“Mister Rogers & Me” Needs Your Help

August 20th, 2009

film.jpgI often wonder whether Chris and I should have had a business plan or, heck, any plan before diving into the making of our independent documentary, “Mister Rogers & Me,” back in June 2006. Especially now, day one of a month-long fundraising campaign to finish the film.

We’ve been making slow but steady progress for a few months now, enlisting the advice and editing expertise of “American Hardcore” director, Slamdance Film Festival co-founder and pal Paul Rachman who cut our 2:30:00 run time to 1:15:00. It’s far more compelling and succinct, but still retains its soul.

But it was the news that PBS was diminishing airings of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” from daily to weekly a few years ago really gave me a kick in the pants.

And so, last night just after midnight, I launched a “Mister Rogers & Me” fundraising campaign at Kick Starter. Our goal is to raise at least $10,000 in one month so we can spent at least two weeks straight putting the final puzzle pieces in place: b-roll, photos, voice over and music. We even plan to shot a few additional interviews.

We’re nearly 20% funded after less than 24 hours, and I’ll I’ve really done is Tweeted and posted to my Making “Mister Rogers & Me” blog. The response thus far has been gratifying, but not terribly surprising; this project has had a halo around it since its inception. Sure, there have been logistical challenges, and a few notables passed. But in general, everyone we’ve spoken to has shared our enthusiasm for Mister Rogers, and his deep and simple message. People have donated their time, research skills, memories, photos and footage.

Truth is that, for better or worse, I’ve approached this project as a Odyssey journey — a vision or hero’s quest — from the start. I wanted to roam and ramble, following clues and signs from one person to another, bumping into obstacles and being forced to problem solve. I never wanted to know how it’s going to end (and still don’t), I just never figured it would take so long. Like Bono says (which we quote at the beginning of the film)

The true life of a believer is one of a longer, more hazardous or uphill pilgrimage, and where you uncover slowly the sort of illumination for your next step.

If you’re so inclined, then, we could really use your help completing this journey over at “Mister Rogers & Me” fundraising page on Kick Starter to finishing our documentary. Pledges are matched with tiered incentives, like “Thank You” (or “Special Thanks,” natch) in the film’s credits, signed DVDs, and limited-edition Nantucket photography. Most of all, though, your pledge will be matched by the gratifying feeling that you’re helping spread a timely and valuable message.

“I feel so strongly that deep and simple is far more essential than complex,” Mister Rogers told me the day we met. “Spread the message, Benjamin.”

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