Normal Valid Lives

Minneapolis, Minnesota | Film Feature


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This campaign raised $22,453 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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The story of how one school district made national headlines as hostile and potentially lethal for LGBT and LGBT-perceived students, and how a group of brave and determined people fought for change—and won—a huge step forward in the fight against bullying of all kind.

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About The Project

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

The Story

Every single person we know has been affected by bullying in some way.  Think about it.  If you weren't bullied yourself, then perhaps your child was, or your bother or sister, a friend, a neighbor.  Someone you know has been bullied.  It's an epidemic in this country that often times seems to be ignored by those who could actually do something to stop it.

We believe that this story of incredible bravery — a story of students and adults who fought against terrible odds and of the injustices committed against them by their own schools and communities — must be told.

The issues Normal Valid Lives raises are ones at the forefront of public debate: bullying, same-sex relationships, and the treatment and rights of LGBTQ citizens. Our aim is to engage viewers in this debate while also telling the story of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, thereby demonstrating the necessity of protections for LGBTQ students and the importance of curbing bullying in our schools.

In making the film we will interview a large majority of those involved, including family members, friends, those bullied and those who bully, school board members, and politicians.  The people who were touched most by this tragedy.  People on both sides of the issue, to get a better understanding of what happened, why it happened, and how we can prevent it from ever happening again.   

If we can open eyes to what's going on in every school in every city in every state, perhaps we can not only help bring dignity and compassion to all students, we can also save lives.  

Please note: because of our 501c3 fiscal sponsorship from The Film Collaborative, every contribution made to Normal Valid Lives is tax deductible.

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Costs $1,250

The captain of the ship.


Costs $1,250

Arranges all of the interviews and has the director's back.


Costs $500

The editor puts it all together.


Costs $1,500

What's a film without music?


Costs $1,250

Two camera pros capturing every word in glorious color!

Production Sound Mixer

Costs $3,500

Sound helps! :)

Production Assistants

Costs $1,250

They keep everyone from losing their minds.

Equipment & Supplies

Costs $1,675

The gear we need to make the film look and sound great!

Production Office Rental

Costs $25

A place from where the film is planned, edited, and distributed.

Music Licensing

Costs $4,000

The rights songs can bring added exposure and depth to a film.

Travel, Accommodation & Food

Costs $5,000

We will be on the road for a while getting all those interviews.

Social Media

Costs $1,500

Making those Facebook & Twitter accounts pop is no easy feat!


Costs $25

Because inevitably something will cost more than anyone expected.

Fiscal Sponsor

Costs $25

This allows all contributions to be tax deductible.

Legal Services

Costs $3,500

Only lawyers can speak legalese.


Costs $1,250

Keeps the ship on course.

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

About This Team

Gorman Bechard (director/co-writer/co-producer) - The author of six novels, THE SECOND GREATEST STORY EVER TOLD, UNWOUND (under the pseudonym Jonathan Baine), NINTH SQUARE, THE HAZMAT DIARY, GOOD NEIGHBORS, and BALLS.  He directed/wrote the indie features FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) (2009) and YOU ARE ALONE (2006), the horror comedy cult-classic PSYCHOS IN LOVE (1986), as well as the award winning shorts OBJECTS IN THE MIRROR ARE FURTHER THAN THEY APPEAR (2003) and THE PRETTY GIRL (2000). His recent features are the critically acclaimed COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS, which screened in festivals, rock clubs, indie cinemas throughout the world, and even the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? THE ARCHERS OF LOAF LIVE AT CAT'S CRADLE, which had its World Premiere at NXNE in June. Both films were released in deluxe DVD editions on November 20th, 2012.  Bechard newest narrative feature BROKEN SIDE OF TIME, a dark thriller set in the world of internet modeling, had its world premiere in June 2013. It is part two of his planned ALONE trilogy. It was released on DVD on May 20th, 2014.  His third rock doc, EVERY EVERYTHING: THE MUSIC, LIFE & TIMES OF GRANT HART, a documentary on Hüsker Dü's infamous drummer/singer/songwriter premiered in October at London's prestigious Raindance Film Festival. It was released on DVD in August 2014. All of the films are streaming on various outlets like iTunes, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and VOD.  His latest feature, A DOG NAMED GUCCI, takes a look at domestic animal abuse in the U.S., told though the story of one man and one dog who changed Alabama's laws forever. A DOG NAMED GUCCI will have its world premiere on Valentine's Day 2015 at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival. And lastly, the prolific Bechard is completing one other new documentary, and beginning pre-production work on the films that come next. PIZZA, A LOVE STORY, tells the history of the three greatest pizza places in the world: Sally's, Pepe's, & Modern, all in his hometown of New Haven, CT. This film is currently being edited.  And he has just begun production on his fourth rock doc, WHO IS LYDIA LOVELESS?


