Dwain Deets - email@example.com
Heart of the Beholder, the movie, as well as the making of the movie, are stories that should resonate with the core values of most in the Freethought community. I had the opportunity to experience these values up front and in person…as a financial supporter, as an actor, and as a beneficiary.
That I became an actor in this movie is a story in itself. I'll bypass this story for the moment, and pick up on the fact that through a series of unexpected circumstances, I found myself with a speaking role in the movie. Admittedly, a very short role, and even though I had no previous acting experience, had not even witnessed the making of a movie, I had this role. I was the judge, Judge Dalton.
I was the only non-union actor, all within the established rules of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), rules that give directors a tiny bit of discretion for very limited use of non-guild actors.
Rather than going on about my experience as an actor, it’s more pertinent to tell how I arrived at that point. It all has to do with the integrity of the producer, Darlene Lieblich. In her early efforts to raise production money, she sought contributions mostly from within the Freethought community. The story line, based on a true-life ordeal back in the mid 1980’s, had a theme that should resonate with secularists having growing frustrations today with the pursuit of power of the Religious Right. As she urged people to donate to the cause, Lieblich made a promise that she would return all monies if they failed to reach a minimum of $500 thousand in contributions. Her reasoning was that any amount less than this minimum would be insufficient to produce a quality movie.
Furthermore, she offered as incentives to the top contributors, small acting roles in the movie. I contributed some money to support the cause, but I had no thought that my rather small amount would land me on the list of top contributors.
Some while later, I received a check in the mail, with an explanation from Lieblich that the funding campaign had fallen short of the $500 thousand minimum for the production budget. It wasn't much under, but it was under. (They raised just over $437,000) I was quite astounded that the money would be returned. That seemed to be integrity beyond the call of duty. All my real world experience told me that a Hollywood producer would fudge things a little and press on with the project.
Lieblich continued on in her letter to say that the production company, Beholder Productions, was pursuing a different approach. The company was now asking for personal loans, for pay back in two years at 25% interest, compounded daily. If the company was able to pay it back earlier than two years, then the interest would be as if it had been borrowed the full two years. If the loans were held longer than two years, the interest would continue to accrue at this same rate until it was fully paid back.
I viewed this request for funding entirely differently. No longer was it an appeal for donations, but rather an opportunity to invest. I felt reasonably comfortable with the risk, particularly having had the experience of the contribution money being paid back as it was. A clear example to me of Beholder Productions making good on its word. As I was convinced from before that the project was for a very worthy freethought cause, I made a sizable loan, ten times the amount of my original contribution. Later, I attended a talk to a local freethought group given by Lieblich, which made me aware of an urgent need for a rather large additional loan. Again, I thought of this as an investment rather than a donation, and for a worthy cause, so I sent in one more large check. By this time, the total loan had reached $15,000.
A short while later, I was notified that I was one of the top lenders, and therefore among the small group that would be given a small role in the movie, that of a courtroom jury. Astounded, I searched my memory for any recollection about this “being-in-the-movie” perk.
All I could remember was back when Lieblich was trying to get large contributions, part of the incentive for the top contributors was a bit part in the movie. It wasn't long before I heard that Lieblich had planned to honor her earlier commitment all along, even though these were now loans rather than donations. In my mind, I chalked this up as one more example of notable display of integrity.
Once the day came for this group of top lenders to go to Hollywood, and play their roles as jury members, I was among that joyful group of soon-to-be bit-part actors. Some time during the visit, I was pulled aside and asked if I was interested in playing the role of the judge, rather than being in the jury. It would be a speaking part, with one line.
I said, “Sure, sounds like a lot of fun.”
As I was filled in on some of the background, the director, Ken Tipton, had decided long before that they would pick one of the top lenders to play the role of the judge. For whatever reason, they picked me for that role.
