Sex trafficking is big business. Girls of all ages are enslaved, brainwashed, beaten, raped and humiliated daily. Most people who fight for the freedom and rehabilitation of these sex slaves are ordinary people who work to make a difference and speak for the voiceless. These people follow their hearts to do what they can in small and big ways so that one day people can beat sex slavery and be free.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

501(c)3: Grace-full-y

Another blessing has come to Heart.Beats.Slavery! In order to start raising funds to make this documentary, I needed to establish non-profit status. As I began making plans for this, a friend introduced me to Jamey Ponte.  Jamey is the founder and director of the Child Wellness Fund.  Child Wellness Fund has done some great things. But what Jamey really loves to do is, in his own words,"help others realize and move their dream forward." What this means for Heart.Beats.Slavery is instant non-profit status!

Jamey & me in front of painting by Mike Altman
Photo taken by manager of Corner BLOC Coffee in Cleves

Shortly after the above photo was taken, Jamey and I went to the bank to open the checking account for Heart.Beats.Slavery.  

Let the fund raising begin!

*Thanks Jamey! I am blessed to be in your circle of friends. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tenacious ME

About a year ago (October 2010), I left a comment on Todd Henry's blog that said, "I have a good idea as a result of watching this video. Thanks Todd!" And Todd replied, "Fan..tastic! Good to hear!" And thus began my journey with Heart.Beats.Slavery! Two weeks later (November 6, 2010) we did our first day of filming at the Unbound Event at The Freedom Center.

Fueled by the mustard seeds of this vision, a mustard seed of faith, and a flood of passion to water the seeds - I started to move forward.  That simple. I just started moving forward.  There have been obstacles and distractions. There have been days, weeks, and months when it seemed like NOTHING was happening with this project. But I can already see those times were necessary for the vision to incubate and sprout in new directions. It has grown bigger than the original mustard seed...for sure!  

The important thing is that I have not given up or walked away. There is something to be said for tenacity. Today I will be working on a budget for the film. This week I am establishing a Board of Directors. This month Heart.Beats.Slavery will become an official non-profit organization. By year's end, I will raise funds to deposit into the Heart.Beats.Slavery checking account to fuel the making of the film.  In 2012, I will travel, gather more resources, do more networking, and film more footage. Tenacity. 

I have heard two messages/slogans recently that resonate with me and this vision. They are: Start from HERE and Keep pressing PLAY. This documentary, about how ordinary people can and do make a difference toward ending sex slavery, will get made...driven by tenacious me! 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Movies that move me

One of the reasons I am passionate about this documentary is because the vision for this project is unlike anything on this subject I have seen thus far. To my knowledge, most films and documentaries regarding human trafficking are mostly focused on making people aware of the atrocity of slavery. This is good and needed.  However, so far, there is nothing like the documentary I am making which focuses on the ways ordinary people can & do make a difference toward ending human trafficking. I have featured 3 films that I feel do an admirable job of showing the realities of human trafficking. Click the links below to learn more.

The Whistleblower - Aside from a straight-out documentary, this is the most accurate depiction of sex slavery in a feature film that I have seen.  Three well-known respected actors play the lead roles. The movie is based on actual events, which may be the reason it seems most accurate. I highly recommend this film if you have any interest in digging deeper into the behind the scenes evil that makes sex slavery such a huge business

Trade - You can rent this one, though I streamed it on Netflix. This stars Kevin Kline and is very well done. It is an accurate portrayal of how girls are abducted, trafficked, and auctioned.  My only complaint on this one is that the rescuer (played by Kevin Kline) has a personal connection to the one girl he rescues, and a personal reason for getting involved. Kline's character believes his daughter was abducted and trafficked. But the girl he saves is not his daughter. Sex slavery is an ugliness that makes most people cringe and then feel hopeless. Some are provoked to work toward ending trafficking by rescuing and rehabilitating slaves as if they were helping their own child. 

