Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Moses



Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  I am joined by the soon to be creator of the film Moses Mr. Uzoma Okoro, thank you for joining us today Uzoma!

Well thank you so much for having me! I really do appreciate the opportunity!

Would you tell us a bit about your prospective film?  

Moses is a much different perspective on Sex Trafficking. We follow moses who is a 15 year old soccer player from Nigeria. He is thrust into the brutal work of sex trafficking by the same individuals who promised him a better life as a professional soccer player; playing abroad.

What makes moses so unique are a few things. In what few movies there are on this subject we often see the victim as a young asian or russian female. Moses is based on a  true story, and I believe the world seeing that sexual slavery can happen to anyone, even young men will serve as a real eye opener for many.

Another unique perspective on moses is the fact that we show how it takes place in a suburban settings. Sex trafficking is often thought of as an urban or inner city issue. Thoughts come to mind of downtown massage parlors, and backroom warehouses. The truth is a great deal of this underground practice takes place in suburban homes and residential areas that most of us would consider upscale and safe.


If you have the screenplay already in hand, as well as shown it to industry professionals why bring it to Kickstarter?  

Creative control... there are some stories that just need to be told right. It is important for me to be able to nurture this project myself so that I can make sure the final project does justice to the issue and the story I am telling. If I were to sell it off I would have no assurances that the movie would stay true to the screenplay I spent almost a year creating.

Slavery is not something most people think about, let alone sex slavery! What made you choose it as a topic for your film?

I have two children and the thought that an act like this can happen to anyone’s child is deeply upsetting to me. I started to research the project deeper looking into its various aspects. I started speaking at local juvenile detention centers in Alameda and Oakland, and became affiliated with organizations such as love146.org. When I saw a piece done on current television identifying the plight of these young African boys being sold into sex slavery throughout the US and UK, I decided to take action through my writing and develop a powerful script to tell their story.

How will your film tell the story in a way that folks will sit up and take notice?   How can you get people to pay attention to the evil in the world around them?

Evil thrives in darkness. It can't survive long when a light shines upon it. I think we are as a society either unaware or desensitized to this issue. I believe Moses will “Hit too close to home” for people to ignore.

An old mentor of mine always said “It’s not a problem, until its your problem” By graphically portraying the sex trafficking of a young male and how it intertwines with everyday middle class American we are in effect making it “America's Problem” and once that awareness is formed, we are confident action will follow

What is your background in filmmaking?

This will be my first film project of this sort. I am a published author having completed my first novel The Cocaine Saints (www.thecocainesaints.com) last year. I have produced and directed promotional reels for the Cocaine Saints, that are available via the website.

I have co-produced several larger shows; and it would be a much “easier” project to create if I just wanted to sell the script, but I spent countless hours writing this screenplay and given the weight of the subject matter it is important for me to see it done right.

You are asking for $35,000 for this campaign, where is all the money scheduled to go?  Why didn’t you spell it out on the campaign page?  

All of the money will go directly to production cost. Camera crews, lighting layouts, music composition,  location fees, and post production editing. The details are not present on the campaign site because at the end of the day I want contributors to invest in three things...

1) Their passion to see the injustice of sex trafficking stop
2) Their belief that the general story premise is a strong one
3) My professionalism and reputation

I could put a long index itemizing $200/hr for Camera guys, $150/hr for lighting etc... but I don't want a passion project to be reduced to an expense report for me or those backing this film. If you believe in the cause and the trustworthiness of me as a producer; we could really use everyone’s support; and that is what I want backers to make their decision upon.

What made you pick a Current TV video for your video instead of making one of your own?  It tells me nothing about your particular project and makes me more interested in watching a now defunct network than backing you.  

I couldn't agree more that Current as a TV station has gone in the wrong direction programming wise...Nevertheless this project isn't about the SF based networks programming choices, and honestly its not even about me.

It is about telling the story of the boys and men being sexually enslaved. That current piece inspired me to action to write the story of “Moses” and that is what this entire project is about. Making a film that entertains and inspires viewers to action. Every dollar I use creating additional marketing material is a dollar taken away from producing the story; I feel the current video captures the soul of “Moses” and thats why i decided to use it.

I’m going to level with you Uzoma, your subject matter is quite powerful but your campaign isn’t.  What research did you do before you posted this?  What work have you done before and currently for this Kickstarter?  

I actually completely agree with you, and the reason is simple. I spent all of my time developing the substance of this project and directly helping those whose story I hope to tell. Marketing this project, while important is a secondary priority to me, when scaled against tangibly helping even one boy. Make no mistake this film will get made Kickstarter or no. I have a passion to see this complete and even if it takes years longer than i would like, and every dollar comes directly out of my personal bank account; I will make moses into a feature length film.

I spent a year writing this script, and in that year I’ve tried very hard to help several would be “Moses’s” from entering a life where they are exploited. Whether it is volunteering my time at the Alameda and Oakland  juvenile facilities, donating my own money, or taking the steps (however lackluster in their presentation) to get this film made. I want to help these young men and get their story told; and with a little “Kickstart” :) we just may succeed!

How did you discover Kickstarter?

My girlfriend. Dr Melanie Harrison (a philanthropist in her own right) bought it to my attention. She’s awesome :)

A key part of successful Kickstarters is backer participation and how to convert a potential backer into a full backer.   How are you engaging your backers?  What kinds of things do you have planned for updates to give notice to those who just hit the “remind me” button and surf on?  Interviews?  Videos?  Stories from the project?

I look forward to posting podcast type video updates for all backers throughout the production process not to mention offering some pretty cool rewards. I want people to be engaged before, during, and after production. I want to know who else cares about this topic and talk to them. I want to hear their ideas and see what they have going on that I can help out with.

What kind of media attention have you received with your project?  How are you spreading the word?  Facebook?  Twitter?  Google+? Youtube?  Advertising?  Are you using Kicktraq to track your progress?  

The screenplay has made it through to the second round qualifiers of the Filmmakers International Screenwriting Awards (no easy feat), and I have been actively promoting the project on all available social media outlets

Do you have any tips/advice would you give to anyone looking to start a Kickstarter?

Be passionate about your project. If Kickstarter works for you than you’ll be able to meet your goal faster than expected. If it does not that you may still get to do a cool online interview with really good but tough questions :)

Thank you for spending your time with us!  Do you have any final thoughts for our readers?

Please support the making of Moses, and have a hand in making this dynamic and powerful film that will shine a light on this horrific topic; hopefully inspiring action that will change many peoples lives for the better.

Thanks again and I hope to hear good things from your Kickstarter!