It turned out to be a much bigger deal than I could have imagined. According to the SAG rules, I had to be a paid at the prescribed rate for non-union actors in independent films. I had to become an actor in their system, be given my own official script, and of course I had to receive my paycheck. (I did contribute the amount of the paycheck back to Beholder Productions as a matter of principal). I also had to submit a resume detailing my acting career. (Since I had none, it was more than a challenge to draft an honest statement that at least gave the impression I had some acting
experience.) The culmination of this whole exercise was when I received a letter from SAG inviting me to become a member.
If this little experience gives the impression the movie is an amateurish operation, then I have totally misled you. The movie is professional all ways. The cast is excellent, with Matt Letscher and Sarah Joy Brown as the male and female leads. The story is compelling, and reviews have been very good. So far in the several film festivals it was entered, the movie has received more feature movie first places than any other independent film, ever, five!
So why isn't it showing in the theaters? Mostly because of efforts from the religious right. I don't know specifics on these people, or what organizations they represent. But, there has been a constant barrage of resistance during the entire time. Successful interference that derailed signing of prominent actors, letter-writing campaigns to film festivals putting the movie in bad light, cyber attacks against the Heart of the Beholder website, and on and on.
Potential distributors are understandably leery of taking on this added risk of these determined adversaries.
Fast forward to this first week of January 2006. 21 months after I sent them my last loan check. I received two checks back from Beholder Productions.
One for the amount that I loaned them, including the amount that I had considered a contribution when I returned my actors’ pay. The other, a very big check for the interest, 25% per year, compounded daily. Over two years, even though the time period was less than two years, this amounts to a 64.84% of the loaned amount.
Others that had contributed money have passed the word they have received two checks each, as well. Lieblich had announced shortly before we received these checks that all donations would also be considered to have been loans, and would be paid back in full, plus the 64.84% in interest.
When I think of the repeated examples of this unusually high integrity, all while Lieblich and her company were the target of underhanded efforts by religious-right detractors trying to derail her efforts, I see many parallels with the story line of the movie, itself.
The main characters, Mike (Letscher), and his wife Diane (Brown), were people of high integrity. They stood by their beliefs that his video rental business should have the right to rent videos to their liking of their customers, and their business was going to make these movies available. The self-proclaimed protectors of moral values (i.e. these censors from the religious right) were not going to prevent them from running their business as they saw fit. Integrity persevered, despite all the efforts of the self-proclaimed censors, and the corrupt governmental officials that tried to shut down their business and ruin their lives.
We in the Freethought community have an opportunity and a challenge to help this movie make it though these rough times. The movie tells a story that needs to be told, and represents an integrity that should serve as an example for others. We ought to talk it up, promote it on our websites, and get ready to celebrate when the movie becomes a topic of conversation among the public at large.
And as Judge Dalton, I say, “I find in favor of Beholder Productions.”
Tom Flynn - firstname.lastname@example.org
On January 16, 2004, I loaned $250 to Darlene Lieblich and Beholder Productions toward completion of HEART OF THE BEHOLDER. I viewed the cause as so noble that I really didn't care whether I saw the money again, but I followed the production with great interest. I was able to do this both through Ms. Lieblich's indefatigable email communiques and also because part of the film was shot at our Los Angeles branch center. There was no question in my mind that Ms. Lieblich and her associates were dead serious and determined to make a major indie film. Still, I figured I'd get my money back when Hell, Michigan, froze over ... there's no greater crapshoot than indie film production!
That's why I have to tell you, I'm in awe of the Beholder crew's integrity. Not only did I get my promised DVD of the completed film almost as soon as the film was completed ... lo and behold in late 2005 I got my $250 back ... plus a second check for almost 2 years interest at 68.84%! Compounding the wonder, that payment wasn't even owed until Beholder Productions had inked a distribution deal ... which they still haven't. Ms. Lieblich made this monumental payout from personal funds, just because it was the right thing to do.
