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The filmmaker behind a movie about the "House of Horrors" abortion doctor convicted of murdering babies born alive says his crowdfunding campaign has broken an Indiegogo record. As of Tuesday, the Gosnell Movie campaign raised $1.9 million of the $2.1 million goal, the most amount raised for a film on Indiegogo.
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"I was thinking we were going to beat the (most money raised) target, but not win and become the most successful failure ever on crowdfunding," said journalist and filmmaker Phelim McAleer. "But, we should make the fundraising goal. We're averaging $30,000 per day."
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McAleer says he'd love to shoot in Philadelphia, as the city is a large character in the film but it will just depend on the final film's budget.
The Gosnell Movie project hast just five days left to raise $140,000. So far, there are 20,927 funders supporting it. According to the Indiegogo website, the Gosnell Movie is listed as number one for the most funds raised for a film, besting actor James Franco's film. The Gosnell Movie has a clear lead with the second highest film raising $898,144.
McAleer turned to Indiegogo after he says rival crowfunding website Kickstarter tried to censor his film. To celebrate the Indiegogo crowdfunding milestone, the Gosnell Movie project put an advertisement on a billboard near Kickstarter's offices in New York City.
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McAleer used the popular Kickstarter site for his first film project "FrackNation," which was supported by 3,305 people who donated $212,000. Kickstarter, he says, tried to censor his next project because they asked him to remove parts of the descption that stated "1000s of babies stabbed to death" and "1000s of babies murdered." Gosnell was convicted in July of murdering three babies that were born alive in his West Philadelphia abortion clinic.
"We just couldn’t start telling this story by buying into an act of censorship. We walked away," McAleer told NBC10. "(The subject matter) is going to offend. We are not going to be part of community that’s offended by the truth."
While in Philadelphia producing his film "FrackNation" last year, McAleer found himself with three days off and a break from the film. So he opened the newspaper to find out what the big stories were in Philadelphia.
Pictured at right: Producers Ann McElhinney and Phelim McAleer
The case of Gosnell stunned him. The abortion doctor ran a clinic in West Philadelphia for years and stored fetuses in jars. Gosnell was convicted of murdering three babies that were born alive, killing them by snipping their spinal cords with scissors.
In addition to first degree murder, Gosnell was convicted of 233 additional counts, avoided a death sentence and is serving life in prison. In a separate federal case, he was found guilty of running a "pill mill."
The trial was dubbed the "House of Horrors" by local media. After the trial, there was a movement by religious entities, including the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, to bury the Gosnell fetuses, or "babies" as they were referred to.
McAleer, who was born in Ireland, says he had no idea how abortions worked in the U.S. before reading about the case. He decided to spend his three days off in court listening to testimony to learn more.
The producer was left with a horrifying picture of abortion, as he didn't know a six-month fetus could be aborted. McAleer felt the national media was for the most part void in telling the story. So he decided his next film would be a story on the Gosnell case and he'd rely on crowdfunding again to make the film possible.
After the producers meet the Indiegogo fundraising goal, they plan to hire a writer, director and release the made for television movie sometime next year. McAleer descibes the movie as a docudrama that tells Gosnell's story and the media cover-up.
Contact Sarah Glover at 610-668-5580, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow @skyphoto on Twitter.