JULY 9th, 2018
As I sit here in our Los Angeles edit studio, I’m so eager to share our latest updates with you. I know it’s been a long time since our last newsletter and so much has happened!
First and foremost, I am proud to let you know that we are now partnering with LA-based Blumhouse Productions, producers of incredible films like Oscar-winner ‘Get Out’ and ‘Whiplash’. It’s been a great partnership so far and I’m honored to learn from their team.
Second, we have finalized production and are now editing! Over the past year, the highlights for me were filming with six incredible survivors from across the United States from Chicago, IL, to Pasadena, CA. Their stories, along with my own, paint a more complete picture of grooming, abuse, and the impact it has had on our lives.
It’s never easy to share such painful stories on camera and ultimately, with the world. That’s why I couldn’t be more grateful to the amazing men and women who have joined me on this crazy ride. Asia, Katy, Nicole, Barbi, Mark and Keith: My team and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your openness and dedication to ‘Groomed.’ You inspire us all.
From my end, ‘Groomed’ has taken me to places I never in a million years thought I’d go. Since we started filming, my feelings and thoughts about my past have been challenged. I’ve had to face everything that happened head on, and pretty publically. While I won’t spoil the film, I will say I am not the same person I was when I first started making this documentary.
I am stronger and more determined than ever to raise awareness on grooming through this film. And as ‘Groomed’s longtime supporters, you can still very much help with our mission!
Why we still need your help:
We are working hard to get ‘Groomed’ ready for Sundance submission in September. But as we turn our final corner towards finishing the film, we need your help. Much of our generous budget from Blumhouse Productions has been spent on capturing the many unexpected twists in my story. We also hired a spectacular editor, Hibah Schweitzer, who is transforming my vision into a 90 minute reality on screen. Today, we need additional funds to continue post-production, which includes hiring a post production supervisor, a music composer, a visual effects team, a sound editor, and a sound mixer, among other things.
It’s a lot! But now is crunch time, and the finish line is in clear sight.
So here’s how you can help:
- Donate: as always, we very much appreciate any donation you could make, every dollar counts! (Tax-deductible) direct donations can be made here: goo.gl/7nbtDG
- Host an event: we have started doing fundraiser events, which are usually very fun and productive! It entails hosting a group of people you know (typically 10-20 folks) at your home, where we’ll show a few clips from the film and host a discussion on grooming. Please email us to host a fundraiser or Director’s Talk (email@example.com)
- Introduce: Please e-mail us with suggestions for potential donors or other suggestions (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Larger donors are offered credits in the film, e.g. $75K+ to become “Executive Producer”, $25K+ as “Special Thanks”, and $1K+ as “Supporter”. Other arrangements (e.g. invitations for movie première, private screening, masterclass by Gwen) are possible and fully up for discussion.
We are hoping to have a profound impact on so many people’s lives with this film. Filming and speaking with survivors around the country has already changed my life and theirs. We are all in this together: survivors, parents, educators and everyone else in communities around the world that truly care about protecting children from abuse.
Thank you all so much for your continued support.
FEBRUARY 21st, 2017
From a busy and cold New York, where we are currently shooting scenes for “Groomed,” I wanted to share some news and ask you a question!
The teaser is out!
The moment is finally here: I am ready to share Groomed’s first teaser with you all! Summarizing the film in 3 minutes (from ~80 hours of footage) was quite the task: it felt daunting, exciting, and surprising all at once. In this process, re-watching some of the footage was difficult at first – seeing the scene where I am finding the letters from my offender, for example, felt like going through it all over again. But over time it got easier, which allowed me to look at the footage with a bit more distance.
Asking for your help: financing
We have shot the majority of our footage and are now entering the post-production phase. We recently hired our editor, who has started working on the film full-time. And while starting post-production is exciting, it also means we need a lot of additional support and resources to finish the film. Fundraising is our highest priority right now, which is where I am asking for your help. You can help me in any of the following ways:
- Donate to groomed. Anything helps!
- Forward this email to anyone who might be interested to donate or invest
- Introduce me to your contacts, who you think might be interested in investing in the film.
I really hope you enjoy it - please let me know what you think! Also, I ask that you please do not share the teaser on any social media, because I’m not yet feeling ready to go fully public with my story. Thank you all so much for your continued support.
DECEMBER 9TH, 2016
Hi my dear friends, family and supporters,
First of all, a warm welcome to everyone who’s new to this list. Thank you for joining me on this ride.
As “Groomed” continues to become more of a reality, I wanted to share a recent update with all of you. Earlier this week, Stanford’s nondisclosure magazine published an article I wrote about my journey – from a Talk at Stanford 5 years ago all the way until my experience today, making Groomed.
To be honest with you all, I was terrified for this article to go public. My fiancé Laurens had to push the “send” button, because I just wasn’t able to. This was my first time sharing this experience with such a broad audience, and it made me feel very exposed. But at the same time, I know I need to get used to this. If I want to make a difference with this story, I need to get out there. As scary as that is.
The initial response to my article in these past 72 hours has been overwhelming, uplifting, and heartbreaking– all at the same time. Family and friends reached out to console me and cheer me on. Individuals that were part of my story reached out in full support, some able to fill in gaps in my own memory. And, perhaps most importantly, complete strangers reached out to share their stories. This is exactly why we are doing what we are doing, even though weeks like this can be difficult.
Here is a link to the article. If you are interested, I hope you can take a moment to read it, and feel free to share on social media. Thank you all again for all your support.
OCTOBER 19TH, 2016
Hi my dear friends, family, and supporters,
6 months ago, I embarked on a lifelong dream - creating my first long-form documentary. This has been an incredibly personal and rewarding experience for me so far and because of that, I want to share my journey with all of you.
“Groomed” is a feature-length documentary on sexual assault, especially focusing on a psychological process called grooming, which offenders use with their victims (for more information on grooming, see below). Even 6 months ago, because of my own experience with assault, this was an issue I couldn’t talk about for more than 10 minutes. The research process for the film has made this a little easier week-by-week, which has reminded me of a moving experience I had when I shared my story with friends and classmates in business school during an event called "Talk". That evening, 4 classmates told me the same thing had happened to them. I received more than 50 letters in the weeks that followed, filled with stories that impacted my classmates and their loved ones. The statistics suddenly became very real: 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men in the US are a survivor of assault. It inspired me to give these men and women a voice.
We’ve already moved mountains producing “Groomed.” Our crew just returned from a full week of filming in Holland, where we focused on capturing my own story. While it was amazing being back in my hometown with my family, I felt a deep heaviness inside me, too. While I experienced this heaviness as a person and subject in the film, it’s been a juggling act divorcing this feeling from being a director. Talking about my story with my dad for only the second time in 20 years, while also focusing on the lighting of the scene, is a hard mindset to balance. Even more difficult was directing myself, especially since the emotions I experienced as a subject in the film were considerably different than what I expected. This has allowed the narrative to evolve in ways I could not have imagined. In the end, we captured 820GB of footage, which we’re currently processing and cutting into our first teaser (coming very soon!).
I’m also excited to announce that “Groomed” will be produced under my new production company yellow dot films (our logo, designed by Adam Ho, is below). This entire effort has only been possible with the support from my tremendous crew. They provide unwavering support and wisdom as I approach my first film. With each newsletter, we plan to introduce a member in our “Crew’s Corner” column. This week you’ll meet Mo, my talented Director of Photography.
Last but not least, I want to thank you for all of your heartfelt support throughout this process. I am so fortunate and grateful to be surrounded by such amazing friends, family, and supporters. I hope to connect with you soon, and keep your eyes out for our first teaser!