I'm no babe in the woods. I ponied up my money expecting never to see it again because I thought the film was that important. Instead I got paid back on exactly the terms promised ... under circumstances in which the filmmakers didn't really owe the money yet! If Christians could manage that kind of stand-up behavior, the world would be a better place.
Yes, the incredible dream-story of how HEART OF THE BEHOLDER got made is real, and yes the "investors" got treated with far more than honesty and integrity. It's (pardon the expression) a Hollywood miracle story. I'm editor of FREE INQUIRY, America's largest circulation secular humanist magazine, you can reach me days M-F Eastern at 716-636-7571 ext 213, and I'm happy to vouch for Darlene Lieblich and confirm that her wacky story is exactly (and precisely) "on the money." Yes, it really happened!
Editor, FREE INQUIRY
Editor, THE NEW ENCYCLOPEDIA OF UNBELIEF Author, NOTHING SACRED (prometheusbooks.com)
John Scalise - email@example.com
I am one of the people who pre-purchased a DVD and made a loan to you for the production of "Heart of the Beholder." When you made your original pitch I was very skeptical, but the amount of money to purchase a DVD was small so I did it. When you were not able to raise the money in this way I was pleased that the money I had sent was returned promptly.
When you then asked for loans, I publicized your request far and wide-I am the president of the Great Lakes Humanist Society and run several email lists-in an effort to get the movie made. I told people about my first experience with you, but sadly, many were skeptical and felt they might be duped. My wife and I sent you $500. Quite honestly it was a lot of money for us and I was half expecting to never see it again. I was particularly skeptical of your promised return on investment. If I remember correctly it was something like 25% per year.
I sent the money because I felt if freethinkers did not stand together on a project like this, we would never get our views out to the general public. I followed with interest the ups and downs of production, and when your ran into distribution problems I figured my investment was lost. Then, you sent an email saying that the repayment checks were in the mail. Within the week I received my check for more than $800, a return rate of 64.84%!
You have kept your word despite your own personal struggles making this film. Your integrity is impeccable. Thank you for allowing my wife and I to be a part of the effort.
Bob Tee - firstname.lastname@example.org
We sent a donation of £100 ($180) towards the production costs of "Heart of the Beholder" We only expected to get back the DVD of the film. This has arrived and we will be showing it to our members at our monthly meeting in May 2006. Then, quite unexpectedly, we received a cheque from Darlene for the return of the $180 plus another cheque for interest totalling £159.41 after money changing fees. Had this been my own money i would have torn up the cheques, but anyway it will go to furthering the cause of Humanism in West Yorkshire.
I have been immensely impressed by the determination Darlene has shown against all the sneaky and underhand attempts to sabotage her project. I have watched the DVD and was amazed by the quality of the acting and the production as a whole. It surely deserves commercial distribution. Robert Tee, Hon.Sec.
Lisa Ridlon - email@example.com
I was a supporter of the fabulous indie movie, Heart of the Beholder. I originally heard about the movie's story from a freethought e-mail list I belong to back when the producers were pre-selling future copies of the movie on DVD in order to help raise funds for filming the movie. The cost was about $26 or so and I sent in my check hoping to help out but not really knowing whether or not the deal was legitimate and whether or not I'd ever see my DVD.
The producers had promised that if they didn't reach their goal budget, they'd send all the money for the DVD's back to the people who bought them. Unfortunately they didn't reach their goal, and lo and behold, I got a refund check! The producers decided then to solicit for personal loans. By this time, I knew that they'd done as they'd promised and were trustworthy and that I wanted to help them get their story told. I sent in a personal loan of $100. I wasn't sure when I'd see my money back, but they promised to pay the lenders back, so I was happy to help.
