Kickstarter Update

My Spirited Sister -- Kicktraq Mini

Here is the current Kicktraq mini chart for MY SPIRITED SISTER.  So far, so good.  The key number for me is the $311 in pledges per day to succeed.  That number has been decreasing over the last few days as we’ve been able to take in more than what is needed.

Campaigns are tough and we must be diligent.  I’ve added some perks to make backing our project more attractive.  You can now earn a perk for a pledge of only $1.  It’s a fun little memento.  I won’t tell you what it is here. Check out the campaign page and take a look.

Realizing that when backing a film, generally one desires to actually see the film when it’s finished, we now offer a link to view and download the finished movie starting at the $5 level.  This is unprecedented in crowd funding.  $25 is the usual starting point to see the film.  We want people to see this and to thank them for their generosity.

But wait, there’s more!  At the $25 and $50 level, you will be able view and download not only MY SPIRITED SISTER but also, the short film Cooper and I made last year,  ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? When was the last time you saw a double feature?

Take a look at the campaign and share it with your contacts. By all means, feel free to ask any questions you may have here, or on the campaign site.  We love to share inside information with our potential collaborators.

MY SPIRITED SISTER on Kickstarter.

Kicktraq

Kicktraq is a great web site that until yesterday, I didn’t know existed.  In fact, I didn’t realize that the MY SPIRITED SISTER Kickstarter campaign was listed on the site. It provides statistical analysis on Kickstarter campaigns, using an algorithm to project the final outcome, successfully funded, over funded, or, dare we say it, failing to reach the goal.

For a math geek like me, it’s a fun to explore our page.  There are charts and graphs.  Beyond my fascination with numbers, it is a very useful tool.  It’s not so much that the predictions are 100% accurate (movie campaigns generally follow a reverse bell curve and often experience spikes) but it is a good way to gauge where tweaks must be made in the life of the campaign.

So take a look and see what you think.  In the future, this site may become a very reliable way of predicting a campaign’s chance of success.

MY SPIRITED SISTER on Kicktraq.

Special Offer!

This is last minute, I know, but, hey, I only thought of it this afternoon.  In the future, I’m planning to run these specials all weekend and will announce them on Friday.  But here it is.

The MY SPIRITED SISTER Kickstarter campaign is now almost 19% funded with a total of $1880.  In an effort to reach $2000 over the weekend, I am making this exclusive offer.  The person whose pledge pushes us to $2000 or above, today, and today only, will receive in addition to the perk for that level, the special ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? bonus pack.  That will include the DVD of the film, the first by Cooper and me and some signed memorabilia.

Abbe Skinner (thumbs up), Lauren Abbott (gray sweater) and Emma Skinner (extreme right in profile taking the picture) in  "Isn't It Romantic?"

Abbe Skinner (thumbs up), Lauren Abbott (gray sweater) and Emma Skinner (extreme right in profile taking the picture) in “Isn’t It Romantic?”

First, the SOUL MATE poster (behind the girls in the photo above) that was used in the opening scene of the film, signed by Lauren, Emma and Abbe, the three stars of MY SPIRITED SISTER.

Diana and Danny Scene 4

And I will throw in the “Property of Brooklyn College Film School” T-shirt (pictured above) that I wore as “Danny Kresky” in the film.  And I will sign it.

You have the unique opportunity to receive memorabilia from our first two films!  When Cooper and I win an Oscar, think of how valuable these items will be!  Jump on this opportunity and, if you are unable to do so, share the link with everyone you know.  Surely, someone will want to take advantage of this offer.

A Productive Day

Yesterday was a very good day in the development stage of MY SPIRITED SISTER. As you know, we’re running our Kickstarter Crowd Funding Campaign.  It’s off to a nice start, but we did need to make a little tweak. Actually, a fairly big tweak.

