, she’s launching a fund-raising campaign  on July 29th. More about this below.

Finding Jenn’s Voice concerns the difficult subject of intimate partner violence (IPV). Tracy became involved  with IPV when a friend related the story of her niece, Jennifer Snyder, who had been murdered by her boyfriend. The boyfriend was married to another woman at the time and when he discovered Jennifer was pregnant he killed her.

Tracy was reluctant at first to work on a project that seemed more appropriate for tabloid journalism. But after doing a cursory search on the Internet, she discovered a horrible fact: murder is the number one cause of death in pregnant women. After overcoming her initial shock, she asked herself what could be done. What could she do about it? Tracy is a movie and tv show producer. The logical answer for her was to use her skills to tell Jennifer Snyder’s story with an eye to educating the world about the larger problem. The result is Finding Jenn’s Voice.

In Finding Jenn’s Voice, Tracy is offsetting the sensationalism the media initially gave Jennifer’s story with a clinical look at the wider problem of IPV. The movie will be a clarion call to our society: we must talk about this, we must make ourselves aware, we must change the story.

The fundraising campaign for the movie will launch at the end of the month. I’ve signed up to help get the word out. I’ll be following along on Facebook and reporting her progress back here. I’ll also be posting general  information on IPV as Tracy continues her research.

For more information on Finding Jenn’s Voice, visit the website. To help in these pre-launch days, you can “like” the Facebook page for Finding Jenn’s Voice, and pass along this information to everyone you know.

Stay tuned.

Sue Lange