“The IDEA of UBI is getting talked about all over now, but I want people to witness the REALITY of it.”
- Deia Schlosberg, Director
Bootstraps is a docuseries capturing America's most geographically diverse trial of basic income to date. Spanning ten states, the series tells the stories of 21 Americans each receiving a no-strings-attached income supplement for two years.
What is Universal Basic Income?
A basic income is a periodic cash payment unconditionally delivered to all on an individual basis, without means test or work requirement.
– from Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN)
Deia Schlosberg | Director + Producer
Deia made national news in October, 2016, when she was arrested and charged with 45 years' worth of felonies for filming the #ShutItDown pipeline protest (done in solidarity with the water protectors at Standing Rock) in North Dakota. She's currently also directing The Story of Plastic, the Story of Stuff organization's first feature film. Previously, Deia produced Josh Fox's recent climate change film, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change (2016), which premiered at Sundance and is available on HBO and other services, and has screened around the world.
Deia also co-produced Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock, which premiered at Tribeca Film Festival (2017) and is available on Netflix, and The Reluctant Radical (2018), Lindsey Grayzel's portrait of one climate activist and his personal struggle with avoiding global catastrophe. Deia also co-directed and produced Cold Love, a look at the 25-plus-year career of explorer Lonnie Dupre's journeys to the world's coldest places and the climate change impacts that he's witnessed first-hand by doing so. Deia earned an MFA in Science & Natural History Filmmaking at Montana State University in Bozeman, where she directed and produced Backyard, which looks at the human cost of fracking. The film won two student Emmys (Best Documentary, Bricker Humanitarian Award), and screened at film festivals around the world, winning several audience choice and special jury awards. Deia's background is in environmental education and visual arts, as well as expeditioning, having been awarded a 2009 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year award for a two-year, 7800-mile through-hike of the Andes Mountains. She subsequently gave talks around the U.S. on the lessons in sustainable living she learned over the course of her time in the Andes.
Conrad Shaw | UBI Trial Manager + Co-Producer
Conrad is a New York-based film and stage actor, a screenwriter, and a UBI writer/advocate. Originally from Colorado, he earned a degree and several years experience as a mechanical engineer before switching gears and moving to New York to pursue his passion of storytelling. He graduated from the two-year Meisner acting training program at the William Esper Studio in midtown Manhattan. Alongside current documentary and acting work, Conrad is also developing a feature narrative film called Rolling with Virgil and a long form television drama series called Jellyfish. Since embarking on the Bootstraps project in 2016, Conrad has built a reputation as a respected writer and speaker in the UBI space as well.
Kyle Cadotte | Producer
Kyle produced #ClimateRevolution, a concert series sponsored by NextGen America; co-produced Awake, A Dream From Standing Rock (Tribeca/NETFLIX); and was the production coordinator for both How To Let Go... (Sundance/HBO) and for the branding studio Narratively Creative. Kyle’s other current projects include: associate producing Katy Scoggin’s Flood, producing Greg King’s documentary following Anne Bogart’s SITI Company, and production managing Deia Schlosberg’s Story of Plastic. Kyle has managed a variety of production companies including the OBIE and Drama Desk winning En Garde Arts and the Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning International WOW Company. Kyle holds an MFA in Management and Producing from Columbia University.
Faisal Azam | Series Editor
Faisal Azam is a film editor, photographer, and writer. Born in Karachi, Pakistan and raised in the Middle East, Faisal graduated magna cum laude from UC Berkeley with a degree in Rhetoric. Based in NYC, Faisal has cut commercials, narrative films, and television shows, including documentaries for National Geographic, Dan Rather Reports, USA Network, Al Jazeera, FiveThirtyEight, and Sports Illustrated as well as the indie feature Black Dog, Red Dog produced by James Franco. Faisal’s work has been featured in Sundance, New York Times, Washington Post, Claremont-Ferrand, Palm Springs, Slamdance, and BFI London. The last narrative short he edited won the Best Dramatic Short Film award at the Austin Film Festival and was shortlisted for an Oscar. Faisal currently serves as an Emmy Awards judge; has been selected as a Karen Schmeer Diversity in the Edit Room Mentee; and co-wrote H8 (Second Place, WeScreenplay’s 2018 Television Pilot Screenwriting Contest).