An important part of a campaign is the pitch video. Statistics clearly show that campaigns with a video succeed at a much higher rate than those without. Our original video was Cooper and I talking about how we met, ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?, and of course, our current project.  It was a nice video, we’re both intelligent, articulate and charming people, but it was on the long side.  In today’s world, attention spans are much shorter.  We live in an age of sound bites and brief messages.  We also realized we needed different faces out front on this project.

The solution was clear. Yesterday we shot a new video, shorter, faster paced and featuring Lauren, Emma and Abbe, the three stars of MY SPIRITED SISTER.  The result was fantastic.  The new video runs just under a minute, includes the pertinent information and gives the viewer a preview of how well these young ladies perform on camera.  The new video is now on the campaign site and people are viewing it in its entirety.

There were other good things that came about as a result of the shoot.  The director/actor relationship is one of the most important on a film set.  There has to be mutual trust and understanding.  For a director, working with actors is usually the skill that takes the most time to develop.  It’s important to realize that actors are individuals and must be treated that way.  What motivates one, may not be what motivates another.

Cooper and I had another opportunity (the TV spot was the first) to work with our leads and get a feel for their personalities, strengths and weaknesses.  The girls did a great job.  They were energetic and very natural and they have excellent chemistry with each other.  As we continued to shoot takes, looking for that “magic” one, our actors started to lose the spontaneity a bit.  I think they were worried about the time.  They started to rush a little and sounded too much “by rote”.  Cooper did an amazing job.  She had them stand up, take a little break and a breath to get back on track.  They engaged in a group hug and relaxed.  When we resumed shooting, they nailed it!  A great take that is now on the site.

It was so productive and rewarding to have everything work out that way.  I’m so impressed, not only with our stars, but with Cooper as well.  I’m not at all surprised.  I knew without a doubt she had what it takes to be an excellent director and that we would work together in that capacity every bit as well as we do as writers.

After the shoot, I went to lunch  with Cooper and her fiance.  He’s a great guy and they are such a perfect couple.  It really makes me feel good to see how happy they are together.   (I’m showing some sensitivity here. That doesn’t leave this room! Okay?)

Grinding It Out

Writing is a great activity. There are few things more rewarding than being able to express oneself creatively and then share it with others. Whatever the format, being able to put thoughts and ideas into written words requires skill and passion. It sometimes requires tenacity.

Cooper and I have been working on sharpening the script for MY SPIRITED SISTER. We’re planning to make a great film and turn it into a series. It’s going to take all of our skills and creativity. As those of you who write regularly know, sometimes, it flows like water. Everything is effortless and writing feels like the most natural thing in the world. But the opposite can also happen. Cooper and I experienced that today.

We’ve been incredibly busy with other tasks. We launched our Kickstarter campaign last week, and this week was spent prepping our three stars for their TV interview and then accompanying them to it. It tends to break up the flow of a project. Momentum is lost and time much be spent getting it back. That happened this morning. The first couple of hours were difficult and frustrating. We knew what we needed to do but weren’t quite sure how to do it. I had suggested we pack it in and try again another day, but fortunately, Cooper decided to persist.

It was a grind, but we kept at it and eventually broke through. We took things back to basics, making everything simple and specific and after several more hours, had the outline for our revised script. We’re very pleased with it and writing the revision will now be much easier.

This is an essential part of being a writer, having that ability to keep the faith and plug away through those difficult times. This is where having a partner is so beneficial. If I had been working alone, I honestly think I would have bailed. The mutual support from our partnership kept us both going. I have to say, I love collaborating, especially since I have the best partner there is. Bar none. I don’t know how I ever wrote alone and I never want to go back to it.

So, the campaign is working, the script is working, our leads are amazing. I’m tired, with hours of work ahead of me tonight, but I feel great.

Campaign Update

Our Kickstarter campaign is gaining momentum. We’ve had a nice flurry of pledges from last night and throughout this afternoon. We are now at 15% of our $10,000 goal. It’s a good start and if we can maintain this pace, we’ll be able to get there.

