Tag Archives: donations

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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San Francisco Film Society – Our New Fiscal Sponsor

by Gail Mooney
November 18 2011

I just received some fabulous news. That is that the San Francisco Film Society has agreed to be a fiscal sponsor for Opening Our Eyes. This is huge because it means that we can apply for grants and accept donations under their 501C umbrella. I would be remiss if I did not thank my husband, partner and best friend, Tom Kelly for filling out the application and providing the reams of necessary documents. He really came through for us and I can’t thank him enough.

It’s been very challenging,  raising money for film festival entries, setting up theatrical screenings and promoting the film. But what would be the point of our team’s tremendous efforts in making this film if it ends up being the best kept secret?

I truly hope that this this sponsorship and 501C status will encourage individuals, institutions and corporations to donate to Opening Our Eyes so that we may realize our goal and inspire and motivate others as to what they can do to make our world a better place.

The San Francisco Film Society is one of the oldest and most respected film groups in the United States and to get this distinction is truly an honor. We have been so blessed by so many people who have believed in our project and have either contributed money, their expertise or both. I can’t even begin to express how meaningful this experience has been and how it has changed my life in so many ways. Quite simply it has given me hope – at a time when there is much hopelessness and despair.

Please help us  get this film out there. If you are involved with foundations or work at corporations that give, please pass along the link to our project. You never know what may transpire and hopefully this has made things a bit easier. All donations are tax deductible.

Every one of our subjects and their causes will win if this film gets noticed globally. It is off to a good start with the trailer being seen in over 114 countries – but we have a lot of work ahead. I can do a lot of things on my own – and have – but I need everybody’s help on this one.

It’s not just a movie, it’s a movement.

3 Ways to Donate:
Through IndieGoGo – get a reward
Through the San Francisco Film Society online
Checks: Payable to San Francisco Film Society
    Write Opening Our Eyes FSP 1378 in Memo Line
Send to:
San Francisco Film Society – ATTN: Finance Department
39 Mesa Street, Suite 110
The Presidio
San Francisco CA 94129-1025

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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Tears of Happiness and Sadness

by Gail Mooney
August 4 2011

It just hit me this morning that we have completed this film.  I cried because I was happy, we had done it.  I cried because it was finished.  I was sad the journey was over – but is it?

Yesterday, I hand delivered the first DVD to someone in the “business” who could really help me as I face the next step – getting the film “out there”.  That’s the hard part – coming up with a plan to give this film legs.  What would have been the point of my daughter and I traveling all around the world, creating a film about people making a difference that could motivate others to action – if people don’t see it?

I know I have a lot of hard work ahead of me, sending DVD’s to film festivals, outreach directors and potential distributors.  I will be networking with everyone I know as far as making the rights connections with people who can help us get our film out there so that we can achieve what we set out to do- turn this film into a ground swell of action.

Here are some thoughts of what we’d like to do with this film.  Start thinking about people you know who could help us realize these goals.

•    Submit to film festivals to create awareness and publicity for the film.  Festivals are very competitive but I believe our film is a strong contender.  If the film is selected for a festival, then we will want to find a sponsor and make an event out of it and/or have a “premiere screening” in that city to coincide with the festival. It’s a cost effective way to do a premiere and the audience is already there.

•    Have community screenings that would be “move to action” events.  This could take place in a variety of venues, from schools to churches, with the filmmakers present or not.  It could be a community fundraiser, centered on the screening of the film.  Generally, filmmakers hire outreach directors or bookers to find these venues and matches. This can be a win/win where the filmmakers have a chance to recoup their costs and the community raises money for their cause.  In our case, we can also structure it so that our subjects’ causes receive a percentage.

•    Have screenings at universities.  This is something that I would love to do – show the film with a Q&A to students.  The film could really make an impact with young people who are just starting out in life.  If anyone knows people who book college activities – let me know.

•    Theatrical screenings.  This takes money.  But it can lead to rewards – including the academy awards.  My executive Angel Burns is confident we can do this.  Essentially, there needs to be theatrical bookings in LA and NYC, well publicized with mandated advertising in the NY and LA newspapers.  We may need to do another fundraiser ourselves or find a sponsor to make this happen.

•    Broadcast.  Maybe the best way to get eyeballs on it.  Anyone with contacts at OWN (Oprah’s network), Oxygen or Lifetime – viable candidates for this documentary or even a TV docu reality series?  Imagine how refreshing that would be to see on TV – a series about people making a positive difference in the world – instead of watching yet again another show about the worst in human nature.

