Savannah native Keith Miller, Jr. recently launched his Kickstarter Long Story Short campaign to raise funds for “Pritty: The Animation” – the first-ever, Black, queer animated short film. The award-winning educator, artist, and researcher hopes to reach the goal of $125,000 on the path to raising 1.6M for the total production budget.

“Our stories, our culture, our communities, our hoods deserve to occupy the center, and this animation is a reminder of that,”  Miller said. “This project has been a way to imagine what’s possible beyond the trauma I and many other youth of color have experienced every day, which is why ‘Pritty: The Animation’ must exist.”

Founder of Healing By Any Means, a creative consultancy and production company that powers people, projects, and research at the heart of systems and narrative change using art, media, and healing-focused pedagogy, Miller crossed paths with a NYU filmmaker, Terrance Daye, and together, they reimagined a chapter of his soon-to-be-published novel into a short film – “Pritty: The Animation.”

The film aims to address this disparity by showcasing youth of color, specifically Black men, in an unconventional light. Instead of perpetuating the same narrative of Black boys fighting, belittling, and harming one another, viewers experience a front-row seat of a different reality and narrative of them at play, discovering themselves, being vulnerable and healing in the process.

This story was created in response to a startling, ever-present truth: boys and young men of color face innumerable obstacles that prevent them from living long, full, healthy, and productive, emotionally-rich lives.

Miller believes there is a correlation be­tween the limited range of queer youth of color representation on screen and the staggering number of suicide attempts LGBTQ+ youth around the country. Unfortunately, most queer coming-of-age films habitually reproduce trau­mas onscreen without visualizing futures beyond the “coming out” experience.

“Putting this together in the middle of a pandemic – there were so many reasons to give up, but we are a team of dreamers and talented, queer POC artists who just don’t know when to stop,” Daye said. “We believe that the Black kids we create this art for are worth the big asks, time, and money that it takes to put a production like this together. That is why we could not stop making this film and that is why we had to keep dreaming.”

As part of Kickstarter’s Long Story Short campaign, the team will spend the rest of March crowdsourcing enough funds to reach their next stretch goal of $125,000 and then strive for reaching the 1.6M budget to produce the full 20-minute animated film in their desired artistic style.

“We need everyone’s help to ensure we reach our goal to complete the animated short film. And as history asks us how we will respond in this moment, how we will create our own legacy, no donation is too small. All funds will go toward the wonderful village it’s going to take to bring this story to life. Whether queer or not, a person of color or not, we all need this so we can heal, together,” Miller said.

Mayor of Savannah, Van Johnson, talks on how proud he is of this project and the important impact of it.

“We are so proud of (Keith) for stepping out in (his) truth,” Johnson said. “Savannah continues to work very hard through the PROUD Savannah (task force) to become a more beloved community where we love people just for existing.

(This) work is timely and appropriate as we move forward. We recognize there is room for everybody at the table – no matter who you are, no matter who you love. As we evolve, I think this work will be an opportunity for us to have some of these courageous conversations about the things we have exhibited not only here in Savannah, but across the country that have made people feel not welcome or disconnected.”

The majority of funds to date have been raised by people donating between one and one hundred dollars. To donate to the Campaign, please visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/prittyfilm/pritty-the-animation.

(Photo: Courtesy of Keith Miller)

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