My Huge Challenge!!!

29 Apr

It’s been awhile since my last post, since I am preparing for the impossible!

For my current feature film project, I am aiming to raise about $70,000 before July 2. It’s the biggest challenge of my life so far.

I’ve been spending a lot of time strategizing my fundraising approach, which will include a crowdfunding campaign and product placement.  My goal is to raise my minimum film budget by July 2, so I can then proceed to pre-production, which includes casting of talent and hiring of crew. If all goes well, we will begin filming in Indiana in mid-September.

I will now be posting my progress more frequently to share the ups and downs of fundraising an independent film!

Ang Lee Cooking and Cleaning

4 Apr

My good friend, Jeffrey Travis, recently shared an article with me with the belief that I would find it encouraging: I did…very much!

Let me preface the article by saying that this year’s Academy Award winning director, Ang Lee, was in a long, long funk and seriously put in his dues.

From age 30 to 36, he’s living in an apartment in White Plains, NY trying to get something — anything — going, while his wife Jane supports the family of four (they also had two young children) on her modest salary as a microbiologist. He spends every day at home, working on scripts, raising the kids, doing the cooking. That’s a six-year span — six years! — filled with dashed hopes and

Enjoy the article, “Ang Lee and the Uncertainty of Success,” by Jeff J. Lin.

Hurry Up and Wait…

15 Mar

A fellow filmmaker recently asked me how I was doing and when I mentioned that some things are “in the works,” he responded, “Yeah, well….  Hurry up and wait, huh?”

That phrase, “hurry up and wait,” has been haunting me all week.  It gets to the core of what I loathe about filmmaking: our immense dependency on others.  Even the smallest film projects rely on the commitment of others.  Like kids on a playground before a game of kickball, countless filmmakers in Los Angeles are waiting around hoping to be a part of a team.  It’s torture, discouraging, and demoralizing.

It really is a conundrum: while us filmmakers love to collaborate and need others to actualize our art, at the same time, we are at their mercy.  It’s in the nature of what we do.  I’ve often fantasized of being a lone pianist, photographer, painter, or poet, engaged in an art form where completion rests solely on my efforts, but I love to make films.

I’ve successfully counteracted the dependency dilemma by making short films that relied on a few people.  However, when one’s project inherently demands substantial help from others, well, it’s hurry up and wait!

But then again, I doubt Spielberg has to hurry up and wait.  Maybe that’s the key: the more of a success you are, the less you wait.

I’ll never forget the time I was in a mass of people swarming around the filmmaker, Werner Herzog.  In the midst of the chaos, a 20-something kid battled the mob and stepped up to Herzog, begging: “Please, please.  I’ll do anything you want, Mr. Herzog, if only I can have a chance to be on your set and learn.”  I didn’t hear the filmmaker’s response; I was too stupefied by the desperation before me…

Veronica Mars Kickstarter Campaign Raises $2 Million!

14 Mar

Screen shot 2013-03-14 at 8.06.49 AM

Yesterday was a monumental day for independent film.  Over $2 million was raised in just ONE DAY on a Kickstarter campaign to fund The Veronica Mars Movie Project.

The movie will be based on the original Veronica Mars television show, starring Kristen Bell.  Apparently the show’s creator, Rob Thomas and Bell herself, have tried to produce the feature film spin-off for years; however, Warner Bros., who owns the Veronica Mars brand, was not keen on the idea.  So Thomas and Bell took matters into their own hands and with WB’s blessing, they launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $2 million to produce their feature.  (No independent film had ever attempted to raise so much.)

Why is this HUGE for independent film?  Because it legitimizes crowdfunding as a viable and professional form of financing a film project.  Sure, crowdfunding has been around a while now, but no film has ever raised this much money and not with a celebrity like Bell.  Hollywood and news agencies are abuzz today with this incredible feat…

Independent filmmakers can now approach major Hollywood players with crowdfunding as part of the “deal.”  Having an IndieGoGo or Kickstarter campaign to raise funds won’t sound so amateurish anymore.  Remember, I’m talking about Hollywood folks here: agents, casting directors, A-list actors, etc..  They operate within an old investor/studio-based protocol.  But now, with $2 million raised in one day with a celebrity like Bell, they’ll be taking crowdfunding much more seriously.

Even more important, Kristen Bell comes across as downright cool and kind in her fundraising video.  Participating in the campaign not only helped her raise money, but it skyrockets public opinion of her.  Taking her lead, other celebrities will come to realize that it’s not desperate nor “below them” to participate in a crowdfunding campaign, in fact, it’s public relations done right!

Unfortunately, the Mars success does not change much for a no-name crowdfunding campaign, which is primarily dependent on support from friends and family.  It does, however, legitimize crowdfunding as an integral part of one’s strategy when approaching and negotiating with reputable talent and/or a popular brand.  As an independent filmmaker, you better believe I will be citing The Veronica Mars Kickstarter success as an example of what is possible when crowdfunding with a celebrity and/or a popular brand.

Encouragement is Electric

6 Mar

The further I traverse through the shadowy cave of creativity, the more I value encouragement.

Encouragement literally means to fill someone with courage, hope, confidence; to hearten.  Encouragement is spiritual defibrillation; a positive shock to the soul, a revival, a jolt of energy onward.

A friend encouraged me this morning at this very taxing time in my life.  He didn’t need to do it, but he did.  He chose to transcend his ego, denying the commonly held, unconscious belief that encouragement is a limited good.  No – he shared selflessly.

Encouragement is electric.  Like receiving a shock to the system with electronically charged paddles; shivers ran through my body as I read my friend’s generous email.

Encouragement is life-giving.  Imagine a world with more of it: more people heartened to do what they need to do.

Fortunately, there is an infinite surplus of encouragement to freely share with others…


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