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Draft Cards are for Burning

A journey into the life and subversive art of anti-war activist Tom Lewis, Draft Cards are for Burning: The Subversive Art of Tom Lewis brings the viewer a harrowing exposé of the relentless struggle to change Americans’ hearts and minds towards a just and peaceful society.

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Draft Cards are for Burning is an upcoming documentary that chronicles the life of internationally known artist and peace activist Tom Lewis. Using exclusive interviews with those who knew him, as well as newly restored historic archival footage, we hope to paint a picture of a greatly under-appreciated figure of history. From his childhood spent nomadically traveling across the east coast, to his career as an lL0artist later in life, the film manages to capture each chapter of his monumental story in impeccable detail due to the willingness of his friends and family to give their voices to the project through extensive interviews, creating a well rounded exploration of the life of this historic figure.

Structurally, the film weaves together an in-depth look at Lewis’s painstaking artistic process with a deeply intimate portrait of the artist, revealing a life of tragedy and triumph. The impending premature passing of the film’s protagonist remains an underlying theme throughout the documentary and drives the trajectory of the narrative, as we follow Lewis on a journey to create extraordinary social change that shadows the themes of his 9.9art through highly visible and complicated acts of political protest. Shooting in a partial cinema vérité style, we provide a fascinating window into Lewis’s process and the intensity of his character, capturing the difficulties that come with his departure from canvas to real world actions that are as much a piece of art as they are an act of political protest. Throughout the laborious years-long trial to create this film, archival footage capturing the artist himself is used in conjunction with professionally shot supplementary interviews conveying the labor intensive creative process that went into both his art work and his life in general.

Simultaneously, insights from other artists and activists who knew him manage to explore his inspirations, his process and his inner challenges, juxtaposed with intimate conversations from not only his critics and collaborators but his friends and loved ones. All of this lyrically woven together with mesmerizing visuals from his huge body of work, creating a spectacular and wildly detailed film that manages to be as much a work of art as some of the famed pieces created by Lewis himself which are depicted in the film. Musical compositions by renowned and award winning composers Roger and Ellen Bruno poignantly punctuate the journey by allowing the viewers to experience Lewis’s life firsthand rather than simply learn about it as other more traditionally made documentaries would attempt.

From our fly-on-the-wall perspective, we watch Lewis struggle during this highly charged process of creation. Trading his artist’s studio for a prison cell, conquering a massive judicial battle against him and still managing to stay true to his values while keeping an unbroken artistic spirit that makes his process a work of art itself.

Our Team

Executive Producer Paul Edward Gingras has been an avid photographer his entire life. Growing up in one of the post industrial communities that dot central Massachusetts allowed him to capture images and experiences that are traditionally missed in the field of photography by a professional culture that tends to undervalue the lived experiences of people who occupy a world opposite to the savage and unforgiving world of ordinary life, working class life. His hobby of photography led to him eventually meet the artist Tom Lewis in 2006, at the time Tom Lewis was an esteemed legend of the arts community whose reputation in the field of sketching and printmaking was only rivaled by his reputation as a champion for social justice dating back over 50 years. After striking up a friendship with Tom, Paul was given the opportunity to take his photography to a professional level by photographing and documenting Tom’s art and activism. By the time of Tom’s death in 2008, Paul had amassed a large collection of over a thousand photographs showcasing every aspect of Tom’s life. Working tirelessly as the executive producer on this film, Paul is spending his time making sure that this documentary comes to fruition and is made into the best film it can be, using a variety of creative and sometimes unorthodox filmmaking techniques.

Director Steve Marx was an honors student and a varsity athlete at Harvard, where he also ran two student film series. He began work in Community Television at Urban Planning Aid in Boston, and then in a succession of cable television studios, culminating as the Regional Director of Original Programming for Comcast in New England. Most recently, he has been Producer of ‘Around Town,’ a TV magazine series in Boston which has been awarded best Community Television Program in the US in at least one category for each of the past six years.

Draft Producer Michael Singh grew up in Punjab and the Himalaya mountains. He studied Indian history at The University of Chicago and filmmaking at USC’s film school in Los Angeles. As an actor on stage, he played Mr. Patel in the hit production of Trevor Griffith’s “Comedians” at the Wisdom Bridge Theatre, Chicago. His first Hollywood job was writing billboard copy for 20th Century Fox’s big-budget movies. He is now a Princeton, MA-based documentary filmmaker. Michael’s latest film, the award-winning documentary “Valentino’s Ghost: Why We Hate Arabs and Muslims,” has played in over 100 countries. It made its world premiere at La Biennale, (The Venice Film Festival), where it received a standing ovation. It is designated a New York Times CRITICS’ PICK and was called “the decade’s most important film” by The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (Mar/Apr 2016). He has written, produced and directed several award-winning Sikh-centric documentary shorts: “Prisoner’s Song,” “Rebel Queen,” “The Visionary,” and “Uncommon Ground.” Michael was Senior Producer/Writer for Discovery’s Health channel’s reality TV series “Chicago’s Lifeline,” where his episodes won two national (network competition) media awards for Best Science Series. Michael is co-writer of a romantic comedy feature film, “Good Sharma,” starring Joan Allen and Billy Connolly. He is currently completing “Riding the Tiger,” his personal eye-witness account of one of the massacres of Sikhs in 1984, which he audio-recorded.

How you can help

The film is almost completely shot other than a few key interviews that require our team to travel for them, and any additional footage that we may need once the rough cut is assembled. We have certain parts of the film edited for showcasing purposes and plan to move forward, using any funds you can provide to finish all shooting and get the film to a rough cut stage with the intention of using grant money and further donations to provide the film a high quality finish after test screenings and final cut.

So far our team has for the most part been tirelessly working for free on the project for over three years. We need your help to compensate them for their painstaking work and to have enough funding to complete the film through donations at any amount you can afford. Every dollar donated goes directly to the project and earns you a spot on the film’s credits once we’ve completed it. We greatly appreciate any amount of funding that the public can provide and thank you for your support from the bottom of our hearts.

(For other ways to donate click here.)

For more information, please visit www.tomlewisartistactivist.org/
or for questions, please email us at: tomlewisdocumentary@gmail.com
Check out the Draft Cards for Burning Facebook page!

Associated Members

Paul Edward Gingras, Independent Filmmaker

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We are grateful for the generous support of our sponsors:

Massachusetts Cultural Council
Lowel Cultural Council
Cabot Family Charitable Trust
Liberty Mutual Foundation