By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 17, 2014 at 6:10PM
It hasn't yet reached its campaign goal (25 days still to go, and another 55% to be raised) but, given how much in contributions its been able to attract to date, it has become the highest/most-funded film fundraising campaign in the history of crowdfunding site Indiegogo.
First, some quick back-story on the feature film project...
Almost a year ago, Dr. Kermit Gosnell was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the murder of a baby born alive in a botched abortion, who prosecutors said would have survived if the doctor had not “snipped” its neck with scissors. The sentence was part of an agreement that the 72-year old Gosnell reached with the Philadelphia district attorney’s office under which he waived his right to appeal the first-degree murder conviction, and two charges of conspiring to kill two other babies, as well as an involuntary manslaughter charge in the case of a woman who died after being given too much anesthetic in Dr. Gosnell’s West Philadelphia abortion clinic.
Under the agreement he was spared the death penalty, which prosecutors previously said they would seek.
The 2-month trial featured testimony about botched late-term abortions and became a battleground for both sides in the national abortion debate. Many of the 250-plus counts against Gosnell were tied to violations of state abortion law, which prohibits terminating pregnancies after 24 weeks. The most serious charges stemmed from allegations that Gosnell delivered babies alive during late-term abortions and then snipped their spinal cords or directed his assistants to do so.
The allegations against Gosnell were detailed in a 300-page grand jury report that described his clinic as a "filthy house of horrors full of broken-down equipment, splattered with blood, and staffed by unlicensed employees who did much of the medical work. Aborted fetuses and their body parts were stockpiled in cabinets and freezers, in plastic bags, bottles, even cat-food containers. Jars with severed feet lined shelves."
After a 2010 raid of the clinic, prosecutors charged 9 workers, including Gosnell's wife, with crimes ranging from perjury to murder. 8 pleaded guilty and others took the stand, testifying against Gosnell.
And now Gosnell is becoming the subject of a feature film from director Phelim McAleer, who calls Gosnell "America's biggest serial killer." The film will also focus on what the filmmaker argues was a lack of bureaucratic and media attention that allowed Gosnell and his clinic to continue operating as described until he was arrested in 2011. McAleer claims liberal mainstream media bias against the anti-abortion movement, which influenced the lack of coverage of the story.
The Gosnell project will be a scripted drama (not a documentary) and will be based largely on public information available via the trial - specifically the 280-page grand jury report which includes graphic photos, as well as details of Gosnell's "bizarre" business practices, like charging several different prices for anesthesia depending on how much pain a patient was willing to endure, and racial biases, including specifics on how white women patients were given cleaner rooms and medical equipment than women of color.
The proposed telepic will be produced by McAleer's Hat Tip Productions as a TV movie that he plans to pitch to cable TV channels.
He hopes to raise the project's $2.1 million budget via crowdfunding site Indiegogo - a service he used to previously successfully raise money ($212,265) for his last film FrackNation, a documentary that accuses another documentary, Gasland, of errors in its reporting.
The Indiegogo campaign was launched on March 28, and since then, it's raised $915,954 of its $2.1 million budget, with 25 days to go until the campaign ends, making it, as of today, the highest-funded film project on Indiegogo, eclipsing the previous most-funded film project, Video Game High School? a very popular web series set in an unusual, exciting future earth, which raised $898,139 in February of this year, and, Shemar Moore's romantic comedy, The Bounce Back, which raised $638,983 last summer, at the time, the highest-funded film campaign on Indiegogo.
With 25 days still to go, and 45% of its goal raised, there's a good chance that McAleer's Dr. Kermit Gosnell scripted feature will reach its goal. It also happens to be, not surprisingly, the "top trending" film project on Indiegogo currently.
Says McAleer: "Gosnell is a fascinating monster; a hoarder, mad man and megalomaniac. He's a black man who is racist against blacks and Hispanics. He's a real-life Hannibal Lecter. It’s an omission that Hollywood is ignoring the biggest serial killer in American history, and we’re going to fill that gap."
I previously admitted my ignorance on the Gosnell story, when I first learned about the project a month ago, even though I consider myself a news junkie. So it was all quite monstrously fascinating to me, and I did do some further reading on the matter to inform myself. A Google search will return links to coverage of the trial, for those who weren't fully aware. But this is a film that I'm fairly certain will divide audiences, whenever it's made. It covers almost every broad hot-button issue - matters of race, class, gender, and of course the long-standing abortion debate, and a woman's right to choose and have full autonomy over her own body.
You can read the 280-page report from the trial HERE.
Further details on the project HERE.