"Finish Line: The Rise and Demise of Off-Track Betting" is an indie documentary currently in production. It's a 'Damon Runyon-esque" real-life American saga that unfortunately doesn't come with a Hollywood happy ending. The shuttering of Off-Track-Betting (OTB) in New York City plays out like a Greek Tragedy where over a 1000 employees had their livelihoods, pensions and health benefits taken from them, while Governor Cuomo of New York looked the other way.
As a boot-strapped initiative, the film's sensitive themes are addressed head-on by award-winning film producer Joseph Fusco who as a former OTB employee himself experienced the travesty first hand. So as the hundreds of hours of interviews are being whittled down to a manageable movie-length, Fusco is in the throws of fund-making, or as he puts it, "(while) filmmaking is the play, fundraising is the work."
So where does a filmmaker turn when he needs to raise funds in the 11th Hour? Like so many other start-up projects, Fusco has sought out crowd-funding options. With GoFundMe last year he was successful in raising approximately $4,000.
However with 20 percent of the film yet to be completed, in addition to the handful of interviews that still need to be conducted, there's archival footage (which runs as high as $80 per second) and historical photography that has to be purchased and added. Working alongside his producing partner, cinematographer Matthew Flannery (of Sex and the City fame), research editing and processing fees are still needed to shape the historical backdrop of the story.
So, this year with a goal of $25,000, Fusco and Flannery have turned to KickStarter to raise the final round of funding necessary to bring the film into the final stretch (pun intended). In talking to him today, he feels good about how well the fund-raiser is going, having already passed the GoFundMe campaign total. "Within 7 days, we have already reached almost 25 percent of the goal," notes Fusco.
So readers. if you can relate to working for an American company for a lifetime, only to have them relinquish your benefits upon retirement, I'm sure you have at minimum, a "two-dolla'bet" in you -- to help produce this film and bring some public scrutiny to this issue.
Fusco would also like to encourage donors to "share the Kickstarter link with five of their friends (by email and on social networks), who in turn can share the link with five of their friends." With the 12:01 PM deadline on October 4 fast approaching, the project will not get funded if the goal isn't met -- because in accordance with KickStarter's TOS, if that $25K is not achieved, the funds will be released and returned to the donors.
So, it's imperative to act now. You can also help by going to Facebook - OTB Documentary Film - and giving their fan page a LIKE, in addition to tweeting Fusco at @fuscofilm using the hashtag, #OTBdoc.
There is no doubt "Finish Line" will be completed and screened. It is only a question of time. However, the longer it takes for the film to finish production, the further removed it becomes from the immediacy of the issues the film exposes.
By supporting this 'little film that could,' you are showing your empathy for hard working families and small business owners whose story needs to be told. What happened to OTB is not just a New York story, it is a true American Horror story. It can happen anywhere.
For more on "Finish Line," see my previous post, From 'Finish Line' To Shut The Mother F-er Down: OTB Employees Struggle To Be Heard
Cartoon by editorial cartoonist Adam Zyglis