Sex+ Money: A National Search for Human Worth is a profound and moving film that looks at the reality of child-sex trafficking in the United States. I had the privilege to work alongside members of the crew who authored a book about the issue and have been following their story ever since.
I was able to see the film and catch up with the filmmakers in person when it was screened in Vancouver, BC earlier in the year. It deeply impacted me. The film is a must-see. The filmmakers are humble heralds of a difficult but important message. I’ve been inspired to follow their journey across the USA as they get the word out that trafficking isn’t just something that happens “over there, away from where we live,” but exists, even thrives, in our back yards.
I caught up with Scott Martin, one of the 5 journalists who interviewed countless experts and individuals about the issue across the USA for the film. I connected with Scott via email while he was on the road near the end of the 50-state tour.
Andrew Kooman: How many cities have you visited and how many times have you screened the film? How many more times will you screen the film on tour?
Scott Martin: Well as of November 16, we have screened the film in 46 states, a total of 77 times. I’m not certain on the city total. I believe we have 11 more screenings left to do on the tour.
AK: What does a regular day on tour look like?
SM: Each day is quite different. Of course there’s always the menial tasks which need to get done. Washing, cleaning, finding food, loading and unloading merch to take to events, and packing up your stuff getting ready to move on to the next location; but there is also meeting with many abolitionists, seeing students across the nation becoming aware of this injustice and answering their questions, getting to know the gracious hosts who let us sleep in their homes.
AK: I know you’re traveling with an entourage. Who have you brought on tour with you and what are they all up to?
SM: We certainly have an entourage. Of course there are the 5 journalists from the film. Tim, Sarah-jo, Autumn, Morgan and myself. We each take turns introducing at the events and moderating the panel discussion which follows at the university events. Tim is also quite busy with keeping up the tour blog for everyone to follow what we see happening on the road. Morgan and Autumn are also the executive and line producers for the film, so they are providing leadership from within in that regard.
Also with us are Andy Hewson and Samuel Taipale, our media team. Samuel takes amazing photographs of the tour and at each event, some of which are posted in the blog; while Andy shoots video to create a film for us which documents the tour. Andy was also one of the videographers in the filming of the documentary.
We also have a worship team traveling with us to lead worship at our faith based events. That team includes Isaac Gill, Megan Perry, Jasen Chung, Chris Conley, and Joseph Swanson. Isaac also is one of the associate producers of the film and provides leadership within the group. Last but not least we have Jeff Ball, Lindsay Diederichs and Sarah Mason. Jeff and Lindsay are also on the leadership team, helping coordinate events and finances while Sarah has been the bus driver for the tour enduring the many long hours on the road to get us from one event to the next.
AK: What was your role in the film? What is your role on tour?
SM: I was able to provide the motorhome that we used on the initial filming trip, as well as raise a few thousand dollars to help kick off the tour. Personally, I was one of the five journalists who travelled the nation documenting the issue of domestic minor sex trafficking. On tour I was helping with the motorhome daily maintenance before it’s tragic failure in Florida, as well as introducing our film and group at events and moderating panels following the university events.
AK: Why are you screening the film on college campuses and with faith communities?
SM: We wanted to reach both of these demographics specifically. We know that college students are very interested in social justice initiatives. What a better time to grab someone’s attention and heart for an issue than when they are deciding how to use the skills that they are acquiring through their education. We are also screening the film in churches across the United States. We know that this problem does not just exist outside the Church. We believe we must see a move of repentance and revival of the Church in our nation forsaking participation and apathy to this injustice.
AK: What is your hope as you screen the film – do you have specific outcomes in mind that you want to realize?
SM: We want to see people more specifically educated and aware about this issue through the film. At each screening we are selling merchandise of which 75% of the proceeds are going to a restoration home in Phoenix, AZ. We are also taking offerings for regional restoration homes at our events.
AK: How have audiences received the film so far? Do you notice a difference in the way people from your different audience demographics respond to the film?
SM: Audiences have been very receptive to the film and it’s message. There is definitely a different response from our faith based screenings than that of our university screenings, but that is also due to the parameters of those events. Overall everyone has been very encouraging after the film and grateful to have it brought to them.
AK: How are you encouraging audiences, state by state, to further engage the issue after seeing the film?
SM: At each event we are trying to have local organizations represented, so that after the film people are able to connect immediately to local initiatives that they could potentially become involved with.
AK: . What’s a practical next step of action for individuals whose eyes are newly opened to the reality of trafficking in the USA to take to fight trafficking?
SM: A really practical next step is to pass on the word. As you find out about the issue, pass on the knowledge to your community around you. You don’t have to quit your job to become an advocate, you can be raising awareness in your everyday conversations. From there it’s really up to you, there are a plethora of ways you can get involved locally, nationally, or internationally.
AK: How did your partnership with Exodus Cry develop and why is it important to you to connect the modern abolition movement with a prayer movement?
SM: From the very beginning of production Morgan, who is the executive producer, felt that this film had to be tied with the prayer movement. Exodus Cry is a human trafficking focus within IHOP, the International House of Prayer. We believe that this is not only a physical reality but also a spiritual one, and that we must confront both together. The production of this film was done with an intercessory prayer team traveling right alongside of us. From the very beginning this whole project has been birthed and bathed in prayer.
AK: What are some major lessons you’ve learned about the nature of human trafficking and exploitation through your work on this project?
SM: Gosh. Well, without writing a book… This is a cultural problem at its roots, there are some major systemic social issues in this injustice. Broken homes, fatherlessness, and the cultural acceptance of the commercialization of sexuality. In many ways we all contribute to the demand for trafficking through our everyday transactions in what we say is permissible through our watching, contributing, and being apathetic to it’s presence. I think what I’ve learned is that we sincerely need to address the demand, and the permissible attitude towards this behavior.
Purchase the DVD and learn more about the film at the official website
Images courtesy SexandMoneyFilm.com
Read more interviews between Andrew and other artists, activists and bold thinkers here