Free for All: Inside the Public Library is a production of Bay Area-based Serendipity Films, LLC. Director Dawn Logsdon is also a producer of the film. Stanley Nelson, a 2002 MacArthur Fellow, is Executive Producer. Lucie Faulknor is Producer/Researcher.
According to Serendipity Films, “Their team includes Emmy award-winning and Oscar-nominated colleagues whose social issue films have received wide exposure and acclaim over the past thirty years.”
Pre-production took place between January and August of 2014. Production is supposed to run from August of 2014 to April of 2015.
Post-Production should run from May to September of 2015. If all goes according to plan, P.B.S. will broadcast Free for All: Inside the Public Library in the winter of 2016.
Serendipity Films states, “Over 200 million people visited an American public library last year. We were the first nation to build a free public library system and our model has been replicated around the globe. But here in the U.S. at the beginning of the 21st century, a majority of libraries are struggling to cope with the impact of years of cutbacks brought on by the last recession. Nationwide more than 50% have faced major budget shortfalls, and many municipalities are debating layoffs, privatization, charging fees, and closures. In a report released in December 2013 by the Pew Research Center, ‘Some 90% of Americans ages 16 and older said that the closing of their local public library would have an impact on their community, with 63% saying it would have a ‘major’ impact.’”
Access to the Internet is increasingly necessary to function in our society, and for many the library is the only place to use a computer. For many immigrants and low income people, the library is vital: literacy programs, technology classes, a safe space for their children to study after school. At our libraries, many of the most pressing issues are being quietly addressed: unemployment, immigration, homelessness, keeping up with technology. But this is out of view for those who question whether we need all these libraries or if like the post offices, the real estate might be more productively re-purposed.
Stanley Nelson produced, directed, and wrote The Black Press: Soldiers without Swords (1999), which won Best Documentary Film at the San Francisco Film Festival and the Freedom of Expression Award at the Sundance Film Festival; and A Place of Our Own (2004), a semi-autobiographical look at the African American middle class. He produced and directed Marcus Garvey: Look for Me in the Whirlwind (2000) and Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple (2006), which was shortlisted for the Academy Awards and won the International Documentary Association Award for its use of archival footage.
Further, he directed The Murder of Emmett Till (2003) for the P.B.S. television series The American Experience and Freedom Riders (2011), which garnered three Primetime Emmy Awards in 2011. Nelson was Executive Producer of Dawn Logsdon’s Faubourg Tremé: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans (2008). He is co-founder and Executive Director of Firelight Media, a non-profit that provides technical education and professional support to emerging documentary-makers.
According to her Free for All biography, Dawn Logsdon’s “career has been dedicated to helping make films about civic issues and city life, particularly at the neighborhood level. She has directed or edited many documentaries about complex communities or movements that, like this proposed project, have multiple characters and a sweeping historical scope.”
Ms. Logsdon produced as well as directed Faubourg Tremé, which premiered at Tribeca, won the SFIFF Golden Gate Award for Best Documentary, and was a P.B.S. Black History Month Feature Presentation three years in a row. She co-directed and edited the award-winning Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton (2013) and Lindy Boggs: Steel and Velvet (2006). Her many editing credits include the Sundance Award-winning Paragraph 175 (2000) by Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Freidman, Academy Award-nominated Weather Underground (2002) by Sam Green, Emmy award-winning Have You Heard from Johannesburg? by Connie Field, and the Peabody award-winning Neighborhoods: The Hidden Cities of San Francisco – The Castro (1997).
Her short films include Tomboy (1994), which was exhibited at the Whitney Museum and aired on P.B.S. Ms. Logsdon’s honors include a Soros OSI Media Fellowship, California Arts Council Artist Residency, BAVC Media Maker Award, Djerassi Artist Residency, Louisiana Division of the Arts Fellowship, New Orleans Contemporary Art Center Artist Fellowship, and the New Orleans Arts Council Award.
Director of Photography Vicente Franco was a 2003 Oscar Best Documentary nominee and Emmy nominee for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography for Daughter From Danang (2002). That film won the Sundance Film Festival 2002 Grand Jury Prize.
He also shot the Academy Award nominated films The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers (2009) and Freedom On My Mind (1994). He also shot Discovering Dominga (2003) and The Judge And The General (2008).
Editor Veronica Selver edited the Academy Award-nominated Berkeley In The Sixties (1990). She also directed Coming Out Under Fire (1994), which the makers of Free for All state was “on gays and lesbians in the military during World War II.” They also state she “co-directed the Columbia Dupont Excellence in Broadcast Journalism winner Word Is Out, (1977), the first feature documentary on growing up gay in the United States.”
Serendipity Films states, “Producer/Researcher Lucie Faulknor produced and researched Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans and has worked with award-winning directors Dorothy Fadiman and Lynn Hershman-Leeson in the areas of fundraising, publicity, outreach and community engagement. Faulknor has also produced a film festival and lecture series and managed fundraising and publicity campaigns for a number of arts organizations and individual musicians, visual artists, actors, and filmmakers. She has a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Administration from USF’s School of Business & Professional Studies and a B.A. in Arts Management from SFSU. Lucie is a fourth generation San Francisco Public Library user.”
Serendipity Films states, “FREE FOR ALL: Inside the Public Library is a multi-platform media project about the American public library and what it means to our country. It is told through the voices of some of the millions of Americans who use their local libraries every day, along with those of generations past who forged the library’s starring role in the public commons. FREE FOR ALL seeks to inspire, entertain, and spark dialogue and engagement as communities debate the future of their public libraries in America.”
The cornerstone of FREE FOR ALL is a feature-length documentary film intended for PBS broadcast in 2016. The film’s primary structure is a ‘day-in-the-life of the library’ from open to close in libraries around the country, intercut with historical chapters illustrated by outstanding and rarely seen archival material. This will be a rollicking and visually stunning mosaic of faces, architecture and stories that brings to life the diversity of the American library experience and the urgent issues libraries face today.
Additional FREE FOR ALL project elements will include a collection of issue-based and character-driven short films for social media and educational use and a robust, interactive website. A state-of-the-art outreach campaign in partnership with the Urban Libraries Council, the American Library Association, and others will engage audiences of all ages, community groups, and policymakers…
FREE FOR ALL will follow library users and staff as they tackle big challenges and questions: How do urban libraries serve rising levels of destitute and homeless patrons and still maintain safe, open, public commons? Has the core mission of the public library changed now that the Internet is so integrated in and integral to modern life? How are libraries and communities dealing with competing interests and visions of the future?
The filmmakers need $75,000 to cover production costs of their ambitious documentary and have turned to crowdfunding (public conscription via the Internet) through the platform Kickstarter. They are in the final week of the Kickstarter campaign as the deadline is Sunday, Oct 26, 2014 at midnight.
The filmmakers state, on the Kickstarter campaign Web page, “Kickstarter is all or nothing. We must reach our goal of $75,000 in 39 days in order to receive any of the pledges at all, which means your credit card will not be charged for the amount you specify unless we get all $75,000 or more in funding by midnight on October 26, 2014.” As of 1:49 p.m. on Wednesday, October 22, 2014, the Kickstarter campaign had reached $58,152 with 605 backers.
Donations to Video Veracity for Free For All are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. The address for Serendipity Films, LLC is 572 A Wisconsin Street, San Francisco California 94107. The phone number is (415) 824-4910.