Kicking into Kickstarter: There's Many Like Us

Jesus Figueroa

Stumbling upon a great story from his heritage Josh A. Webber decided to make a documentary dramatization about the real life story of his grandparents. "There is many like us" tells the unbelievable story of the couple meeting, separating and finding each other once again years later in a far away land.

"After deciding to document his story for my own archive records to possibly produce a full length narrative big budget project based on the escape story in the future, I found myself at his kitchen table doing a preliminary interview. At one point he said something and my step grandmother who has been my grandmother since I was basically 1yrs old after my real grandmother passed away, was cooking close by and interrupted saying under her breath 'thats when I found out he was alive,'" Webber said.

Those key words sparked interest and confusion in webber. He had known of his grandfather and step-grandmother's individual past but had not known that they had known each other before meeting in Toronto in 1987 after the death of his grandmother.

"I asked her what she meant by that and reminded her I was talking Poland 1940s and that she was from Toronto. She said 'Joshua, I am from Poland. I met your grandfather in Pawiak prison when I was just 16 years old, he saved me.' It was right then and there that I realized I had just stumbled upon one of the greatest love stories ever told and virtually no one knew about it," Webber said.

Sometimes the most interesting stories are stumbled upon. The story just came through regular conversation and curiosity.

"The crazy thing is that I actually discovered this story for the first time in early 2013 while asking my grandfather some questions over a cup of coffee," Webber said.

"Growing up, I always knew that he had dug a tunnel some how and escaped from a prison camp during the Holocaust but I was not sure about specifics and details."

With such a sensitive topic like the holocaust the telling of the story becomes a challenge, but some people enjoy taking on challenges especially when they are passionate about what they do.

"I am a huge story orientated filmmaker. To me, the story is everything. The reason I decided to make it into a film was purely about the story and wanting to share it with the world. The fact that they were my grandparents was just a bonus and what actually contributes to making the film even more appealing in my opinion," Webber said.

"I had heard many stories from that time period before but most were really sad and felt repetitive. I had found a story with not only an incredible escape element yet at the root was a hidden love story with a beautiful ending and overall message. It was completely unique to me on so many levels and honestly unbelievable. I wasn't sure how but I knew I just had to make it."

Being involved in telling a story on film, telling it right and doing the story adequately to satisfy the grandparents can be a difficult part in the process of making this film.

"I think my grandfather still doesn't realize I'm making a real movie about him. I think for him and where he came from its hard to believe his grandson is making something like this at my age. My grandmother however is totally aware and loves the idea. They actually thought originally that their story wasn't that interesting and questioned who would want to see it," Webber said.

As more backers come across the project on Kickstarter the reactions that Webber receives adore encouraging.

Even as the project is a time period piece, more and more people are draw to the project.

"People seem to really love the story and connect to the material. I've found that love stories are somewhat universal and that regardless of any faith, age or background, people seem to be interested," Webber said.

"I originally set out to make this film stand out amongst the many others and tell it in a way that my generation would find entertaining."

Originally Webber wanted to starve himself and play his grandfather himself, but to do the best job possible on the film, he decided to cast the film with the best talent possible. Casting the film would allow him to concentrate on making the best film possible.

"I started casting for "Max & Rena" first with an open call as I wanted to find similar looking character actors that had the right look and feel. After I found them I built the entire cast list out of either actors I already knew would be good for certain roles or random online casting searches," Webber said.

"Then after a few scheduling conflicts, I finally locked in my star attraction, Mr. Eric Roberts to play my depiction of the most ruthless Nazi Lieutenant next to Hitler known to man to star in all of the prison reenactment scenes."

The cast came together and fit the roles they were cast for.

The cast members were committed to the project and thrilled to bring the story to life. The story captured their attention and they too were wanting to make it as authentic as possible.

"Everyone was very thrilled to be apart of the project and understood the importance as well. One of the cast, Michael Girgenti who plays "Karochic" even offered to starve himself and shave his head for five months while we did all principle filming," Webber said.

"Eric Roberts seemed excited also as he had played hundreds of different roles throughout his career yet never had a chance to play a Nazi."
Once funded, the plan is to have the film ready and polished by early April 2015 to do a world premier at Toronto International Film Festival in Sept 2015.

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