Later, after doing some "background" work as an extra for the movie and seeing the film's exciting progress, I donated another $200. I got my repayment check last year along with a check for the interest: I'd donated a total of $300 and I got $494 back and got to tell people I helped get the movie made. Not bad! I spent part of my repayment check on some DVD copies of the final product for all my friends. The movie is an incredible story of one family's refusal to give in to the hypocrisy of and harassment by a powerful religious group that threatened to destroy their lives. I'm very proud to have been a part of getting the story told.
Tim Widrick - firstname.lastname@example.org
As I recall, I heard about this project through the magazine “Free Inquiry”. I wanted to see it happen, so I took part in the original Internet campaign to raise $500K by pre-buying a DVD for $35. (At least I think it was $35 … it was around that.) When I saw the total above $400K, I thought the campaign would be called successful. Shortly after that, I got my $35 back. Sure enough, the goal had not been reached, and Darlene stuck to her word.
Darlene then started another fund raising drive, this time asking people to either donate or loan money for the project. I decided to research Darlene a little more before deciding what I would do. I did that but gave nothing for a time; I blame my inaction on putting this in the “non-urgent” category. Then in October 2004 (as I remember it), I finally took action by loaning $1000 dollars. That’s a lot of money for a person like me. But, I trusted Darlene and the terms were very good. I saw it both as a chance to help and make an investment.
Time passed and I received the finished DVD in the mail. That was a nice surprise: I didn't remember that getting the DVD for free was part of the deal. I watched the movie, wondering what to expect for such a modest budget. I was thrilled when the movie far exceeded my expectations. It is truly a very good film.
In January 2006, I received repayment of the loan plus a full 2 years worth of interest, even though less than two years had passed since I loaned the money.
It's hard to beat that.
Christine Menefee - email@example.com
Quite a while ago, I did something I'd never done before: I sent in a donation to a group of people I'd never heard of before. But I could tell from their website that I liked these people and what they were doing, and just wanted to let them know they had friends out in the hinterlands. (I was living in central Virginia at the time, a hotbed of the very sort of religious extremism their movie project promised to expose, and saw the sickness often in my work--censorship attempts--and among my neighbors; I eventually moved to a saner part of the country.)
On a library assistant's salary I couldn't afford to make a real investment, when they asked for investors, but I was very happy to send them a $25 donation simply to thank them for working on this project. Eventually they actually sent me a DVD of their completed movie to thank me for my "donation"! That was something I had never expected, and I was delighted with how Heart of the Beholder turned out, too. Not only that, but a few months later, they sent me two checks - one for $25, and another for a very generous rate of interest on my "donation." I've never had a harder time giving money away! But I figured out how to send them the money back: I bought two copies of the DVD to give to friends back in Virginia - and still had a few dollars left over for the postage. These are amazing people, and I hope they succeed in getting their terrific movie out to many, many viewers, because it's a great story, and a terrific film.
Suzy Frederickson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you for the checks you sent they came at a time when I really needed them! I really must say I was surprised to receive the interest check also. When I sent you the money I really didn't think I would get it back but I wanted to back you as you sounded like you really believed in your film. It was the first time I ever sent money to a complete stranger Good things happen to good people and I know that this project will be the first of many good things to happen to you. Best of luck on the film I want to stay on the mailing list. Wish I had more to contribute but I don't. Here's to success!
Edward Picciuti - email@example.com
I contributed once, and lent once, to BEHOLDER, and true to their word the funds came back WITH interest. I had no expectation of seeing the money returned and had told Darlene Lieblich as much when I sent it in. I was interested in seeing the story BEHOLDER brought to the public. I am a senior, 73 years old, and I want the country free of any Tyranny, for my grandkids and don't mind paying for it.
Being an independent person and follow the dictates of my conscience only, no parties line.
Having read the story of the BEHOLDER there was no choice , but help defend Free Speech. It turned out it isn't free, the price paid by the community was staggering. They lost their voice to the" Do as I say , not as I do" groups. The intrigue and double dealing by the D.A. was sickening.
