Untitled Oxnard Project

Littlerock, California | Film Feature

Documentary

Robin Rosenthal & Bill Yahraus

1 Campaigns | California, United States

Green Light

This campaign raised $12,690 for production. Follow the filmmaker to receive future updates on this project.

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Spend a year with a group of indigenous teenagers from Mexico as they take on economic challenges, educational equity, cultural preservation, and the social justice needs of their immigrant farmworker community laboring in the strawberry fields of Oxnard, California.

About The Project

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

Mission Statement

We, our crew, advisors, and collaborating protagonists are a multicultural, age-spanning mash-up that includes: an old white guy, a semi-old Jewish gal, Mexican and Mexican American adults, indigenous Mixtec, Zapotec and Purépecha youth ages 17 to 20-something, with more delicious diversity to come.

The Story

THE LOWDOWN

Untitled Oxnard Project spends a year with a group of Mexican-born Mixtec, Zapotec and Purépecha teens and young adults whose families labor in the fields of Oxnard, California—Strawberry Capital of the World. Moving from the berry rows to the classroom, from traditional Oaxacan "devil dancing" to May Day demonstrations, the documentary takes an intimate look at the unique challenges they face, both individually and together, as they navigate economic necessity, access to higher education, cultural preservation, and the social and environmental justice needs of their indigenous farmworker community.

For these young people—bound together by shared vulnerability and the desire to change their families’ destinies—progress can be elusive. As they begin to map their futures, our government is rolling back the very protections they seek to gain. Weakened environmental regulations, lax labor laws, a push for more deportations…and suddenly  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is rescinded, driving a stake into the heart of their community.

Interwoven with the characters’ journeys is a decision the City of Oxnard must make, a dilemma with echoes across the country. Oxnard has been challenged to declare itself a Sanctuary City. Much is at risk for a place with such large numbers of undocumented agricultural workers, as the City weighs security for its residents against the threat to its fiscal solvency from potential retribution.

In times like these, for young people whose lives have always been steeped in uncertainty, it takes a tremendous leap of faith to chase a dream.

 

 

A COLLABORATIVE METHOD

On our part, we’re shooting a combination of observational footage and casual interviews. But as this is a story of youth shaping their identities and finding their voices, a critical aspect of the project is agency—empowering these young people with the tools to tell their own stories from their own cultural perspective. To that end we’re providing several HD camera kits with good microphones, and coaching in digital storytelling. Our goal is to provide a skills building opportunity, and to fold the resulting first-person material—some observational, some in video diary or vlog form, some in the form of spoken word poetry, rap, or even podcast—into the documentary. We’re looking forward to the creative challenge of mixing in this character-sourced material.

 

 

WHY NOW?

In the current political climate, with immigration issues center stage and Mexicans among those singled out for abuse, it’s imperative to break down monolithic and stereotypical concepts of who these Mexican immigrants are. With the demonization of any immigrant group comes the idea that all its members fit the same uniform, inflexible mold. "Good immigrants" are seen through rigid lenses of "usefulness." We hear this more and more in discussions of who to let into our country.

Indigenous youth from Mexico, living, working and studying in the U.S., are prone to staying in the shadows. They’ve been bullied in school, by Anglo and Mexican students alike, for their dark skin and small stature. They’ve been denied educational opportunities because of inherent language barriers; many arrive here speaking neither Spanish nor English but only their native tongue. They face systemic underestimation. They’ve often needed to take time out from school to work in the fields to help their families financially. Their immigration status can make higher education unattainable, especially now with the recently announced end of DACA. With so many vulnerabilities, it’s no wonder the unique stories of these young people have not often been heard. And yet they persevere…and succeed. Understanding complex, well-delineated individuals—their struggles, their joys, and most of all their resilience—is key to creating a counter-narrative.

 

 

WHERE WE ARE AND WHERE WE'RE GOING

After half a year of Research and Development, we began shooting in earnest in May, starting with an energizing May Day rally through the streets of Oxnard. We're about halfway through our Production timeline, and have gotten to this point on our own dime. We're sending lots of grant applications out into the world for the inevitable Post Production expenses. But there are some unavoidable Production costs that we need help covering now. That's where you come in. Your support at this current stage would help us finish shooting and get us closer to the start of the editing process. Any funds raised over $15,000 will be put towards Post Production.

 

 

WHAT'S IN IT FOR YOU? - KICK ASS INCENTIVES!

Hopefully you're with us on wanting to change the narrative! But a little enticement never hurt anyone and so we've gathered some amazing goodies for you. Since so many of our characters come from small villages in Oaxaca, our friend Joan Gollub, an artist living in Tlacolula, generously offered to do some shopping for us at her local market (one of the oldest continuous Sunday markets in Mesoamerica) and in Ciudad Oaxaca to bring you a little taste. Our great incentives section is like a mini mercado—with Zapotec heirloom seeds; handicrafts; woven towels, blouses, and coasters; knitted hats; plastico picado banners; and more to be added. If you don't want stuff, how about a party—you come to ours, or we'll bring the party to you, including the mezcal of course. Or, collect our documentaries. Our last, Escaramuza: Riding from the Heart, was a favorite on PBS (watch teaser below).

