‘I’m with Phil’ raising funds

It’s been nearly three years since a group of people who shared a common name came together to help out a Franklin County town that also shared that same name.

Phil Campbells from literally all over the world descended on the town of Phil Campbell in June 2011 to help their namesake town after a violent EF-5 tornado destroyed much of the city and devastated its residents.

The group – led by Phil Campbell from Brooklyn, N.Y., who came to be known as Brooklyn Phil – had been planning a quirky reunion known as the Phil Campbell Convention since January of 2011. Brooklyn Phil had orchestrated the first gathering of Phils in 1995 and had gotten the idea to bring everyone back to the town in June 2011 for the annual Phil Campbell Hoedown.

But then the tornado happened. The town was destroyed, lives were forever changed, and suddenly, the buzz surrounding the Phil Campbell Convention seemed very small in comparison.

But instead of fading into the background and leaving their namesake town to pick up the pieces on their own, the Phil began to refocus their once whimsical gathering into a relief effort.

And so the “I’m with Phil” movement was born.

The group of 19 Phils and one Phyllis Campbell came in to town on a muggy, June day with their sleeves already rolled up and ready to work.

They hailed from places like Australia, Scotland, the United Kingdom, Alaska and California, but for the time they were here, they were all united for one purpose – to help the town of Phil Campbell.

While they were here from June 17-18, 2011, the group helped with clean-up efforts around town. They also steadily raised funds for a Habitat for Humanity home that was completed and dedicated to the new owners on April 15, 2012.

All the while, filmmaker and Phil Campbell native Andrew Reed was behind his camera with a film crew documenting the efforts of the Phils.

Reed had the idea to do a documentary about the event before the tornado ripped through the town, but after that devastating event unfolded in his hometown, Reed’s vision morphed into one that could potentially bring positive attention and funding into the town that would be rebuilding for many years to come.

So out of the “I’m with Phil” tornado relief movement came the I’m with Phil feature-length documentary, which has chronicled and captured the essence of these relative strangers and their commitment to helping their adopted town.

Now that the film is finally completed, Reed and Brooklyn Phil are looking for ways to raise funding so the film can finally be released commercially and raise even more awareness and support for the town that is still rebuilding.

“We have submitted the film to over 40 festivals around the world,” Reed said.

“We hope that it will be accepted into some of those festivals and be well received by audiences, but in order for the film to be released commercially, there are still some remaining media licensing fees and insurance costs we have to pay for.

“In order for distribution companies to seriously consider our film for release, we have to clear all of the news clips that are present in the film. Even if we have a fair use argument for using those clips, the distributors don’t want to rely on that. They want clearances and licenses for everything.

“Additionally a special type of insurance policy for a film called errors and omissions (E&O) is usually needed before a distributor releases a film commercially.”

Reed said if the film is to continue to help the town of Phil Campbell in a substantial way, it is necessary to make sure the film has a proper commercial release.

In order to raise the $20,000 that is needed for this to happen, Reed and Brooklyn Phil have launched a Kickstarter campaign where people can make financial pledges toward the goal.

“We launched our campaign Sunday and so far we have over $2,500 in pledges and 30 backers,” Reed said.

“The campaign doesn’t end until April 6 so we have [a little over a month] to reach our goal, but we believe we’re going to need the support of the local community to make this happen. Their support is crucial to the success of this campaign.”

For those who are unfamiliar with a Kickstarter campaign, supporters can visit the campaign’s Kickstarter page and pledge a certain amount of money toward the project.

But supporters really have to get on board because Kickstarter is an “all or nothing” fundraising model. Unless the “I’m with Phil” campaign reaches its goal of $20,000 in pledges, no actual money will be collected and Reed and Brooklyn Phil will have to go back to the proverbial fundraising drawing board.

But Reed said the Kickstarter campaign is a unique way to raise the funds because those who support the film will be able to get something out of it as well.

“Our backers get ample rewards for their support,” he said. “For example, $50 gets you the movie on DVD, an ‘I’m with Phil’ T-shirt, an MP3 download of the film’s score, a bumper sticker, a thank you email from a random Phil Campbell and several other nice perks.”

Reed likened the concept to pre-ordering a DVD before its scheduled release.

“The only difference is in our case we have to get a certain amount of pre-orders to guarantee the release,” he said. “So if anyone is interested in ever owning a copy of the film on DVD, they need to please consider pledging to the campaign today.”

Reed said it was also important to note that any donation made to the I’m with Phil Kickstarter campaign is tax deductible since they are working with a local 501(c)(3) nonprofit, Citizens for Phil Campbell Community Development Corporation, a group dedicated to improving the town of Phil Campbell, Alabama.

Anyone interested in being a supporter of the I’m with Phil documentary and contributing to the Kickstarter campaign can do so through the imwithphil.com website where there are links to the Kickstarter campaign and the film’s trailer.

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