Tag Archives: Australia

Second Chances

by Gail Mooney
July 2 2012

I ran into someone over the weekend who I had not seen in many years.  We had been good friends, but we had drifted apart, over some disagreements, that neither of us could even remember. I’m sure those disagreements seemed important at the time, but now they just seemed trivial.  We both realized that we had let our egos get in the way of our friendship and instead of trying to heal the hurts that had severed our friendship – we put more angst, anger and sadness in its place.

I started thinking about the kids that I met at the Oasis Youth Network

Sir Richard Branson making breakfast sandwiches at the Oasis Youth Network, Sydney, Australia

in Sydney, Australia, when Erin and I were there, shooting this segment of Opening Our Eyes.  One young man was telling his story of growing up in a broken home, with parents who were drug addicts and gamblers.  He talked about stealing money for his lunch when he was a kid, and never having clean clothes to wear to school.  He talked about getting into a life of drugs and crime and eventually being sent to jail, away from his children and everything that was good in his life.  And then he talked about how Oasis had given him his life back and how Paul Moulds in particular had given him a “second chance”.

When we interviewed Paul Moulds for our film, he made a comment that still resonates with me to this day, almost two years later.  In talking about kids who grew up in homes like the one this young man described, or worse yet, kids who were homeless and trying to scrape out some kind of life on the streets, he said:  “we try to help these young people by training them and finding them a job – but who is going to be willing to hire them when they have no address, no education and no record of employment?” He went on to say that no matter, how much pain some of these kids had grown up with or how many wrong decisions they had made in their lives, that he still believed in giving them second chances.  I remember thinking at the time that the world needed more people like Paul – people who believed in giving others, a second chance.

We all say and do stupid things in our lives and in the process, we end up hurting ourselves and the people we truly care about.  We’ve given into our “precious egos” when we behave like that.  Ultimately, many of us come to realize that we only bring more pain in our lives, by continuing to hold onto the hurts from the past, instead of letting go of our egos, and giving someone who may have done us wrong – a second chance.  I think sometimes in our efforts to protect ourselves from being hurt by others, we bring more pain to our lives by shutting the door on second chances.

Jackson Browne writes, “It seems easier sometimes to change the past”. Unfortunately, we can’t change the past, but we don’t need to keep holding onto it.  While it’s not easy to give someone a second chance, it feels so much better to leave the door open to possibilities. Imagine what the world would be like if we all thought like Paul Moulds, and thought that everyone deserves a second chance.

Getting Past the Ego

by Gail Mooney
November 25 2011

 

I was invited recently to speak at a TEDx event in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Someone in Brazil had seen the trailer for Opening Our Eyes and wanted me to come to this event and talk about the subjects in our film.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and the  commonalities amongst the people in our film; they all think beyond themselves and consider how their actions will or won’t affect others.  In return of course, they are all richly rewarded.

There isn’t a day that I don’t think about Ronni Kahn’s words “don’t do it for the money….. or for the recognition…….do it for the sake of doing.”  Every one of our subjects lives their lives this way.  At a time when the prevailing attitude seems to be “what’s in it for me?” these people have put their egos aside and are “doing for the sake of doing”.  That is why so many of our subjects tended to shy away from the camera and the limelight, but were eager to tell their stories in order to help their causes.

Let’s face it, in a culture of “packaging and fizz”, it’s hard to sort through all the noise and pick out authenticity.  Even that word itself  “authenticity” has been over used and has lost its meaning. But we can all spot “the real deal” when we see it.  Just like knowing who your real friends are – you just know.

So, I think the only way to talk about the subjects of our film, in just 18 minutes, is to point out that they are no different than you or me – they are just ordinary people who think beyond themselves.  They are doing what they feel is the right thing to do and are staying close to their convictions and beliefs. They believe in the impossible and have a can do attitude. They are “walkin’ the walk”, not just talking. They take one step at a time in pursuing their dreams.

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99 Days and Counting

by Gail Mooney
September 28 2011

When I formed this idea, almost two years ago, I would not have believed then that I would still be working on this project now. Not only am I still working on it, but it has taken on a life of its own. In fact, we have  a new tagline, which aptly describes what this project has become:

It’s not just a Move – It’s a Movement

With that said, we have decided to launch another funding cycle, through Indiegogo. This time, we have more than just an idea and a lot of uncut footage – we have a finished movie and a movie that’s getting rave reviews.

Today is the start of our 99-day cycle of fundraising.  Why 99 days?  Well, for starters, our journey around the world took 99 days to complete the circle.  And, in 99 days, it’s Erin’s birthday – her 25th.  I was 25 years old when I decided to pursue the path I’m on as a photojournalist, instead of following a more lucrative profession.  I had gone to see Jay Maisel, a legendary New York photographer, known for his bluntness.  After making a lot of excuses of why I wasn’t going to follow my heart and become a photojournalist he looked me straight in the eye and said “You’re 25 years old and you’re already making compromises?”  It was a turning point in my life.

The post-production on the film was completed in July.

Opening Our Eyes Sneak Preview, Traverse City, MI

Since that time, I’ve spent countless hours submitting it to film festivals and trying to create awareness for the film. What’s the point of making something like this if it is not seen by as many people as possible? Our goal is simple and that is to get this movie “out there” by whatever means we can so that we can really make a difference with it.

