Private Project


The very ethics of our current economic system are rooted deeply in the idea of “bootstrapping” one’s way to success - making something from nothing in this land of unbounded opportunity. The reality, however, is that the odds are long and heavily stacked against most of us.

Could basic income revive "The American Dream?" The BOOTSTRAPS docu-series shows what happens to everyday Americans when they receive $1,000 a month, no strings attached.

BOOTSTRAPS follows eleven households, representing a diverse cross-section of the US, for several years as they participate in an unprecedented basic income trial.

  • Deia Schlosberg
    How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change, Backyard, Cold Love, The Reluctant Radical, Awake - A Dream From Standing Rock
  • Vanessa Bergonzoli
    Mondays at Racine
  • Conrad Shaw
  • Kyle Cadotte
    How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change, Awake - A Dream From Standing Rock
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Television, Other
  • Genres:
    docu-series, social justice, verite, episodic
  • Runtime:
    1 hour
  • Completion Date:
    November 30, 2022
  • Production Budget:
    3,100,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    4k Digital
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Big Sky Pitch Competition
    Missoula, MT
    United States
    in competition
  • IFP Film Week - Episodic Selection
    New York, NY
    United States
    official selection (1 of 10)
  • Film Independent + CNN Episodic Intensive
    Los Angeles, CA
    United States
    official selection (1 of 10)
Director Biography - Deia Schlosberg

Deia Schlosberg’s directorial debut, THE STORY OF PLASTIC (Mill Valley/Discovery) won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Documentary in 2021. Previously, Deia produced Josh Fox's climate change film, HOW TO LET GO OF THE WORLD... (2016, Sundance/HBO), and co-produced AWAKE, A DREAM FROM STANDING ROCK (2017, Tribeca/Netflix), and THE RELUCTANT RADICAL (2018, PBS, dir. Lindsey Grayzel). 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 and won two student Emmys (Best Documentary, Bricker Humanitarian Award). 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 in North Dakota, done in solidarity with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock. She was named one of DOC NYC's 40 under 40 in 2019, and a Film Independent Fellow in 2021. Deia's background is in Earth science and visual communications, 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.

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Director Statement

Over the past 6 years, our team has developed the BOOTSTRAPS project to bring together a wide audience around an intimate study of human nature. Namely, the realities of daily life in the American economy, through the unique lens of the transformational -- and largely misunderstood -- policy idea that is universal basic income (UBI). We don't approach this project looking to sell the idea of UBI, but rather to present its human side honestly, compellingly, and ethically. BOOTSTRAPS explores a “what-if” glimpse of what UBI could mean for Americans from all walks of life, and shares the good, the bad, the ugly, and the truly beautiful.

I don't come to the topic of financial insecurity as an outsider. Having grown up modestly and having personal experience navigating several forms of the existing inadequate safety net, I know what it's like to feel hamstrung by scarcity. So exploring a policy that has the potential to alleviate much of that stress is very appealing to me.

In order to pull off this project, our team spent several years concurrently designing, fundraising, and managing the unprecedented sociological experiment that is the basis for the concept, and producing the docuseries that tracks the resulting stories.

The results were incredible, and lives changed dramatically. The topic of UBI is rapidly pushing its way further into the national discourse, exacerbated by nationwide economic turmoil and political hopefuls beginning to court the idea in earnest. The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn an acute awareness to the need for broader social aid, creating a hunger for real-world examples. I cannot wait to share what happened in the Bootstraps trial through the compelling stories of the participants and collaborators.