Who will buy? This question might be one of the most difficult for me to answer. Ultimately, writing out my answer took courage and tremendous faith. I intend to create a film that attracts the following audience:
-People who don’t know slavery exists.
-People who don’t believe slavery exists.
-People who don’t realize how slavery is intertwined in their lives.
-People who don’t think anything they do effects slavery.
-People who don’t think there is anything they CAN do to reverse it.
-People who are skeptical but intrigued.
I expect people who are aware of this issue, already have a heart for ending the atrocity of sex slavery. I am most interested in reaching those other people, who, through critical mass efforts on every level, will immobilize sex trafficking and transform the lives of millions of victims.
When people ask me what my documentary will be about, I struggle to be succinct, because I do not know how much they already know about sex slavery. Even if they are very knowledgeable, describing the distinctions of this project and its vision often gets lost in translation. I try not to overwhelm the person with an onslaught of information, but to say this documentary is about sex slavery is not sufficient.
In an effort to break it down into digestible pieces, I will be post portions of my notes to clarify this vision. The next few days will feature different questions and their answers.
How is this documentary about sex slavery different from others?
- This documentary will feature people and stories from several countries and organizations rather than focusing on one country or one organization
- This documentary will feature current methods used to stop sex slavery and what programs and solutions are available for victims, post rescue. Facts about the existence and atrocity of sex slavery will encompass a small portion of the film.
- The people and organizations featured will be anonymous in the body of the film, with a resource and acknowledgement list posted in the end credits and also online.
- This documentary will inspire and encourage the viewer to take action in whatever way they can or choose. It will not promote a specific organization or avenue of action.
There are an infinite number of ways to make a difference towards ending sex slavery. There are hundreds of non-profit organizations or non-government organizations (NGOs) already fighting this fight. This film intends to empower the audience to take responsibility for their own actions regarding human trafficking.
Whenever people hear about the atrocities of sex slavery, they are clearly moved and heart-broken by the facts. They want to help but don’t know how. This film will let the audience choose how to act to be of service in a way that is available through their own life.
Feel free to post a follow up question about this post in the comments. I will do my best to address your questions either in a direct reply, or in a future post. Thanks!
The making of this documentary is no accident. On the surface it may seem like an fluke or a mistake for me, somebody who has never made a film before, to be tackling this project. What on earth has possessed me? I work in a boring grey cubicle 40 hours a week, how can I possibly declare I am making a documentary about sex slavery? For me, it makes total sense given my natural passions, experiences and history. I had some practical encouragement from a creative mentor, too.
As I mentioned before, the idea for this documentary was born while reading Todd Henry’s “The Accidental Creative” blog. What does that mean? Here’s how Todd describes it:
“Accidental Creative [ak-si-den-tl • kree-ey-tiv] -noun,
1. Person who structures their life so as to experience frequent creative insights (see also creative accidents), 2. A company that helps creatives do brilliant work.
You must be purposeful if you want accidental. Brilliant insights don’t really happen by accident, it just feels that way. If you want to experience regular creative insight (creative accidents), you must structure your life and systems around that desire. – From The Accidental Creative site
I have been gleaning insights and inspirations regarding the creative process from The Accidental Creative blog and podcasts for about 2-3 years. The vision for this documentary came to me while watching a TED talk shared on that blog which, brilliantly, extrapolates on that concept above. See The Slow Hunch post for more on that.
I am taking this opportunity to share my gratitude for the inspiration of The Accidental Creative because I’m excited to tell you about THE BOOK! Todd Henry has written a book sharing the same wisdom and practical applications he has shared via The Accidental Creative blog and podcasts. I have no doubt his book will become a tried and true reference manual for professional creative teams, budding writers, and creative wannabe’s of all types in the years to come. Congratulations Todd! I am forever grateful for the ways you and your creative mentoring contribute to this documentary in progress!
I started working on this documentary project last fall. Many things have fallen into place fairly effortlessly so far. We did our first day of filming just 2 weeks after I first had the vision for this project. I quickly experienced overwhelming encouragement. I am extremely grateful for these gifts of friendship and support fueling the fire of my passion for this film.
One of my favorite gifts offered to this project is the gift of music. I am a complete music fiend, and I’m a bit of a music snob on top of that. Music is one of the most important pleasures in my life, and the one thing I tend to splurge on when my budget is tight. I say all this to illustrate why I am immensely grateful for the generous gift to this film by my talented friend, Ryan Adcock. Shortly after we did our first day of filming I ran into Ryan and impulsively asked him if he’d write a song for this documentary about sex slavery. And that’s about all I said…something to the effect of, “Hey, I’m making a documentary about sex slavery. Will you write a song for it?” That simple. And without hesitation he said, “I’d love to.” I am thrilled and humbled. Seriously.
When I spoke with him a few months later he hinted that he’d write more than one song – whatever I think the film needs. And he’s not asking for a dime. Seriously. What a huge blessing! I can’t express how grateful and honored I am to know this man and call him a friend. Now I just need to make this a great film to be a fitting resting place for his great songwriting gift.