This film has had an amazing effect on our lives.  We’ve traveled the world, seen our name in lights on a theater marquee and met extraordinary people along the way.  In fact it seems like we are like magnets, attracting just the right people into our lives at just the right time. First of all we “found” all our amazing subjects who brought tremendous value to our lives – we learned so much from them. We found our executive producer, Angel Burns – or shall I say, she found me when I spoke in LA at a “photocine” event about creating a documentary with no money. I found the perfect editor, Erik Freeland who brought his wonderful vision to this film and made us look good, and Maria Grillo, a graphic designer in Chicago who designed our logo and overall look. I have another friend, Ally Raye who put together a great “deck” and “sizzle” for a TV pitch for me.  I can’t even imagine what life was like before these people came into my life.  This film just seems to have some inexplicable power of connecting people.

If you know anyone who is good with marketing and PR, or works in broadcast or knows a sponsor who would be a perfect match and could infuse some financial support to this project, please let us know.

Like one of our subjects, Marian Kramer said, “We’ve got to shine each other up”.

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A Major Milestone

by Gail Mooney
March 11 2011

This past week after many months of long days in the editing room, I shipped 3 hard drives with 5 TERAbytes of footage to the professional editor that I will be collaborating with on this project.  It was a grueling process cutting down 150 hours to 3 hours and it still has to be cut in half , but I got through the hard part and that was defining the story.

The story of course is everything and this is not to say that when I started editing this film, it was the first time that I thought about it.  In actuality I have 11 separate stories, about people on 6 different continents involved in a variety of different causes but all of the subjects have one thing in common – they believe that the impossible is possible.
They don’t just believe that – they make it a reality on a daily basis.

There were some really hard days for me when it seemed like I wasn’t getting anywhere and I questioned the folly of this film.  But little by little I chipped away at it.  Editing is a process and there are no short cuts.  You just need to keep looking and listening to the material until the gems start to stand out.  But getting to that point, especially with so much to look at, was beyond difficult.

So, I delight in the feeling of accomplishment, even though it’s momentary and I will soon tackle other aspects of this project – writing the narrative and finding a musical composer.  And once again I will put this out to all who may be reading for any leads to those who have a gift for musical composition and who would be interested in collaborating with me on this inspiring film.

This continues to be a life changing project for me.  Once again in my life, following that inner voice inside of me has pushed me to where I needed to be.  And in the process, I too have made a difference.  That is the best feeling in the world.

P.S. Check out our new “donor” page.  If we have left anyone off – please let us know – we couldn’t have done it without you.

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Behind the Scenes

by Gail Mooney
December 22 2010

I’ve been in hibernation this past month – or at least it feels like it.  No airplanes, no adventures and not much interaction with people as I tackle the tedious part of editing this film.  It’s tough sometimes and a hard adjustment after the summer that I had, and there are some days, I’m just looking for a distraction.

But I keep my eye on the prize and the prize is the completed film.

Yesterday, I got news that our project was featured on the home page of More MagazineJamie Niles had interviewed me a couple of weeks ago and they had gotten it online quickly.  They provided a link to our Kickstarter site and that just might be the extra little push we need to reach our goal.  We’re less than $400 away with 14 days to go!  I’m sure we’ll make it.

In anticipation of making that goal, I have talked to a couple of editors and will pick one who is the right fit for this story or stories.

Wrap Up Africa, Kampala, Uganda

A professional editor will give the film new eyes and see things that I may not notice and help arc the story in the most powerful way. I cannot wait till I get to that point, when all the footage is transcoded and sound is synced and ready to hand off to the pro to do what they do best – edit the story.

One thing that has been enjoyable is reliving the experience by looking at all the footage and still images that we shot.  Listening to the words of our subjects again talking about what they are doing, gave me the energy that I need to get through this part of the process.

Viola, Warsaw, Poland.

Kopila Valley Primary School, Surkhet, Nepal

I’ve also been editing the thousands of still photographs that we took.  My idea from the start of this project was to shoot both video and stills.

Amazon River, Peru

The still images may become part of a book or exhibition or accompany magazine articles about this story.

Happy holidays everyone.

I’ll leave you with  a few of my favorite images.

