saving cities documentary aims to tell true story of a rising rust belt

A year ago, Jack Storey launched an ambitious project to create a documentary about the Rust Belt with no money, no filmmaking experience and no camera.

But he did have Kickstarter.

Today, Storey and his partners have raised over $20,000 through the popular arts-focused fundraising website. They have crisscrossed the Rust Belt region while garnering more than 100 hours of footage of entrepreneurs and civic-minded individuals. Saving Cities, the grassroots "idea bank" that Storey helped found in 2010, plans to release the documentary, entitled Red, White and Blueprints, early next year.

"We're stubborn and we love it here, but we don't defend ourselves very well to the outside, and the perspective of national media tends to be lopsided," explains Storey, who recently participated in a panel discussion of Cleveland artists funded through Kickstarter. "Our goal is to have a very positive piece of media that tells the story of the Rust Belt from boom to decline, and also talks about the future and entrepreneurs who are doing creative things with very few resources."

Red, White and Blueprints will highlight the connections between small, hyperlocal efforts taking place in various Rust Belt cities to paint a coherent picture of a diverse, interconnected region. It will also suggest that Rust Belt cities could do a significantly better job sharing successes between various metropolitan areas, and in turn, furthering these connections for mutual benefit.

"All of these cities used to be connected by railroads," says Storey. "We're talking about the Rust Belt as a mega-region. We can digitally reconnect these cities in conversation."

Saving Cities has launched another Kickstarter campaign to fund the final leg of the documentary, including editing and duplication. Storey hopes to begin sending the film to festivals and organize a series of community screenings next year.

Now that the project is nearing fruition, Storey has a better understanding of why he needed to do it. "Maybe for good reason, we're the only people to do this. We were crazy enough to get in a car and drive around the region several times. In hindsight, I'm glad we did it, but it was a huge undertaking."

Source: Jack Storey
Writer: Lee Chilcote