Worthy Women: Lost and Found

A proposal for a one-hour television documentary

 

 

OUR PURPOSE: to save lives.

Our ultimate goal is to encourage women in crisis situations to seek help and give them the confidence to leave.

This film will save lives.

 

THE SUBJECT:  Woman fleeing domestic violence

More than 1.3 million women experience physical assault every year in the U.S.

For a battered women facing a choice of leaving or staying, her secret life, a life she is desperate to escape, too often stays a secret and too often exacts a terrible price – on her self worth, on her children, on her body and soul.  Often it ends in her death.

Battered women – think about “battered” – what it means.

One in three female murder victims are murdered by their partners.

Preparing an escape.  Escaping.  Asking for help.  Finding refuge.  Getting restraining orders.  Protecting children from emotional scars.  Finding work.  Counseling.  Dealing with the police, the D.A., Child Protective Services, social workers, family, friends, co-workers.  And shame.  Always the shame.  It’s no wonder most women choose not to escape.  It is estimated that only one out of every twenty instances of domestic violence is reported.  If they do flee, most return – sometimes as many a six or seven times – because they have no resources, nowhere to turn.

It takes immense courage, which is why we want to produce this film.

Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness in the U.S.   

 

THE FILM AND THE SETTING

“Worthy Women: Lost and Found,” a one hour documentary, will show how this terrible, hidden issue is dealt with in two small towns in Northern California: Grass Valley and Nevada City.  It will be an intimate view of women struggling to make their lives whole by fleeing the terror of a life of control, intimidation and violence.  Across the country in every city, every town – in your city, your town - they are called “survivors”.

This is a film about people, more than issues.  Stories more than statistics. Over a period of one year we will film the difficulties and challenges faced by the survivors: women lost – and found.

But there are also those who dedicate their lives to enabling women to step from the shadows, tell their stories, rediscover their worth and take back the power over their lives.

People like Sandy Schmidt, founder of Women of Worth, a crisis center for abused women and their children.  She remembers her three children peering over the window ledge watching her husband try to run her over with a car.  She remembers trying to survive, dumpster diving to feed her children.  Out of that experience, Sandy started Women of Worth.  It is her passion – and her cross. 

Sandy takes personal weapons training from the local cops.  There are a lot of angry husbands and boyfriends and she takes their death threats seriously. Her 11-year-old boy, Sam, knows what Mommy does, but not the potential dangers and harassing she faces.

Running a non-profit – a non-profit dealing with issues many would like to sweep under the nearest rug – is difficult.  But she perseveres because she is committed.   Among her responsibilities is the running of two safe-houses, both named after local women who were horribly murdered by their husbands, one with a nail gun, the other run-over by a train.

Through Sandy, we will get to know these women struggling to win back their self-respect and dealing with life after escape.  Child care, child custody, lawyers, legal, and financial assistance, friends, family and on and on. 

PRIMARY STORY ELEMENTS

 Women escaping domestic violence – Their stories, their struggles and, most important, their success.

Sandy Schmidt - Her story.  Her passion for her work.  Keeping Women of Worth alive and well.  Interaction with women in desperate situations.

 

SUPPORTING STORY ELEMENTS

Sheriff and Police – Ride along on domestic violence calls.  Access to recordings made during DV calls.  Access to 911 calls.  Interviews with officers, Chief and Sheriff.

District Attorney – D.A. Cliff Newell has pledged his support including Victim Assistance Units and shadowing an Assistant D.A. through a DV case.

Crisis Center – Access to first calls.

Doctors/Emergency Room – Interviews, possible follow-up on patient

Man Alive – Group counseling for men incarcerated for DV.  Possible follow up on partner/husband of one of our survivors

Social workers and Child Protective Service – Play an important role any time children are involved, which is almost always.

 

PRODUCTION TECHNIQUES

Watching a woman gain a sense of herself, her worthiness, means taking time with her.  Showing her environment, her past, her struggles, her small triumphs – this takes patience.  And trust.  From years of experience, we know that the presence of a film crew, even one person with a camera, can limit the willingness of people to reveal their lives.

We will give these women video cameras – small, consumer-grade HD cameras – and teach them basic video techniques.  We will encourage them to film their lives – their environment, their children, their friends (being careful of course to make sure we are covered with proper releases.)  And we will ask them to use the camera as a personal video diary – talking about their life as it happens, including the small victories that add to a growing sense of self worth.

We will use professional videographers to show the community, capture the social environment and to follow Sandy Schmidt and film her struggles and commitment.  We will show the network of people surrounding these women who play an important part in the film.  Friends.  Family.  Lawyers and judges.  The teachers.  The counselors.  The cops and deputies. The volunteers.  The people who represent freedom, hope and a new life.

 

PRODUCTION

We are watching stories unfold. This documentary will take at least a year from start to finish and will require small crews for at least 6 to 8 weeks of shooting.  The program will be shot in 1080p HD, except for the individual camera work by the participants.  We will use original music composed specifically for the film.  Editing will be a major part of the budget – perhaps as much as 10 weeks or longer. 

Budget: $72,275

 

DISTRIBUTION:

Television:

We have a good record with PBS via local PBS station KVIE (see attached letter) and can confidently guarantee coverage via the National Educational Television Association which provides satellite downlinks of programs to PBS stations nationwide.   However, our intention would be to shop the film around to other potential national outlets: HBO, Discovery, Frontline and other major outlets to get the broadest possible coverage.

Other:

We believe this film will have a long life after broadcast via DVD sales, web distribution sites (Youtube, Vimeo, etc.) and Women of Worth’s website.  Churches, women’s organizations, community groups, law enforcement, crisis centers, high schools and colleges and many other similar groups will have access to the program. 

 

 

PRODUCTION TEAM

Michael Bloebaum - Executive Producer/Director/Writer

Mr. Bloebaum is an Emmy-award winning producer/writer/director.  His career spans years of documentary production in Los Angeles where he produced documentaries for NBC, KCBS, “Medix” for Dave Bell Associates, and many educational film.   This was followed by a career in education. He holds a Doctorate in Education and headed the Communication Division at Pasadena City College.  Retiring to Grass Valley, California, he has produced three films that have aired on PBS stations around the country.  His most recent “River Music” is currently being considered for an Emmy award.

 

David Nicholson – Producer/Videographer

Mr. Nicholson has worked in film and television for the last eleven years. David has been involved in many aspects of filmmaking; directing, editing, shooting, and motion graphics. He has a diverse portfolio ranging from documentary film, to sports television, to non-profit and educational videos. He has worked with ESPN, PBS, Bloomberg News, Nike, and The Humane Society.  Mr. Nicholson is the producer and director of photography for a project about music and war in Mali, West Africa. This film has brought him to the conflict-ridden nation on three different occasions. The movie is near completion and expected to hit the festival circuit in 2015. Other recents works include a documentary about sea level rise, where he filmed on location in The South Pacific and a recent film that brought him to the townships in South Africa.

 

Mark Triolo – Producer/Videographer

Mark Triolo is the owner of VideoEdge, a video production company located in Nevada City, Ca.  For the past 18 years he has worked on documentary, narrative, corporate and event productions.  He is highly skilled in the areas of cinematography, lighting and sound.  Mr. Triolo’s background in marketing brings him strength of focus on the audience with clear storylines and messaging.   He communicates naturally with artists, performers, and on-screen subjects to deliver outstanding video content. 

 

Margaret Bloebaum – Associate Producer

Margaret Bloebaum draws on years of experience as media producer/writer/narrator and on-camera talent for Los Angeles County and has worked in several key capacities with her husband, Michael Bloebaum.