One day I was watching my local PBS station and they were filling time with a short piece about local history. I think I had seen this feature (or part of it) before, it was about the Underground Railroad and the huge contributions John Rankin and John Parker (a former slave himself) made to keeping it going. This is a story I’ve heard many times before in various venues, including the Freedom Center right here in Cincinnati. But in this short feature, PBS tied it together with Harriet Beecher Stowe’s story. They told how Rankin and Parker’s stories of slaves they helped rescue were inspiration for her characters in Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Again, none of this information was new to me.
This is what I love about stories in general. Every time a story is re-visited with an open mind, a new perspective can emerge- no matter how many times we have heard it or read it. In this case, what caught my attention was the comment that Uncle Tom’s Cabin started the Civil War, which ultimately led to slavery being made illegal in the United States of America. Here is what Wikipedia says about that:
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century, and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible. It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s. In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States alone. In 1855, three years after it was published, it was called “the most popular novel of our day.” The impact attributed to the book is great, reinforced by a story that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln declared, “So this is the little lady who started this great war.”
In this PBS feature they said that Americans in the northern states were aware that slavery existed in the south, but didn’t see how it affected them and/or thought there was nothing they could do about what went on in the south. After they read “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” they knew they could not let slavery continue in the south. They HAD to do something, whatever they could do to end the atrocity of slavery.
THAT is what I hope to accomplish with this documentary and the subsequent screenplay that will follow in the future. Many people are becoming aware that modern day slavery and sex slavery exists, but they don’t see how it affects them or know what to do about it. This documentary will provide information to inspire and examples to motivate. This documentary will not linger on the grim reality of sex slavery. This documentary will highlight the implications of how society is involved in the perpetuation of sex trafficking and how it can greatly hinder it’s progress with some simple actions.
To add impact to this experience- watching the PBS feature allude to how “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is said to have started a revolution by inspiring indifferent Northerners to take action towards ending slavery- days later I signed up for a service project that just happened to be landscaping Harriet Beecher Stowe’s house here in Cincinnati. Perfect! I got to literally dig in the dirt and walk through the house where Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote her legendary novel.
Now, on to digging through the dirt of the current sex slavery business and making a film that will hopefully have the same impact as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”
I have had a vision for a screenplay since 2006 regarding the complexities of the sex trade. Over the past couple of years this vision has shifted to be more about human trafficking and sex slavery. I still plan to show how all aspects of the sex trade and attitudes about sex contribute to the big problem of injustice.
One night in August, a friend came over for dinner. We had a nice long talk about the screenplay vision and how my personal history inspired me to have a passion for increasing awareness of this injustice. In a passing comment she said, “Maybe you could tell your personal story and THAT could be how you tie it all together.” I immediately sensed there was something to this notion. I wasn’t sure what it would look like, but I knew it was more than a notion!
Then, in October, there was a link to a TED Talk on The Accidental Creative blog.
The talk was by Steven Johnson about where good ideas come from. To watch it click here.
Briefly, it demonstrates how community and the sharing of ideas can inspire genius creations. Steven uses the example of coffee shops and GPS to make his point. His point is that the greatest ideas don’t arrive in a “Eureka” moment, but is a slow building and cobbling of ideas together- what he calls a “slow hunch.” So while I watched it, I recognized I had a slow hunch in action! The vision for spreading the word about how ordinary people can and do make a difference in ending human trafficking, could start with the research for the screenplay. I could document how I, an ordinary citizen, can and do make a difference in bringing justice to the victims of slavery, particularly sex slavery. And I can inspire others to do the same by filming interviews with other ordinary people who are doing what they can to serve the victims, rescue the slaves, and facilitate justice where there are vile injustices all around us.
The people who are making a difference are ordinary people who have a heart for ending slavery. Some of them did big things like pack up their family and move to Cambodia. Some of them help plan fund raisers. Some of them speak to schools and organizations to increase awareness. Some of them increase awareness about how fair trade makes a difference. For all of them it started with heart- a passion for ending the injustice of sex trafficking.
I still plan to write the screenplay. I think the art of telling a story via fictional characters in a film will be a very effective way to inspire the ending of slavery. In the meantime, the filming of this documentary is a cog in the wheel of a great slow hunch. I’m excited to see what solutions to trafficking come from this slow hunch approach.
“HEART. BEATS. SLAVERY” is a documentary featuring how ordinary people can and DO contribute to ending sex slavery.
In the game “Rock Paper Scissors” we all know the rules: Rock beats scissors, Paper beats rock, Scissors beat paper.
This documentary will show that in regards to the sex trade: HEART beats SLAVERY.
I will interview a variety of people already making a difference towards ending sex slavery on some level- some full time, part time, or one time.
Emphasis will be on their ordinary lives before, during or after their action.
This is a film of HOPE- will highlight the complexity of sex slavery, but the overriding feel of the film will be light and hopeful
Thanks for showing an interest in this film. Stay tuned for more!