Hope for the future?

Is there hope that La Mancha Media will create another project? Filming in an orphanage? A prison? A school for the poor? I don't know but I am going to try. For the past year, since creating the short series of films on the South Pacific, I have been tempted to give up on LMM completely because of lack of funds. I had hoped all the people who have loved the films would donate, but turned out that my biggest emotional supporters are the least of donors. This has been a hard lesson to learn but I have now. Three or four years ago I was offered help from others who wanted to write grants for LMM but unfortunately the person never followed through. Of course, it's difficult to motivate others without assurances of compensation. So instead of taking direct action myself in attempting to write a grant, I threw up my arms and wallowed in pity.

I have never written grants and from my understanding they take months or years to come to come to fruition but now I have decided to try. I will start with this book Grant Writing for Dummies. After finishing I will spend time at OneOC in Orange County, CA, a nonprofit coaching organization, who offers donor databases that cost $1000s of dollars, to nonprofits like mine for next to nothing.

Can La Mancha Media help more orphanages and other service projects in Central America or elsewhere? Can it make geographical/historical films from interesting countries around the world? Could the next film be a mix of charities and historical/geographical information? This is one current idea. A sort of mix between our short film The Wild West of Namibia and the Santa Maria orphanage videos.

Does LMM have some life left. Feel free to contact me with your thoughts on any of this: ideas for filming, ideas for fundraising (parties, etc), foundations, grant writing.

We have nearly 100,000 YouTube hits and nearly 150 organically grown subscribers to our channel now (which I have done nothing to get). Perhaps there is a way to make LMM successful. Fundraising makes the difference between success and failure in nonprofits.

Please pray that LMM find its path: perhaps it is to wind down, but perhaps its not time for that. There are so many stories out there to tell. The recent visit by Pope Francis to the USA has definitely inspired me to revisit what lies in store for LMM. His love and tenderness for prisoners, handicapped, and the most needy, sent a surge of life back into what has recently become the cold dying veins of LMM.

David Whalen

Director of LMM

My Article for the Jonestown Institute

Here is an article I wrote last year about our film The Wild Coast: An Exploration of the Guianas for the Jonestown Institute, now known as Alternative Considerations of Jonestown & Peoples Temple, part of San Diego State University. Originally posted on this link.

Travel Documentary of Three Guianas Includes Jonestown

P1010660Together with philanthropist Richard Taylor, I recently completed an independent documentary film about the Guianas. The Wild Coast: An Exploration of the Guianas was published on my non-profit websiteearlier this year and is available for viewing there. The Jonestown Institute was gracious to allow my use of several of its previously-unseen photographs in the film.
I am a lawyer by trade, but creating run-and-gun travel-oriented documentary films is my avocation. I had always wanted to travel to the Guianas because of their unusualness. Other than Brazil, the Guianas are the only non-Spanish speaking countries in South America, and there are few tourists. Indeed, most Americans think the Guianas are in Africa.
The film’s thrust is to show the most significant places in all three of the Guianas, both geographically and historically. The first place we chose to film was Jonestown, Guyana. When we arrived, I located Mr. Fitz Duke, an Amerindian who was a witness to the Port Kaituma airstrip shooting that precipitated the Jonestown tragedy. I interviewed him about his recollections while standing in the middle of the now-paved airstrip. He told us of Patricia Parks, a Peoples Temple member who had left Jonestown with Congressman Leo Ryan on November 18, 1978, and who, like Ryan, was shot to death on the airstrip. Fitz witnessed this woman’s death – her head was nearly blown off by Temple gunmen who fired from a vehicle which had pulled up on the airstrip – and saw her brains spattered on the clothes of her daughter standing beside her. The girl fled into the woods nearby, where, after several days of crippling fear, she was found by the locals and saved. In the film, I flew an aerial drone with a camera to show the deep jungle still surrounding the airstrip. I could feel that little girl’s presence there.
Fitz later drove us out to the eerie site of Jonestown. Fitz was never a Temple member nor did he live at Jonestown, but he worked odd jobs for the Temple and met Jim Jones and many other Temple members in the 1970s. The site was difficult to get to, as it is now completely overgrown with green jungle bush. Some locals helped us hack our way in with machetes.
As we arrived, I began to remember the images of the newscasts, showing the aftermath of the mass suicide in 1978. I was only nine years old at the time, and could not then comprehend how so many could kill themselves. I have few childhood memories but this is one of them. The overused phrase, “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid” – i.e., never follow any religious fanatic blindly – became a permanent part of my vocabulary.
However, as I researched Jonestown for the film, it became apparent that in fact, what I thought I remembered about it was not entirely accurate. Religion no longer played a role in Jonestown, at least for Jim Jones. Jones had been a Christian preacher, and while many or most of his devotees were still Christian, Jim Jones himself morphed into an anti-Christian Marxist-socialist with a fixation on death. One only need listen to the horrifying FBI Death Tape Q 042 – recorded by Jones on the fateful day – to hear Jones describe himself and Jonestown in such a way. It became apparent to me, that his power over others was based, not on his newer views of nihilistic Marxist-socialism, but the ability to frame them with traditional biblical concepts of apostolic fervor that many of the Temple members still adhered to. He was able to retain so much power over so many due to his knowledge and usage of the Christian Bible mixed with ideas of Marxist-socialism.
I was also surprised to learn that it was not a mass suicide as I had always thought. Yes, many members did drink the poison voluntarily, but many, if not most, were in fact murdered, especially the 300 innocent children who still had their self-preservation instinct intact. An unknown number of adults were also murdered; those who refused to drink were injected with the drug by Jonestown’s security guards.
As part of the film, I also attended the 35th anniversary memorial at the Evergreen Cemetery in Oakland, California. The Guyana government refused to allow the burial of the Jonestown dead on site, so the US military airlifted the bodies to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. About half of the bodies – those unidentified and unclaimed after the tragedy – were transported across the country and buried at Evergreen in May 1979. I talked to several survivors during the event and made some new friends. One man I spoke to, whose name I will not mention, told me in a somber tone that Jim Jones was his father. I initially thought this was one of Jones’ biological sons, but I came to learn later he meant “father” spiritually.
I did not describe this conversation in the film. I can understand how someone could honor Jim Jones with the moniker spiritual father, but I cannot accept it. We use this term for great men like Gandhi, Rev. Martin Luther King or John Paul II, men of peace who helped all of mankind, never seeking anyone’s pain or destruction. Jones was a man who fed himself a daily cocktail of illicit mind-altering drugs, who demanded sex with anyone he wanted, who rejected his faith for Karl Marx, and who convinced so many to self-immolate and murder for the stupidest of reasons: to show the world the Jonestown revolution! But what was his revolution? A rejection of capitalism, Christianity, respect for the integral dignity of men and women? Has history granted him a role in the development of goodness and peace in the world? I would say no. The Temple members’ lives were taken and destroyed in vain.
(David Whalen’s film can also be seen at this link
Last modified on October 20th, 2014.

50,000 YouTube views

Our film The Wild West of Namibia had obtained 50,000 YouTube views and counting. Our film The Wild Coast: an exploration of the Guianas has hit 5000. We are finally seeing action on our films. It took a long time and I have no marketing plan. But somehow people are finding and enjoying them. All films together have 66,000 YouTube views. I hope by the end of the year we can hit 100,000. Thank you everyone for watching. Oh and don't forget to click on the ads since LMM earns a very tiny amount of money for this, but better than nothing.

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