I was recently featured on NGO Storytelling's Ethics series! We discussed my inclusive filmmaking process, in which I work closely with the subjects of my films from development through post-production. This process allows people to take ownership of their own stories and to create powerful films of which they are proud. Read the interview on NGO Storytelling's blog.
Last year, my friend Brianne Riviello called to talk about a project she was working on via Viacom Talent for Good and asked me to be the director of photography. With Michelle McLaughlin, Brianne was directing and producing a promotional video for the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund Name Change Project. I'm so pleased to share the final story here. The Name Change Project pairs pro bono lawyers with transgender individuals attempting to navigate the legal system to change their names to match their true identities. This process is much more complicated than changing your name after marriage and can often lead to embarrassing and discouraging exchanges; with the help of TLDEF, clients receive respectful and knowledgeable legal guidance through the proceedings.
When your legal name does not match your identity, daily tasks can easily become daunting and humiliating, from getting a new driver's license, looking for a job, going to the dentist, or even raising your hand in class to be marked present. TLDEF is working to change that.
Kricket, Athena, Naz, Mike, Cecilia: thank you for sharing your stories and being a part of this project!
Take a look, share! And learn more: www.transgenderlegal.org/namechange
Renewal Farm, a unique substance abuse program set on a farm in Upstate New York, helps long-term drug users with histories of chronic homelessness and unemployment renew their lives. It is twice as successful as similar programs. But, due to federal funding cuts, Renewal Farm was at risk of closing if they didn't raise $150,000 by December 31, 2015.
It is set in a special sanctuary in Garrison, New York, far from the neighborhoods and people that enable drug use. The natural beauty of the setting -- along with integrated drug treatment and critical reentry services like job training, job placement and housing assistance -- inspires change.
Thirty-three-year-old James from Elmhurst Queens, who had a serious alcohol and prescription pain killer addiction, lost his job in 2011, and was cut off by his family. James joined Renewal Farm in July 2015, committed to a better life for him and his son. “I have been to lots of treatment programs and sober houses, but none of them are like the Farm,” says James. “The Farm provides a very safe environment and staying here gives me the time I need to work on myself,” he says.
After a successful crowd-funding campaign, Renewal Farm raised more than their goal and will remain open for another year. They are currently looking for long-term funding.