The Next Round

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As I recently reported, one of my latest successes was my feature length romantic comedy screenplay, Soul Mate being selected as a quarterfinalist in the Stage 32 Comedy Writing Contest. Pretty exciting. But let’s see. What would be more exciting? How about if it were selected as a semifinalist? Yes, boys and girls, that’s what I’m telling you. I was notified yesterday. Semifinals!

I am very happy and proud. Not to blow my own horn, but it’s a very good script. I worked extremely hard on it. It’s a unique and very funny story that takes place in my beloved New York. (Hence the photo above)

The story behind the story is pretty interesting too. I had the idea for it in 1988. I had written my first two screenplays when I came up with an idea for a romantic comedy, one of my favorite genres. I told my then girlfriend I was going to write one and she laughed. She informed me that I did not have a romantic bone in my body. Out of fairness, she was pretty much spot on at the time.

I wasn’t ready to write it. So it sat in the back of my mind in a little cabinet where I store my best ideas. Eventually in late 2010, I decided I was ready to write it. I did and here we are. Progressing nicely through a fairly prestigious contest.

Another interesting fact about Soul Mate. After I completed a couple of drafts, I let my ex-girlfriend read it. We have remained friends and I greatly value her opinion. She really liked it and was amazed that I had written it. That was the inspiration for my short comedy, Isn’t It Romantic?, which just won a festival award. Two for one! Not a bad deal.

Finalists will be announced on April 26. Here’s hoping I can make at least one more round. This is almost as much fun as the NHL playoffs. Let’s Go Rangers and Let’s Go Soul Mate!

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Distribution!

Things are going swimmingly for MY SPIRITED SISTER. We resume preproduction this week, right on schedule to be prepared for our January 11 start of production. The crew is just about fully in place, we’ve got a great line on locations and a good group of actors to audition. However, this post is about our last project, ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?

A company called Indie Pix offered us an online distribution contract for IIR a couple of months ago. Their web site offers films for rental or purchase and they also distribute through Amazon, ITunes and other online outlets. We carefully checked out the contract and the company and were very pleased to sign.

The official release date is April 15, 2014, (Jackie Robinson Day. I’m the son of a Brooklyn Dodger fan. I had to acknowledge that.) Cooper and I are very excited. As she called it, “our little movie that could” is making us proud. To know that it will be out there, available to entertain, is a great feeling. Our first film to boot. I knew this partnership would yield results and I’m not surprised it’s happening this quickly.

It’s a good deal money wise, but we’re just happy to know that it will be out in the world, representing us and providing a few laughs for a world that desperately needs them.  Art for art’s sake is a wonderful thing, but creative projects are more rewarding when they are shared. So mark your calendars. Coincidentally, that’s right around the time we anticipate a final cut of MY SPIRITED SISTER. It’s going to be a fun spring.

An Anniversary

Today, October 13 is a significant day in my filmmaking career. It was on this date last year that production began on ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? My first day on set as a director as well as my film acting debut. Well, not really acting. You all know the deal, I’m a performer, not an actor. Nevertheless, it was a memorable day.

I went back and read my post from last year. Hey, somebody has to read these things. I still remember the excitement I felt, the thrill of my long time dream coming true. I also faced my baptism by fire that day, when we fell behind schedule and I adjusted the shot list to get us caught up. At the time, the finished film was months away, but I did what I could to make sure I had sufficient coverage for the “inn scene”, the longest and most complex of IIR. (For the record, it works!)

Funny story about that day. Throughout preproduction, my script supervisor kept drilling into everyone the importance of not having any food or drinks on set. Basic rule, no problem there. When I first arrived, I was carrying a cup of coffee. I went to the room we were shooting in to consult with my DP. After a minute or so, my make up artist called me to the make up area to talk. As I left the room, I put my coffee on an end table. Within a minute, my scripty rushed into the make up area flustered. “Paul, you better talk to these people! There’s a coffee cup on set!” I responded, “Don’t worry. I’ll take care of this!” Hilarious. I sneaked to the set and grabbed my cup. Nice to make an impact my first day on set.

