A documentary feature film co-directed by Greg Westhoff | Jillian Suleski
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The sharing economy says epic reinvention, right now.
The entire world economy is experiencing a tectonic shift in how we do business; and how we do business determines everything about how we live. That’s why we’re making Shareconomy, a film about the rise of the sharing economy --- a massive overhaul and restructuring of business, government, and life. It is global, local, and personal all at once. It is change, and it is here.Shareconomy is a rich tapestry of people rewriting the economic legacy of our lives. Every person has a stake in this. It is both hard to ignore and even harder to talk about without having to ask ourselves some tough questions though. This is what films do best: capture and communicate the things that are hard to define, the things that live between the lines. Our dreams.
Shareconomy clips on YouTube:
Arun Sundararajan: Sharing Economy is Here to Stay
Last fall, inspired by this radical shift taking shape, we set out to make a short film about Lyft drivers. Ridesharing, the 'gateway drug' into the sharing economy, was truly revolutionary. Beginning in San Francisco, the stronghold of the sharing economy movement in the U.S. and home to Lyft, we showed up with cameras, our Lyft app, and met the drivers -- 30 interviews later we realized just how big the movement had grown, far transcending ridesharing. We went back to Seattle and decided this had to be a feature film. That was 9 months ago.
It’s not enough to dilute the topic down to this or that, to say it’s about jobs, or social connection, or the environment.
The truth is that it is about all of these things, and so much more, happening at once . . . and really, it depends on who you’re talking to. The conversation gets overheated fast. Poverty in America, a crippled economy and foreclosures are widespread realities that continue to shock millions of American lives, threaten entire cities, and challenge us on deeply humanitarian levels.
Our focus has been following the West Coast movement, including CEOs, thought leaders, the first major SHARE conference in May and everyday people like you and me using sharing to change their lives. We've made it this far with just us, a sound crew, great advisors AND friends and supporters like you!
Please take a few minutes to view the Indiegogo Gallery for clips from Shareconomy and some of our previous work to help you get to know us and the film. You can also watch clips on the Shareconomy YouTube Channel.
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Budget | Perks
This is our first feature film, financed to date by us (roughly $30,000 of our own money + our own professional gear), an amazing $10K donation and tons of in-kind. We have made it through pre-production and are mid-production, with more than 50 interviews to date, and so many great stories on camera.
Now we need to raise $35,000+ to:
#1 Get back on the road -- this time heading to Chicago, Detroit, Austin, Boston, DC and NYC to weave in how the movement is transforming life, big and small, in major cities.
#2 Grow our much-needed communication, fundraising and outreach efforts.
#3 Prep for paying more crew, which will soon include our editor Eric Frith, whose credits include 'Finding Hillywood' (Big Sky 2014), 'Song of the New Earth’ (SIFF 2014), 'Eden’ (SXSW 2012) and ‘The Heart of the Game’ (TIFF 2005)
#4 We also have one big stretch goal, which is to go global, to bring stories to the film from Spain, Seoul and Paris -- places where the sharing economy has scaled up (like Spain’s Mondragon Corporation, the largest co-op in the world, which now employs more than 80K people). Spain is also considered a kind of 'battleground' in this movement.
Here's a quick breakdown of the full budget:
- Pre-production: $4500 ($1500 in-kind secured) ---- DONE!
- >>54 Production days: $146K ($82K in-kind secured to date)<<
-- We are Mid-production (this is where your donation goes!)
-- We are Mid-production (this is where your donation goes!)
- Post-production: $128K ($16K in-kind secured + applied for grants)
- Audience outreach|advocacy: $30K (applied for grants)
Shareconomy is the sharing economy in motion -- thought leaders determined to revolutionize the economy, and the world, sharers putting themselves to work (or back to work), and the unfolding of deeply passionate exchanges about what this all means for the collective future.
If ‘we the people’ are for the first time, true drivers of this economic breakthrough (not big business or necessarily venture capitalists) then do we stand a real chance at remaking a world based on equality, self-empowerment and sustainability? That’s a pressing question for our film, and the sharing economy movement.
The self-made workers in Shareconomy definitely have a fighting chance, and they struggle with the challenges of a freelance lifestyle, asking themselves whether or not freedom, connectivity to others and personal empowerment outweigh the security and familiarity of a 40hr work week.
We spend time with workers gripping the ‘old system’ too -- like taxi drivers, frustrated and anguished by the momentum this wave of change has on their own lives; clearly, there’s no turning back. How do we adapt to change on this mammoth scale?
read about taxis vs ride-share
As a co-directing/producing team, we are passionate, driven, and most of all, we understand one great documentary can be a game changer: we believe Shareconomy is one of those films. We had no idea when we set out to make this movie that we’d be pouring our hearts, souls and money into documenting this movement.
Our Production Team
Greg Westhoff | Co-Director-Producer is a Seattle based filmmaker | writer for nonprofits, promos, music videos, and social issue documentary shorts; his work has been published in the Huffington Post and broadcast on local television. We put a few samples of his directing in the Indiegogo Gallery. Hailing from northern WA, Greg has spent the summers since he was 15 commercial fishing in South East Alaska, having logged over 1000 days on the sea. He considers that work a vital part of his journey becoming a storyteller. This is his first feature film.
