Friday, March 22, 2013

False Advertising

Welcome back to another Kickstarter Conversation!  Today I am pleased to be joined by the lovely ladies of JAMFILMS.  Jen, Avery, and Michelle have come over to talk to us about their film, “False Advertising.”  Thank you ladies for joining us!

Thank you so much for having us! We really appreciate it.

So your film is a “feature length documentary about how the media negatively affects women's body image and self-esteem.”  Can you tell us a bit more about the film?  

Yeah, definitely! False Advertising is about the media and how it negatively affects women’s body image and self-esteem. Women are taught from a young age that looks are the most important part of who they are and, sadly that is where their value lies. Unfortunately, there is a strict mold one must fit to be considered “beautiful” in today’s society. This is a direct result of the limited portrayal of what is considered beautiful in the media today.
In our documentary you will hear the stories and experiences of young women from all different backgrounds; stories about how the media has negatively affected them and those around them. We believe personal stories are very important because stories are easier to relate to than statistics and facts. We have had the pleasure of interviewing a couple plus-size models as well as some women in the industry who act and sing. We believe it is important for people to see how the media affects all women - even those in the industry. Also, a couple of the girls we interviewed have started organizations to help girls of all ages combat the messages the media is sending. Some of the organizations include The I Am Movement started by Lissa Lauria and Love Your Flawz and The Giving Keys started by Caitlin Crosby. We believe it is also important to show how women are working to make positive changes in our society. Essentially, we are all working together to accomplish a common goal; to change how beauty and women are portrayed in the media.
In the end, the goal of our documentary is to help women, and men, start thinking critically about the media and how they define what is considered "beautiful." It is detrimental to women of all ages when they internalize this ideal of beauty and strive to become it. We want women to know they are not alone in their feelings of frustration, inadequacy, and insecurity and, with each other, we can hopefully change the way we view beauty and ourselves. We believe the media can be used for good but in this day and age the majority of what is being produced isn't cutting it. Women of all ages, types, size, and color need to speak up and share their stories. After watching our documentary, we hope it will spark much needed conversation about these issues and empower women to stand up and fight for change; change in the way the media portrays women and beauty. We hope that after watching our documentary everyone will view the media in a different light and see it for what it really is: False Advertising.

I see how all the interviews are going to be interesting but what is the narrative thread that binds them all together?  Are you three going to be in it guiding us along?  

The three of us are going to be covering different areas of the documentary by integrating our own stories and narrating throughout the film. Each of us have struggled with different aspects as far as body image goes, so we thought we would split it up and talk about what has affected each of us personally. We think it is important for people to hear our stories as well as all the stories of the women featured in our film. It is a good reminder that no one is alone in their feelings of insecurity. We all can relate to each other one way or another.

As a man who has been on dozens of diets and is currently overweight I can relate to the ladies in your film.  Do you think men are negatively affected by media portrayals as well?  Or are men not as body self-conscious as women?  

We definitely believe men are negatively affected by the media. Everyone is affected by it because of the unrealistic standards they place on both men and women. Unfortunately, it does affect women more. Not only is it proven statistically but we have observed it first hand during our interviews. We have interviewed a couple men to hear their thoughts about women and the media and their answers are very interesting. For example, when we asked them about photoshop almost all of them understood that “what you see is not what you get.” However, when we asked women the same question they all felt it’s an unrealistic standard that they feel pressured to live up to; that in order to feel “beautiful” they have to look like the women in the magazines. Women feel more pressured to look a certain way. Also, if you turn on the TV or look through a magazine almost all of the ads for weight loss, beauty products, etc are targeted towards women. Rarely are the commercials for like anti-aging cream or weight loss for men. Usually the commercials targeted towards men are for cars, alcohol, toning your body, etc. The sad truth is, in today’s society women's value is placed in how they look, while men’s value is placed in how successful and powerful they are. So while it does affect everyone, women are bombarded with the beauty messages a lot more. We think it would be interesting to explore how men are affected by the media but since we are women we wanted to focus specifically on women.

Has anyone ever said something like, “What about Roseanne Barr or Drew Carey.  We’ve got fat people on TV they should help counterbalance what you’re complaining about.  You’re all just too sensitive.”  