Darlene Lieblich had the courage to mortgage her home to bring this story to the screen. That is what America is about "Doing the Right thing"
Steve Bogus - SBogus@aol.com
I just wanted to take a moment to write you regarding the accomplishment you let ME feel a part of when I did my very small part in sending in a couple of donations to help you finance Heart of the Beholder. At the time that I sent in each contribution, I stipulated that I was sending it in as a donation rather than a loan and expected no repayment. To my complete surprise, not only did you send a check to repay the entire amount I had contributed, but you even sent an additional check as interest (an obscenely high rate at that) on the money. All I can say is that I feel proud to be able to say I played my small role in your production of the movie. Thank you so much!
With warmest regards,
Harold Saferstein - firstname.lastname@example.org
We were privileged to be among the first to see Heart of the Beholder. It is a topical and heart warming film with very good acting and production values. I am proud to say that I supported the production of this film from almost the beginning and am most pleased with the result. It should be seen by all caring Americans.
Harold L. Saferstein, M.D.
John Masters - email@example.com
To whom it may concern:
This is to advise that I provided two loans in 2003/2004 for the production of the film "Heart of the Beholder", believing it to be an extremely worthy cause. I was expecting that I would probably not receive back the money as I was doubtful of the commercial viability of the project and whether the many hurdles that would undoubtedly be experienced could be overcome.
Darlene Lieblich and Ken Tipton had clearly demonstrated total commitment to the project and refused to let the many setbacks, along with the appalling and unethical tactics of the many opponents of the project, defeat her.
I have now received back the full amount of the loans along with 65% interest as promised. I can unequivocally state that Darlene has acted with impeccable integrity throughout.
I should be pleased to provide any further information on request.
Stan Lieber - firstname.lastname@example.org
Ken Tipton has been a client of our firm for many years. In all of our dealings with him, he has shown the utmost integrity and trustworthiness, not only in dealing with us, but in all of the many agreements he entered into with others. His primary goal has always been to treat those he was dealing with in a fair and honest manner. If only we had more clients like Ken; life would be great.
So, when Ken brought you on board to produce his movie, I did not hesitate when you asked if we could loan money for the production costs. You promised to pay back all of the money with interest and I agreed. My son, Jason, who is now a young attorney (practicing as a Public Defender in Riverside), and had met Ken, also agreed to loan money for your project. I can't say that I was surprised when we received checks covering our loans plus a good amount of interest. I was surprised, though, that we received checks before you had a distribution deal in place.
Anyway, continued good luck with the movie (which I and obviously others thought was great). Let me know if there is anything else I can do.
Stanley P. Lieber
Fred Brendel - email@example.com
Please pass along this note to whomever you feel may benefit from it. I did indeed receive last month two checks, one a return of my $1,000 investment and another check for $648.40 for interest. The checks could not have come at a better time for me as I had recently lost my job and had married. Originally the offer seemed it could be too good to be true, but you have proved to be a model of the highest integrity. My wish is for as many people as possible to view this ground breaking film.
Thank you for the example you set. Please keep me posted as new developments arise.
Vance Meyer - HStitch@aol.com
Congratulations on you successful completion of Heart of the Beholder. We found the film to be entertaining and, more importantly, your business ethics are commendable. We were totally surprised when our investment was returned with full interest as you represented . We wish you great success as you embark on the distribution phase of the film.
Sandie & Vance Meyer
Larry Carter Center - firstname.lastname@example.org
To Whom It May Concern:
For over three years I've been on the "list" of supporters for this film. Heart Of the Beholder is a story similar to my life. Religious fanatics harmed my family also. I proudly own my DVD and show it to people privately in my home. I point out how local officials can be corrupt, how law enforcement is reluctant to protect "controversial" people and how tragically funny it can be when victims of theocracy seek healings. Betrayals run deep. Even the scenes of a botched "sting" operation has a close parallel in my life. Humor is found in odd ways. Anyone who doubts how devious and cruel allegedly holy people can be, should find this movie revealing, not over dramatized.