Jillian Suleski | Co-Director-Producer is a Seattle based producer/director with a lifelong passion for creative storytelling. She has a degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Nevada, and entered the film industry in 2009, working on projects with Random House, New York University and Seattle Public Library, as well as brand commercials for Microsoft and Yahoo!, reality TV shows and feature docs. Jillian runs a small production company, Playfish Media and has written several shorts, with screenings across the country. She became a Lyft driver in July 2014; her first ride will be filmed soon. This is her first feature film.
Eric Frith | Editor is an editor, producer, director and writer whose films have screened at top film festivals around the world, including Sundance, Toronto, SXSW and SIFF, having received numerous awards (including best documentary and audience awards) and acquisition by Miramax, Dream Entertainment, Cinema Management Group, Off the Fence, Independent Lens, American Masters PBS, and Phase 4 Films. His credits include 'Finding Hillywood,' 'Song of the New Earth,’ 'Eden’ and ‘The Heart of the Game’ (which was heralded as “...an Oscar level piece of work” by film critic Richard Roeper).
John Jeffcoat | Executive Producer has worked in the film industry as a writer, director, producer, cinematographer and editor and co-wrote the feature film 'Outsourced' with George Wing (50 First Dates), which won the 2007 Golden Space Needle Award for Best Film at SIFF, the John Schlesinger Award for Outstanding First Feature at Palm Springs as well as critical praise from the New York Times, Variety and Roger Ebert. His feature film, ‘Big in Japan’ premiered at SXSW 2014.
Risks | Challenges
The biggest threat facing the sharing economy is that it morphs into business as usual, if it hasn’t already (again $500 billion and growing).
For us, personally on this film, our greatest challenge is getting the film made as quickly as possible. The media has a way of entangling us in endless debate rituals; we are making a film that takes us deeper, into the heart of our economic realities, but it’s not easy and it couldn't be more urgent.
Consider this: Full-time employment tanked by 3.7 million jobs from 7 years ago. Hundreds of thousands of full-time positions are still being lost.
It is projected that the temporary workforce will continue to be the fastest growing sector of the American job market for years to come, that 40% of the American workforce will freelance, and that 1/3 of Americans are freelancing today (42 million jobs). Before the collaborative economy was a buzzword, Nevada alone had experienced an astounding 103% increase in freelance hiring in 2013.
The true risks and challenges are staring us in the face. We just need to finish this film so we can talk about it better as a society.
You may appreciate this talk from Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky from the 2014 Aspen Ideas Festival who says, "I think in the future ownership is going to be turned on its head. I think in the future you will only own what you want responsibility for.”
And our blog post "What Impact Will the Peer Economy Have on our Job Crisis?"
1. Why are you raising production funds only at this time?
Actually, we are fundraising for the entire production. Our focus on $35k is to get us back on the road to finish filming and interviewing in key U.S. cities/markets by October/November. Then we can release a new trailer and more footage. We are also submitting film grants and making individual requests. Independent film financing can be broken down into ‘development,’ ‘production,’ ‘post-production’ / ‘finishing funds’ and most of the time filmmakers must raise funding at these different stages. Unlike building a product, which cannot launch without all the funds to build everything at once, independent filmmakers have a strong legacy of both filming and fundraising as they go.
2. Who is your audience?
We truly believe this is a universal story of change. The fact that it is a story about the economy does define a segment of the audience to be those who are interested in how the economy is changing, and how it has changed over time. And, Shareconomy is about more than money, it explores broad questions of community and connection and how the sharing economy is shaping or reshaping our hope for the future.
3. How can we know you will get the film done?
We work on film sets constantly. In fact, while we’re raising funding for this film, we are often working 10 hour days on set to pay our rents by working behind the camera. We have each taken numerous projects, for paying clients, from start to finish, on tight schedules, and produced our own personal work to explore our voices more fully as filmmakers. While nothing is absolute, we have already invested a lot of our own money to get this far, and have literally put nearly 10 months of our lives into this project. Yes, it is a challenge to make a first feature film, and we know the toughest part of this journey is in the edit, which is why we have an incredible editor attached to the project who has created high-caliber work. He is a great storyteller.
4. Why should I donate now, instead of later when you are closer to finishing the film?
That’s a great question. We had to pause our production and take on paying gigs because we couldn’t do this on our own anymore. Your support now is huge. Of course it would be critical at any time of a film’s journey, but right now we are not filming beyond our own city because we need funding. The sharing economy dialogue will continue to evolve for years to come (some estimate a minimum of 10 years of defining what this change actually is/will be). We believe our film will be an important reference in the wider conversation, and also be a really important reflection of what people were feeling about this at the beginning. While we weren’t there from Day 1, we were there before the sharing economy became hyped in the media. We aren’t producing something sensational. We are exploring a story, and there are a lot of threads to that story --- so many perspectives. Cinema gives us the chance to share how it feels to go through this kind of change. Put simply, the edit really begins when the filming is done. We could probably follow this story for years, but that’s not our intention. We have one story: the rise of the sharing economy. That’s what is happening now.
Ways to Help
Thank you for helping us build on the dream of getting this film made. There are so many ways you can help!
- Make a donation in any amount today (thank you!!)
- Email your friends about Shareconomy
- Use the Indiegogo share tools to spread the word
- Keep the dialogue going -- Join us on Twitter, Facebook & our Blog