Crowdfund This: A Film About Transgender Artist & Activist, Marsha P. Johnson Starring Mya Taylor
Photo Credit: S & A

Crowdfund This: A Film About Transgender Artist & Activist, Marsha P. Johnson Starring Mya Taylor

Happy Birthday, Marsha

If you were one of the many who were critical of director Roland Emmerich for his "Stonewall" white-washing, here’s an opportunity to go even further, and help finance the completion of a film that fills in some of what’s missing in Emmerich’s revisionist piece. Details from the project’s Indiegogo campaign page, where the filmmakers hope to raise $30,000 in the next month. The film stars Mya Taylor of "Tangerine" fame, and was shot by Arthur Jafa, who you’re all very familiar with I’m sure.


Happy Birthday, Marsha! (HBDM!)
is a film about legendary transgender artist and activist, Marsha "Pay it No Mind" Johnson and her life in the hours before the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York City.  

The film is written, directed and produced by Reina Gossett and Sasha Wortzel. We are artists and activists who have been sharing the story of trans activists, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, for nearly a decade.

It’s been 46 years since the Stonewall Rebellion yet the leading role that street queens, people doing sex work, trans women of color and gender non-conforming people had during the riots hasn’t received the recognition it deserves. Rarely do marginalized people drive stories about themselves on-screen, but this project is different. Happy Birthday, Marsha! is written, produced and directed by a trans woman of color, and will be the first of its kind to reach a wide audience.

What we are Raising Finishing Funds for?

Last summer, we raised funds to shoot the film via Kickstarter (thanks to many of you) plus grants from Trans Justice Funding Project, Gil Foundation, Astraea Global Arts Fund, and many many individual donations. Since then the scope of the film has changed dramatically. Rather than making a traditional documentary, we shot a narrative, scripted film starring Oscar hopeful Mya Taylor as Marsha P. Johnson.

NOW we are raising the finishing funds needed to complete our film, so we can begin screening it for you! Raising this money will keep us on track to showing this film in early 2016! The funds raised will go directly towards:

  • Editing – paying our amazing editor who cut the picture
  • Motion Graphics and Titles – getting all our text and graphics designed
  • Score- paying for the film’s incredible original music 
  • Sound design – creating the feel of 1969 NYC through sounds
  • Sound Mix – getting the sound ready for theatres and your home speakers
  • Color Correction – capturing the gorgeous colors and textures of 1969
  • Festival submissions – paying submission fees ($20-$80) which add up fast!

Why are we Making Happy Birthday, Marsha!? We truly believe how we tell the stories of our heroes matters, so we are drawing upon our community to make this film because we have an opportunity to make a movie written, directed and produced by people living Sylvia & Marsha’s legacy through our own work. 

As artists and organizers active in LGBTQ racial and economic justice movements, we have found that oppression does not solely affect our material conditions. Our relationships with each other, our ancestors, and communities are also at stake.  One of the ways we have found transphobia, racism and sexism operating in our community is through the historical erasure of rich legacies of trans activism and art from the sixties through the present. That is why as cultural workers, we are working to transform oppression through art, specifically by creating and sharing our film, Happy Birthday, Marsha!

    Who we are: the Cast and Crew

    The film stars a talented cast of trans and gender non-conforming people including oscar-hopeful star of "Tangerine," Mya Taylor as Marsha P. Johnson. HBDM! also features Eve Lindley (Sylvia Rivera), Cherno Biko (Andorra Marks), Rios O’Leary-Tagiuri (Bambi L’Amour),Grace Dunham (Junior) with appearances by Stefanie Rivera, Gabriel Foster, Miss Egyptt, Jimmy Camicia, Jay Toole, and many others. 

    Our crew includes many super stars such as our Cinematographer, Arthur Jafa whose cinematographic work includes Malcolm X, Crooklyn, and Daughters of the Dust, for which he won the cinematography award at Sundance Film Festival. We have an incredible producing team including Matt Shields, Luisa Conlon and  consulting producer, Zackary Drucker, artist and producer on the Golden Globe winning TV show Transparent. Gigi Rose-Gray (production designer) and Kaitlyn Darby (Art direction) designed and built sets and props to create the beautiful 60s feel of the film. Our stunning costumes and hair were done by Melissa Vargas (Costume Designer) and Malcolm Cuthbert (Hair). We have been working with talented editor Sarah Enid Hagey to cut the film (and the trailer above!), Esy Casey on titles and graphics, David Briggs on sound design/mix, and Geo Wyeth on an incredible original score. Plus many more friends and individuals have contributed to the making of this film in profound ways.


    Below you’ll find an early preview of the film, followed by the project’s Indiegogo widget which you can click on to be taken to its Indiegogo page, where you can read more on the project, as well as, of course, make a contribution to the campaign.

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