What Ever Happen to Baby Jane?

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Published on April 18, 2016

Short Summary

There are ‘work projects’, and then, there are ‘passion projects.’ This is an amazing project that, we (FILMSTERS) are deeply passionate about. We have been capturing pieces of it, off and on for the past 23 years. We, Patti White, Lee Anderson and Michael Miller, are producing partners and award-winning documentary filmmakers and TV Producers with over 25 years of national network and cable television credits on CBS, ABC, Lifetime, Turner, TBS, Discovery and others. We have made several feature documentaries, have traveled the film festival circuit and know what it takes to make a great film. And because we have been bothered by this question for the past two decades, we are making a film about it.

How often does an iconic New York City blues and jazz singer go unnoticed to most of the rest of the world, especially when the New York Times and every other tri-state publication talks about her show as life-changing, her voice as earth-shattering and her storytelling as sublime? 

This IndieGoGo campaign’s purpose is to help us film the present story of the sensational Baby Jane Dexter, larger than life as a performer and, until recently, even in size.  Although we have done numerous interviews with her over the years, we need a final updated interview, covering her recent health struggles and her legacy. We also need to interview others, including well-known journalists, writers, music critics and musicians who have written about Baby Jane, worked with her or know her well. Filming present-day life events as well as the musical realities she is facing today need to be captured in a timely manner.  The process of gathering and preparing over 20 years of footage and photos that either we have previously shot ourselves or received from others is currently underway.

As Baby Jane reaches the golden years of her life; a life filled with huge successes and colossal disappointments, good health giving way to illnesses and laughter turning sometimes to depression, the time to tell her story is now. Tomorrow is never a safe bet.  It’s a legacy of struggle, redemption and glory. Fighting to maintain a functional career amidst the changing record business/Manhattan club scene, prejudice against “big” women performers in the late 70’s through the 80’s and 90’s, Baby Jane finally found her place in the music world by touching the souls of her audience with her authentic songs about love and pain. And she is not afraid to step out on the ledge of hope and despair with a need to drive the conversation through her music about issues like domestic violence.

Mostly it is time to do justice to a time-honored singer who deserves to be known around the world.  In the words of Bill Ervolino, Record and TV Editor for The Bergen Record, Bergen County NJ, “Certain singers own a room the minute they step on stage. Baby Jane Dexter burns the mortgage.”

Our goal is to set fire to the documentary world by putting Baby Jane Dexter’s story on film.

What We Need

Even though we have been filming bits and pieces of this documentary over the years, we are really just formally beginning the process of transferring old footage, shooting new and updated key interviews and beginning a rough cut of the film.

We need a minimum of $100,000+ in production funds total for:

  •  Travel to NY and LA to shoot interviews with well-known artists, music critics and other notables in Baby Jane’s life. This includes travel, accommodations, transportation, securing our production team; a top notch DP (Director of Photography) and sound person, gaffer (lighting), DIT/Media management, PA’s and makeup artist for each shoot.
  • Need to transfer hundreds of still images and old footage to digital format from VHS, Hi8, 8mm, BetacamSP, 3/4″ footage to the highest resolution possible.
  • Editing the film through rough cut, fine cut and final cut stages. We will be using a seasoned veteran editor who has cut many feature docs before.
  • Post-production costs for online edit, color grading, sound design and mix and final deliverables.
  • Music licensing of popular songs in Baby’s repertoire. There will be many licenses to negotiate.
  • Still image and video licensing fees.
  • Marketing, social media promotion, film festival submissions and outreach will round out the last of the financial needs.
We plan to move ahead in stages. For phase one, we need a minimum of $15,000 to do the initial present day shoots needed to tell the story. We will keep you informed as we move along, and we will remain fully committed to creating and finishing a fabulous film about a fabulous character. BIG BABY is a film is about the trials and glory of NY blues and jazz powerhouse, singer Baby Jane Dexter…its up to you to help us tell this story.

What happens if we raise more than $15,000?

 All proceeds will go towards the next steps of making and finishing the film. This initial round of funding is primarily to be able to shoot a great interview with Baby Jane and other key people as soon as possible. Any additional money will pay for ongoing editing, format and digital conversions, graphics and animation, additional shoot days if needed, music composition, sound mix, color grading, film and music license fees and marketing and promotion of the film.

The Impact

BIG BABY promises to shine light on the incredible challenges and talents that go side by side in sustaining a long career as an artist in the NY club/music scene.  Just because a singer is not a household name doesn’t mean the battle to share one’s vision and artistry should cease.  But this iconic performer offers so much more. Her own story is one of courage and redemption as she makes a thrilling comeback after a long period of darkness.

Baby Jane Dexter’s personal and musical journey exposes weight prejudice in the music industry throughout her early and mid-career and how difficult it was to get ahead with the “fat” label attached.  The film also shows her incredible work with victims of domestic violence, rape and women in prison, including at-risk teen girls in programs for troubled kids.  Baby Jane’s “Healing Through Entertainment Workshop” effectively uses music to heal the soul.

Baby Jane is at her best when she is in front of her audience in a small club setting belting out the blues, or emotionally telling a story through song. It’s the men and women who approach Baby Jane at the end of the show, telling her how and why she has changed their lives that matter most.

BIG BABY offers its audience not just a legacy film about a musical treasure, but a pathway to see music used for healing the darker places in our lives.

Risks & ChallengesWhile we understand that there will be some obstacles along the way, our lengthy experience in the industry, our creative problem-solving skills as producers and our industry contacts will allow us to seek the necessary advice, if needed.Other Ways You Can Help

  • If you cannot contribute in any way, please  help us by asking other folks to get the word out and make some noise about your campaign. Please LIKE or SHARE our Facebook page and our IndieGOGO link.
  • Remind them to use the Indiegogo share tools!

And that’s all there is to it.

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