Kudos to Darlene, the Director & cast. Some distributor should make this available on the big screen in communities across the globe. Having lost many jobs due to religious discrimination, my career has not afforded me great rewards. Thus; I can not underwrite big film canisters or insurance. Happy to have done what I could.
Larry Carter Center, father of two daughters, one a past victim of religious abusers.
Ronald J. Glossop - email@example.com
I learned about the effort to produce HEART OF THE BEHOLDER as a result of being a member of the St. Louis Rationalist Society and reading about it in their monthly bulletin SECULAR SUBJECTS. I decided to loan the minimum $100 because of the information I had received about the project and the promised return of 25% interest compounded daily for 2 years. I realized that I might just lose the whole $100, but on the other hand I wanted to support this kind of project. As I got more information about how things were proceeding, I gradually felt more confident that I had invested in a well-organized effort. When I found myself with a bit more money than I needed at the moment, I decided to loan another $500.
Being kept up-to-date on how the project was proceeding was crucial to my support. I felt good that I had been able to be a very small part of such a worthwhile effort. I felt even better when I eventually did get all my money back with the promised interest. I was so favorably impressed that I sent back a little contribution of $50. I would have contributed more, but now I anticipate some other expenses coming up over the next year and wanted to use that nice repayment to take care of them.
If Darlene Lieblich were to ask me for another loan in the future or even another outright contribution, I would be happy to make it. She has demonstrated that she is as good as her word and that she knows how to focus on an important big project and bring it to completion.
Ronald J. Glossop
Professor Emeritus (philosophy and peace studies),
Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
Susan Sackett - firstname.lastname@example.org
To Whom It May Concern:
As President of the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix, I am amazed at the incredible effort that Ken Tipton and Darlene Lieblich have put forth in order to realize their dream of filming Heart of the Beholder.
When I first learned about this production, I knew that it was a labor of love for them, and I decided that the film's premise was a worthy one. Therefore, I decided that our organization would embrace this project. I encouraged our members to purchase DVDs online and to donate to their cause. When the producers fell short of their initial donation goal of $500,000, they returned every penny that was given to them -- unheard of in this, or any other industry!
But Ken and Darlene were undaunted, and so were we. We backed them again, this time with loans and a promise of a high interest return. Individual members, as well as our group itself, sent funds to help launch this project. And then, we virtually forgot about the promise of interest to be paid -- we were just happy to be a part of this effort. To the surprise and delight of our members, all the original loan amounts were returned to each and every lender --along with another check representing 64% interest!
The integrity of these two filmmakers is the reason they will undoubtedly succeed where others have failed. In these difficult days when leadership in our country is being rocked by scandal after scandal, it is so refreshing to find such honest and irreproachable professionals. Ken and Darlene have set the bar extremely high, and one can only hope that they have also set a precedent for the future of the film industry.
President, Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix
Andrew Fry - email@example.com
I read Ken's script on Triggerstreet way back and provided feedback. When I saw that you were raising funds via the Internet I applauded the effort and committed 1,000 dollars to the effort. My wife didn't believe I would ever see it again, but understood the risk. I was willing to be part of the effort in order to be a small part of the process and because am a staunch advocate of the small budget/self made movie initiative that has created many good films such as 28 Days Later and Pieces of April.
It was to her surprise and my pride in your accomplishments that the film was made. It was with her further surprise and my glee that not only was the loan repaid but with the interest promised. And a great movie was made to boot. Congratulations and good luck in finding distribution.
Kenneth E. Nahigian - firstname.lastname@example.org
I have followed the Heart of the Beholder project since its earliest phases, and was extremely pleased with all my dealings with HOTB and River City Productions. News updates are regular; responses to questions have been timely and informative. You thanked investors with personal phone calls, a nice touch. When HOTB Productions had to slip its original production deadline, you immediately returned all loans and donations, precisely as promised, rather than hanging on to the money or pleading for more time. When the movie appeared, it was an award-winner. And after production you repaid all loans on schedule, with interest to the penny.
