This Indiegogo fundraiser is over, but we are still raising funds to support our Outreach Program and getting the film’s message out to a national audience. If you would like to make a donation to Destiny’s Bridge and help us make a difference, please go to our fundraising page.
--------------- DESTINY'S BRIDGE FUNDRAISING PAGE ---------------
DESTINY'S BRIDGE is about a homeless minister living in the woods who doesn't believe in the shelter system that has become the standard for housing the homeless in America. Minister Steve Brigham, the founder and resident of this homeless community in the woods, known as Tent City, has dedicated his life to changing the way we house homeless people. He believes that addressing the emotional needs is the first step to returning a homeless person back to society.
Minister Steve Brigham, founder and homeless resident of Tent City.
We learn in the film that people whose lives have been taken over by poverty, addiction, depression and mental illness don't have the resources to be rehabilitated and to get their lives back together like most people can who have family support, healthcare and financial stability. Tent City, located in Lakewood, NJ, not only provides food and shelter for the homeless, but also offers the most important element that is missing in their lives...love, family and community.
Wil Brown stands in front of his tent after returning from a day's work.
Minister Steve advocates that owning a home, even if it's only a tent, is important to moving a homeless person forward, especially when the only other option is sleeping on a park bench, at a bus station or even in a city shelter that kicks you out to the street every morning. This concept of ownership and community leads us to the Destiny's Bridge model of building tiny homes that are affordable to people who work for minimum wage and prefer a simple lifestyle without all the luxuries that most people depend on. The film questions our human rights as American citizens. Zoning laws make it illegal to build a house that you can afford in most areas of the country. Township ordinances that are designed to keep poor people out of their communities have made it virtually impossible to build small, affordable, energy efficient and eco-friendly houses in America.
Angelo Villanueva is an artist who also works as a mason.
This is not a film about hard luck stories and how did you end up homeless? Actually it's quite the contrary...it's about people who are making the best of their situation. In the film we see their gifts and talents at work as they set off to create their own homeless shelter called Destiny's Bridge. The conflict in this documentary is clear - township officials file a lawsuit against homeless residents demanding eviction. When a high powered law firm steps in and represents Tent City in this heated court battle, we begin to understand the real problem. The government chooses to spend millions of dollars paying hotel owners and landlords without understanding the real issues behind homelessness or searching for solutions. This band aid approach sets homeless people up for failure and has become the norm for helping the homeless instead of investing in counseling, treatment, job training and low cost housing options.
Michael Berenzweig playing his piano in the woods outside of his tent.
Over an 8 year period, there have been between 80-120 people living in Tent City at any given time without any government subsidies, effectively saving tax payers millions of dollars. In the film, we hear the lawyer for Tent City state that over six million dollars was spent in one year on hotels for homeless people in Ocean County, a Jersey Shore resort area that refuses to create a homeless shelter. Not only does the documentary explore new ideas for housing the homeless, it also challenges us to see what we can learn from the people living in Tent City and to use it to improve our broken housing system.
Why do we need funding?
Although our film is finished, we can't release it or show it beyond festivals and community screenings until we raise the money to pay for the finshing costs involved with distribution. Having the music licensed in our film is crucial to the story and the artistic approach of making Destiny's Bridge. One of the main characters in the film has a piano in the woods right outside his tent. Many of the songs he plays in the documentary are copyrighted and need to be cleared.
Besides the music, there are other finishing costs involved with the film that need to be paid for in order to go into distribution. It is estimated to cost $30,000 to hire a lawyer, get E&O insurance, clear all the music, transfer film files over to the standard DCP format for theaters, add closed caption and get the film rated as well as several other finishing expenses that all films have to complete in order to get into distribution.
We hope to reach our goal and get Destiny's Bridge out to a national audience and bring awareness to new ideas for housing the homeless. The Destiny's Bridge Outreach Program is also in place and is ready to bring the film out on a national tour where filmmaker Jack Ballo and main character Minister Steve can go out to Tent Cities around the country and start conversations about new ideas for housing the homeless. Any fundraising money generated over the $30,000 will go towards our Outreach Program. Below is a short video from a community screening of Destiny's Bridge.
OUTREACH PROGRAM - COMMUNITY SCREENINGS
Where are we with the film?
The best part about helping us with finishing funds on this documentary is that the film is complete and has been screened successfully to thousands of viewers. It has a proven track record of touching people's lives and changing their views on homelessness. It has been well received by large crowds and sold out audiences at theaters, colleges and festivals as well as community screenings. All of our film events have been followed by Q&A discussions that included thought-provoking interaction with the viewers. Destiny's Bridge recently won Best Documentary at the Catskill Mountains Film Festival and was also nominated for the Social Justice award presented by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now at the Rated SR (Socially Relevant) Film Festival in New York City. However, we can't get the film into distribution until all the music is licensed and all the legal aspects are cleared. We can't even sell DVDs or digital downloads to the public. If we don't raise the money to get the music cleared on Indiegogo, we will have no choice but to either edit Michael's piano playing from the film as well as other important music or hold off on distribution. We hope you can help us make the dream of Destiny's Bridge one step closer to reality by bringing this film to the larger audience it deserves.