It’s been the result of diligence and hard work on the part of a group of people. Our three stars, Cooper, the families and I have been putting out the word through social media and good old fashioned face to face contact. I’ve learned a lot since I ran the campaign for ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?  last year. We only reached 10% total and we were only able to make the film because I had access to a sum sufficient to produce it. I have no such access this year, so it’s crowd funding or bust.

I’ve done my homework. I’ve spent hours studying material on how to conduct a successful crowd funding campaign and even reached out for consultation from an expert, Lucas McNelly. He has a great web site packed with information on every aspect of the task.

And it is a task. No matter how much time you plan to devote to it, if you want to be successful, you’ve got to devote more. It’s a grind to be sure, especially since Cooper and I are still working on the script, booking and preparing ourselves and our stars for interviews and doing the million other things required to get a film into production. I’m in full filmmaking mode, only sleeping four hours a night.

I love this hectic pace. I’m a Gemini and while I don’t necessarily subscribe to astrology, I do have my sign’s characteristic ability to multitask. I’m going to make this happen. Whatever I have to do, this project will come to fruition. I said this last year as well, but the great thing is that this time, I can point to ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? as an example that proves, we can take a project all the way.

So, jump on board this success story. This is going to be a terrific film and the start of a what should prove to be an amazing series. MY SPIRITED SISTER on Kickstarter. Tell your family, tell your friends, tell people you can’t stand!

“Do the Right Thing” – My Spirited Sister on Kickstarter

It’s a simple fact. It takes money to make a movie. Even micro budget productions require funding. Our latest project, MY SPIRITED SISTER, is no different. As I’m sure most of you know, crowd funding now the most common way independent films secure the necessary cash.

There has however, been a recent trend where established filmmakers are using crowd funding to pay for projects. Zach Braff and James Franco are just two examples. Nothing wrong with that. The option is available to everyone. The latest big name to enter the arena is Spike Lee, who just launched a campaign on Kickstarter, the same platform we are using to fund MY SPIRITED SISTER.


There has been some outrage over this. It’s been controversial and there are people who don’t feel it’s right for a director with a track record like Spike’s to be using a method that they feel should be limited to up and comers. Honestly, I am not one of them. I’ve always been a big fan of Spike Lee. He’s a Brooklyn guy like me, and more importantly, a brilliant filmmaker in my opinion. It’s a free country and he has as much right to use Kickstarter as we do. I wish him well.

I will say, however, that Spike will have no trouble funding this film. And I’m not talking about huge donations from Hollywood big shots. He has a huge fan base and will easily reach his goal with many, many small donations. That is the essence of crowd funding.

So, we are urging people to “Do the Right Thing” and contribute to a truly independent film, MY SPIRITED SISTER. We need it much more than Spike does. We’ve got a great project with a ton of potential. Here is the link: My Spirited Sister on Kickstarter Please check it out. We have perks that start as low as $5. You don’t have to give a huge amount.  It all adds up. True story. When the French built the Statue of Liberty, the US had to finance and build a base for it. They were hoping the money would come from wealthy New York citizens like the Astors and the Vanderbilts. The rich, however were not interested. Ordinary citizens, whose donations were generally less than one dollar, made contributions that totaled $120,000 and funded the base. Filmmaking works the same way.

You have the opportunity to be a patron of the arts. Please check out and share the link: My Spirited Sister on Kickstarter “Do the Right Thing”. Support truly independent film and be a part of our team. Think of the fun you’ll having reading my updates and knowing that you’re a part of making things happen. I’ll even throw this in: for everyone who reads this post and makes a contribution of any size, I will send you a link where you can view and download my last film, ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? How can you pass up that deal?

Introducing Our Stars

The stars of "My Spirited Sister" (left to right), Lauren Abbott, Abbe Skinner and Emma Skinner.

The stars of “My Spirited Sister” (left to right), Lauren Abbott, Abbe Skinner and Emma Skinner.