Map of northern Thailand where Dr. Marnaw visits

Woman in small village in northern Thailand

Hippotherapy, Warsaw, Poland

Looking For Our North American Subject

by Gail Mooney
November 9 2010

The last two months, I’ve either been locked in seclusion in front of my computer, sifting through 150 hours of footage from our 99-day journey, or on airplanes, traveling as part of my “normal” working life. In either case, my mind is on this project, and more importantly on the people this project is about – the change makers of the world. I try to hold onto those thoughts, so that I can stay focused on our film and our motivation behind it.

Our goal from the start has been to shine a spotlight on the “individuals” who are making a positive change in the world, with the hope that our film will inspire and motivate others to be change makers. I’ve learned one important lesson is working on this project and that is we all, in our own way, even through the smallest acts, can make our world a better place. I learned that even though I’m not a doctor who has the power to heal the sick, I do have the power through my skills to create a film that can motivate people in a positive way, globally. I can use the tools of my craft – my cameras – to create awareness and that in itself is a powerful thing.

We still have one more story to tell and that is the story of an individual who is making a difference on the continent of North America. We saved our home base story as our last story to tell. So, we are now looking for our North American subject and we are reaching out to all of you for suggestions of people you know who personify the idea behind this film – the power of the individual in making a difference. It could be a child who is doing something in their own community and perhaps that would state the message the best – the simple, yet profound effect that even small acts can have. But we are open to any and all suggestions you may have.

We’d love to hear from you if you have a suggestion or if you could pass this request along to anyone you know who may lead us to our final subject of our film. You can either reply in the comments section of this blog or write us privately at:
gail@kellymooney.com
erinmkelly87@gmail.com

I’d also like to say thank you again to all of you who have generously donated to our project through Kickstarter. At this point in time we have reached 42% of our goal, which is great but we still have a long way to go, and with Kickstarter – it’s all or nothing – if a project doesn’t get funded 100% then none of the pledges are collected and we receive nothing. That doesn’t mean we won’t finish our film – but it does mean that it will take a little longer, and that I’ll edit it myself without the expertise that a professional editor could bring to the film. If you haven’t made a pledge, please consider doing so here:
http://kck.st/cTApuP
Even a $25 pledge has its reward of a DVD of the finished film if we meet our goal.

And don’t forget to send us your suggestions of who you know on our great continent of North America, that is making a difference in the world.

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Continuing Cultural Exchange in Chicago

by Erin Kelly
October 31 2010

Hello everyone – yes, I still exist! It took me a little while to adjust to life back in Chicago, but now I can say that I finally feel settled in. It’s strange when I think about our trip – it almost feels like it was a completely different life. In a way, it was: living out of a suitcase, constantly on the move, and being slapped with culture shock again and again is very different from living in one apartment and going to the same job everyday. But, for me, that’s exactly what I need right now. Stability is something that I actually craved this summer. People might call me crazy but I love me some order and routine. That’s not to say that there haven’t been any changes.

I started a new job this month at the Center for Cultural Interchange – a nonprofit organization that facilitates cultural exchange programs for young people, mainly for high school students. I work in the Academic Year Programs department, which works with inbound foreign high school students coming to study and live in the U.S. You might think: “Wow! That job sounds perfect for you and makes so much sense, given your experience this summer.” And I would reply: “You’re right!” I’m very excited to be working there, and I feel fortunate that I am able to work in a field that I actually care about. I believe that it’s so important for everyone to have some kind of experience abroad, especially for young people, for it is through cultural exchange that we can learn to understand and respect others and ourselves. That is certainly something that I learned this summer.

Although my job is mostly administrative, behind-the-scenes work, I got to meet some of the kids last week when a group of them visited Chicago. They were all from different countries, thus forced to use English as their common language. It struck me then that not only were they learning about life in the U.S., they were also learning about many other countries through their fellow members of the program. How cool is that? They were great kids and fascinating to talk to. I loved hearing them talk about how school in the U.S. was so different from their schools at home (aka a lot easier), what they thought of the fall season and American football games, how far off their perceptions of what the U.S. would be like were from reality. It took me back to talking with the boys on the farm in Argentina. I said to myself, this is why I am working here. I hope that there will be many more moments like that to come.

I want to thank everyone who has donated so far to our project on Kickstarter. Your donations mean so much to us, and we couldn’t do this without you! I hope that those who have not so far will consider contributing as well – or at least spreading the word to everyone you know.

Thank you again, and Happy Halloween everybody!

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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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