Finding Jenn's Voice

Pennsylvania, United States | Film Feature

Documentary

Tracy Schott

2 Campaigns | Pennsylvania, United States

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This campaign raised $50,690 for post-production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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When a young pregnant woman is murdered by her boyfriend, the startling statistic that homicide is the leading cause of death during pregnancy is discovered, and the media is taken to task for their reporting and portrayals of violence against women.

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About The Project

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The Story

Personal Experience

A week after Jenn was murdered, her aunt, a friend of mine, called me while driving to the funeral home. She told me the horrific story of Jenn's murder and described the excrutiating experience for the family in how the media was portraying Jennifer. Trina wondered if I might want to tell Jenn’s story to give some meaning to her life. During this conversation, I “googled” pregnancy and homicide and was shocked to find several research studies that revealed homicide as the leading cause of death during pregnancy. Before becoming filmmaker, I was a social worker, with years of experience dealing with victims of abuse. I couldn't believe that I'd never heard this statistic before - especially in the light of the more than five years of the Scott and Laci Peterson dominating headline news. Why wasn't anyone talking about this research? I decided then to make this film.

The Film’s Journey

Our original intent in creating Finding Jenn’s Voice was to take a journalistic style, uncovering the truths by speaking directly to the people who knew Jenn, and to experts in the field of intimate partner violence. Unscripted, we allowed the story to lead us, and for the first year shot interviews and events as they occurred.

My experience and education as a social worker helped me connect not only with the survivors and family members, but also with the experts. We have interviewed the leading researchers in this field, including earlier pioneers and rising stars in the field. Thirty-five years of research and services to victims of domestic violence have greatly enhanced our understanding of this problem. Unfortunately, much of this information is not widely known outside of the circle of people who work in this field.

These experts have ultimately been very supportive of this film, but also extremely wary of the media. More often than not, media coverage of their work has been sensationalistic, lacking depth or understanding of victim experiences, and has frequently included victim blaming. Jenn’s family had direct experience with this in both the local and national media.

About a year into our work on the documentary, we learned that the cable channel Investigation Discovery had a production team interviewing local law enforcement and Jenn’s family members for their new show, Desperate Measures. The program was of the crime reenactment genre, and I cautioned the family about what to expect. They agreed to an interview, in the hope that Jenn would be more fairly represented. They were, not surprisingly, disappointed to see that Jenn was portrayed as a seductive family wrecker, who drove her murderer to “desperate measures” when she got pregnant.

These experiences, as well as the research of Dr. Rae Taylor on femicide and the media, drove us to look at the role of the media in perpetuating myths and violence against women. Our belief is that the media has the power to change the outcomes for victims by raising awareness and educating the public in both news and narrative accounts of the problem.

 

Jenn’s Voice

The challenge of creating a documentary that tells the story of someone who has been killed and who was camera shy when she was alive (and therefore left behind relatively few images) has been very challenging. Had Jenn been one of those girls who always turned her iPhone video camera on herself, we might have a very different film. But she didn’t. As Jenn’s sister, Justine, so poignantly tells us “There’s not much evidence that she was here”. So we have had to rely on news reports, second hand descriptions and a handful of photographs taken by family and friends. We knew that we needed more to connect the viewer to Jenn.

Finding Jenn’s Voice represents not only the experience of Jennifer Snyder, but also that of countless women who are silent in the face of controlling and violent relationships. In our research about intimate partner homicide, we’ve learned that there are shared experiences among the victims and survivors. Our goal is to present those experiences and the accompanying feelings with our audience. We believe that it is the emotional connection with victims that will impact viewers even more than the horrifying statistics about this issue.

We are currently reaching out to women who have survived an attempted homicide by their partners and asking them to share their stories. Ultimately, they will speak for Jenn and for all those victims who are not able to speak for themselves. We plan to bring them together on a stage each taking a turn at sharing what is feels like to be in this type of relationship.  We will return to them throughout the film as we explore our topic. We believe this approach will connect our audience with Jenn’s story in a powerful way.

Our Goal

We believe that this film and subsequent interactive website will help viewers connect and empathize with victims of intimate partner violence and recognize the signs of dangerous relationships. The website will empower survivors by providing a supportive community and tools for changing their lives. We also hope that the film will have an impact on journalists and the media, by challenging the way these cases are portrayed. We believe that it is the responsibility of the media to bring awareness and understanding of the topic of intimate partner violence, and that this awareness will ultimately change the outcomes. 

Wishlist

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Editor

Costs $19,200

The film gets made in the edit suite. We anticipate at least 12 weeks in edit!

Marketing Expenses

Costs $2,000

We need to tell the world about our film!

Adobe Premiere Pro

Costs $200

Adobe Creative Cloud is the industry standard in editing software, essential to completing the film.

Editing suite

Costs $2,000

Regardless of what the Apple ads say, you can not edit a film like this on your iPhone.

transcription

Costs $3,600

Hours of interviews require even more hours of transcription.

4 terabyte drives

Costs $680

External hard drives are used for storing the footage throughout the post process.

Archival footage

Costs $1,200

News stations charge us to use the footage of their coverage in our film.

Sound Editor

Costs $9,000

Sound editing - done right and you don't notice it. But poor sound quality can ruin a good film.

Composer

Costs $5,000

Music establishes the pace and emotion and is essential to storytelling in film!

Musical recording and musicians

Costs $2,500

Music isn't music without musicians!

Colorist

Costs $2,500

Final color correction makes a film look professional and finished.

movie posters

Costs $2,500

This creates the digital prints needed to project the film in the theater.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Tracy Schott  - Producer, Director, Writer

Tracy Schott is uniquely qualified to tell this story. She received her MSW from University of California – Berkeley’s School of Social Welfare in 1985, and practiced individual, child, family and group therapy with a diverse group of clients for nearly 15 years. Many of her clients were victims of abuse. In 2000, Tracy received a second graduate degree in Telecommunications. After spending 9 years working for an independent commercial production company, Tracy started Schott Productions. In addition to this documentary, Tracy’s work includes production of non-profit and corporate videos, reality TV directing and writing, live theatrical productions, event production, broadcast programming, television commercials and still photography. 

 

Derek Dienner – Director of Photography

Derek Dienner is the Executive Producer and founder of Lavon Films.  Derek specializes in telling life stories through visual imagery. He is the Director of Photography for Dream Weddings, a reality television show airing on WGAL. Lavon Films is known for the artistry Derek brings to wedding videography, and for telling the stories of non-profit organizations throughout the region. He has captured the lives and landscapes of his subjects from Cape Town, South Africa to Italy to San Francisco.

 

R. Bradley Bass – Editor

Brad Bass has been an editor, voiceover director and field producer for over 15 years. He has worked with clients of every size, from small businesses to Fortune 500 corporations. Brad’s projects have included TV commercials and other forms of advertising and marketing, employee training, high-level internal corporate communications, documentary films, and television programming.  He is the editor of the first reality television show based in Central Pennsylvania, the two-time Emmy nominated Dream Weddings.

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