Viewing entries tagged
North Cemetery

Living with the Dead Documentary Fundraiser and FAQs


First, I cannot thank the backers of our fundraising effort enough for your pledges of support. We are over the halfway point to reach our goal of $5,050, which will cover the hard costs of travel and accommodation to complete this 30-minute documentary. If we exceed our goal, we will apply extra funds against the cost of post-production and distribution of the finished piece. As we near the end of this campaign, I want to address some good questions and also some issues that have come up during this fundraising process:

Q: Chance Multimedia is a for-profit company, right? Why do you need funding for this project?

Yes, Chance Multimedia is a for-profit entity that earns money producing video and photo content for both nonprofit and commercial clients.

Alternately, the Living with the Dead story, which we (James and Jessica Chance) have been funding and working on independently since 2008, is completely unrelated to our for-profit business model. (James did receive support from POYi in 2011 to finish the photography for this story, but the video documentary portion of the project has been 100% self-funded until now.)

If our goal is funded in total, we will continue to invest hundreds of hours of unpaid time to see this project to completion.  The pledges we seek will only cover hard travel costs for two people (flight, basic accommodation and basic meals for one month) while we are on the ground in Manila.

We will receive no funds unless our goal is reached in its entirety.

Q: Wouldn’t that money be better used to help the people in the cemetery?

That is a complicated question. We see our role as storytellers and documentarians. With several years of history and relationships in the cemetery community, we feel we’re in a good position to illustrate the challenges residents face as well as the solutions they have created for themselves in the face of pressing global issues.

We do hope the story we are able to tell with the community members will perhaps inspire those in a philanthropic position to take responsible action, which we feel they would be more equipped to do than we are as independent documentarians.

Issue: I tried to donate, but the site didn’t work/ it didn’t go through/ I ran into problems and gave up.

Thank you so much for trying. We’ve heard this from multiple people. Gratefully, when we’ve heard reports of specific issues we’ve been able to work with the folks at to resolve them. Please, if you try to pledge and have trouble, let us know, and we’ll work on fixing the problem. We thank everyone who has persevered for your patience.

Q: What are Incentives?

There are incentives (things we give back to you to thank you for your pledge) at every level of support. Incentives include photo outtakes and thank you postcards featuring images from the project, a DVD or digital download of the film, prints, your name in the credits, and more. We're even offering a two-day, customized multimedia workshop for an organization wishing to support the production of this story.

Plus, the most basic pledge ($10) and every increasing level will grant you access to “The Making of Zone,” where we’ll document the challenges and surprises that are sure to come as we create this documentary.

Please pledge, and be a part of this project! Many thanks to those of you that have already! If you have more questions for us, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Jessica Chance


A Greater


After years of documenting a community of people living in the North Cemetery in Manila—many of whom we now consider friends—James and I are ready to finalize production of a 30-minute documentary that will expand on the initial multimedia story, released in 2008, for which we were presented an Every Human Has Rights Media Award. This longer-form documentary will explore issues affecting Metro Manila, such as dense population and intense poverty, from the perspective of residents of the North Cemetery. We are thrilled to announce that, a curated crowd funding site for visual journalism, has chosen to feature and promote this project for funding. For the first time in the four years we've been working on this film and photography project, we'd like to ask you to be a part of it by either helping us fund it or by simply spreading the word.

Our funding goal, which will cover only hard costs of travel and production, is $5,050.  We will not receive any funding or pledges unless we reach our goal. In addition, funding at the most basic level ($10) admits each backer into the “making-of-zone,” where we will share the ups and downs, challenges and insights we gain as we complete filming in the cemetery throughout post-production.  Higher levels of backing earn this, plus rewards such as original postcards and prints from the project, all the way up to a personal multimedia workshop from James and myself.

Living with the Dead: The Backdrop

Manila, Philippines is the most densely populated city in the world. Danica May Comacho was born here on October 31st, 2011. The UN symbolically named her the “seven-billionth” human to join our current world population.

Filipinos from rural provinces often migrate to the city in search of a better life. In 2010, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a warning, stating that: “continued population growth in Metro Manila will have ‘damaging consequences for human health,’ particularly for the poor as it increases poverty, diseases and natural disasters.”  The WHO estimates that over 20% of Metro Manila's population is either under or near the poverty line, with 35% living in urban slums.

In the center of this complex and intense capital lies the sprawling North Cemetery, where many past presidents, actors and actresses are buried. In contrast to intense traffic and noise just outside the cemetery walls, the North Cemetery is quiet and peaceful. Here, a community of around 2,000 people live, work, raise children and sleep, participating in the unique economy that accompanies the up to 80 Catholic burials which take place here each day.

Residents here tell us they prefer the cemetery to the streets, and indeed, some residents prosper greatly in the cemetery economy, earning enough money to send their children to private school.

Anticipated Outcome and Goals

Our documentary will look at current issues facing our planet from the perspective of three families living inside the cemetery, such as population growth, poverty, human rights, access to family planning, affordable housing and education.

Our goal is to educate and engage a broad audience with these larger issues, through the eyes, lives and hopes of the children and families who call the North Cemetery home.

We deeply appreciate your consideration to help us fund this project! Many, many thanks to those of you that already have.

Support the project, here: Living with the Dead (via

Jessica Chance