Support Comes In From The Home Learning Association

We are excited to announce that the Home Learning Association (HLA) has stepped up to support the Class Dismissed movie with its post production budget needs by donating $2,000 to the cause.

Home Learning AssociationHLA is a national membership organization that provides comprehensive access to the things a family needs to homeschool their children from birth through college. We are grateful for their donation and support and hope that it may inspire other organizations or individuals find ways to support the movie as well.

As you may know, we’ve wrapped up 95% of our filming, so every dollar donated at this point goes towards helping us polish up the film, market it, and distribute it. Your donations help with expensive needs like color correction, sound editing, scoring, film festival submissions, and travel. We also hope to host a number of film screenings across the U.S. (and abroad if we are lucky). You can make a donation here.

Thanks for your continued support!

Class Dismissed Seeking Volunteers

Some say it takes a village to raise a child and those in the film industry know it takes an army to make a film. If you don’t believe us, just look at the credits at the end of nearly any film. Until now, we’ve managed to get by with a small team, but it’s time for us to grow. We are excited to announce we are recruiting homeschoolers to help with research and marketing of the film.

If you, or someone you know, is interested in helping us reach out to homeschool groups and the masses and can spare a little time, we’d like them to fill out the form below. Depending on their efforts, volunteers will be rewarded with various perks and prizes, including various levels of credit in the film, sneak previews of footage, signed DVD copies, private screening invites, and exclusive phone calls and communication with the filmmakers. They’ll also be rewarded with the knowledge that they helped paint a better & more accurate picture of homeschooling to the general public.

Please share this page with your friends and followers and consider volunteering yourself as this effort can benefit from even small contributions of time. Volunteers can be anyone 13 and up from any type of homeschooling background – in fact, the more diverse the volunteers in location, skills, & homeschool ties the better.

Thank you for your consideration. We promise it will be a fun & fulfilling experience!
Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the form and click the submit button. If it doesn’t load for you correctly, use this link.

A Story of Extreme Generosity

Making a film is a long and difficult experience, including: sleepless nights, delayed flights, unexpected filming restrictions, physical & mental exhaustion during a long shoot, career & financial pressures, and the need to ask people for money when it is against your nature to do so. But every once in a while there is a special moment that reminds us why we push on.

Sometimes those moments come during an interview, knowing that the knowledge we just captured will help many people. Other times we are reminded of our mission when we meet inspiring kids & families who have embraced the opportunities homeschooling offers. In our fundraising campaigns, we’ve been blown away from the kindness of family, friends, strangers and organizations who believe in our film enough to donate their hard-earned money.

In our final fundraising campaign (which ends in 12 hours) we experienced one of the most generous donations we could ever imagine—one that not only helps us financially, but also reminds us how important the story is that we are telling.

A $500 donation came in from a family that resides over 7,500 miles away, in Australia. Actually, that isn’t entirely accurate. This particular family is what some call “road-schoolers” – they are a nomadic family who educate their children with real world experiences. Right now they are in Tasmania.

$500 is a lot for any family to contribute, but given the situation this family is in, it is likely the most generous act I’ve ever witnessed, or even heard about.

The mother, Lauren, is essentially a single mother of four daughters. Six months ago her family was much larger. In June of 2012, she lost her son in a tragedy that also put her husband into a mental institution.

Lauren continues to raise her children the way her and her husband had intended, through travel, experiences, connecting with people, and living very frugally.  I’m not familiar with the family’s finances, but what I can gather from Lauren’s site, I wouldn’t be surprised if they live on $250-$300 a month in living expenses. Lauren’s donation may very well represent two months of getting by for her family.

When we first received the donation and read Lauren’s story, we felt guilty and wanted to give the money back. I’m positive Lauren would say no. Instead, we decided we wanted to share her story so that it may inspire others to think carefully about how they spend their money and in what ways they can make an impact in this world.

Lauren did not ask us or even know that we wrote this story. We encourage you to share this story and hope it makes as much of an imprint in your minds, as it certainly has in ours.

You can follow Lauren’s story on her site, Sparkling Adventures. (photo credit: all photos except the first come from Lauren’s site or instagram).

Kickstarter Campaign Update

With 29 days left in our Kickstarter campaign, things couldn’t have gone any better. We are already 88% funded thanks to the kind contributions from 123 different families. We can’t give up as we won’t receive any of the money if we don’t reach the $7,000 goal (Kickstarter is all or nothing).

If you’ve thought about contributing, or are interested in owning a copy of the film or seeing your name in the credits, please consider pushing us past our $7k goal by visiting our campaign: Class Dismissed Kickstarter Campaign

If you’ve already contributed, please think about people you know who would be interested in the film. This documentary even appeals to people who haven’t discovered homeschooling yet. We’ve been careful to not call out homeschooling in the wording of the campaign so those who are fans of alternative education will consider the unique aspects of educating outside the classroom that will be shown in the film.

