Class Dismissed launches campaign on Kickstarter

For the past two years, the Class Dismissed team have been criss-crossing the country talking to homeschooling families, experts and advocates from all walks of life. We’ve captured some great stories and gathered a lot of valuable information about homeschooling and other ways of learning outside the classroom. And since January, we’ve been documenting a family who pulled their two girls out of one of the highest-rated public schools in the Los Angeles area to embark upon the journey of taking their education into their own hands. Their story has been unfolding beautifully and we can’t wait to share it with you.

With over two years of the filmmaking process behind us, we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. With 75% of the filming complete, we are really pleased with how the film is turning out and can’t wait to begin post-production, then get this movie into film festivals and into the hands of families across America.

But to do so, we need your help. We’ve nearly exhausted our personal resources and still have work to do. That’s why we’ve launched a campaign on Kickstarter; to give us that last push to the finish line.

From the beginning, we always wanted Class Dismissed to be a people-powered film, meaning we wanted to get the homeschooling community involved in whatever way they could. The outpouring of support has been tremendous and we could not have accomplished what we have without you. From all corners of the country, you have reached out to us offering skills, personal time, advice, moral support, and financial contributions.

We’ve come a long way, thanks to the generosity of you and the larger homeschooling community, and with your continued support we’re confident we can wrap up this project!

So please visit our Kickstarter page and help us move closer to the finish line.

Not Back To School – Production Update.

September is a time when large numbers of kids all over the country return to school after the summer break. But for homeschoolers this is not the case. Many homeschool families recognize learning happens all the time–it’s not bound by some school districts schedule. But that doesn’t mean they can’t mark the occasion with some kind of celebration. That said, we just got back from LA where we went to check in on the primary family in our film to find out how they were marking this rite of passage, especially since this is their first summer out of traditional school, and therefore their first Not-Back-To-School experience.

On day one, we joined them for a great science experiment in a local park. The experiment began with the girls drawing up a hypothesis about how many life forms they would find in a square foot of grass. But to make it more interesting they had access to a tiny camera that would enlarge anything they found and record it to a laptop. We got some great footage of them digging around and uncovering all kinds of bugs. Who knew Roly-Poly bugs could look so huge! It was a great experiment and so much more fun than doing it a a desk in a classroom.

On day two, we met up with some other homechoolers and baked a Not-Back-To-School cake, which is an annual tradition for these particular homeschoolers. The cake was delicious!

The girls also learned how to fold origami from a six-year old and how to make temporary Henna tattoos. The day ended with some impromptu musical performances.

Production Update from L.A.

We just got back from Los Angeles and another successful shoot with the main family in our film. This trip we spent time in a cool looking downtown warehouse at a video game company where the girls got to design their own characters and play on the software used to create the art for video games. In a time when many schools are cutting art programs altogether, it was an amazing opportunity for the girls to hone their creative skills in a professional, high-level environment, using real-world tools.

We also spent time in Hermosa Beach at “Beach Day” which is LA’s equivalent of park day. In the summer, Beach Day is a regular event and there were lots of other homeschooling families present from many areas of Los Angeles. It was a great opportunity for the family to meet other homeschoolers, have fun in the waves and yes, dare I say the “S” word, socialize! Here’s a shot of a quick interview we did on the beach, and contrary to popular belief, the sun doesn’t always shine in LA. It actually got cloudy and a little cold and the girls were shivering!

We’ll continue to check back in with the family over the next few months, but in the meantime, we’ve got a few other things to accomplish, namely beginning the massive task of sifting through what we’ve shot with them so far so we can start putting together parts of their story. And we still have a few other people to track down and interview. More on that soon. Thanks for following our progress. We appreciate your support.


Production Update from NY and Boston

Last week we spent a very busy 2 days in New York City and Boston. Here’s a recap of some of our adventures. Bright and early on the first day we took the camera into the bustle of the Big Apple to talk to people on the street and get their thoughts on the state of public education. Universally, they all agreed that things are in bad shape, but nobody had any solutions. When we asked them about homeschooling we got mixed answers from the usual “I could never do that” to “sounds like a bad idea” along with a few that thought it was great. Most people however when asked what they thought homeschooling looked like, presented us with the stereotypical image of mom with the kids at the kitchen table and the kids not being socialized. AAhhhhggg, why is this image so prevalent in our cultural psyche? I hope our film can begin to change people’s minds and open them up to the reality that there are so many choices available when it comes to learning outside of the traditional classroom and it doesn’t look the way they think it does.

Speaking of educational choices, we had a fantastic interview with Jerry Mintz from Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO). Jerry has been a leading voice in the alternative school movement for over 30 years and had a lot to tell us about educational choices like Free Schools, Democratic Schools, and the Sudbury and Summerhill models. He’s a wealth of knowledge and had great things to say about homeschooling also.

We also spoke with Lisa Nielsen, author, educator and owner of the Innovative Educator Blog. Lisa’s expertise is in using technology and social media and finding creative ways of integrating them to provide innovative learning tools for the 21st century.  She was filled with brilliant ideas about using all the tools we have available to us in the technological age.