We’ve definitely had people say negative things to us about our project, but honestly that happens when anyone does anything. Everyone has an opinion and not everyone is going to agree with you. However, as far as comments about heavier people being on television goes, almost all shows featuring “fat” people make fun of the people for being fat. For instance, on Mike and Molly, the two of them meet at an overweight eaters anonymous group. While they don’t say that being fat is wrong, they do tend to poke fun at the characters that are heavier for their weight, while on the opposite side, people  who are thin are glorified for being thin and in shape. Also, when people lose weight on shows they’re always told they look better.
Not only is it television shows, but weight loss commercials glorify being thin as well - not necessarily healthy but thin. We don’t think it’s wrong for people to lose weight to be healthy but unfortunately that is not what is always being promoted in weight loss commercials. If you’re a healthy weight for your body type, but you don’t look like a stick thin model, you are told you should lose weight. It’s the idea that if you are thin you will be much happier. For example, Special K’s slogan is, “what will you gain when you lose?” and at one point, Jenny Craig’s slogan was “you lose, we all win.” It’s frustrating how often women are bombarded with the message that only thin is beautiful and if you’re not thin, you’re not beautiful.
As a father of both a son and daughter I worry about these things every day.  We recently went to the doctor and they said my daughter was perfectly average in weight and where she was supposed to be, but before they told us that we were a bit worried she was too thin!  The doctor said, “we’ve become so used to overweight kids that when you see a proper weight child it looks weird.”  Do you think that’s true?  That we’re glamorizing a weight and a look that fewer and fewer people fit into?

Like we said above, the media promotes this idea that only thin is beautiful. Our society is glamorizing a weight that only about 5% of women naturally fall into. Other than that, to obtain that weight, you would have to go to unhealthy measures, like an eating disorder, to get to that point. One of the girls in our film talks about how she has been on a diet for two years, eats healthy, and works out a normal amount. While she’s going about getting healthy the right way, she is still frustrated. She is frustrated because she’s trying so hard to look like the women the media portrays as beautiful but she’ll never obtain her goal because of the way she’s built. It isn’t her body type. The majority of women do not fall into this 5% category, which makes it really hard for people to be okay with their bodies and to feel good about themselves.
On the other side, during our interviews with some of the plus-size models they explained their photo shoots and everything that goes into it. They explained that they are usually wearing “fat” suits or padding, as they call it. The reason being because if they were actually the weight they needed to be in order to be considered plus-size they wouldn’t look as healthy as they do. Also, even though they are plus-size they still photoshop the girls to be completely smooth and flawless. No one knows what it looks like to be healthy anymore because everything is so altered and false. It’s a problem on both ends of the spectrum.

Where has this media image come from?  The classic female form was much more voluptuous (and in my opinion realistic) than what we see today.  Heck Marilyn Monroe was size 16 or 8 and not a zero as we see today and that was only a few decades back!

We aren’t one-hundred percent sure why things have changed since Marilyn Monroes time.  However, even during that time period, the commercials that aired still glorified weight loss and being thin. This is actually a question we have asked some of the girls we have interviewed. It is something we find very interesting. A couple things we do know is beauty is cultural. So as the culture changes, our perceptions change. Women who are considered beautiful in America are not necessarily found to be beautiful in other cultures. What we know to be “beautiful” today is because of the media. In America, we have been conditioned to believe that beautiful looks like the models in the magazine or the actresses on TV.
Since we aren’t sure why things have changed over the years, we decided to explore what the standards of beauty are right now and how that is affecting women. Also, we wanted to explore how the standards of beauty have already begun to change from when we were growing up in the 90’s till now; how the media is affecting the youth today more drastically than ever. While we do have some clips in our film of women and ads from different time periods to show the similarities, we have focused mainly on beauty standards today.

Congratulations on hitting your goal, you’re currently at 150% financing with $1500 of your $1000 well done!  So where is all the money going?  You mention editing in your campaign page.  

Thank you! We’re very excited about it. Like we said, one of the major challenges of our project is editing. We have some of the tools needed to get it done but with the donations we will be able to get exactly what we need to make the best film we can make. For example, tools like Final Cut Pro, Motion, etc. Also, another major challenge for our project is reaching a large audience. Right now we do not have the means to do that. With the donations, we are going to bring someone on our team to help with the marketing aspect and start getting our video out there any way we can. Along with bringing someone on our team, with the donations we will have the funds to start making as many copies of our final product as we can in order to get our video out there. Not only do we want to make the best film we can, we want people to see it when it's done.
Making this documentary is a huge risk in itself but we believe with everyone’s help we can overcome these challenges and accomplish our goal. We are overwhelmed by the positive feedback we have received. It is more than we could have ever imaged and couldn’t be more grateful for all the support.