Born into Brothels - This is a documentary made by a photographer who started a photography class for children of prostitutes in the red light district of Kolkata/Calcutta. This film shows the resilience of the human spirit under grim circumstances. And shows the ugly reality of life in a brothel through the eyes of innocent children of prostitutes who only desire love, beauty and acceptance in their community, which happens to be in the red light district. The kids can't really comprehend anything else. 

Regarding the documentary I am working on... even if ten others like it beat it to the box office, it will not deter me from finishing mine. As long as sex slavery exists there will always room for more films that increase awareness, and show what is possible when the power of love transforms possibilities. 

Saturday, September 3, 2011

A Little Extra

I have never made a film before, but that will not stop me from making this film. I have always been adventurous!  I have lots of great stories of times I have tried something I had never done before.  I am blessed with opportunities to learn more about film-making in unexpected ways.

The other day I got to be an extra in a full-length romantic comedy being filmed here in Cincinnati.  Even though the process for making a documentary is different, it was great to be on a movie set and observe!  Here is a news story about the film. I have my 2 seconds of fame at time marker 00:51- don't blink! I am behind the blonde woman clapping.

There were so many reasons I am grateful I was on set this particular day. Mostly, I am grateful to have spent the day learning by observing. I hope the audience for this documentary will also learn by watching! Who knows what new ideas for abolishing slavery it might inspire!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

All About It - Part Four: Project Management

The vision for this documentary project reminds me of a joke: How do you eat an elephant? Answer: One bite at a time.  With each bite, I realize there are many potential places to take the next bite.  Also with each bite, I sink my teeth deeper into the meat of it. It is quite overwhelming, most of the time!  I thank God for the friends who encourage me and remind me how important it is to see this vision through.  

Here are some basic bones of the project:

~To interview people who are making a difference toward ending sex slavery. 
~To gather their stories about the passionate people about how they got involved.
~To film events where people are taking action to end sex slavery. 
~To raise awareness and funds.
~To collect a stories from some girls/women who have been rescued from sex slavery, rehabilitated, re-trained with a variety of skills and are living productive, free lives.
~To show the audience that they can help make a difference with the resources they have at their fingertips — their talents, their time, their money and their freedom of choice. 

These are my objectives, there is a LOT of prep work to be done!  I am plugging away and moving forward with the vast possibilities available for this project. I am very grateful God will me with management!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

All About It - Part Three: Getting Hooked

How can you hook your audience? 

I have boldly declared that I intend this film to attract people who don't know that sex slavery exists, don't believe sex slavery exists, or don't think their lives have anything to do with sex slavery. The harder question is how to hook them? How to pique their interest enough to watch the film? And once they start watching, it needs to be intriguing enough to keep their attention through the whole thing.  

This question is the reason why I do not want this film to focus too much on the atrocity of sex slavery.  People can only endure so much second-hand heartbreak.  Raise your hand if you change the channel when a "Save the Children" commercial comes on. Or the one about abused animals with Sarah McLachlan singing in the background. My hand is raised HIGH!  

So when the question- "How can you hook your audience? " - was originally posed to me, I was like a deer in headlights! Thankfully, the person who posed the question had some ideas that aligned with the my vision. And we worked from there.

There is an intention that allows for story structure. With that in mind, the discussion continued with ideas to spark the interest of the audience.  

Here are just a few ideas:
~What if your daughter was collateral for a loan?
~Do you ever think about the slave that you own?
~Have you ever realized you are a shareholder in the sex slavery business?

I'm also considering borrowing my friend Jamie's blog post "Seven Years" as a structure point. Jamie's blog post is very powerful!

Please share your thoughts in the comments!  Thanks! 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

All About It - Part Two: Who will buy?

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. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

All About It - Part One: Distinctions

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.

Today's question:
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!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

No Accident

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!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Gift of Music

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.  

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Abstract Inspiration

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,[5] and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible.[6] It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s.[7] 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."[8] 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."[9]

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." 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Slow Hunch

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.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Vision

“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.

The Vision-

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!