Our Children’s Abyss
A Non-Profit Film Fund to Combat Bullying
Mission Statement, Budget, & Action Plan
A documentary that gets behind the lives and into the minds of those who bully to better understand how they become who they are and why they react in the way they do in hopes to encourage a culture that responds to the bully with compassion rather than contempt.
An investigative journey into the lives of bullies primarily, but not limited to, in the United States and in school of all grades. The documentary ultimately delivers a message of sympathy and outreach to help those that bully on top of additional aid to the bullied. We want the story to be about the general condition of bullying across America and what the ideal response for us as a solution is. Our journalistic process has a goal in mind that is organic, and thus, will remain open to reshaping that goal if a more poignant discovery is made. Most likely if that happens, that will be kept in the editing room for another documentary if we feel there are two important stories to be told.
We lose our children to bullying more every year with suicide rates between 10-14-year-olds increasing 50% in the past 30 years making it the 2nd leading cause of death for kids of that age. 160,000 kids skip school every year out of fear of bullying. Those that go through it respond to it by either shunning their unique qualities, going through life poisoned with a pessimistic point of view, or by becoming a bully themselves. 86% of students say that lethal violence in schools emerges as a response to bullying. This is something that can be seen in the increase in mass shootings in the United States. The academic condition, mental and social health, and lives of our children and teens are at stake in the wake of bullying. If we get to the source of not just the activity but to why the bullies are bullying and how they adopt the characteristics, we can make the message clear to coming generations that we must act with benevolence to assuage the pain of the harassers that originates in their homes. This is why I want to collect first-hand knowledge from those peers, administrators, and teachers who witness the harassment. Most of all, I want to collect the stories and bear witness to the circumstances of the bullies themselves. I have spent most of my time in life listening and observing. From age 3-7 I spoke to only 6 people in my life. No one, not even I, knew why. In retrospect, I am certain it is because of the condition of the home I lived in.
I was born to a young mother of 15 and grew up first, in the tumultuous household of her father, and later, in the similarly tumultuous home of her mother. Though they all loved me and treated me the best they knew how, as far as I can remember, the adults in life at home were verbally and many times physically violent to one another. A young life filled with shouting and walking on eggshells must have led me to see that the simplest solution was to be quiet. During this time, my maternal grandmother passed away, and to this day it’s the only death that has rocked me to my core. My aunt and uncle became my closest friends and a sanctuary for me. When I was 6 I met my father and, though I really liked him, it took me a few months to find the comfort to speak to him and a year before I could call him “Dad”. A year after I met him I moved in with him, and home life became much more peaceful. We were two guys at home that got along very well for the majority of the time. The first year at my new school after moving in with my father I met someone who would become my closest friend. I was immediately connected to his mother who strongly resembled my late grandmother both in beauty and demeanor. My new friend and I were both the quietest and I suppose the most well-behaved in class, if you go by the number of times our name was written on the board, which never happened but once each and was devastating when it did happen. It took us until 4th grade to begin to become closer, blending our social lives together and forming a strong fraternal bond. When high school approached our choices began to diverge. We were always in the same social circle, but he adopted a reactive lifestyle. Though he was well-liked, admired, or envied, he seemed to do whatever it took to keep it that way, and his choices made it obvious he wanted to be the life of the party, even at the expense of others’ self-esteem. His M.O. was making fun of everyone, even those of us that were his close friends, and those that followed his lead emulated his behavior. Though he had a large heart, he, like many in his position of popularity, acted in fear and insecurity by walking on others to make sure he felt and looked his best. This soon led to violent activity that he either committed himself or encouraged those in his circle to take part in. I watched people love him and follow his lead, and I watched people hate him. I saw the pain he caused with many and I admit to feeling some of the brunt of his remarks no matter how much I suspected he didn’t really mean them. In our senior year, one of our friends in the group committed suicide after admitting to the principal that he and he and his baseball friends were responsible for stealing the school’s ATV. He was scared and ashamed of how he’d look in his friends’ eyes. I believe this accumulation of life experiences led to my personal interest and care about harassment of those who are undeserving of it, especially the youth. No child should ever face tyranny, nor should they ever be ignored when they do. Furthermore, no child should see the role of the bully as a solution to their pain. My instinct is to carefully put a production together to make a film of the utmost quality in order to engage our world and to cultivate a culture of preventive action in response to bullying, viewing it as something that starts at the home and not the mind alone.
