Actor and producer J.J. Green had a specific vision when he wrote the script for a film on the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, and no amount of money will make him change it.
“Flint 6” tells the story of how young residents of Flint took matters into their own hands to demand change and reparations after government officials were criticized for their inadequate leadership. The title of the drama is a reference to the six state officials who were criminally charged for their roles in the water crisis.
“It’s a redemption story,” Green, a Flint native, told HuffPost, explaining that he doesn’t want the public to only see Flint residents as victims of the crisis. “These people are so resilient that they’re victors as well. I want to show that side, I want to show them taking things into their own hands and being victorious.”
For Green, that meant actually filming in Flint to help better capture the events that unfolded as lead-contaminated water was discovered throughout the city.
So Green says when he was offered $3.75 million by producers hoping to finance the film, he was over the moon. But once he learned of their hopes to scout for film locations outside of Flint, which Green attributed to Michigan’s absence of film incentives, he immediately rejected the offer.
“I said no,” Green told HuffPost. “I can’t compromise the integrity of the story. I’m from Flint and I can’t treat the people like this because they deserve better.”
Green said the film brokers loved the film’s script, but wanted to tape it outside of Flint after discovering that Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) signed a bill in 2015 ending tax incentives that would benefit filmmakers and attract Hollywood directors to film in the state. The incentive had previously drawn big-budget films like “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” “Red Dawn” and the “Transformers” franchise, according to the Detroit Free Press.
“The same governor that needs to be held accountable for the water crisis is the same governor that canceled the tax incentive for films,” Green said.
Green, who has starred in several big productions including OWN’s “Greenleaf,” said it was important to not only maintain the integrity of the movie but also offer opportunities to Flint residents to be a part of the project.
“I thought it would be dope to take this film to Flint and teach people how to audition, learn to be a production assistant, or get some experience in different parts of the film industry,” he said.
After rejecting the multimillion-dollar offer, Green opted to fundraise the money himself and later launched a campaign on Indiegogo. He said he is relying on the support of his community, fans and other backers to raise money to help make the film happen.
“We want to keep this as relevant as possible until the problem is fixed,” a description on the fundraiser page reads. “Our Contributors will also allow us to use our story, our film, as a way to earn money to give back directly to the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.”
The goal for the fundraiser is set at $75,000, but the full budget for the film will cost approximately $540,000, Green said. He plans to start production in March and has already identified most of the movie’s lead actors, including himself.
“After growing up in Flint, it is one of the roughest places ever and if you can make it from Flint, you can make it anywhere and do anything,” Green said. “And if you can get the people of Flint, you can do anything.”
“The good thing about this story is that the whole city is behind it,” Green said. “Even the mayor loves this story; she read it, she loved it.”
The water crisis in the city has continued to plague residents as officials are working to replace corroded lead pipes. The crisis could have long-term health effects on children, and many residents still use bottled water to wash, consume and bathe, including Green’s parents.
“I’m pissed,” Green said. “I’m going to be pissed about it until it’s fixed, and even after it’s fixed, I’m gonna be pissed that it happened.”
“My goal with this film is that it sparks some minds to figure out how to fix this as a national problem,” he added. “Of course I want my city to heal, but the water crisis is a national problem.”
- This article originally appeared on HuffPost.