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Activist-Filmmaker Ethan Paisley Launches Campaign for “The Bystander Effect”

Updated: Jul 31, 2021

Acclaimed activist and filmmaker Ethan Paisley is tackling what it means to be an active bystander in his upcoming film, The Bystander Effect, which kicked off its crowdfunding campaign launch earlier this week with a mysterious, pink stick figure making its way around social media.

According to IMDb, The Bystander Effect is about Evan, a young queer man, who witnesses a transwoman Daphne being attacked, and must decide whether to act upon his instinct to get involved or remain complicit. The film will touch on themes around unconscious bias, social media’s role in activism, and how forgiveness plays a role in creating social progress. Paisley was inspired to write and direct the film following the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, particularly the movement for black trans people who are going missing and murdered at disproportionate rates.

This will mark Paisley’s newest narrative directorial work. His previous film Gone Missing was a documentary about Covid’s impact on missing Navajo people and was released by the Sunrise Movement. He has directed two award-winning features and over thirty short films and mixed media projects.

Ethan Paisley

The Bystander Effect campaign is raising $10K to complete the film on Seed&Spark. $250 wins you a cameo in the movie, and $5K wins you an executive producer title. To follow, make a pledge, or share the campaign, visit

Paisley is attached to write, direct, and produce. Producers include Rabia Sultana (Angelfish), Jolene Mendes (She Paradise), Suzann Toni (The Sinners), and Rheagan Rizio (Point 453), with cinematography by Mariscela Méndez (Mr. Church) and production design by Alina Celik (On Our Way). No cast is attached as of yet.

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