Kick Start This Film: Michele Josue’s Matt Shepard Is A Friend of Mine

Over the past several months, we’ve attempted to showcase several older films that deserve the attention of the Criterion Collection with our series, For Criterion Consideration. We’ve noticed how other sites are changing the film business as we know it, by showcasing un-produced films. One of these sites right now has been Kickstarter, started in 2009, and has been on a tear these last 2 years in the world of online fundraising for projects of all kinds. They believe that a good idea can spread fast and that a large group of people can be a great source of funding and encouragement. It’s also ‘all or nothing’ funding, which means if you don’t hit your goal, no money exchanges hands. Which then in turn makes it that much more vital for both the website themselves and the project starters to get paid. 

What we want these series of exclusive articles to be is a place for certain film projects that strike our fancy to get an extra bit of exposure out there. Be it a documentary, a horror short, a web series or anything else you can think of, if it seems like a cool idea, we will feature it here on the site. Let us know of any projects that have caught your eye and send them our way. We’d like to feature them in future installments and what better way to get the word out to the masses.

When I was 18 years old, back in 1998, I heard the tragic news about a young man from Wyoming who was beaten, tortured and ultimately left to die while tied to a fence for 18 hours. He was targeted because of his sexual orientation: he was gay. To these two people who committed this vile act, this was something they thought he deserved. It shocked a nation and while I was in college, I was disgusted with people and their treatment of someone just because of what gender they preferred. I didn’t understand it at all. I had friends of all kinds, not because I chose it but because that’s how life is sometimes. I met a wide array of people and I was raised to never judge someone for who they loved or what they believed.

Which is really telling that we’re still in this predicament. Gay marriage is still up in the air for some reason. Hate crimes against gays is something you hear about a lot and even myself, a straight white male, has been called names because of the way I look or who I hang out with. We’re about to cover Criterion’s new release, The Times of Harvey Milk, on the podcast and when I stumbled upon this Kickstarter project, I watched the pitch and shed a few tears, remembering how it felt when this kid’s story was national headlines.

It’s called Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine, and is a documentary about the people closest to him, 12 years later, and how they have coped with it and what it meant to be his friend. It looks to be a touching account, a natural tearjerker where the theaters showing it should have boxes of tissues on standby to wipe away the tears. It hit a nerve with me, because I’ve had friends who have gone through torment growing up and luckily have never gone through the extreme Matthew Shepard went through.

Michele Josue was one such friend and she’s the one who put this together, did the filming and traversed through this path yet again, to capture it for the world to see. It’s for people who have lost loved ones to violence and a way for them to heal the best way they can. Right now they are almost at 90% funded with a little more than two weeks to go. They still have time to make that goal, so let’s help any way we can. Even by spreading the word can help someone donate to the film.

As films become harder to get greenlit from studios, people are turning to Kickstarter to get their films made. It’s a great way to get exposure for your project, see if there is an audience for it and ultimately get it funded. It’s an exciting platform and with a plethora of other things to help fund (comics, books, music, etc.) it’s always growing, with tons of future talent that just needs the extra push forward.

All I know is, I can’t wait for this film to hit the festival circuit.

If you would like to support this film, click on the links below. The widget below should list how many days are left, and how far along they are in their funding.