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For Choco - A Documentary Film A Project of Creative Visions Fiscal Sponsorship
For Choco is a documentary film about one woman's journey of love and loss during the 2016 Presidential election. Just one month before the election, Clinton campaign volunteer Frankie Gonzales loses her mentor and madrina, Choco Meza, to cancer. Meza, a Clinton campaign organizer and longtime activist in San Antonio, ignited in Frankie a passion for political activism and helped Frankie come out as transgender to her family and friends. As Frankie transitions from male to female, she rededicates her volunteer efforts to honor Choco's legacy and carry forward her mission.
In 2018, I will complete post-production and begin distribution of this film. To share this powerful story of civic engagement and political activism, I need your help!
Here is a breakdown of where the funds will go:
The total budget for completion of FOR CHOCO is $73,500
Producer and Editor 34%
Audio Mix/Sound Design 11%
Outreach+Impact Producer 9%
Color Correction 8%
Story Consultant 6%
Film Festival Submissions+Travel 5%
DCP Creation 3%
Music Supervisor+Licensing 3%
Fiscal Sponsor Fees+Contingency Funds 10%
A full line-item budget is available upon request.
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Through a moment-driven cinema verite style, the viewer learns about the powerful bond that Frankie shares with Choco and gets an intimate understanding of how and why Frankie wants to honor her legacy. In this film, the personal is the political.
Initially, Frankie struggles with her madrina's death. She is inconsolable during prayers for the dead held at Choco's home. She must cope with the grief of losing the most influential person in her life. As the election nears, we see Frankie doing the exhausting and thankless work of a campaign volunteer and learn more about Choco's life and impact on Frankie. Through an interview with Frankie, the viewer learns about Choco's lifetime of advocating for civil rights and mentoring other activists in south Texas. The viewer also learns that Choco spent almost a decade working with Frankie on becoming a stronger person, accepting her identity, and finally, coming out as transgender. Their relationship blossomed while working together for the Democratic Party in San Antonio. Frankie credits Choco's commitment to fighting for civil rights as her core motivation for volunteering. She wants to honor Choco, the woman who spent her life fighting for LGBTQ rights and was responsible for Frankie's political awakening. "[Choco] helped me understand that I was made for more," Frankie said. "Politics is where I need to be. I need to start helping people within my own community whether it's the LGBT community or just the T community. I feel like I need to start giving back to the folks that have worked so hard to give me the rights that I currently have." While Frankie is shaken by Choco's death, she resolves to continue working for the Clinton campaign to honor Choco's memory and further the fight for LGBT rights. Frankie does this with the knowledge that Choco's work, along with others, is the reason she enjoys certain rights today. One right, of which Frankie will soon take full advantage, is marriage. Frankie will marry Jeff Wolfe, a 20-year veteran of the Air Force, 4 days after Election Day. Choco had been planning the wedding up until the week before her death.
Narratively and cinematically, this film is constructed to be accessible. It will appeal to a mostly American audience whose interests include civic engagement, American politics, equity and justice, and LGBT rights. In addition, this film will be particularly of interest to the hispanic community in and around south Texas. Choco's impact in this area is immense. She had connections with almost every hispanic politician running for office in San Antonio.
The multi-platform distribution strategy will focus on (1) identifying communities and individuals for whom the film's focus speaks and (2) encouraging those groups to see the film and create public goodwill for it.
The first part of the process will be submitting the film to festivals with large audiences who can amplify its message and then focus on submitting to festivals that focus on politics and LGBT rights. Additional screenings in San Antonio and small organizations focused on civic engagement will follow.
Finally, a high school-level curriculum focused on teaching productive civic engagement will be developed using media such as For Choco for teaching materials.
WHY THIS FILM
I believe that sharing deeply personal stories about politics and civic engagement is a normatively good thing for strengthening democracy and democratic institutions in America.
This film seeks to counteract the negative stereotype that getting involved in politics requires moral compromise. Furthermore, this film aims to counteract common negative media stereotypes about transgender people. While the main character of the film is transgender, her transgender identity is not the focus of the film. Instead, the focus of the film is on how she responds to and grows from to the tragic loss of her madrina and mentor.
This film also aims to draw awareness to an important yet under-covered aspect of American politics: campaign volunteers. Since 2004, campaign volunteers have become dramatically more important to political campaigns. Media oversaturation and audience fragmentation have made the traditional mass media-focused campaigns less effective in helping win elections and so campaigns now rely far more on personalized communication - when one individual delivers a targeted message. However, in coverage of political campaigns, journalists and filmmakers alike have spent little time covering campaign volunteers. Most media outlets focus far more on the horse race of politics. This film explicitly avoids that approach and instead focuses on the story of a single campaign volunteer. Focusing on an individual provides the audience with a deeper and more nuanced understanding of a political event that in some ways remains at the center of American politics. More than 90 percent of the screen time in this film is dedicated to Frankie, the volunteer. Using this bottom-up approach, viewers get new insight and understanding into politics.
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
Director, Cinematographer and Editor: Ray Whitehouse is a filmmaker based in Washington, D.C. with an interest in American history, politics and sports. He holds an M.A. in visual journalism from UNC Chapel Hill and a B.S.J. from Northwestern University. His previous film, Believers, was nominated for the International Documentary Association's David L. Wolper student award. His work has also been recognized by the National Press Photographers Association and others. You can see his work here: www.raywhitehouse.com and a full CV is available at: http://www.raywhitehouse.com/cv2018.
For additional information, please email email@example.com or visit forchocofilm.com.
For Choco is sponsored by Creative Visions Foundation, a publicly supported 501(c)3, which supports creative activists who use the power of media and the arts to affect positive change in the world. All donations are tax deductible.