Jenn Snyder, 2010

JennSynderThis is the final week of Tracy’s fundraising campaign. We’re still trying to find Jenn’s voice, but as of this posting, we’re still only at 48% and there are only 6 days left in the campaign. Here is Tracy’s final message:

“Yesterday I had an amazing conversation with a new friend who reminded me that this campaign is about creating awareness. We set out to do this film to give Jenn a voice and to share her experience with the world. Through the last year of outreach, we’ve done just that! We’ve heard from dozens of survivors that having a voice is a powerful tool in healing and prevention.

Jenn Snyder is the face of our film. But we all know someone. One in four women and one in seven men are impacted by domestic violence. Maybe it is a mother, grandmother, sister, friend, neighbor, cousin…a person whose face you see when you think of intimate partner violence. Maybe it’s the face in the mirror…

It’s easy to feel helpless when we see that face. Easy to feel overwhelmed by the enormity of the statistics.

  • But I’m here to tell you that just by reading this post, you are taking a stand against intimate partner violence.
  • Share this information with one other person, and your impact doubles.
  • And by funding this film you create a powerful tool which will make your impact grow exponentially.

No one needs to feel helpless.

Intimate partner violence is a preventable problem. Thank you for being a part of the solution.

Gratefully,

Tracy”

Visit Finding Jenn’s Voice and let them know what you think by posting a COMMENT.

And please consider a contribution: http://www.seedandspark.com/studio/finding-jenns-voice

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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

The Fourth Wave: Transgenderism

Check out Transalchemy’s video on the subject of Transgenderism.

The video starts with Shulamith Firestone’s 1970 quote: “The heart of women’s oppression is her childbearing and child-rearing roles…To assure the elimination of sexual classes requires the revolt of the underclass (women) and seizure of control of reproduction…so the end goal of the feminist revolution must be unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself; genital differences between human beings would no longer matter.”

Note the date. This is not new stuff. People have been gaga over the ability to create life sans womb for over 30 years. Maybe 100 even. Pregnancy is so painful and messy. Why can’t we just get over it?

Whether we use a high-tech package complete with artificial coitus, artificial uterus, and artificial birth, or a totally different method of creating a “human,” once we give pregnancy the boot, we will be truly changed. The question is what will we be changed into and is it a good thing?

The answer is up to women. Certainly men can have an opinion but, really, what would that opinion be worth? Men will never have the opportunity to carry another living soul within themselves (unless you consider intestinal e-coli as having a soul). They will never give up anything. Women must decide what to do about this. They are the ones losing a life experience.

The forethinkers in the video assert that women need to be freed from the shackles of carrying to the painful and messy term. Are they the true feminists then, the voice of women in general?

Perhaps. But contrary to what a number of ignorant anti-feminists would have us believe, feminists have always supported motherhood. They support motherhood as well as mothers. What confuses people is that they also support non-motherhood.

The reason for this apparent discord is that, at heart, what feminism actually supports is choice. Throughout history as the obstacles to choice have come into existence, been beaten down, and been born again in some other form, the feminist fight has also changed. Battles over the rights to education, enfranchisement, property ownership, fair recompense for services rendered, and a life free from violence, have at different times been the outward goals of feminism. Underlying it all always, though, is the fight for women to have choice.

Now comes the Singularity allowing women to have children the new-fashioned way: without pain and mess. And men can get in on the action. It’s not going to matter who your daddy or your mommy is, or even if you have a mommy or a daddy. It has been true for some time that Daddy isn’t needed, that’s what sperm banks as for. As far as I know men have not complained about this. Which is why the male opinion on this particular development doesn’t count for much. If armies of protesting men begging us to “put the ‘pa’ back into ‘parent’” found themselves in the weekly roundup, it might be different.

As it is, we look to feminism for answers on this issue. As long as a woman can procreate using whatever method she chooses–natural, or artificial–feminism won’t care one way or another. But money changes everything and at some point feminism will be forced off the fence. Perhaps it will be cheaper to create a test tube baby than to carry one to term. Do you think the insurance companies will continue to support natural pregnancy? First they’ll launch a massive pr campaign convincing us of the advantages of artificial childbearing. Once the majority of people opt for this option, the insurers will drop the option. What if some minority of people wants to bring life into the world in the old-fashioned way? Should society support this misguided group? You know how we are about that taxation stuff. It’s so painful and messy.

The problem comes from the fact that no one, unless they’ve borne a child, can know what it’s like. It will be easy to frighten or cajole first-time parents-to-be into choosing children from a catalog. They have no clue as to what they are missing. But many, many women of today will not agree that losing the ability to grow one yourself is a good thing. They will assert that there is something about having a baby the old-fashioned way. Maybe the process gives you universal knowledge; it’s a path to enlightenment. Maybe you see a side of life that the rest of us don’t even know exists. Maybe chemicals released during the feverish nine months combine alchemically in your psyche and for the rest of your life you live on a natural high.

From an intellectual standpoint, it makes sense to do away with painful, messy pregnancy first chance we get. Why go through the uncomfort? But I don’t think we should leave it up to the intellectuals on this one. The feminists need to huddle on it. Get back to us with a decision. Is this something that should go away? Will it truly grant equality to women or will it simply be something we no longer have a choice on?

I have heard that going through a pregnancy is one of the most profoundly satisfying experiences one will ever have. Will virtual pregnancy be enough to satisfy in the same way?

Of course pregnancy and gender identity is only one aspect of life that humanity gives up to reach life everlasting via The Singularity. We’ll also give up ethnic identity, age identity, and anything else that contributes to individuality. So what’s the diff?

Sue Lange
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