It was a day brimming with fresh and innovative ideas about education and I wish we could have stayed longer, but with a very tight budget and schedule, we hustled out of town at the end of the day and drove to Boston to spend some time with Pat Farenga, author, unschooler and trustee of the legacy of the late John Holt, considered by some to be the father of the modern homeschooling movement. Pat made us really welcome at his home and entertained us with wonderful stories about John and his work. He also very generously provided us with archival photographs, video clips and audio recordings of John in his heyday.

It was a whirlwind of a trip, but so worth the effort. Each of the people we interviewed will add so much dimension and important information to the film. We’re really grateful to them for taking the time to speak with us. I also want to say thanks to Rebecca Israel, a local filmmaker from New York who volunteered her time to help us out, even going so far as to drive with us to Boston. It’s so great to meet people who are as excited about the project as we are. Next, it’s back to our main family for more shooting in May, so stay tuned.


Class Dismissed Releases A New Teaser Trailer!

It’s been many months since we released our first teaser trailer and much has happened since then.  We’ve been busy! We traveled to two other states, attended 3 homeschooling conferences, interviewed many more families and homeschooling advocates and after an extensive search, found the main family for the next step of our film. As you can imagine, we gathered quite a lot of footage from all these adventures and we felt it was high time we put together an updated and brand new trailer. So, after many hours of sifting through all this great footage, we’re thrilled to officially announce the release of our new teaser trailer. We hope you enjoy it and that it gives you a good sense of what we’ve been up to for the past several months.

A lot of people have been asking us when the film will be done and I wish we had the answer. We’ve definitely made huge strides in the past few months, but this is still just a tease and not the final trailer for the film. As with making any film, there is still lots to do. We begin filming our main family in two weeks and we’re really excited to be documenting them as they embark on their journey into homeschooling. And we’ve also got a few last minute interviews lined up in April with some amazing people! We’ll be posting more details about those really soon, so be sure to stay tuned by following us on Facebook or Twitter or subscribing to our mailing list. And if after watching the trailer you’re moved to do so, you can help us keep moving forward by heading on over to the donate page of this website and making a donation. Every little bit helps us keep going.

Thanks for hanging in there with us. Enjoy the trailer!

We Found A Family!

It seems that no matter where you slice the American Pie, homeschoolers can be found sticking out of it! The response to our recent search for a family for our film was to say the least, amazing. From Hawaii, to Alaska and everywhere in between, we received applications from families in all walks of life, from city-dwellers to rural homesteaders, some with one child, some with many, and all of them with different reasons for choosing to educate their children outside of the traditional classroom.

We read each application very carefully and were really moved by the stories people shared with us. I wish we had the time and resources to travel the entire country and film each and every one of the families who applied. It was difficult to narrow it down to just one, but we’re happy to announce that we’ve made our decision. We’ve found a family who are just stepping into the amazing journey of homechooling and over the next few months will be filming what will become an integral and important part of the film.

We’re so grateful to everyone who took the time to apply and to those who helped spread the word and recommended families to us. We look forward to this next step of the film and sharing the journey with you.

We Need A Family!

The time has come for us to find the right family for the next step of our film and we need your help!

Many of you know that over the past year we’ve been focusing on interviews with  individuals and families who are already homeschooling, including many who have shared valuable knowledge and wisdom from years of experience. But if you’ve read our synopsis, you’ll also know that a big part of our film is centered upon documenting a family who are just starting out; a family who are making the transition from public or private school into the world of alternative education.

We’d like to follow their journey and we believe that documenting their experiences will be an effective way for people in the general public to gain a real understanding of what it means to make the commitment to homeschool. There are a lot of preconceived notions within the general public about what homeschooling is, who does it and for what reasons. We hope that the average person watching the film will be able to relate to this family and by doing so, will have many of their questions answered. They may even be inspired to do the same thing!

So if you know of someone who is considering pulling their kids out of school to homeschool them who might be interested in being involved in our film, please let them know about our film (or ask them if we can contact them). Or if you have recently started homeschooling or are considering doing so, please contact us directly by using this form.

Here are some of the guidelines and answers to FAQ’s you may have:

Q: What part of the country will you be filming in?

A: For practical and financial reasons, it would be easier if you are located somewhere on the west coast, but we are open to finding the right family for the project and will not turn anyone down because of location.

Q: Do my kids still have to be in school?

A: Ideally, you should still have kids in the traditional school system and be committed to pulling them out to homeschool them. But if you’ve recently done that and are relatively new to homeschooling that might work also.

Q: What kind of time commitment will this involve and what will you be filming exactly?

