Who are you?
I am someone who used to be a devout, practicing Muslim for more than 20 years. I am also and ardent skeptic, constantly questioning everything around me.
That skepticism only went so far, however. I grew up in an extremely conservative Muslim soceity, where questioning your faith can also cost you your life. As such, skepticism towards Islam were off limits.
I have left that soceity a good while ago, since I knew that my future there as a filmmaker was severely limited.
Not too long ago, the skeptic side of me won, and I am now a happily strident atheist.
A great deal of my time is now dedicated towards addressing the daily challenges of apostates of Islam, and the life-threatening situations they face on a constant basis.
I am now putting my filmmaking skills towards that effect.
What is an apostate?
An apostate is someone who renounces their religion or poilitcal belief. The term has gained some infamy in recent years due to the scrutiny that Islam has been placed under.
Examples of high-profile apostates of Islam include Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Salman Rushdie.
What does apostasy have to do with this documentary?
In some predominantly Muslim countries, the penalty for apostasy in Islam is no less than death by decapitation. This has been a common subject of heated debate amongst Islamic scholars and progressives, as well as staunch opponents of the religion.
No matter where those debates lead, however, there is still a clear and present danger for any ex-Muslim to openly declare their apostasy to the world. Doing so can quickly result in undue disownment, persecution, and even death.
These ex-Muslims become especially frustrated when they see their former brethren engaging in acts of barbarism and wallowing in cognitive dissonance, but are afraid to speak their minds. They want to show the world that there are in fact former Muslims who are leaving the Islamic way of life behind not only to gain the respect and acceptance of the international community, but to lead more fulfilling lives as well.
Why are you doing this?
As an apostate myself, this is an issue that hits extremely close to home for myself and other ex-Muslims. To put it simply: I am monumentally frustrated that people like us have to deal with potentially life-threatening circumstances that we have no choice but to deal with on a daily basis.
There was a profound feeling of loneliness and deblitating fear when I decided to renounce the religion that was the cornerstone of my existence.
I couldn't help but ask myself the following questions:
- Are there others like me?
- How many of us are there in the wild?
- How are they dealing with their loss of faith?
- Are they doing ok?
- What are there living conditions?
- Are they safe?
These are the questions I'm setting out to answer myself.
What will the film be about?
The film will be about the plight of the apostate of Islam: their struggles, triumphs, and their means of concealing their lack of faith in order to avoid any life-threatening consequences.
It will tell a personal story of losing faith in God and Islam, as well as the stories of my fellow ex-Muslims, which will be achieved by answering the questions I've mentioned above.
If we want our situation to improve, and want steps taken towards abolishing all fears of coming out as apostates of Islam, then we have to take those steps ourselves.
This film is by no means a solution to the problem, but it will raise enough awareness to take things in the right direction.
How will you do this?
I will personally travel to where these apostates call their home, be it their country of origin or otherwise, and conduct interviews with them, regardless of any possible death penalty. The interviewees will have the option of coming out publicly as apostates or remain completely anonymous.
These interviews will also be used as platforms towards discussing the state of Islam today and the effects it has on its followers and the world at large. Great care will be taken to not turn the film into a 2-hour anti-Islamic rant. There has been quite a few recent contributions to the Islamaphobic static, and as you might be able to tell, it's not exactly helping.
I am willingly putting myself in direct danger of losing my life by traveling to countries where I can have my head on a chopping block if my cover was blown. This will add a very real sense of urgency to conduct all of these interviews safely, and to return to more civilized shores in one piece.
What do you hope to achieve with this film?
My ultimate aim is to raise awareness on an issue that is seldom discussed or addressed. I want to give my fellow apostates a voice, and hopefully some sense of comfort and solace when they find that they are not alone.
When will you start shooting?
If I reach my funding goals, shooting and editing will take the entirety of 2013 to pull off, with the ultimate goal of releasing the movie in the 1st quarter of 2014. The finished product will also be submitted to the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.
What I Need
I need just enough funding to cover travel, production and distribution costs.
I am currently on track to interview ex-Muslims from 21 different countries.
Assuming an average cost of travel and lodging of $1900 per destination, this comes out to $39900.
DVD & Blu-Ray Distribution for 100,000 copies will set me back $14500
Limited theatrical release: $18,000 a week
This all comes out to $72,400. I set the funding goal at $73,000 because the good people at IndieGoGo need their fair share as well.
Notice that I have *not* included production costs in this equation. This is because I am preparing for the worst by being brutally realistic, as I will probably end up having to make this movie entirely by myself, with little to extra manpower.
Should I exceed my funding goals, the film's production value and distribution coverage will scale linearly with the amount of funds I receive.
I will be able to purchase professional video and sound recording equipment, and hire professional personnel to help me get this movie out the door by early 2014.
If my backers would like me to post the average hourly wages of people I would need to hire, I could post them here upon request.
The actual "average" cost for an hour-long documentary is anywhere between $150,000 all the way up to a Michael Moore scale $9,000,000 (production budget for "Sicko").
What will happen if you don't receive all your funds?
I will still do whatever it takes to make this movie, even if I'm armed with nothing but the camera and microphone on my cellphone, and even if I don't raise as much as a nickle. Howver, it will just take much longer, with an estimated release date of 2015.
What Will I Get?
Perks include a Full HD digital download of the movie prior to theatrical release, all the way up to the title of Executive Producer on the movie.
You will help give these ex-Muslim apostates a much needed voice and sense of identitiy.
You will also help the world see a side of Islam that is rarely ever discussed: the doubters, the retractors and the skeptics, all who were formerly practicing Muslims who have finally unshackled their minds and saw the light of free thinking on the other side.
A film of this kind that covers this topic in particular has never been done before.
You are potentially becoming a part of history.
Other Ways You Can Help
These are tough times, and I'm not expecting to reach my goal.
However, I would greatly appreciate it if you could spare some time and share this page with your friends. Get the word out, make some noise.
If the page has raised awareness about the issue but hasn't raised anything near its funding goals, then I will still have achieved something worthwhile.
If you read this far, consider yourself an awesome person.
Wish me luck!
Director, writer & producer