This was my first experience investing in a film production, and it left me with such a good feeling, I am likely to do it again.
Thank you, Darlene.
Kenneth E. Nahigian
Dean Butler - email@example.com
To Whom It May Concern:
Several years ago when Darlene and Ken first talked to us about HOTB we were impressed and somewhat skeptical at the same time. Here were two people with no prior film making experience who had great passion for a story with maybe limited commercial appeal because of budget and casting considerations, but great human appeal because its about a good person who does the right thing for all the right reasons. They didn't tell us at the time that this was Ken’s true story, but that didn't matter, we liked Darlene & Ken and they seemed like the living embodiment of their script. They went on to tell us about their Internet funding scenario and the promised refund if goals weren't met, and we were sold. Judging Darlene & Ken as honest, well intentioned people we thought “what can we loose”, and made a modest on-line contribution. Frankly, we didn't give it another thought. A few months later, after the funding deadline had come and gone, we received a check from HOTB for the full amount of our contribution. I'll repeat it...true to their word, we received a refund check from HOTB for the full amount of our contribution. It was a simple thing but we'll never forget it.
It says something about the cynical times we live in that we were surprised and even humbled that Darlene & Ken actually did what they said they were going to do. In word and deed they fulfilled their promise to us to the penny. But our good feeling didn't come from getting the money back...the good feeling came from the fact that Darlene & Ken made us feel good about our faith in them. By the way, we've seen the movie and we were impressed by the outcome.
We have no doubt that when Darlene & Ken set out to raise funds for their next venture in film or anything else that they will find a very receptive group of potential backers ready to listen and likely to invest because they, as people and partners, exceed expectations. Their personal commitment to exceed expectations is something we are honored to be associated with because it validates our faith in the best of human nature and that’s more important than the money we put back in the bank. We've spent the money, but we'll never forget that Darlene & Ken are two people who fulfill their promises.
Please let us know if there is anything else we can do to help.
Katherine & Dean Butler
Bill Blazier - firstname.lastname@example.org
When my wife and I first heard of the offer to invest in Heart of the Beholder, Rose was as skeptical as I. After talking it over, we decided to make an investment. Our decision was based on the fact that the movie tells a story which focuses on some principles that we adhere to. Later, when our money was returned with interest, we were convinced of the honesty and sincerity of the producers of the film. We later had an opportunity to view the finished movie and found it to be everything we had hoped for. We send our congratulations for completing Heart of the Beholder, and wish you well in your other endeavors.
William H. and Rose Blazier
Angel Krull - email@example.com
I donated money to the making of Heart of the Beholder because I saw that the nastiness and hostility that was to be depicted in the movie was carrying over to the present day. Specifically, I mean that when I looked at the comments section of the movie's web site, I noticed that people had submitted horrible comments about how the movie shouldn't be made.
I'm a strong believer in free speech, and if these people didn't like the movie (which they hadn't even seen yet!), they should just not watch it. I knew then that I wanted to help support the people making this movie to make sure that the one's who opposed it would be proven wrong. I'm happy to say that the movie has been made and is great. It was money well spent.
Bernie Schatz - firstname.lastname@example.org
To Whom It May Concern:
Darlene Lieblich is the greatest! I do not recall ever meeting her in person but was contacted via friends or the American Humanist Association by some unrecalled means. I do know one of her friends who is the leader of a Humanist chapter. Darlene is true to her word. I sent money to support her work about three times and it all came back just as she stated. The interest check was larger than my loan amount.
It just does not seem real that one person, Darlene, can undertake that much work and finish on time. She deserves all the credit possible.
Those who do not understand the negative effects of religion just do not understand themselves. They could improve themselves by trying to understand the message in the film "Heart of the Beholder." Warped minds seldom become corrected. It seems like it is just one of those things one has to live with.