Thanks again to all who have contributed to this campaign, or our previous Indiegogo campaign, or have shared the film with others who might contribute or spread the word. We’re excited to wrap up the film and share it with the world!

Unschooling Summit & Production Update

As I type this, the Unschooling Summit interview of our Director, Jeremy Stuart, is underway. Included in the PDF emailed to summit attendees is a tip on how to receive credit on the website and in the film credits via the donation button on the upper right corner of this site.

Last week we were in LA filming the family for a 2nd time. The shoot went very smoothly. For the first time we got to spend time with the father of the two girls, plus had a great in-home consultation with Michelle Barone who happens to live nearby.

As expected, the story continues to unfold. We’re looking forward to a third shoot in about a month, which will be interesting as traditional school will be out of session.

1st Shoot With the Homeschool Family Complete

Last week we started the homeschool journey with a family who pulled their kids out of one of the best public schools in Los Angeles. This family will drive the narrative story of our film. Their reasons for pulling their kids out of school wasn’t what you might expect.

They did not pull them out because of grades, bullying, bad teachers or administrators. It was the recognition that their two daughters were losing interest in learning and what was being taught in the classroom was not being absorbed, nor was it useful in real life.

With our limited shooting budget, we can’t afford to film several families, nor have a family back out after starting the filming process. So we had to be very careful in selecting the right family. Months ago Jeremy & I both met with the family separately and we both came away knowing this was the perfect family for our film.

We only had three days to shoot last week and there were a few unknown variables that we had to contend with:

  • Airplane noise: this family lives close to LAX & there are plenty of planes flying overhead. Would we be able to capture great audio?
  • The family: would they interview well, would they be comfortable in front of the camera, would they get comfortable with us being in their home?
  • The DP: Knowing we would be filming in LA, we needed a director of photography based there. Jeremy knew Billy from work decades ago, but had never worked directly with him (Jeremy had edited some of Billy’s footage back in the day). And I had never met Billy. Would the three of us make a good team?

Homeschool Mom shotMonday morning we found out the answers to all these questions. The family was great on camera, Billy was a great match, and the airplane noise wasn’t a problem. Over the next couple days our relationship with the family grew as did the mutual trust. The camera became invisible and the story unfolded.

The only thing that went wrong was a single piece of hair. Reviewing footage Monday evening, we noticed a strange line in the footage from one of our cameras. Turns out a single piece of hair was lodged inside the camera’s housing. The good news is that it was not critical footage (not an interview or important moment that could not be recreated). We were working together so well together that recapturing the footage the next day wasn’t a problem.

They say the most important thing to keep in mind when starting a business, or hiring a film crew is to pick people you like, because you’ll be spending a lot of time with them! I’m happy to say both the crew and the family are fantastic! We can’t wait to film again in May.

 

Our next post will be about our NY trip that is wrapping up today. Let us know if you enjoy hearing how the production is going. Thanks again for your support in this adventure!

James Arnold Taylor Talks Homeschooling

I had a chance to catch up with professional voice-actor James Arnold Taylor, who is one of the larger backers of our film project, Class Dismissed. Chances are you’ve heard one, or many of his voices before. Some of his work you might recognize:

  • Obi-wan Kenobi of the Clone Wars (Movie and TV series)
  • Leonardo – TMNT (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
  • Johnny Test – Cartoon Network hit series Johnny Test
  • Green Arrow – Batman: The Brave and the Bold
  • Plus many, many other TV shows, movies, video games, TV & radio spots.

But, more importantly, James and his wife Allison homeschool their 7-year old daughter in Santa Barbara. During my visit James was kind enough to say a few words to the homeschool community:

To learn more about James Arnold Taylor, visit his site, imdb profile, or check out his new stage show:

Class Dismissed Funding Update

As we near the end of our Fundraising Campaign (only 9 days left!), it’s interesting to look at where the funds have come from. Below you will see a map of the states donations have come from. If your state isn’t colored green, you may want to represent your state by donating to our cause (it’s tax deductible & includes perks). I’ll update the map before the campaign is over.

States Supporting A Homeschool Documentary:

As you can see, there’s a slight West-coast bias, which is probably due to Jeremy living in California, and myself in Washington state. There’s still a few states with high homeschool populations who either haven’t heard about the film, or aren’t ready to donate yet (hopefully this changes over the next 9 days).

Not shown on the map are two international donations: one from England and one from Germany. The Germany donation is most surprising because homeschooling is illegal in Germany. We hope our film will help German regulators rethink their stance on homeschooling!

Thanks to all who donated or helped spread the word. It’s crunch time for our fund-raising campaign. Our goal is to at least raise $5k to fulfill NHEN’s donation matching challenge. We appreciate any help you can provide in raising funds over the next 9 days!