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D.C. Central Kitchen Film Project Nets $40,000 In Kickstarter Funding

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WASHINGTON -- With just six hours before its deadline, Trixie Films secured $40,000 in Kickstarter funding to film a documentary about D.C. Central Kitchen's Culinary Job Training program. Without the money, Christoph Green and partner Branden Canty had just four weeks of film from a 16-week program that prepares individuals who are homeless, previously jailed or unemployed for careers in food service.

Now in its 86th class, the program places 90 percent of its graduates into jobs, with an average salary of more than $11 per hour.

As the funding deadline loomed, Green and Canty prepared to improvise and continue filming "The Liberation," regardless of how grim project finances looked.

"They tell you to put up the actual cost [of the project on Kickstarter] and I was actually regretting that," Green told The Huffington Post.

But for Canty, better known around D.C. as Fugazi's drummer, Kickstarter proved to be an essential element to the film. Relinquishing their independence by passing the hat around town to old friends wasn’t ever really an option, nor was just funding it out of pocket.

"You're building community around the film. ... People have been really generous, not just with the Kickstarter, but in other ways, offering their help [to] me -- that's a lovely thing," he explained.

With this reprieve, Green and Canty can continue creating first documentary about the Culinary Job Training program. But they're not the first filmmakers to have approached DCCK about filming this program.

"I know the kitchen has fielded a lot of offers to do reality television things," Green said. "We wanted to make sure we're completely respectful. There's a lot of inherent drama, of course."

Robert Egger, DCCK's CEO and president, offered his explanation of just what separated Trixie Films, telling HuffPost via email, "We've been approached considerable times over the years, but most companies wanted to film a derivative 'reality show. Our work is so rich that we felt it was the cinematic equivalent of boiling a roast. Brendan and Christoph wanted to explore the deeper power of our work as a way to elevate tougher topics."

Of course, that presents its own challenges. Most students come to the program with major issues, according to CJT Director Marianne Ali.

Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., students work together to learn their culinary curriculum and attend self-empowerment sessions. Green and Canty are also there, carrying their own equipment down, arriving in their own modest way. At this point, Green notes, the filmmakers are embedded enough in the process not to be a nuisance anymore. Instead, the challenge comes with telling the story.

From their initial goal of following two to three students through the class, the film has now expanded to all 25 students in this week's class. Right now, Green and Canty are striving to capture as much as they can on camera -- not just classes, but the students' internships as well. The less interviews, the better, Canty said.

"All we're trying to do is tell the truth about what we experienced. We're not trying to glorify the kitchen; we're not making a PSA," Green said.

While funding is now secured, the project will face another hurdle when it comes time to edit the project as more funds will be needed for that portion.

For now, they are excited to continue working on a film that they hope to finish sometime in the next year.

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