 

 

 

 

Check back often for new incentives.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

We need to reach 80% of our goal to be funded, so please contribute in any way you can...every little bit helps. A BIG way you can pitch in is by sharing this campaign with your own social networks. Even just hitting that "follow" button counts. So whether you're following, sharing posts, collecting swag, racking up miles with your airline credit card, or want to party, it's all good. 

We promise to do our part by making a movie we can all be proud of. 

Oh, and please feel free to hit us up with any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

Wishlist

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

Cash Pledge

Costs $0

Travel

Costs $5,000

Two shooting trips to Berkeley, two to Santa Barbara, and gas to/from Oxnard for six months.

Drone Operator

Costs $1,000

You want to see just how vast those strawberry fields are, don't you?

Project Advisors

Costs $2,000

We have two amazing Project Advisors. They deserve honorariums for their time.

Production Assistant

Costs $4,500

She's a jill of all trades and she's there when we need her.

Media Storage

Costs $1,000

Big project, big storage needs.

Expendables

Costs $1,500

Those things that get eaten up: batteries, cables, batteries, memory cards, batteries, etc.

About This Team

Robin Rosenthal (Producer, Production Sound, Additional Editing) received her BA from the University of Pennsylvania, and her MFA from Queens College, C.U.N.Y. She taught studio art at San Antonio College and the San Antonio Art Institute, and exhibited her experimental video art throughout the Southwest before moving to Los Angeles to work in film and television. Her documentary practice draws from this background as an artist, educator, and motion picture industry professional. She edited Chamoru Dreams for Pacific Islanders in Communications' "Pacific Diaries" series, and the award-winning Mary Jane Colter: House Made of Dawn, about the groundbreaking architect, both broadcast nationally on PBS. She is half of Pony Highway Productions with husband Bill Yahraus. Together they’ve made the feature documentaries A Circus Season: Travels with Tarzan (PBS); the Eclipse-winning series On the Muscle: Portrait of a Thoroughbred Racing Stable; and Escaramuza: Riding from the Heart. Escaramuza recently wrapped a four-year run with Latino Public Broadcasting’s signature arts and culture series VOCES on PBS, along with a string of festival, museum, and cultural center screenings. Festival awards include: Special Jury Award for Bridging Cultures (Arizona International Film Festival), Best of Festival (1st Equus Film Festival), Best Heritage Documentary (Encuentro Mundial de Cine), and Best Documentary Feature (Silver Springs International Film Festival). 

Bill Yahraus (Director, Cameraperson, Editor) graduated from The Annenberg School at the University of Pennsylvania, and began his filmmaking career in San Francisco in the documentary unit at KQED. With fellow San Francisco filmmakers Michael Anderson, Paul Jacobs and Saul Landau he made social issue documentaries collectively (The Jail, Song for Dead Warriors, Robert Wall: Ex-FBI Agent). In Los Angeles he formed Focal Point Films with Chris Burrill and David Davis, and made the award-winning Homeboys about the Cuatro Flats gang. In feature films he edited for directors Richard Pearce and Sam Shepard (Heartland, Country, The Long Walk Home, Far North, Silent Tongue). Bill consulted on the Academy Award-winning documentary Broken Rainbow, and cut The Samoan Heart for the Pacific Islanders in Communications’ Pacific Diaries" series (PBS), and the human rights documentary Screamers (BBC Storyville and theatrical). Bill is a Professor of Practice in the Production Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. This is his and Robin’s fourth film together.

Adriana Campos-Ojeda (Production & Post Production Assistant) is a filmmaker, photographer and graphic designer hailing from La Ciudad de Los Angeles whose heart resides in Littlerock, CA. She studied film at Los Angeles City College and California State University Northridge, where she earned her B.A. in Psychology and Media Management. Driven by her interest in storytelling she combines film and psychology to produce compassionate and original work. Her documentary short, Tiradero de Basura, was a favorite at the Real93543 Film Festival. Adriana's current work—creative fictional and non-fictional 60-second shorts— will soon be available on Instagram with the handle aoc.cinema.

Zander Rodriguez (Intern) is a freshman at California State University Northridge, studying screenwriting in his neverending journey to never, ever hold a real job. His life goal is to create and write for his own comedy television series.

Project Advisors:

Dr. Gaspar Rivera-Salgado was born in Santa Cruz Rancho Viejo, in the Mixtec municipality of Tecomaxtlahuaca, Oaxaca. He received his doctorate in sociology from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Currently Project Director at the UCLA Center for Labor Research and Education, Dr. Rivera-Salgado teaches classes on Work, Labor and Social Justice in the U.S., and immigration issues. He also directs the Institute for Transnational Social Change at the UCLA Labor Center. He has extensive experience as an independent consultant on transnational migration, race and ethnic relations, and diversity trainings for large organizations. Among his most recent publications are (with J. Fox) Indigenous Mexican Migration in the United States (UCSD 2005); and (with E. Telles and M. Sawyer) Just Neighbors?: Research on African American and Latino Relations in the United States (Russell Sage, 2011). 

Elizabeth Villa Rosalez is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Education at the University of California Santa Barbara. Her research includes educational inequalities, indigenous youth, undocumented youth and critical race studies. For the past two years she has been working to promote educational accessibility for farmworker and indigenous youth in Ventura County. She is a former Program Coordinator for the Mixteco/Indígena Community Organizing Project’s Tequio Youth Group, and continues to consult on college and scholarship pathways.

 

Current Team

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