Brandon P. Charin - email@example.com
I received an email a few years back describing the goal of making the film, "Heart of the Beholder, " by raising money through a 'grass roots' type campaign. I thought this was a worthy project, so I pre-ordered a DVD. Also included was a sweepstakes where every dollar donated earned an entry. I was lucky enough to be one of the winners. Any doubts I might have had about their legitimacy were erased when I cashed the $250 check. So when they changed tactics and asked for loan to make the film, I had no problem sending in my share.
I received the DVD and was very impressed. I am also very proud to have been a part of getting this movie made. I was repaid for my loan with a great return on my investment. I now only wish I had sent them more!
Jerri Higgins - firstname.lastname@example.org
When I first heard about Heart of the Beholder on an Air America Advertisement, I was horrified at what these people had gone through, first in life, and then with the producers in trying to get this movie out. I have been informed through newsletters and emails every step of the way about what was coming up, going on, and the struggles that have ensued.
I would buy a DVD or Video from this company without hesitation, and applaud anything that Darlene Lieblich has a hand in. Her and her company's integrity has never been in question. I received a copy of the DVD quickly, and am so grateful for the work and risk that has been taken to make this a reality. It is so disgusting that supposed "Christians" are the ones who have made this venture so difficult. I am a believer in God, but I am a bigger believer in truth, and have a right to see what is perpetrated in the name of "God".
Thank you for reading this.
Sara Brown - email@example.com
I was the organizer of a small group of freethinking women who wanted to support your effort to produce 'Heart of the Beholder'. Not having much money to offer, we went together and made a loan of $100. Whenever an email update came, I forwarded it to the others. It has been great to be kept up to date with your progress, and we were pleased with the quality of the movie. When our small loan was repaid (with generous interest!!) we decided to donate the money to a scholarship fund our group sponsors, also a good cause.
It is a pleasure to be associated in this way with your movie. I am sorry that small-minded people have given you totally unwarranted trouble, and admire your courage and perseverance.
Richard Young - firstname.lastname@example.org
I first became aware of Darlene's efforts to raise money for the production of Heart of the Beholder in the summer/fall of 2003. I can no longer remember exactly how I became aware of it. I think there was a post on one of the mailing lists I subscribe to. On a whim, I Googled into the background of Darlene and the production, and I saw something that startled me: Darlene Lieblich appeared to be a Hollywoodster with integrity. I wasn't prepared for that.
I read of her previous attempt to raise the $500k required for the production. She vowed to return every penny to the contributors if the $500k couldn't be raised by a certain date. The date came and went, and in total $437k was raised, which is pretty darn good. Having achieved this small miracle I think most people would be tempted to say, "Hey, that's close enough. Let's shoot the film! Surely the contributors will understand." But, as I've come to know first hand, Darlene is not most people. She returned every penny and started from scratch. This is integrity of biblical proportions. A large miracle.
I'm not a wealthy man, by any standard (but I have my health), so I didn't have any pinstriped crystal balls to consult. But I surprised myself in that I did feel a strange compulsion to seriously begin to think about considering perhaps investing, partly because I believed that the film had an interesting and important story to tell and partly because--quite frankly--it looked like a sound investment opportunity.
I slept on it. Not only did I sleep on it, I mulled it over for a few weeks. Sending thousands of my hard earned dollars to Hollywood made as much sense as driving my car off a cliff. Which reminded me of the opening scene of "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World." How I love that old film!
So, inspired by Jimmy Durante's bold--but fatal--gesture, I took the plunge.
Later, I visited L.A. While down there, I had lunch with Darlene. Whatever apprehensions I still had evaporated.
Under two years have elapsed since my initial investment, and I have found my big W. My investment has been returned, with a generous topping of interest. As promised.
Richard Young, a real guy in a real, cold city.