We’ve never had to do something like this before, but we’re asking you to donate whatever you can to help us with legal fees.
In 2015 Bennett and I began shooting footage for a documentary about a band from Detroit called The Punks. They are incredible musicians and all-around awesome dudes and we wanted to tell their story. It was begun as a labour of love. And we love The Punks!
We conceived of the idea of a documentary about the band, got them on board, and using our own equipment, did a bunch of research, shot some awesome footage, with interviews we did, and did all of the editing. The documentary is about 90% done, but we’re now being SUED by a person that we trusted as a partner – one of the worst mistakes either of us has ever made.
Partway through filming, a former punk that a friend vouched for, came along and pitched us on forming a partnership. He is charming, wealthy, and had a name in the industry, and (cliché) it seemed like a good idea at the time.
He convinced us that if we brought him in to help with financing the project, that together we could make the project a success. What ended up happening was that Bennett and I worked on the film while struggling to pay bills at multiple day jobs, running Female Treble, and trying to work with someone who seemed great, but over time created an extremely toxic work environment and put the film in jeopardy.
This individual is trying to kick us out of our own production company, even though there would be no production at all without Bennett and myself.
Bennett and I love music and we just want our film to be seen and we want The Punks to enjoy a little of the spotlight that eluded them for so long, because they deserve it. After decades of obscurity, their recorded material is available again and people are finally getting to hear their music.
We never started this to make money and due to legal fees, it has cost us more than we could imagine already. We don’t have much money, but we have the equipment and a deep love of Detroit and loud music. We gladly put our own money and hard work into this project, because we both believe that not having any money shouldn’t prevent you from telling a good story or doing something you love.
Bennett and I are not strangers to filmmaking. We’ve made documentaries about war resisting, Civil Rights, and covered lots of other social justice issues. We’ve never intended to make money on any of these projects because we feel an obligation to use our equipment and resources, however limited they are, to give people the opportunity to have their voices heard.
The person suing us is wealthy. Compared to us, he has unlimited resources. He doesn’t seem to care about the film, he doesn’t seem to care about a good story or integrity in filmmaking. He doesn’t even seem to care about music or culture. He only seems to care about how he can personally benefit from the film and how much money he can drain out of us.
He is suing us for over $200,000 and exclusive rights to all of the footage we sweated blood making. If he had any experience at all in filmmaking, he would realize that there is no money in documentary filmmaking.
Our legal team is one bad-ass woman who is dedicated to protecting the rights of musicians, and a couple of law students from Osgoode Hall Law School who are supporting her by doing legal research and proof-reading. They’re doing this for as cheap as they can, but there are some costs, like filing fees and court costs that we can’t pay with goodwill.
We’re up against a Bay Street law firm, and we want to do this the way we do everything. Fight until we win or until we can’t get up anymore, even if we know going in that it’s not a fair fight. Once a punk, always a punk. We don’t know how to do things any other way.
We may not have a lot of money, but we believe in having integrity and doing the right thing, always.
Anything you could contribute would be greatly appreciated by both of us.