Kartemquin Films | Development Partner
Kartemquin is a collaborative center empowering filmmakers who create documentaries that have consequences in the world and foster a more engaged and just society. For 52 years, KTQ has embraced a vision of democracy through documentary, producing over 60 social justice documentaries including Hoop Dreams, The Interrupters, The Homestretch, and 2018 Oscar-nominees Abacus: Small Enough to Jail and Edith+Eddie. Kartemquin is a leading advocate for independent public media and has helped hundreds of artists via its filmmaker development programs (Diverse Voices in Docs, KTQ Internship, and KTQ Labs) that help further grow the field. The organization's films have won five Emmys, two Peabody Awards, and multiple IDA, PGA, DGA, and duPont-Columbia awards. Two of Kartemquin’s newest projects, America to Me and Minding the Gap, premiered to widespread critical acclaim at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival.
Danny Schmidt | Story Producer + Cinematographer
Danny Schmidt has produced, directed, and photographed documentary films for clients including PBS, National Geographic, Netflix, HHMI BioInteractive, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and many others. He won an NW Emmy award for cinematography for his DP work on the PBS film Indian Relay and another for best topical documentary for Finding Nemo on Netflix. He received his MFA in Science and Natural History Filmmaking in 2012 from Montana State University and his BS in Earth Science from the University of Utah. He currently lives in Salt Lake City.
Katy Scoggin | Story Producer + Cinematographer
Katy Scoggin is an award-winning documentary filmmaker and camerawoman based in Brooklyn. She was a co-producer and cinematographer on Laura Poitras's Oscar-winning Citizenfour and its follow-up, Risk; an associate producer on the Emmy-nominated The Oath; and a producer and/or DP on the New York Times Op-Docs The Program and Death of a Prisoner. In 2016, she filmed on the U.S. campaign trail for IDA Award-nominated Vanity Fair series NomiNation and the First Look Media/Fusion series Primaries. Her first feature doc, Flood, is entering post-production. It has received support from Film Independent, the Sundance Institute, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the NYU Richard Vague Award, and the MacDowell Colony.
Kelly Creedon | Story Producer + Cinematographer
Kelly Creedon is a documentary filmmaker who uses intimate storytelling as a means to explore the questions that unite and divide us. Her work has been featured in Vimeo Staff Picks, National Geographic, the Los Angeles Times, and Reel South, among others. Her short documentary IN THIS WORLD screened at festivals around the country, and her editing credits include the feature-length documentary Farmsteaders (2018) and the documentary short Santuario (2018). She teaches documentary storytelling at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke and was awarded a 2019 North Carolina Arts Council Fellowship.
Erick Stoll | Story Producer + Cinematographer
Erick Stoll is a non-fiction filmmaker from Cincinnati, Ohio. He co-founded the online political series New Left Media, which tracked conservative and progressive movements under the Obama presidency. He co-directed the short docs Lifelike, a dispassionate reconstruction of the taxidermic process, and Good White People, which follows the displacement of a black family from a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio, and won Best Short prizes at Camden and Indie Memphis, among others. His most recent film, América, is a feature documentary IDA shortlist selection.
Melissa Lesh | Story Producer + Cinematographer
Melissa Lesh founded Emerging Earth Films in 2014 as a way to bridge the arts and sciences, focusing on natural history and conservation stories. She is the co-director and editor of Person of the Forest, a short film depicting new cultural behaviors in wild orangutans. Since the film’s premiere it has screened at over 35 festivals, been viewed more than a million times via the National Geographic online platform and has received a Vimeo Staff Pick. Additionally, she has filmed for clients such as National Geographic Magazine, Nat Geo Wild, PBS, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Born in Mumbai, India and having grown up in Madison, Wisconsin, she now calls Richmond, Virginia home.
Juan Leguizamón | Editor
Argentinian-born and Brooklyn-based, Juan is a filmmaker and editor whose work focuses on human rights and social justice. He has worked alongside extremely talented and courageous directors, editors, and producers, editing multi-award wining films and series including The Host (Clermont-Ferrand), Welcome to Poptun (IDFA) Angel’s Fire (IDA/DocuWeek), Machulenco (ALCINE/NYFF), Dreaming Nicaragua (IDFA/FIPA/TV5 France), Eye What You Eat (Webby/Scripps Networks), and The Birth of Sake (TriBeca/POV/Netflix). His latest work includes producing and editing Brooklyn Experience a 360 feature film directed by José Campusano (premiere at International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2018) and directing/editing Slave One: The Kung Fu Judge Story which won Best short doc at LESFF 2018. Pulling from his uncommon multicultural background, he brings a unique artistic perspective to every project.
