Kansas, 1989

Kansas City, Missouri | Film Short

Drama, LGBTQ

Clayton Smith

1 Campaigns | New York, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $33,950 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

204 supporters | followers

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A coming-of-age story set in a different time. One night when I was 16 years old, I had a misadventure with a friend that pushed me to confront the fact that I am gay. This is the story about a night in a young person's life that makes the world seem a whole lot bigger, and a lot more complicated.

In Partnership With

About The Project

  • The Story
  • Wishlist
  • Updates
  • The Team
  • Community

Mission Statement

The film depicts an LGBT teenager who is struggling to become himself. We are aiming to train a lens on something that isn't often depicted--when one is coming out to oneself. Behind the camera, women and LGBT people are our producers, editors, colorists, production designers and more.

The Story

Why this story?

I grew up in Kansas City in the 80s. It was a different time, with little public conversation about gay people, aside from the bullying many of us got used to. So coming out was a slow and gradual process, and it began with being honest with myself.


One night when I was 16, my friend Matt and I had a misadventure that I'm now able to look back and see what a turning point it was in my own realization of who I am. So we're making that story into a movie. And we're making it in Kansas, where it actually happened.


The Kicker

My friend Matt from that night is now a professional actor in Kansas City who teaches and works with young people--so he was my casting director. With his partner Sarah, he brought in incredible young actors who will be so compelling in the film. It was a wild experience to be in the room with Matt, auditioning young actors to play ourselves!



Our Track Record

Kansas, 1989 is a film conceived as a short feature, under twenty minutes long and shot on 16mm film, just as my cinematographer Giacomo Belletti and I did with our first project together, Off Track Betty


Off Track Betty screened at 17 film festivals and screens regularly in our community. It also won several awards: Best Short Audience Award at the Brooklyn Film Festival; Best Kansas Filmmaker at the Tallgrass Film Festival; Best Work Shot on Film at the Queens World Film Festival. It has been distributed on Comcast cable in 36 states, on the ShortsTV cable channel, and several online platforms.


Our second short, TOO LATE, was nominated for Best Comedy Short and Best Short Short at the Queens World Film Festival, and was just accepted into its seventh film festival.


We love working together, and we can't wait to do it again.




Who is Your Crew?

We're already hard at work putting together our dream team for crew positions. We will predominantly fill positions locally, in Kansas City. Local legend Roger Branit will serve as Assistant Camera, and Mile Deep Films' Anthony Ladesich is our KC-based producer. The KC Film Office has been instrumental in connecting us with local resources.


Support from Kodak, and Shooting on Film

Kodak has awarded us an Eastman Product Grant, that came with our award for Best Work Shot on Film at the Queens World Film Festival. The generous grant provides us with part of the film stock that we will use on this project! Although we need additional support to be able to obtain the number of reels that we'll need, we are so appreciative to Kodak for the tremendous honor--and to the Queens World Film Festival, which organized this generous award.



Benefiting Synergy Services and at-risk LGBT youth

It's important to us to give back. A percentage of all funds raised will be matched by an anonymous donor, and that amount will be given to Synergy Services, a Kansas City non-profit organization that helps at-risk and homeless LGBTQ youth in crisis, because young people struggle with these issues today.


In Closing

Casting is complete. Location scouting is underway. Production design, late 80s car research, and music licensing are afoot. But we simply won't be able to move forward without your support. We have an ambitious goal, commensurate with an ambitious project. We can't do it without you!


Thank you for joining our team with a pledge at whatever level you are able. It means the world to me to have your support, and to make this passion project in my hometown!




Use the WishList to Pledge cash and Loan items - or - Make a pledge by selecting an Incentive directly.

Film Processing

Costs $1,300

It costs good money to process and develop old fashioned film in a lab. But man, it's worth it!

Sound Equipment

Costs $800

Sound is critical in any movie--help us make the audience believe what they hear!


Costs $1,800

The movie is made in the editing room. It takes many hours of hard work, and it takes money!

Styling our actors

Costs $800

It takes wardrobe and make-up design and creative shopping to complete the creation of a character.

Film Scanning

Costs $1,300

Once the film is developed and processed, it has to be transferred properly to prepare for the edit.


Costs $1,400

No light = no picture. Help the cinematographer get the look of the film right!

80s Details, Props, and Accessories

Costs $800

Without giving too much away, we need some 80s props. Help us do it right.

Weapons Specialist

Costs $500

We are required to employ a specialist to oversee the use of certain props on our set.


Costs $1,200

It isn't sexy, but it's important! Even though nothing will go wrong.

Original Compositions

Costs $1,000

In addition to legit 80s tracks, the film needs some original score.

