Saturday, February 14, 2015

Heart of Africa: The Kickstarter campaign (February 7 to March 17, 2015)

Margaret Blair Young (my brilliant and beautiful wife) is working on a feature film titled Heart of Africa, focusing on struggles to overcome prejudice and build relationships across racial and cultural lines. The film's director will be Sterling Van Wagenen--one of the industry's best. (See, and

Margaret Blair Young and Bruce Young

Margaret is currently raising funds through a Kickstarter campaign that ends on March 17--meaning midnight at the end of the day on March 16.  The goal is $30,000, which will allow filming to begin.  But far more is needed to complete the filming.  She is also seeking funding from foundation grants and is hoping either that the Kickstarter campaign will lead to two or three (or more) times the goal she has set, or that she will secure investors after the end of the Kickstarter campaign.

Either way, a successful Kickstarter campaign is critical.  As you may know, the way Kickstarter works is that we must reach our goal or else we'll get nothing.  In other words, none of the contributions end up being charged to those who have contributed unless the goal of $30,000 is reached by midnight on March 16.  Then on March 17, the contributions are charged to the contributors' accounts.  If the goal isn't reached, nothing happens.

We are currently on track but must sustain this activity for another couple of weeks in order to attain the goal.  (When I first wrote this post--on February 14--we had a little over a month left.  We're now down to a little over two weeks.)  Of the many who are interested in what Margaret is doing, we need a couple of hundred more to contribute for the Kickstarter campaign to be successful.  In a nutshell, we need--and deeply appreciate--your help and support.

Margaret's Kickstarter page-- --includes a brief video and a description that will tell you more about the project.  You'll also find a list of rewards for contributions at various levels.  Here I want to share some thoughts about what it will take to attain the goal.  I'll also provide links to other material related to the project.

How much should you contribute?

The short answer, of course, is however much you'd like. Any amount is helpful and is appreciated. We understand that people's circumstances vary. And besides people's ability to contribute, their excitement about and commitment to the project may motivate them to stretch further than they would otherwise.  (As you become familiar with the project, I believe you will in fact be excited about it and want to help support it.)

Given all the variables, I thought it might be helpful for you to know where we're at right now and how much it will take for the campaign to be successful.

As of this moment1--early morning on Friday, February 27--279 people have contributed, and the total contributed is $22,582.  The average contribution is about $81, but contributions range from several at $5 to six $1000 contributions.  17 days remain to reach the goal of $30,000.  (As I noted above, if the goal is not reached, we get nothing.)

We hope for additional contributions at the $1000 level or even higher.  But obviously the bulk of contributions will be smaller than that.  If we can sustain an average contribution of $75 to $100, we are very likely to make our goal.  If the average drops below that, we will simply need more people to contribute.

Here's what the math says.  To attain the remaining $7418, we would need one of the following:
*1484 people contributing $5 each
*297 people contributing $25 each
*149 people contributing $50 each
*99 contributing $75 each
*75 people contributing $100 each

I'm sure there are another 100 people or more out there willing to contribute, so if we average $75 for each contribution, I think we're safe.  But to really be safe, I think we're going to need to increase the average contribution or persuade a couple of hundred people or more to contribute.  So consider this an invitation to contribute.

Here's what I recommend:

If you can only give a little, I hope you can contribute at least $25--though een less than that will help, and will be appreciated.  If you have the means to do so, I would recommend contributing $50 or $100 or more, depending on how strongly you feel about Margaret's project.

For those of you who genuinely have enough and to spare in abundance, contributions of several hundred dollars or even a thousand or more would be greatly appreciated and would not only help guarantee the campaign's success but would help ensure adequate funding for the beginning stages of the project.  (And if you've looked at the list of reward, you'll know that a contribution of $5000 means you'll be invited to the premiere in Africa or the later premiere in the U.S.)

Aimé and Steffy Mbuyi
 just after their sealing in the Accra Ghana Temple
Aimé is the former Congolese revolutionary on whose experiences Margaret's film is based)

Why contribute?

I realize that even those of you who are blessed with great abundance have many competing projects to which you might lend your support.  All I can say is that Margaret's film is among the projects worthy of your support.  This is more than just your everyday feature film.  The plan is for it to premiere in Africa and help launch an almost non-existent film industry in the Congo.  The film will help change perceptions of Africa--especially central Africa, about which many terribly inaccurate misconceptions remain.  Margaret has visited the Congo and spent time with families there.  We knows that these are beautiful, gifted, intelligent, peace-loving people with the potential to accomplish wonderful things.

The film also will convey a powerful message about building relationships and understanding across cultural and racial divides.  It is based on real experiences of Mormon missionaries in central Africa and helps portray the struggles and miracles experienced by people we have come to know and love.

Other items of interest

I'll be adding more material here over time.  But I'll start will a link to the "teaser" or more accurately a sort of mock up trailer for the film.  This was intended to give some idea of what the film would be about--but not necessarily using the actors or locations that will end up in the finished film.  (For one thing, I have my screen debut here--but I don't plan to be in the finished film.)


(See additional links below.)

The filming of the trailer was directed by Mallory Everton (well known as a member of BYU Television's Studio C).  Here are some photos of the filming:


Heart of Africa Q&A (at "Wheat & Tares")

"Coming Soon: Heart of Africa (and more!)" (at LDS Cinema Online) 

"Mormon Woman, Artist, Filmmaker on Heart of Africa" (Margaret's Interview with Lisa Torcasso Downing)

"Will Mormon missionaries lead the way out of racism?" (Margaret's guest post on Jana Riess's "Flunking Sainthood")

"Heart of Africa with Margaret Blair Young" (podcast with Brian Kissell at "Rational Faiths")

"Studio C and Heart of Africa" (the story of the involvement two Studio C members--Mallory Everton and Stacey Harkey--have had with the project)

The provisional trailer (directed by Mallory Everton)

also a series of articles at Meridian Magazine:

1What I originally wrote when I published this post was this: "As of this moment--Saturday morning, February 14--76 people have contributed, and the total contributed is $7601.  The average contribution is about $100, but contributions range from several at $5 to three $1000 contributions.  30 days remain to reach the goal of $30,000.  (As I noted above, if the goal is not reached, we get nothing.)"  Obviously, we have continued doing well since then.  My next revision of the post read: "As of Wednesday, February 18, at 3:30 p.m.--168 people have contributed, and the total contributed is $12, 858." The average contribution had dropped to a little over $75.  My estimate of what remained to do on February 14 was this:
   "To attain the remaining $22,400, we would need one of the following:
    *4480 people contributing $5 each
    *896 people contributing $25 each
    *448 people contributing $50 each
    *224 people contributing $100 each"
The revised version of the post (above) gives my current estimate.

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