A comment from an audience member at our sneak preview in Traverse City said:

“I just want to thank you for making this movie and let you know that you
have definitely succeeded in inspiring people. I’ve had a {sic} paradigm
shift after seeing this movie. I think you two should count yourself among
the inspirational heroes for bringing these stories to a larger audience.”

And at our sneak preview in Detroit, Oscar recipient, Pamela Conn who won for
“ best short documentary” stated:

“ I would just like to say that that’s the first thing I thought of was that
it’s obvious that this should be submitted for an Oscar. Absolutely this
is Oscar worthy.”

We have created something of value – a value that goes beyond dollars and cents. But to give this thing legs, we will need “dollars and cents” to take it the next steps. It takes money for festival submissions, PR and marketing and theatrical screenings. In fact Jon Reiss, the DIY of the indie film world says that a filmmaker should allocate half of their budget for PR and marketing – or your film will fall into oblivion.

This money won’t go into my pocket.  In fact, even creating this movie on a shoe string budget made up of airline miles and trades for services has exhausted my savings, not to mention taken me away from my business.  But, something is pushing me to do this.  If we can get this movie “on the map” then everyone wins, especially all the change makers that this movie is about.

Please help us with this movement. Contribute if you can or simply pass along this link to others. We all can play a part in making our world a better place.

As Marian Kramer, a subject in our film says “We all have to shine each other up.”

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Maggie Doyne on Cover of NY Times Magazine

by Gail Mooney
October 23 2010

I’ve got great news, Maggie Doyne the inspiration for our project and one of the subjects of our documentary is featured on the cover of the NY Times Magazine tomorrow morning. (10/24/10).

Maggie Doyne on the cover of the NY Times Magazine - Oct. 20, 2010

Make sure to get a copy and read about Maggie’s incredible story.

Another bit of exciting news is that we just launched our project on Kickstarter. Kickstarter is a new way to fund creative ideas and ambitious endeavors. Basically it’s is an example of crowdfunding where one can host their creative project on the Kickstarter’s website and offer people levels at which to donate. People can pledge amounts from $1 to …….. the sky’s the limit and most creators offer various rewards at the different levels.

We put our project on Kickstarter to raise finishing funds for our film. So as I continue to cull through over 150 hours of footage shot during our 99-day journey,  people can contribute to our project so that we can get the funds to hire a professional editor who will be able to take the film to a higher level. This will broaden it’s chances for distribution.  We have a window of 74 days to reach our goal of $7500.  Any funds that go over the $7500 will be split 50/50 with 50% going to promotion of the film and 50% donated to all our subject’s causes and foundations. If we don’t meet our goal of $7500 in the next 74 days – all bets are off and we receive nothing.  That doesn’t mean that the film is dead.  It just means that I will need to go it alone with the editing and it will take a little longer.

It will be exciting over the next couple of months to see what develops.  But no matter what happens, our ultimate goal for our film is for as many people  to see it as possible.  The more eyes that we open – the more we will motivate and inspire others to be change-makers and make our world a better place.

Please share our project with people that you know or on Facebook or Twitter or any other places you communicate.  We can all make this world a better place.

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Before the Memories Fade….And The Hard Work Begins

by Gail Mooney
October 2 2010

The tiger striped tan on my feet, from my well-worn sandals is fading, along with the familiar feeling of being “on the road”. As I ease back into my real life, and face the tough task of editing the 145 hours of footage that I shot, I want to take a breath, pause and just say thanks to all of you who have followed our journey these past months. Your support and encouragement helped us stay connected and focused on our purpose – shooting our documentary about remarkable people who are making a positive change in the world.

Kopila Valley Chilcren's Home, Surkhet, Nepal

Thank you all for being there throughout our journey.

There’s nothing worse than going to a huge effort, only to keep it a secret. Thanks to my good friend and colleague, Ethan G. Salwen who interviewed Erin and I while we were in Buenos Aires, during the last days of our journey, we were able to capture on camera, our thoughts about this experience before they faded away. I have used some of this interview footage in sneak previews and recent blog posts, to keep people engaged as I delve into the post-production aspects of this film. I will try to keep you all up to date on my progress. and I urge you all to keep following along and to share this project link with others. Our motivation for this film was to create awareness of what people are doing to make a difference in the world – the power of the individual, with the hopes that it will inspire others as to what they can do. Ultimately, we can only do that if the film gets seen.

My plan right now is to look at all the footage and then put together a rough cut of the story as I see it. I would love to bring a professional editor in on the project. Their expertise will only make the film stronger and tell the story better. My goal is to make independent videos of each of my subjects’ stories and then combine them in a feature length documentary. I have already connected with a couple of editors who expressed interest in this project through this blog and the power of networking. So, please keep passing along this link.

Of course once the film is made, I will need to publicize and distribute it, in order for people to become aware of it. I have some thoughts on how to do this, but once again it’s impossible for me to do everything myself so I will look to collaborate with others who have talents in PR. Anyone know any publicists with a good social conscience?

I know that collaboration is key to the success of any endeavors like this. From the start of the project’s inception, I have collaborated with friends and colleagues –who led me to people they knew who would make good subjects for the film – who helped me write press releases – who made donations – who helped me with on camera interviews – who, just by being there, supported us with their kind words and enthusiasm. So please stay tuned in, even if more time seems to lapse between posts, because we’ll be working away behind the scenes to finish what we set out to do.

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10 Lessons Learned

by Erin Kelly
September 13 2010