The overall tone will be somber and moderately dark without being melodramatic, with cinematic productions interlaced with the interviewees’ stories when necessary. The cinematic elements will be minimalistic in that they will not require on-set sound or costly setups with rigs and lighting but will still engage the audience as if they were watching a narrative film. The documentary ‘The Fear of 13’ is nearly identical in structure, tone, and the method to how ‘Where’s the Love?’ is intended to be told. Additional films that share the tone in mind are ‘Requiem For The American Dream’, and ‘Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room’; aiming to grip them from the start with the right sound design and cinematography that reflects the unfolding drama. It will have a three-act structure careful to remain focused on the theme rather than a specific individual or case. The technical approach to the interviews will be to have 2 static cameras one with a long lens the other on a 35-85. Sound will be achieved primarily with a shotgun mic and lavalier mic when necessary. Using a lavalier with kids might make them uncomfortable and we want to help keep the environment as familiar and comfortable as possible. The cinematic scenes will require the proper rigs which will mostly require a dolly on tracks ranging no more than 10 feet, a slider and occasional drone shot. All the creative elements lean on the story we gain from the content of the interviews.
Project Stage & Timeline
Projected to shoot 6-12 months in 2023 beginning in July.
Meetings will be set up through LAUSD where there are already established contacts with principals and school counselors. From outreach to specific schools’ teams that may have a history of bullying and bully organizations to organic connections we will build a trail of interviews and organize trips. We will begin with the school counselor and principal and look for opportunities to interview kids at home with permission. They will always have a full understanding of who I am and the documentary’s full purpose prior to approaching them. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick revealed in an interview with Marc Maron that they went about gathering interviews the same way for their documentary ‘The Vietnam War’ by having planned the initial interview and allowing their prospects for further interviews to grow organically.
Distribution and Marketing Strategy
We will be pursuing a wide release of 1000+ screens, submitting to festivals to raise interest and awareness, and will also pursue opportunities with the major streaming platforms.
We hope to get this in front of anyone age 5 or older. Primarily parents, middle school and high school students, the educational board and anyone who would want to be more aware of the motivations of tyranny in our youth and how we as individuals and community members can work to prevent it and best respond when it does happen.
By reaching a nation-wide audience, we should be able to cultivate a culture that seeks to give sanctuary and aid not only to the bullied but also to the bully. If funding for the project reaches double the amount of the proposed budget ($1,500,000), we will move forward with the development of a free 1-touch emergence app to a 24/7 onboard team to respond to bullied children. The app would use a graduated system to respond to progressive risks of bullying. The on-call team would have the ability to notify the proper authorities (law, school board, parent/guardian). The app could be pitched to the Texas board of legislation as a tool to coexist with David’s Law (S.B. 179), which currently is the strongest anti-bullying law in the nation, as well as to other anti-bullying organizations and government and tech leaders.
The primary funding strategy to raise $750,000 will be through Indiegogo, but we will outreach personally to angel investor sites such as invstor.com, as well as leaders of anti-bullying organizations such as NVEEE, National Bullying Prevention Center, Stomp Out Bullying, World of Children, and stopbullying.gov,
Funding to date
So far we have begun a GoFundme to help supplement the merchandising and advertising of the campaign but this will not be promoted to the public until the completion of this application. As for now, our budget is as follows:
Pre-production & Fundraiser Marketing: $176,250
Film Equipment: $129,000
Itemized Equipment List:
-Cameras - 1 x Red Epic-W, 1 x GH5: $47,000
-Lenses: $30,000 (cover the full range from 24-200 with optimal glass quality)
-Backup & Memory: $2,000 (All footage intends to be back up 3 times in addition to cloud backup all hardware labeled by A, B, C backups)
-Rigs & Accessories: $15,000 (Dolly and Tracks, Should Rig, Slider, and Steadicam)
-Insurance - $5000
Crew Pay Itemized:
DP: $800/day 72,000
Sound: $400/day $36,000
Grip: $200/day $18,000
Production Crew: $226,000
Travel, Lodging, & Accommodations: $82,000
Crew Meals: $30,000
Indiegogo Incentives: $20,000
Filmmaker’s Pay: $90,000
Post Production: $35,000
Editor: $1,500/week 3 weeks $4,500
If $1,000,000 is reached anything after $750,000 will be used towards the production of the aforementioned bullying app “Brave”. Anything between $750,000 and $1,000,000 will be used as extra funding for the documentary.