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This project was successfully funded on November 11, 2017

A Paper Tiger Burns

by Gavin Culbertson


In the face of bigotry, a young immigrant struggles to obtain true strength through martial arts while overcoming the demons of his troubled Colombian past.

Empowerment Art’s flagship film, A Paper Tiger Burns presents topics of great concern facing members of our society today: themes of LGBT discrimination, high school bullying, and minority otherization weave throughout a multifaceted story based on true events. 

This startup nonprofit has been on a 5-year journey to develop and produce this international story for the big screen. Board members and film crew raised funds to travel to Colombia, South America to film in locations of real events that inspired the script, and followed through in completing an epic feature film without a production company's support. 

Join Empowerment Art's mission by supporting the film on its final steps to reach a mass audience who may not otherwise ever know the story of the "other".

Current phase: Completion of A Paper Tiger Burns and Early Distribution

Overview of actuals to date:

Main Campaign Goals

1). Create the opportunity to submit to film festivals, our first step in getting the film seen. The good news is that many film festival submissions allow thrifty online submissions using a web link to the film! We need to maintain our Vimeo Pro account ($240) and pay the submission fees which typically range from $70-$100.

1st choice festivals to attempt first for a world premiere:

2018 South by Southwest Film Festival (SXSW)

2018 Cartagena Film Festival

2018 Cannes Film Festival

2nd choice festivals we are looking at as well:

Chicago Social Change Film Fest, St. Louis QFest, Crested Butte Film Festival, St. Louis International Film Festival, Denver Film Festival, Nashville Film Festival, Miami International Film Festival.

Cost: $1,000

2). Help us prepare the film for a Latin American audience and improve all subtitles prior to distribution. We will employ professional localization services to translate the dialogue in English to Spanish subtitles and create subtitle tracks in the film. The service provider will also help revise the English subtitles we currently made only based on the early script translations.

Cost: $1,500

Campaign Target goal: $2,500

Hatchfund Stretch goals

3). Complete the editing of the film! While this is actually completed (no worries on getting to see the film), it was done entirely on a deferred budget so that all of our most recent fundraising efforts could go to paying $10,000 to the music composition and recording. This amount will cover all of the budgeted post-production stipend (many months of labor and all facets of editing). Empowerment Arts will then be able to close the books on producing the film!

Cost: $8,000

4). Improve final audio mix in preparation for film showings and distribution. The one area we had to cut from our post-production budget was having additional work done on the audio mix (in addition to the regular editing process). There are additional audio cleanup and quality improvements that can be done in other programs such as Pro Tools or with additional plugins and professional skills. While the current mix is festival ready, it was the one area of potential improvement that was discussed in our pre-screening feedback, and would be worth an extra investment.

Cost: +$3,000

5). Create a professional cinema file of the film. While we can provide a Blu-ray disc and create a free-ware export of the film in Digital Cinema Package format (it worked at our preview screening), it would be better if we have a post-production house create the DCP file from our master.

Cost: +$300

Summary: Reaching this main goal completes the film and steps us into distribution through festivals so the film will be seen. This accomplishes our mission of empowering represented marginalized groups and lights the fire for creating cultural and educational influence!

Campaign main goal total: $13,800


Thank You:  With your help, Empowerment Arts will be able to start our mission outreach. Since the founding of the organization in 2012, we have had the vision that unique films about marginalized groups would reach both those in need of empowerment and a mass audience who needs to know their story. The “three E’s” of empowerment are Egalitarian, Empathy, and Education. First, we have produced a film in collaboration with immigrants and the LGBT community to create an authentic story based on true events. Second, the story was produced as an effective narrative, that will convey the powerful story in a way that only cinema can. Third, we now can move forward with the step of educational outreach – people need to see the film and festivals and presentations are part of our initial plan. Donating to this campaign will help us not only improve the film and get it seen, but will help us take the third and final step into accomplishing the totality of our mission.

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