Before I get into a long, protracted appeal for the viability of this project, I have a few confessions to make concerning the process of fund-raising for this film:
- I have never solicited for donations before. I actually hate asking for anything, so this has been an “outside of my comfort zone” experience.
- I know it’s rather big headed of me to think anyone would care to see a film about a portion of my life story. I’m not famous for anything, nor have I done anything particularly remarkable to deserve to have my story on film. But hell, if the kids from Jersey Shore get five seasons on TV, you’re watching my shit too.
- This is my first film. And yes I am qualified to pull it off. Plus my crew is THAT good.
- I know you mean well when you give me advice on how best to help my project. And you seem surprised when I am a little short with you. So, let’s try a little experiment. I am going to come to your job tomorrow and tell you how to do it better…
- There is much about the making of this project I can’t talk about in public. I have never gone through a pre-production process with any kind of geopolitical implications before, but it has required me to be reticent to a degree that I am not accustomed to.
- I know you are tired of seeing the posts on FB and twitter. I would be too if it were someone else doing it on my timeline. Then again, it’s not like I don’t know what your kids look like, you could try posting only one pic a week…
- My little cousin Feven in Atlanta finally made me come to grips with how important fame, no matter what the cost, has become in media. When asking me about my work she wanted to know if I had done anything famous. Not successful, not good, but famous…
- I spent $100 dollars raising the first $10,000 for this film and $,4000 raising the next $3000.
- It took me 8 months just to get enough headway in the Eritrean communities within the US to be able to raise a little money for the film. Many older Eritreans don’t use social media very often. And while Americans will often donate to a cause based on a good web presentation, Eritreans want to see you in person and ask you a few questions first… OK lots of questions. LOL It’s just a different cultural approach.
- I have been offered a few really big checks to make the film, but there were strings attached and I am not a puppet.
- I know money is tight these days, and I have been humbled by my friends with the level of kindness they have shown me this year.
- I honestly don’t care if you think I have a big ego for attempting this. You can’t BE a filmmaker with out having a big ego. You are attempting to make people see what you want them to see. It’s an imposition of will. That’s ego at its finest.
Making a film like “Big Araia” is, in many ways, a big mistake. When you consider that the current major media offerings we have to choose from place a high value on ignorant behavior and voyeuristic access to the most mundane aspects of celebrities lives, one would wonder where is there room for a film project that requires your brain to move beyond base pleasures and into the aesthetic. Simply put, “Why watch some Black nerd’s potentially sappy and preachy African reunion when you can decompress after a stressful day at the office by watching Tia and Tamara buy baby clothes or stare in shock as you view two women argue about who gave better head to “Stebbie J” during the reunion special for a show called “Dear God I Hope My Daughter Isn’t Watching This and Taking Notes!”
I’m a “creative”, it’s a catchall term for artists, filmmakers, musicians, and the like, but it suits me. It’s what I do, I create. From my minds eye I can take the abstract and fashion it into a physical entity you can watch over and over again. I don’t have to tell you about my thoughts and dreams, I can show you. For most of the last 100 years, people like me have been at the mercy of a few gate keepers, whose only concern is return on investment, the monetization of what was supposed to be a purely pleasurable experience. And, to a degree, it has to be that way.
Film-making requires large amounts of cash and those that can risk large sums on feature films are few and far between. But, the bi-product of this system is that those fortunate enough to have the resources to make a movie decide what gets made. So, their thoughts, notions, perceptions, and prejudices prevail over all that you see on the big, and small screen. I may have a great idea for a film, one that may become a surprise financial hit, but because the subject mater and presentation of such doesn’t fit into the current paradigms of profitability, Hollywood is closed to me. All seems lost for the indie filmmaker. Especially for the creative person of color in the US. With no one in media’s various seats of power that looks like us or whose thinking is divergent enough to test the uncharted waters of the Black Aesthetic mind, great films and TV shows featuring African-Americans are stillborn in the same delivery room that brings forth bragadocious, blond-weaved, bare-it-all buffoonery.
In this sea of cinematic despair, there is hope. Technology. The cost of production and access to the eyes of the globe are open to the artist of little means in a way people only dreamed of twenty years ago. The notion that I could create something, post it, and have it available for anyone to easily view at little or no cost is truly revolutionary. But there is a catch. With all this low cost access to the market that Black creatives like myself now have, we are now subject to new gate keepers, new kings of media. Only this time, I don’t have to appeal to a rich few, I appeal to you. All of you. You have untold power in your numbers. A power to decide what you see and when you see it. Collectively, you have more power than any executive at a major film studio. One person with a fifty dollar bill isn’t exactly an economic force, but 100,000 people with $50 is.
There is untapped potential in YOU. Never before have you had the kind of power you have now as an audience. Instead of choosing which finished projects you will spend your money on, you become the studio executive. Consumer as creator. That’s power.
If you want to put that power into action, support this project. Let’s see if we can beat the system instead of begging it to let us play. Click here to bring this project to life.
Thank you in advance,
Araia Patrick Tesfamariam
PS. If you want to really make a big move, support Chanelle in her quest to start her own online TV network. There are some really talented people trying to make things happen out here, folks!