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Upstairs Inferno

Upcoming full length doc. about the 1973 fire at the Upstairs Lounge, a New Orleans bar. It was the largest gay mass murder in U.S. History & few know about it.

 

 

THANK YOU! WITHOUT YOU, THIS FILM WOULDN'T BE POSSIBLE!!

I want to thank everyone who has already donated to the production fund for UPSTAIRS INFERNO.  We wouldn't be able to make this film without you and your contributions are greatly appreciated!

WHILE WE MET OUR INITIAL GOAL, WE STILL NEED YOUR HELP!

As you know, fundraising is never an easy task. It's about persistence and raising awareness.  However, we are running out of time.  If you haven't donated yet, please consider donating to the production fund for this incredibly important film today.  

<<VIDEO MESSAGE FROM ROBERT: https://vimeo.com/70607943>>

Because of generous supporters like yourself, we reached our initial target goal!  THIS IS AMAZING!!  However, our production budget exceeds that figure and every donation over that target number is greatly appreciated!!  

For those who don't know how crowd-funding works, I had to come up with a dollar amount I thought we could realistically achieve in a certain time window.  If we didn't meet our goal, we'd get MUCH less than the amount donors pledged. We need every penny and I didn't want to gamble.  So while our actual budget exceeds our IndieGoGo target, I was cautious when setting this initial goal.

As you can imagine witnesses and key players in this story live around the country. Travel is not cheap, neither is news footage licensing. We need your donation. I have a PROVEN track record for creating documentaries that make a difference. Upstairs Inferno: The documentarywill take us on a journey that will educate, enlighten and hopefully lead us to new revelations and possibly some closure. However, I can't do it without your help. Thank you!

Can we hit $20K?  In addition to the production expenses, we will be able to cover some of the post production expenses (editing, sound mixing, graphic work, voice over narration) 

Thank you so much and I hope I can count on your support!

-Robert

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On gay pride weekend in 1973, a gay bar in New Orleans called the Upstairs Lounge was fire bombed resulting in the largest gay mass murder in U.S. history.  Despite that, I am willing to bet you have never even heard of it.   32 people were killed.

A victim who tried to flee the fire through a window, became wedged in-between the burglar bars, unable to escape.  Helpless onlookers could only watch in horror as he burned to death.  Police left his body hanging outside the window for some time.

Some bodies were never identified because their families were ashamed that they were gay. No one was ever charged with the crime.   It appears that the fire had a devastating impact on the New Orleans LGBT community. While the Stonewall Inn riots in New York City only four years earlier united a community, the fire caused many in the New Orleans gay community to go into hiding. 

When I heard about this tragedy, I asked myself the question "Why isn't this story more prevalent in our culture?  Why don't we know about it?  It's as historic as the Stonewall Inn raid, but it doesn't exist in the common LGBT history narrative.  I think that needs to change.  No...I know that needs to change.

June marked the 40th anniversary of the fire and I think it's time that this story is widely exposed to a national and international audience.

The UpStairs Lounge story will anger you.  The lack of compassion and response by the general public, government and religious leaders will disturb you.  Inevitably, you will be shocked to learn that you have never heard about this event before.

I am sure you will agree, that it is crucial to acknowledge, preserve and honor our history as LGBT people.  The LGBT dialogue has changed SO much in the past few years.  As popular attitudes shift on LGBT issues, we risk losing the stories of the struggles that got us where we are today.  It's our responsibility to honor the memories of those who came before us, including those who died at the Upstairs Lounge.   

The men and women who experienced this tragedy paved the way for the freedoms enjoyed by the New Orleans LGBT community of today, as well as the overall LGBT movement.  Let's honor their forgotten stories.  

Read more about the history at www.UpstairsInferno.com

  • Anticipated release date: 2014.  Estimated run time: 70-80 min

 PLEASE DONATE AND HELP US TELL THIS STORY!

We need your help to get this project off the ground, and I hope you will consider donating to our fundraising campaign.  

 

The money raised in this fundraiser will go towards the expenses related to:

  • Travel.  We need to travel to the different areas where the survivor and key players live to film the interviews.
  • The film crew
  • Associated production costs, including equipment rental
  • Administrative costs related to research and story development
  • (and go partly towards) Licensing fees for news broadcasts and supporting video footage.