What other documentary work have you three done?  

Well, we all met in high school and have always had a passion for film. When we were younger, we were always making short, amateur films, and playing around with stories and ideas. For Avery’s senior project, in college, she made a short film called “Coming Out Stories,” but other than that, we haven’t done anything on a professional level together. That is why this is a big risk for us. While we understand film to an extent, this is our first feature film. However, we are confident in our ability to make a great film.

Where will this film be shown?  

We’re still in the process of planning it all out. We would like to enter our documentary into a couple festivals, but as far as set plans go, we are still organizing a screening of it. We don’t have a set location quite yet. Our goal is to get the film done and go from there. However, we will make sure to keep everyone updated as soon as we have the exact release date!

I noticed your pledge levels have a soundtrack download but only a DVD of the movie, why no download?  I would think having levels with no physical media would save on shipping and allow foreign backers a greater chance to help out!

Everything today is all based on technology and the internet. Nothing is “real” anymore. Anything and everything can be downloaded to the computer in the blink of an eye. We really like the idea of our final product being on a hard copy. We believe there is something sentimental about it and thought it would be a nice gift to give those who have pledged for it. Our plan is to add some surprises to the DVD that you wouldn’t be able to get if it was a digital download. We aren’t opposed to having a digital download for people, but for now we’re sticking with the hard copies. We don’t mind spending a little extra money to ship it. Also, we made it available to everyone! It isn’t limited to just the U.S.

How did you discover Kickstarter?

We heard about Kickstarter from word of mouth and social media. After checking it out we realized it was something we really wanted to do. It’s an awesome website that really opens up a lot of opportunities that we wouldn’t have otherwise. Also, all of us have known a couple of people who have made them and done well, so we thought we’d give it a shot!

I have done many interviews with documentaries on Kickstarter, do you think Kickstarter is becoming the way to fund documentaries?  

Kickstarter is a really useful tool to help fund documentaries. However, we aren’t really sure if it’s the way to fund documentaries, but highly recommend using it. It’s a great way to get your story out there and get the funds you need to help finish your project. One of the coolest parts about this whole experience has been getting donations from people we don’t know who like our project. It really affirms what we’re doing and it means a lot. Every donation does!

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?

We have a couple interviews coming up with some of the people doing the music for our documentary and are working on releasing an interview with the three of us explaining more about ourselves and why we decided on this particular topic. We want to keep everyone in the loop with our process and want everyone to know how much this means to us. It is important for our backers to feel included in the process because we wouldn’t be able to do it without them.

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 media attention we have received has been awesome! We have had the pleasure of being featured on where we did an hour long live stream segment talking about beauty and the media. Since it was streaming live people watching could write in questions to us, which was cool because we were able to engage with our audience directly. On the show we were joined by Katie Willcox,  the founder of Healthy is the New Skinny - Natural Model Management, and one of the models from the agency, Danika Brysha as well as some of the girls from our documentary. It was a really rewarding experience. We had never done anything like it before! Also, we have been featured on two blogs: The Body Image Project and Weighing the Facts. Lastly, like we said above we have been working with Lissa Lauria who is the founder of The I AM Movement and Caitlin Crosby who is the founder of Love Your Flawz and The Giving Keys. They are both in the industry doing acting and singing. It has been very rewarding getting to know them and working with them to help make a change. All of the people mentioned above have been awesome about promoting our documentary and sharing it with their friends and fans. If you’d like to learn more about any of the people mentioned above and their organizations, as well as the blogs, there are links on our Kickstarter that will take you there.
The main way in which we have been promoting our documentary is through Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. We have almost 3,000 views on our trailer, which is exciting, and we are constantly getting new followers and ‘Likes’ on Twitter and Facebook. The feedback from our project has been so positive and encouraging! It really affirms what we’re doing and makes us feel like we are doing something right. We are excited to see what will happen in the future!

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

Definitely do it! Don’t be scared of failure and don’t make your final goal too high. For us, $1,000 was our minimum. We wanted to make sure we made our goal so our project would be funded. It’s better to get the minimum rather than nothing. Also, we suggest reaching out to friends and family for help getting your project out there and take advantage of social media to promote your project. It’s a very useful tool. Lastly, be straightforward with your kickstarter video and make sure that people know exactly what your project is about and why it matters. Other than that, have fun with it!

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

Thanks so much for having us! We just want to tell anyone who might be struggling with these issues to not get discouraged. We all face this! Keep your head held high and know that you’re beautiful.

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

Thank you :)

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