Of the Interweb’s many wonderful offspring that lie tucked away in some corner of its virtual vastness, Kickstarter.com, a self-designated “funding platform for creative projects,” might just be the most interesting and innovative site you’ve never heard of (apologies, though, if you have). True to its name, Kickstarter provides prospective creative and artistic ventures an opportunity to get off the ground. Proposals ranging from arctic quests in Greenland to “baseball horror” graphic novels are featured on Kickstarter’s website and are given a period (usually around a month) to accrue enough pecuniary pledges to reach a pre-determined threshold. It’s an almost wholly philanthropic enterprise, predicated on currying the good graces and intrigue of Internet users, although campaigns traditionally reward donors with modest perks in return for contributions (i.e. an associate producer credit on a film). In essence, it’s a low-risk/high-reward way for projects that aren’t The Avengers to gain funding. I highly recommend you peruse the site for its fascinating collection of passion projects.
Spears has spear-headed (ahem) an effort via Kickstarter to acquire wider distribution for her inspiring and timely documentary, Playground: The Child Sex Trade in America. The aim is to get the film, which lifts the veil on the appalling economics of child trafficking in the United States, into as many hands and on as many screens as possible. The more long-term hope is that the film’s launch can work in concert with the current social action campaign—“Campaign 13,” named for the average age a child is coerced into the sex trade—to draw attention to and ultimately end the practice of sexual exploitation of minors. I challenge anyone, especially those with kids, to watch this film and remain unmoved.
Playground has already attracted the attention of some of Hollywood’s heavy hitters. In addition to having George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh onboard as executive producers, Spears’ film has been publicly endorsed by the likes of snarling rocker Pink and acclaimed actor and social advocate Ashley Judd. And yet in spite of such impressive support, the cause needs more help (if only Spears had made something a little more socially important, like, say, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter or the timeless Battleship, some deep-pocketed studio might have been more inclined to pony up the cash, but I’m not about to question the historically sound financial and artistic logos of the film industry).
Spears’ research for Playground took her all over the world, investigating brothels in tsunami-ravaged Indonesia in 2005 to remote compounds in Thailand, but eventually led to the child sex trade’s epicenter: America. The assignment was not without risk—several bounties were placed on her head during this time. The transition from life-threatening expeditions to the comparatively tranquil streets around Larchmont, where she now has an office, could not have been starker. But Spears, who has been in Los Angeles for four years, has acclimated well. Drawn to Larchmont’s small-town vibe humming at the center of a major metropolis, she revels in the effortless opportunity for community that Larchmont affords. “Strolling down Larchmont, I never fail to run into a friend or a business associate. I love how this street allows for chance encounters and brings an element of serendipity into your life,” she observes. “I feel fortunate that my home and community are one and the same.”
Visit http://campaign13.org/ for more information on Spears’ film, Playground, and concordant social action campaign to combat child sex trafficking. And with just 21 days left to raise $35,000, maybe you can add your two cents to the project via Kickstarter/Playground.