A:  In total we have 20 days of filming set aside for this part of the film, but don’t panic, it’s spread out over 8-12 months. Here’s how we see it working: Initially, we would come to your house and film for 3-5 days. This would include on-camera interviews with family members and footage of everyday interactions around your home and neighborhood. We would then go away for a couple of months and return for another 3-5 days to see how you are doing and to follow up. This scenario would repeat 2 or 3 times during the course of a year so that we get a sense of progression and a developing narrative story as you make the transition to homeschooling.

Q: Will we get paid for this?

A: Unfortunately, there’s no pay for your involvement, but we would be willing to pay for consultations with expert homeschooling advisors to help guide you and your family in your decision making process as questions come up. You’ll also get to be the “stars” in the world’s first feature length documentary about homeschooling, and help many people who might also be interested in making this lifestyle choice!

Q: What if we start filming and then change our minds?

A: We hope that doesn’t happen, or we’ll have no film! You’ll be required to make a commitment to see the project through to completion by signing a release form and agreement and we’ll make every effort to make sure you are comfortable with the process as we go along. We are not out to make anyone look bad, or to impose any kind of false agenda. We simply want to present an honest and compelling story of one family’s journey into the word of homeschooling.

We hope this answers some of the questions you might have. We realize it’s a big step to take so if you have any other concerns or questions please contact us by email and we’ll be happy to answer them for you.

Fill out this form to get started. We really look forward to hearing from you!

Thank You!

To all of you who donated money in these financially challenging times, to all of you who blogged, posted on facebook, tweeted and otherwise helped us spread the word, to all of you who simply emailed us with messages of encouragement and offers of support, we thank you!

We’re profoundly grateful to each and every one of you. Making a film is an enormous undertaking on so many levels; it really does take a village, and the fact that so many fellow homeschoolers from all over the country (and even a couple overseas) stepped forward in support of our efforts is both humbling and affirming. Simply put, we couldn’t do it without you!

We especially want to thank the National Home Education Network (NHEN) and the Oregon Home Education Network (OHEN) who made generous donations and helped propel our campaign further than we expected.

Although we fell short of our initial goal, we raised a total of $11,515 which will really help move the project to the next stage and well into 2012. And if you intended to make a donation but didn’t get to it before the campaign ended, don’t worry, you can always make one anytime right here on the website by clicking here:

As we close out 2011 and move into the new year, we’re beginning to formulate our plans for the next few months, so stay tuned and be sure to check back after the holiday season to find out what’s next for Class Dismissed.

We wish you all Happy Holiday Homeschooling Adventures and many blessings for 2012.

In deepest gratitude,

Jeremy, Dustin and the Class Dismissed team.

Portland Shoot Re-cap

We just got back from Oregon where we spent 5 very busy days shooting footage at Village Home, an incredible home education resource center just outside of Portland. In addition to shooting a total of 12 interviews with families, we also filmed hours of awesome footage of the various activities, classes and workshops that Village Home provides to the Portland area homeschooling community. The experience was nothing short of amazing, from the staff members and  teachers, to the kids, parents and volunteers; it’s rare to come across a community as vibrant and dynamic. We’ve certainly never seen anything quite like it. What Village Home has created is truly unique and revolutionary and we left deeply inspired by what can happen when people with a common vision rally together to create something extraordinary.

Although on the surface, Village Home looks like a school complete with classrooms, teachers and schedules, in action it’s anything but. For a start everyone is there because they’re choosing to be! The kids who attend choose classes that interest them and are allowed to learn in their own way at their own pace, and their enthusiasm about life and learning is palpable and infectious. Every city in America needs a place like Village Home.

We’d like to extend a very special thank you to Lori Walker and Cathie Clifford who made it all happen, and we’re so grateful to the entire community for giving our film crew such a warm welcome and making sure we felt like part of the family. They even made us a cake!

Thanks also to Ben Dominguez and Mitchell Lenneville-Hutchinson, two budding filmmakers who volunteered their time to help us with our filming and to all the families who shared their inspiring stories about homeschooling with us. What we saw and captured at Village speaks volumes about how great alternative education can be and will add so much dimension to our film.

Exciting Fundraising Update!

To help us achieve our fundraising target, we are thrilled to announce a generous $5,000 challenge donation from the National Home Education Network (NHEN), who will match dollar-for-dollar all donations on our IndieGoGo campaign up to $5,000. That means that every dollar you contribute will count as TWO.

In case you’re not familiar with NHEN, here’s a little more about them:

The National Home Education Network exists to encourage and facilitate the vital grassroots work of state and local homeschooling organizations and individuals by providing information, fostering networking and promoting public relations on a national level. Because we believe there is strength in a diverse network of homeschoolers, we support the freedom of all individual families to choose home education and to direct such education.

We are so grateful to Sue Patterson, Pam Sorooshian and everyone at NHEN for this incredible offer. This extraordinary gift, along with your continued support will put us that much closer to reaching our goals and getting Class Dismissed and our message out in the world!

So please step up to this challenge by visiting our campaign site at and contributing what you can. And remember, all your donations are tax-deductible!

With deepest appreciation and thanks,

Jeremy Stuart, Dustin Woodard and the Class Dismissed team