Thomas Rivera Montes | Editor
Thomas Rivera Montes is a New York City-based Filmmaker, Producer, and freelance Editor. Born and raised in Lausanne (Switzerland), he graduated in May 2015 from Brooklyn College (New York), with a Bachelor’s degree in Film Production. His credits as an Editor include Bronx Gothic, a feature documentary about Bessie winner Okwui Okpokwasili from Emmy-nominated director Andrew Rossi (Page One: Inside The New York Times and The First Monday in May), which premiered at Film Forum 2017. He has also worked on Viviane Silvera’s See Memory, a stop motion animation featuring Nobel Prize winner Eric Kandel as well as multiple narrative shorts and feature films. Thomas edited The Gospel According to Andre, a documentary about the life of Vogue editor Andre Leon Talley, which premiered at TIFF, and he recently finished editing Karim Amir and Jehane Noujaime's Sundance release, The Great Hack, out on Netflix in 2019.
Grace Mendenhall | Editor
Grace Mendenhall is a video editor and motion graphics designer with a special interest in social justice-oriented documentaries. Most recently, she served as Associate Editor on RBG (2018, Sundance), the Oscar-nominated documentary on Justice Ginsburg. Additionally, Grace recently edited Small Family Happy Family, a short documentary on reproductive rights (2019, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival). She also worked on the documentary series America Uprising, which profiles activists across the country and launched on Refinery29 in 2017. Grace’s editing and graphics work also appears on PBS, National Geographic, and The Marshall Project, among others, and has been featured at film festivals around the world. Grace attended the Salt Institute, the Duke Center for Documentary Studies, and the Bay Area Video Coalition, where she studied audio and visual storytelling, creative nonfiction writing, and animation. She is a Karen Schmeer Diversity in the Edit Room Fellow and is currently based in Brooklyn.
Ligaiya Romero | Editor
Ligaiya Romero is a documentary filmmaker and visual artist working with collective memory and the decolonial imagination. She is currently working on a photography project about inherited memory, hidden histories, and her family. Ligaiya is the Video Producer & Editor for The Argus Project, a transmedia documentary on police violence and citizen counter-surveillance. The project was supported by Tribeca New Media Fund and presented at Tribeca Film Festival Storyscapes 2016. Her work has been recognized by the SXSW Interactive Awards, the Webby Awards, NPPA Best of Photojournalism, Photo District News, College Photographer of the Year and the New York Photo Awards, among others. She was previously a documentary producer and editor at MediaStorm. Ligaiya is a fellow at Firelight Media's Documentary Story Lab and a member of the Queer Producers Collective. She is a Visiting Professor at UNC-Chapel Hill's School of Media and Journalism, teaching documentary film and photography.
Annukka Lilja | Editor
Annukka Lilja is a Finnish-born New York-based award-winning film editor. Her recent feature documentary work includes Bill Nye: Science Guy (SXSW/PBS) and How to Let Go of the World and Love all the Things Climate Can't Change (Sundance/HBO). Her other documentary feature work includes Deirdre Fishel’s Care, Lotta Petronella’s Home, Somewhere, and David Alvarado and Jason Sussberg’s The Immortalists.
Ben Sollee | Music Director + Composer
Ben Sollee is a Kentucky-based cellist, composer, father, and activist. His songs have been placed on TV, in shows like ABC’s Parenthood and HBO’s Weeds, and in films like The Killing Season. Extremely versatile, Ben has performed both solo and in bands, at Carnegie Hall, and with the Charlotte Ballet, to name a few. Prolific in his writing, he has scored films and plays, released at least thirteen albums, and even written for a VR app. Sollee’s style is difficult to pin down. Following a performance at the Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series, the New York Times remarked how Sollee’s “...meticulous, fluent arrangements continually morphed from one thing to another. Appalachian mountain music gave way to the blues, and one song was appended with a fragment from a Bach cello suite, beautifully played.”
