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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Picture this, you start a fundraiser. In 15 days you raise $4,500, but you set your goal at $9,600. If you don’t raise the full $9,600, you get nothing, zero, goose egg.

This is how the website Kickstarter works. It refers to itself as a “crowd funding website for creative projects.” The projects must meet certain guidelines before launch. The creator chooses a deadline and sets a minimum goal for funds to raise, but the catch is that Kickstarter runs on an all-or-nothing basis.

Backers can donate money at any time, free of charges until the end date, provided the goal is met.

This has had R.H. “Chip” Norman on the edge of his seat for the past 17 days.

Norman, an UF alumnus, is writing, directing and producing a short film depicting a true story about his great grandfather — a miner in the U.S. phosphate industry during the 1940s who became upset when a young white man in his crew was replaced by a black man.

“When your aunt tells you as a child that your great grandfather was an illiterate, third grade educated-racist and very mean spirited man who victimized someone, that sticks with you,” Norman said.

The film, “Mulberry,” is set to be about 10 to 15 minutes long and is being filmed in Gainesville and various locations in Polk County. The actual events happened in Mulberry.

Norman is keeping the punchline a secret, but it will touch on racism in the south and show the point of view of a poor black miner who is taunted by his co-workers.

Norman has hopes to turn this into a feature film. Once completed he is entering it in festivals around the country.

The principal cast will have five to six people, including local musician Wester Joseph, who will be making his on-screen debut in Billy Bob Thortons film, “Jayne Mansfield’s Car” this fall.

Other actors involved are Ron Clinton Smith, Larry Weeks, Letecia Clark and Jason Hedges, lead singer of local band Heavy Petty, a Tom Petty cover group.

“We’re telling a deep south epic in 15 minutes,” said Norman.

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Joseph is passionate about this film due to his rearing in the South. He will be playing Clarence Barnes the protagonist in ‘Mulberry.’

“People were worried that I would be offended that in this story the ‘n word’ might be used. I am not worried about that. That is life; life has taught me that can happen at any moment.”

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, the crew hopes to start filming the first week of August. Kickstarter can hold funds for 19 days, hence the short time frame for the film’s fundraiser.

“$9,600 is our budget down to a dollar,” Norman said. “We need people to support us. Any amount of money will help, and if you don’t have money, simply help spread the word.”

Donations merit prizes from the film’s crew. The pledges range from $1 to $4,000 and prizes include a copy of the film, personalized “thank you” video messages, a list of the best films of all time, signed movie posters and scripts, a walk on role in the film and fossils from the phosphate mine.

“Mulberry” was selected as a staff pick by Kickstarter and is on the front page of the website. The project ends Monday at 1:39 p.m.

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