The photo above was taken on the set of “A Moment with Jon Francois”, WHC-TV in West Hartford, CT on the night of July 23. That’s the same show that Cooper and I appeared on last month. This time, the three young stars of our current film, MY SPIRITED SISTER were the guests. It was a terrific show and the girls all came through like pros. No surprise there. These are not ordinary young ladies. I am happy to introduce Lauren Abbott, Abbe Skinner and Emma Skinner.

Last year, during preproduction on ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?, Cooper, who was my co-writer and one of my producers, came up with an idea for the opening scene. It took place in a movie theater with a crowd exiting after viewing Danny Kresky’s latest film. They were excited and gushing about the film. We needed extras and Cooper said she had a group of teenage girls who would add energy to the scene. I trust her judgement 100% and I thought it sounded like a great idea, so we went with it. I remember that day well, in fact, you can look back at what I wrote in my post on it.

The girls were terrific. We had no dialogue written, in fact, their actions weren’t even in the script, so I decided to let them improvise some lines. Lauren, Abbe and Emma were amazing! The were natural and shared the screen like professionals, not stepping on each other’s lines, despite the fact that it was improvised. They also brought so much energy and excitement to the set that it affected all of us. The veteran actors commented on great it was to have the girls there. Talk about easy to direct! I told them what I needed and they delivered.

Abbe Skinner (thumbs up), Lauren Abbott (gray sweater) and Emma Skinner (extreme right in profile taking the picture) in  "Isn't It Romantic?"

Abbe Skinner (thumbs up), Lauren Abbott (gray sweater) and Emma Skinner (extreme right in profile taking the picture) in “Isn’t It Romantic?”

Cooper and I were very impressed. There was no question we had to work with this talented trio again. This time with them in lead roles. Cooper conceived of MY SPIRITED SISTER with our stars in mind, the roles were written for them. Emma and Abbe, real life sisters, will be playing Amanda and Bethany Paige, sisters in the film and Lauren, Abbe’s real life best friend, will be playing Crystal Albright, Bethany’s best friend. This is a can’t miss.

The girls have been interested in acting and performing their entire young lives and started training at the age of five. They’ve attended camps and taken classes in scene study, character work, improv, singing, pretty much every aspect of acting. They also  have plenty of experience on the stage and television work. Of course they’ve also appeared in a film, my first.

I say this in all seriousness, these young ladies are worth watching. They are talented, well trained and dedicated. Cooper and I are thrilled to have them as our leads. You all know my approach: eighty percent of directing is casting and we’ve nailed it here. It was further confirmed last night as we watched the interview. The girls were a bit nervous. Perfectly natural as none of them had ever done a TV interview. Cooper and I prepped them the night before and just before the interview. Once it got underway, they all relaxed and were charming and articulate and entertaining. Never a doubt in my mind that they would be.

We’re planning to develop MY SPIRITED SISTER as a series and have a couple of potential avenues we plan to pitch to. With the work we’re putting in on the script and the terrific lead actors we have, we’re anticipating a great film. This should advance the careers of everyone involved. Very exciting.

The TV Spot Part 2

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Cooper and I have been incredibly busy. We’re still tweaking the script, we’ve launched our Kickstarter campaign and we’re working hard on publicity for the project. Time to catch you up on where we are.

This is the follow up to the post on the interview we did on “A Moment with Jon Francois” on WHC-TV in West Hartford, CT on June 26. Here is the link where you can see the show: Cooper and Paul with Jon Francois It was a fun interview. Jon is a good host and Cooper and I were able to promote ourselves in general, ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? and most importantly, our new film, MY SPIRITED SISTER. 

We were invited to come back on the show to discuss future projects or just film in general. We will certainly do just that. We love to talk about screenwriting and filmmaking.

Take a look at the interview, and while you’re at it, check out our Kickstarter campaign. We have some great perks for as little as $5. I’ll be much more active here on the blog. I want to keep everyone up to date on the progress of the campaign and the making of MY SPIRITED SISTER.