Jan Radder (co-writer/co-producer)Jan Radder started his movie career as a fifteen-year-old production assistant on the cult film, PSYCHOS IN LOVE, which led to his work on two more not-so-memorable films -- GALACTIC GIGOLO and CEMETERY HIGH (née Assault of the Killer Bimbos) -- and several shorts. After a long break from movies, he hopped back into the film world in 2009 as the supervising producer of COLOR ME OBSESSED, A FILM ABOUT THE REPLACEMENTS.  Since then, he has gone on to help shoot WHAT DID YOU EXPECT? THE ARCHERS OF LOAF LIVE AT CAT'S CRADLE, and produce and co-write EVERY EVERYTHING: THE MUSIC, LIFE & TIMES OF GRANT HART. Most recently he has worked with Bechard as co-producer of A DOG NAMED GUCCI and the upcoming WHO IS LYDIA LOVELESS?  In addition to being a filmmaker, Radder is a licensed K-6 teacher and has been a professional educator since 1993, specializing in the field of early childhood education. He has worked with an ethnically and racially diverse population of students in both suburban and urban settings who have spanned the socio-economic spectrum.  Radder is a veteran of the Connecticut punk bands Mutual Assured Destruction and Mi6, the latter of which made the playlists of a few college radio stations and the top ten lists of several Maximum Rock'n'Roll writers. Currently, he is finishing a memoir about punk rock, filmmaking, and his own experiences with bullying called IMMATURE LOSER PUNK: HOW HORROR MOVIES, PUNK ROCK, AND LOW-BUDGET FILMMAKERS SAVED MY LIFE. He resides in Minneapolis, MN as an aging punk rocker, a teacher, a filmmaker, and a dad taking care of four sons in a queer family.


Stephen Handwerk (co-producer)Stephen Handwerk has spent the better part of the last two decades advocating on behalf of the LGBTQ community on both the national and the state Level in his adoptive home state of Louisiana.  While the majority of that time was spent working to make Democrats better on LGBTQ issues, a good portion was spent on bullying prevention.  Handwerk started a campaign called "Bullying Stops with Me" and launched it serving the greater Lafayette, Louisiana area.  This program focused on talking about bullying and encouraging witnesses to bullying to stand up and take action.  Local politicians, celebrities and community activists united together to raise the awareness of bullying.  This was after the tragic and senseless suicide of an eleven-year-old boy who took his own life due to the incessant bullying he received due to his perceived sexual orientation.  Because his parents didn't want to address this issue media never covered this story out of respect for the family.  In his political life Handwerk went on to become National Co-Chair of Stonewall Democrats PAC where he advocated on behalf of mostly federal, pro-equality candidates.  Realizing after the 2010 cycle that more must be done in Louisiana.  Handwerk began to recruit and train up progressive activists in Louisiana to run for the Governing body of the Louisiana Democratic Party.  After the successful election of a progressive state Senator from New Orleans as Party chair, Handwerk largely gave up his national political work and accepted the position of Executive Director of the Louisiana Democratic Party where he serves currently.  Handwerk is a former regular on various radio talk shows, former producer and host of a local TV show called Blue Mondays.  Handwerk began his entrée into production with Gorman Bechard in 1998 when the two teamed up to produce and deliver some cutting edge story telling via broadband.  Perhaps they were too early given broadband availability wasn't readily available to most, but the experience inspired Handwerk to get more involved in storytelling and ultimately lead him to be President of the Board of Directors of a Non-Profit called AOC Community Media which in addition to providing two 24-hour cable access channels, media literacy training for countless residents in and around Lafayette Louisiana.  During his time at AOC Handwerk worked with a team to increase the annual funding from just over $200k per year to over $1.2 million and relocate into a state of the art production and training center.  Handwerk lives in Lafayette, Louisiana with his partner Danny Kinniburgh and their 3 month old Great Dane, Whiskey.


Colleen McQuaid (co-producer) - Colleen McQuaid is a recent graduate of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut where she majored in Film Production and minored in History, earning honors in both. She spent four years working for the campus television station, Q30 Television, first in the newsroom, then as Art Director, and finally on the executive board as Marketing Manager. In 2014, the College Media Association awarded the station “College Television Station of the Year”. She interned in the post-production offices of WGBH’s FRONTLINE during the summer of 2014, sparking her interest in documentary production. She caught the travel bug while at QU, spending a semester traveling Europe, and later spent a month in South Africa. While in South Africa she helped to produce and edit CAPE OF NO FEAR, a documentary about finding an adrenaline rush in Cape Town, and how that search fuels the economy of the city. CAPE OF NO FEAR will be screening at film festivals late this coming fall. Given the task of creating a short film for her capstone film project, she and her team decided to use the opportunity to shed light on the issue of homelessness in the neighboring city of New Haven, CT. The documentary, HAVEN, profiles two homeless men as they try to get off the streets and back on their feet. It explores what exactly it means to be chronically homeless, and what needs to be done to end it. The film is being screened at several film festivals this summer. Colleen lives in Pembroke, Massachusetts, where she spends every minute of her free time on the beach. 

Current Team