4100 Redwood Rd #406
Oakland, CA 94619

Big Joy Project

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From the movie "The Bed" by James Broughton
Big Joy Project a film about experimental filmmaker and poet James Broughton




Arts & Culture: Experimental, Poetry
Human Rights: Civil Rights, Gender, Sexuality, Social Exclusion
Information & Media: Culture, Freedom of Expression
Politics: Civil Society, Ethics & Value Systems

Project Geography

US: National, California, Washington
International: Europe

Identity Niches

Caucasian, Gay/Lesbian/Bi/Transgender


Raised to date: $233,876.00
Estimate to complete: $166,124.00
Total Estimated Budget: $400,000.00
The budget numbers above are accurate as of 02/26/2012


Post Production

Media Type


Project End Use

Other: Film and website

Key Personnel

Stephen Silha
Executive Producer and Co-Director
Stephen Silha is a writer, communications consultant, facilitator, filmmaker and futurist.  A former reporter for The Christian Science Monitor and The Minneapolis Star, he has worked with Children’s Express News Service, Libraries for the Future, and Good News/Good Deeds: Citizen Effectiveness in the Age of Electronic Democracy.  He is past president of the Washington News Council, a forum for media fairness.  He has facilitated youth-adult dialogues on Vashon Island and is a founder of the Journalism That Matters (http://www.journalismthatmatters.org) think tank on the future of journalism.  The Big Joy Project is his first feature film.

Dawn Logsdon
Dawn Logsdon, took over for Bill Weber when another of his assignments extended far beyond our projected finish date.   Dawn has been working on documentaries about social justice and history for over fifteen years. She edited the Academy Award-nominated Weather Underground, Sundance award-winning Paragraph 175, George Foster Peabody Award award-winning The Castro, and many other documentaries for PBS, HBO, and Channel Four in England.  She produced, directed and edited Faubourg Treme, The Untold Story of Black New Orleans.  Dawn is a Soros Open Society Institute Media Fellow and has received fellowships from the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the New Orleans Contemporary Arts Center, and she was a California Arts Council artist-in-residence. She also holds a BA in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley.

Eric Slade

Eric Slade(Director) is an independentproducer/director based in Portland, OR. His productions have won awards from numerous groups including the National Educational Media Network; the American Medical Association Film Festival; University of Oregon Queer Film Festival;Bologna, Italy AIDS Film Festival; and the International Television Association. His independent documentary work includes Hope Along the Wind:The Story of Harry Hay, The Impact of AIDS, Housing the American Dream, Safety in Numbers, Sex Life, and Acting Up for Prisoners.

Outreach/Engagement Plan(s)

Our goal is expose the widest possible audience to the mind-expanding, explosive message that was Broughton's life. To that end, and as part of our fundraising efforts we have to date held a dozen different events that exposed more than 700 people to our film and James Broughton’s work. We plan to distribute the film and Big Joy messages in the following ways:Film festivals (queer and straight, local and international), theatrical distribution, distributors (We are exploring potential partnerships with HBO,Frameline, Logo, The Film Collaborative and other visionary distribution outlets during our production phase.), non-profit organizations (We are also exploring partnerships right now with some gay rights and health organizations.), local screenings, cable broadcast, college classrooms, DVD release, public television and radio, blogs, web, and social media sites. 

We continue to use the web and social media outlets toincrease interest in our film.  The first version of our website is completed, and we regularly post news and updates on it.  We have also developed a strong web presence with over 1300 Facebook followers, (http://www.facebook.com/pages/James-Broughton-and-Big-Joy/107361306326) and a database of more than 1600 people who receive our quarterly newsletters.  On our James Broughton You Tube Channel (http://www.youtube.com/jamesbroughtoncinema) we also post Broughton and Broughtonesque clips.  And we've recently added a Big Joy Twitter account: https://twitter.com/#!/BigJoyProject. 






James Hormel Revocable Living Trust$5,000.0012/14/2011
Anonymous Foundation$18,000.0012/13/2011
New Mexico Community Foundation$3,250.0011/15/2011
Al Baum Philanthropic Fund$10,000.0008/16/2011
Anonymous Foundation$5,000.0005/27/2011
California Council for the Humanities$20,000.0004/15/2011
Anonymous Foundation$18,000.0012/27/2010
James Hormel Revocable Living Trust$5,000.0012/21/2010
New Mexico Community Foundation$500.0011/10/2010
4 Culture$3,000.0007/28/2010
Jewish Community Foundation$10,000.0006/16/2010
Anonymous Foundation$9,000.0012/01/2009
New Mexico Community Foundation$1,000.0010/24/2009
Jewish Community Foundation$10,000.0006/01/2009
Individual Donors$119,375.00


PO Box 2003
Vashon, WA

Short Synopsis


61-year-old poet and filmmaker leaves his wife and children to partner with his soulmate, a man who's 35 years younger.  The result is a full realization of his unconventional prolific poetic life that inspired many to do as he did and "follow your own weird."




The Big Joy Project is a feature length documentary film (and website) about experimental filmmaker and poet James Broughton.  Essentially the film is about the power of art to change lives.

In 1989 James Broughton received the American Film Institute's Lifetime Achievement Award for Experimental Film, but the journey wasn't always so obvious. "Cinema saved me from suicide," he once said. But Broughton's filmmaking wasn't like anyone else's. Today he is considered the "Father of West Coast experimental film." His films broke taboos (including frontal nudity), inserted quirk, and broadcast the whimsical while being the first to meld both image and poetry. 

The Big Joy documentary steps into the complex story of poet and filmmaker Broughton, where "Adventure, not predicament" is life's motto, and where nursery rhymes and silly fantastical images pave the way into the mystical, serious and truly profound. It explores his life, his art, his unconventional choices (like marrying a young man), and his role in creating some of America's most famous poetic movements (he organized the readings that made the Beats famous), and his ceaseless ability to follow his own artistic tune (he produced 23 wildly different books of poetry, and 23 films). His story navigates the Great Depression, the McCarthy Era, the Beat movement, the Hippie movement and Gay liberation. 

This film is about a man who dared to live poetically, experiment boldly, and follow his own inner promptings. It documents James Broughton's life-long exploration of Godbody (spiritualizedbody) and Divine Androgyne (the balance of male and female in us).

The Big Joy film will combine the best of documentary with the edgy and unconventional. It's a film about a gay man, a poet and a filmmaker who followed his own weird (fate, gifts). His art broke boundaries and challenged convention.  

In the Big Joy documentary we tell the biographical story of James, but not necessarily in a linear or conventional way.  Using a combination of both traditional documentary styles, such as interviews, footage from his films, and animated poetry, we will creatively and innovatively weave the story of Broughton’s life and work.  In addition to exploring the details and creativity of Broughton’s own life, we will also look at the ways in which Broughton influenced others.  We will profile some of those who have been inspired by his work and who are using their own art, music, performance, or other work to spread Big Joy in their own ways.

We intend to apply Broughton’s own advice to our filmmaking.  He writes in Seeing the Light, “Don’t waste your time making a film like anyone else’s… Your business is to make something that neither you nor I have ever seen before.”  We will use reenactments, animations, and stylized imagery to evoke some of the themes and feelings that Broughton explored in his works. True to Broughton’s own poetic life, our film will revolve around a series of animated poems depicting key story points. The film will innovate, not trying to mimic Broughton’s style, but using artistic creations and animations of his poetry to create something new.


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