Untitled Circus Project
The Bread & Puppet Theatre has been entertaining and educating audiences since 1962. Upsala was founded in 2000 to teach circus skills to at-risk youth, orphans, and kids with disabilities to provide them with employment. This film is about what happens when they come together in St. Petersburg.
Inclusion StatementThe simplest, most efficient way to increase women's and minorities employment in the film business is to hire them. I'm only beginning this project, but it is entirely about creating opportunities for under-served kids, I fully intend to depict, support, promote and employ a diverse cast and crew.
About The Project
Simply put, this project is about Collaboration and Communication and the Understanding that comes the Creative Process.
Five members of Vermont’s Bread and Puppet Theater are currently in residence in St. Petersburg as part of an exciting project with St. Petersburg’s acclaimed Upsala Circus. During their three-week collaboration, they will create a new production - THE CARDBOARD PHILOSOPHY CIRCUS - an interactive show that will address common social concerns and highlight the creativity and talents of both theater companies. The project is organized and supported by the U.S. cultural exchange organization CEC ArtsLink.
I've been asked to come film what happens and make a documentary about this unique cultural exchange, as a huge bonus I'll be filming the final performances in 360 to create a VR experience also.
In a time when relations between our two country are strained to the limit, I need to know what can go right when we open ourselves up to art for art sake and seek to connect with and learn from people who have likely lived very different lives from ourselves. Upsala was founded and lives by the principles of circus pedagogy, a manner of educating and raising children that isn't widely in use in the US.
In case you aren't familiar, the Bread and Puppet Theatre is one of the oldest, nonprofit, self-supporting theatrical companies in the country. Founded in New York City by Peter Schumann in 1963. Bread and Puppet is known for its larger than life puppets and its politcally themed shows. As their website explains,"our shows are anti-war, anti-capitalism and anti-globalization, while simultaneously being pro-beauty-of-nature, pro-collaboration, and pro-antagonization-of-the-mind."
Across the ocean, Upsala-Circus began in March 2000. Astrid Schorn, a German student was completing her studies in social pedagogy in Saint Petersburg. She set herself an ambitious goal: use circus arts to rehabilitate street kids and eventually provide them with employable skills.
Using juggling and unicycles Astrid and Larisa (still the executive and art director of Upsala) sought children from subway stations and teenage hangouts. In the beginning they would practice on the streets or wherever they could, in parks and on the squares. In 2012, Upsala erected the first, and so far the only tent for youth circus in Russia.
CEC ArtsLink promotes international communication and understanding through collaborative, innovative arts projects for mutual benefit. We support and produce programs that encourage the exchange of visual and performing artists and cultural managers in the United States and 37 countries overseas. As an international organization, we believe that the arts are a society's most deliberate and complex means of communication and that the work of artists and arts administrators can help nations overcome long histories of reciprocal distrust, insularity and conflict. www.cecartslink.org
Upsala-Circus remains true to their mission by also bringing circus to those who live closed institutions for juvenile delinquents. 20 young boys aged 12-16 participate in Upsala-Circus circus activities. "Here the boys can find a different kind of relationship to their surroundings – one based on responsibility, respect and enthusiasm. The objective of Upsala-Circus is that these experiences will later help the boys to make better life choices."
Upsala established a program for children with special needs in 2005. The direct aims of this program are to help the children develop and improve their social skills, their ability to communicate and their movement coordination. "As their opportunities to become eligible members of society are narrow in Russia the circus is a place for them to find talent and competence in themselves."
NOTE: You probably noticed that this campaign will begin while I'm already shooting in Russia. I'm selling my car to fund this trip. It isn't my preferred method of making a film, but it has to be shot in October when the Cultural Exchange is happening. I was invited to make the film just a few weeks ago, so there hasn't been much time to fundraise. I'm equally excited and committed to make sure this project happens. My Dad has always said, "Do what you love and the money will take care of itself." So I am trusting those words. I do feel a bit like I'm on the flying trapeze, but I also trust there are those on the other side who will catch me and we'll all succeed.
Once you take a look at this campaign's rewards and incentives, you'll find that we are seeking Executive Producers as well. Any additional funds we raise will go towards post-production. Primary expenses there, beyond the RAID storage system, are for music composition & licensing, consulting editor salary, and marketing/outreach & festival expenses. More details on our stretch goals will be forthcoming as this campaign proceeds.
Our project has been accepted by FROM THE HEART PRODUCTIONS, INC for fiscal sponsorship. All contributions are tax-deductible (minus the actual cost of the reward.)
Thank you for your consideration!
Use the WishList to pledge cash and loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an incentive directly.
About This Team
Techincally there is a "me" in team, which is good because right now the team is just me.
But I have no fear that my friends and colleagues will join me in bringing this story to the screen once they know about it. You see, this all just happened. Two weeks ago I saw a post from CEC Arts Link that a documentarian was needed to travel to Russia to capture the collaboration between Upsala and Bread and Puppet that had recently been approved and arranged. Due to the short notice, there is no budget. Fortunately I own all my own equipment, have a valid US Passport, a high level of comfort with both last minute and international travel and a deep deep love of rare and special stories.