 

If we are fortunate enough to raise money over our goal, that money will go towards audio and video post production, additional licensing and the engagement of a narrator.

 

 

RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE  illustrated how powerful the film medium can be.  A film puts a face to the issues and creates an emotional connection.  In a sense, it makes it more real and more than just words in a newspaper or history book.  Furthermore, movies have an infinite reach. They can impact lives beyond our communities and across the world.  Under our direction,the UPSTAIRS INFERNO documentary will also be positioned to make a difference and change hearts and minds.  

By partnering with government officials, schools, grassroots organizations and film festivals across the country, we hope the film will help strengthen grassroots organizations, engage local communities, educate youth and advance social change.

We anticipate telling the story primarily through emotional interviews of survivors, families of victims, key players involved with the aftermath and those impacted by the fire.  We will also interview historians, experts and current leaders of the New Orleans LGBT community.

We will utilize police reports, crime scene photographs, personal photographs, newspaper clippings and video clips from local news stations to support the interviews.  We will also include video footage from the upcoming 40th anniversary memorial services, which will be held in New Orleans on June 24th.

We don't want the film to simply be a stagnant exposition of facts.  To truly understand the impact of this tragedy, you have to find the humanity in the story and build an emotional connection.  The audience will relive the roller coaster of events through the eyes of those who lived through it.  A full length film will allow us to not only provide the historical background, but also pay respect to the hearts in the story.

With access to a new leads, we are pursuing untold avenues of the story!  This film will take us on a journey that will educate, enlighten and hopefully lead us to new revelations and possibly some closure.

 

A documentary about the UPSTAIRS INFERNO is the logical follow-up project to our last film, RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE.   The critically acclaimed documentary examined the controversial 2009 Texas gay bar raid that resulted in multiple arrests and serious injuries.  Through RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE, I've built trust, respect and substantial credibility.    We have experience and a proven track record for creating documentaries that make a difference:

  • The film received glowing praise from U.S. Attorney Sarah Saldana.  She invited the film to screen at the 1st ever LGBT Pride Month Diversity Program for the North Texas U.S. Attorney’s Office.  
  • The Office of the White House and Department of Justice have requested screeners of the film.  In fact, through the film's growing relationship with them, I am honored to say that my partner and I were invited to the White House in June 2012 for their LGBT Pride Month reception, where we had the opportunity to meet with staff who requested additional screeners.   
  • At the invitation of the U.S. State Department, RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE also screened in October 2012 to a delegation of 16 visitors from all over Europe participating in the State Department’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) focusing on “Advocating for Human and Civil Rights for the LGBT Community”. 
  • The documentary has been programmed in over 30 mainstream and LGBT film festivals, winning awards along the way.  This includes four “Best” Film and three “Audience Choice” Awards. It is still playing on the film festival circuit.
  • I am proud that the RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE film festival screenings have not only created awareness and inspired communities across the country, but have also helped build bridges between local LGBT communities and their law enforcement/city leaders. Many City Council members and/or Police representatives have attended local screenings.  
  • Many schools from across the country have requested the film to help teach the next generation of leaders. 

 Read more about the reach and impact we made with RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE on www.RaidoftheRainbowLounge.com

In the wake of RAID OF THE RAINBOW LOUNGE, I still have people's attention. I've also built solid relationships and a robust Rolodex of government officials and activists.  This Upstairs Lounge documentary provides an opportunity to advance our efforts to educate, enlighten and engage audiences with unfamiliar, but vital stories of our LGBT community. 

 As a filmmaker, I will share the story of the Upstairs Lounge tragedy and its impact on the community.   I've built a reputation of telling responsible and accurate stories and for separating facts from rumors.   I will treat the story with compassion, but also with urgency.

 

Other Ways You Can Help! 

Whether or not you are able to donate, please SPREAD THE WORD - email your family and friends links to this site, to our website:www.UpstairsInferno.com, post on Facebook and Twitter (@UpstairsInferno), and talk to people the old-fashioned way about the UPSTAIRS INFERNO.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart,

Robert

 

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