Production Design Budget

Costs $1,200

On a budget, our production designer will be responsible for ensuring everything in frame is 1989.

"The Extra Day"

Costs $2,500

Adding 1 day to our shoot is costly, and we need it to get some critical driving sequences.

SR III Arri Camera

Costs $1,000

This is the camera that we need to shoot on Super 16mm film. And KC has one!

Fantastic Actors

Costs $1,400

Help us give our KC-based actors a wage that they deserve.

Vintage Cars

Costs $1,000

We need one car and one truck to tell the story as it is set. Help us find these cars!

Depeche Mode licensing

Costs $1,000

No one will believe our story if we don't have the proper music. Help us afford the licensing!


Costs $2,000

We need multiple locations, all of which require resources. Help us secure where we're shooting.

Clayton's coming from NYC

Costs $1,000

Help bring me to KC to get this done!

Crewing Up

Costs $5,400

It isn't easy to convince people to work at indie rates. Help us give them what they're worth!

Transporting the Damn Film

Costs $800

We will be placing our reels in freezer packs, carrying them on flights straight to a lab in Queens.

Feed the Creatives!

Costs $1,000

Don't let people starve. Poor form.

Film Festival Submissions

Costs $800

Costs for submitting to festivals rack up fast. Help us find the audience for our film!

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team



Clayton D. Smith

Clayton is a New York-based filmmaker whose first two shorts are enjoying healthy runs on the festival circuit, several award wins, and distribution on cable and streaming platforms. He is also an actor in theater, film and television. He hails from Kansas City, and now lives in East Harlem after 17 years on the Lower East Side. He is a moderator and screener for the Austin Film Festival, and a chapter leader of the New York film collective The Filmshop.



Eden Martinez

Eden is a Nuyorican filmmaker with a talent for crafting cinematic narratives about real people. Her commercial work includes the 9/11 Memorial and Museum's Our City, Our Story video campaign featuring Rosie Perez. She has created content for Cornell University, Verizon, Zeiss Group and worked with A-list talent including John Cleese, Susan Sarandon and Robert De Niro. Her latest film, Masterpiece, premiered at the Lighthouse International Film Festival and has had continued success on the film festival circuit. She is also in development on a coming-of-age feature about Hispanic identity (Adela) and a documentary about sexual assault (Tell Me Why). Eden is a chapter leader of the New York film collective The Filmshop.



Giacomo Belletti

Giacomo is a New York-based cinematographer with extensive experience in feature films, short films, and documentaries. After moving to New York from Italy, he assisted on the Academy Award-nominated film The Savages (shot by Mott Hupfel), and has since served as DP on more than 35 independent features, shorts and documentaries. He dedicates himself to shooting projects that tell a good story.


Associate Producer

Shonta’ Rogers

Shonta’ is an emerging Creative Producer who thrives in providing a sacred and open space for fellow filmmakers to share their hearts’ deepest stories. Her ultimate love is to see individuals’ truth shine bright through media and film. Shonta’ is currently producing a filmmaker podcast and a short film.


Associate Producer

Sarah Granger

Sarah is an award-winning writer and digital media innovator in California. She grew up in Kansas City and graduated from the University of Michigan. She is a produced screenwriter and playwright, a published author and journalist. Her bylines include LA Weekly, Slate, SFGate, and The Huffington Post. She has managed numerous digital outreach campaigns for national organizations focused on diversity and inclusion and she has been a featured speaker at South by Southwest, the 3% Conference, and the California Leadership Forum. She spent many hours on stage and behind the scenes working with Clayton in high school and can’t wait to reprise that role.


Casting Director

Matt Rapport

Matt has been a Kansas City-based actor and teaching artist for 25 years. In that time, he has worked onstage, backstage, and in the classroom for most of the major arts organizations in the area. In addition to acting and teaching, Matt is also an accomplished musician and variety artist. He is delighted to be a part of Kansas, 1989 and proud to call Clayton a friend since before 1989!


Executive Producer

Aidan Crossen

Aidan is CFO of a Wealth Advisory and Law Firm. She grew up in theater and met Clayton the first day of elementary school as the new kid from the East Coast. Clayton made his first "film" with her in 5th grade (a remake of Poltergeist, on VHS tape). They were connected by a love for the stage and a love of horror movies. Aidan is so proud to call Clayton a life long friend and part of the fabric of her youth. "Clayton's talent knows no bounds and he can make me laugh until my stomach hurts. He has always followed his dreams with courage and conviction. He is a true dreamer and seeker of passion. I will be rooting him on for the rest of my days!"


Current Team