Michael Premo | Consulting Producer
Michael Premo is an artist, journalist, and filmmaker. He is co-founder and Executive Producer at Storyline, a production company building power with story and strategy. Michael has created original film, theater, and radio with numerous companies including Hip-Hop Theater Festival, The Foundry Theater, The Civilians, and the Peabody Award winning StoryCorps. Michael's photography has appeared in publications like The Village Voice and The New York Times, among others. Recent projects with Storyline include the multi-platform project 28th Amendment: Housing is a Human Right, the participatory documentary Sandy Storyline, and award-winning short film and exhibit Water Warriors. He consults on participatory documentary processes, impact strategy, and civic engagement through Storyline and the Interaction Institute for Social Change. He is on the Board of Trustees of A Blade of Grass and The Center for Story-based Strategy.
Senior Fellow, Economic Security Project; Former President, Service Employees International Union
Andy Stern is a senior fellow at the Economic Security Project. In 2010, he retired as president of the Service Employees International Union, which grew by 1.2 million workers during his 14-year tenure, and where he led a five-year campaign that ended with the passage of Obamacare. Stern was a presidential appointee on the Simpson-Bowles Commission. Named a Fox Power Player of the Week, he has been featured on “60 Minutes,” CNN, and the covers of the New York Times Magazine, Fortune, and Business Week. He authored A Country That Works and Raising the Floor: How a Universal Basic Income Can Renew Our Economy and Restore the American Dream.
Dorian T. Warren is President of the Center for Community Change Action (CCCA) and President of the Center for Community Change (CCC). He is also a Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute. A progressive scholar, organizer and media personality, Warren has worked to advance racial, economic and social justice for over two decades. He previously taught for over a decade at the University of Chicago and Columbia University, where he was Co-Director of the Columbia University Program on Labor Law and Policy. Warren also worked at MSNBC where he was a Contributor and Host and Executive Producer of “Nerding Out.” Dorian serves on several boards, is a frequent television and radio commentator on public affairs, and has written extensively for several international publications.
Josephine has been a human rights activist for over 25 years, using economic social and cultural rights to empower low income communities, impact social policy and connect diverse social movements locally and internationally. Josephine co-founded LIFT (Low Income Families Together), the Centre for Social Justice, the Income Security Advocacy Centre, and was the chair of Foodshare for many years. She was also the president of Project Esperance, a permanent social housing project for mothers escaping domestic violence. Josephine is also the project lead for the OASIS Foodhub Project of the St James Town Community co-op that plans to combine timebanking with the basic income to help cultivate climate resilient food security and good jobs for New Canadians and others in need in her low income community in downtown Toronto.
Karl Widerquist is an Associate Professor of political philosophy at SFS-Qatar, Georgetown University, specializing in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and now serves as vice-chair. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News, the main source of just-the-facts reporting on UBI worldwide. He is a cofounder and editor of the journal Basic Income Studies, the only academic journal devoted to research on UBI. Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media.
Sandhya Anantharaman is a Co-Director of the Universal Income Project, a California advocacy organization devoted to the expansion of economic security and human dignity through the implementation of a universal basic income. She focuses on building a progressive California coalition in support of universal basic income.
Sandhya got her start in politics as a grassroots organizer on the Obama campaign, proceeding to work on Democratic campaigns for Senate, Governor, and Georgia state legislative races. She most recently consulted at ShareProgress, helping national progressive advocacy organizations to improve their analytics and run novel experiments.
Writer and advocate of basic income for all; Citizen of Earth and New Orleans; Bachelor of Science in Psychology; Moderator of the /r/BasicIncome community on Reddit; Founder of the BIG Patreon Creator Pledge. Extensive, influential writings about universal basic income at: https://medium.com/@2noame
Jason Burke Murphy
Jason Burke Murphy is a Professor of Philosophy at Elms College in Massachusetts. He has published on ethics and basic income and also on "the meaning of life" as well as on the ethics of sports fandom. He now serves on US Basic Income Guarantee (USBIG) Network's National Committee. He has developed USBIG's social media and website, speaks to press, and has trained writers to present basic income in ways more people will understand. Jason has also previously worked for ACORN in Arkansas, interviewing thousands of families and signing up hundreds of low-to-moderate income families. He helped organize campaigns to fight utility rate increases, regressive taxation, cuts in school lunch programs, as well as bank and insurance red-lining. He has served on the national board of Democratic Socialists of America's Youth Section. He was also coordinator for the Gateway Green Alliance in Saint Louis.