So happy anniversary, not only to me, but to my wonderful partner Cooper and everyone who was present that day. Appropriately, it was today that I mailed our distribution contract to IndiePix who has picked up IIR for online distribution. So October 13 of this year is significant as well! Who says thirteen is an unlucky number?

Kickstarter Update #2

My Spirited Sister -- Kicktraq Mini

We now have just nine days remaining in the Kickstarter campaign for MY SPIRITED SISTER.  We’re 37% funded, so we have a long way to go. Nevertheless, we are in good shape. 82% of Kickstarter campaigns that reach the 20% funded mark go on to succeed. We reached that milestone early, which is a very good sign. Campaign progress typical graphs as a reverse bell curve (for the statisticians out there). The start is fast due to the excitement and the rush of one’s inner circle of family, friends and colleagues. The middle slows down and then there is a frantic rush at the end as everyone works to see the project makes its goal. The key is to get the number as high as possible through the start and boost the middle as much as possible.

Last year, I ran a campaign on IndieGoGo for ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?  although I had sufficient funding from another source. Cooper and I decided to see if we could raise some additional funds to allow us to have a bigger budget. I was a complete novice at the art of crowd funding and we only raised about 10% of our goal. We used the “flexible funding” option (not available on Kickstarter) so we were able to keep what we raised. I knew I had a lot to learn.

This year, I did my homework and it’s been quite an education. I’m very proud of how much my crowd funding skills have improved. I still have much to learn, but I’ve come a long way in a year, enough that we were confident enough to use Kickstarter and it’s “all or nothing” platform.  We’re going to make it this time.

I’m feeling the same way I did when I directed ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? last year. I have a responsibility to my cast, production team and backers and fans to make this happen. It isn’t just about me. This increases my motivation and drives me to work even harder than I usually do (and that’s pretty hard as it is).  

So, in the final stretch, we’re in good shape. To make it, we need more eyes on the campaign page.. Do you like movies? Do you like getting in on the ground floor and being part of a success story? Do you like me? (Of course you do, I’m adorable!) Click the LINK, check out the pitch, choose a fun perk that fits your budget and tell the world. Much easier to do in today’s modern society with the internet! I’m going to make this happen if I have to put this project on my back an carry it. We’re going to succeed and you know you want to be a part of it. 

MY SPIRITED SISTER Kickstarter Campaign

Blue Jasmine

This past Saturday, I got to indulge in my yearly pleasure. I saw Woody Allen’s latest film, BLUE JASMINE. Going to the movies is, for me, one of the great joys of my life. A Woody movie is a treasured event. His latest did not disappoint.

I’m not a critic, so I’m not going to go into a lot of detail. A full analysis is not the point of this post anyway. That aside, BLUE JASMINE ranks with Woody’s best. A truly great film and that’s not hyperbole. The performances were top notch and Cate Blanchett was outstanding in the title role. So much so, that I will make a prediction: Ms. Blanchett will win the Oscar for Best Actress this year. You heard it here first, folks. I also would not be the least bit surprised if Woody received his sixteenth nomination for Best Original Screenplay, maybe his fourth win. A Best Picture nomination is also a distinct possibility.

The truly amazing thing about the movie is that the protagonist, Jasmine, is not at all a likable character. She’s a spoiled, entitled “did nothing to earn it but marry a rich man” socialite who has fallen on hard times. Despite that, she is sympathetic. You really do feel for her. I attribute that to script, direction and the performance.

This film is also not quite like any other that Woody has done before. It contains flashbacks, monologues and the usual obsessions, things we’ve seen many times. But there is something unique about it as well. It really inspires me that after all these years, he can still surprise me like that and find a way to enter new territory.

Like many of his best movies, it also beautifully blends drama with comedy. There are many scenes and lines that are laugh out loud funny, but there is also great pathos, with scenes that are disturbing and sad. This is what I aspire to. Cooper and I want to make films that create this balance. After all, life is both funny and sad and I feel that art should reflect that.

As proud as we are of ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? , it is pure comedy. It’s funny, but featherweight, a pleasant diversion with no real depth. That’s okay. Movies are supposed to entertain and I would be happy to make another like it in the future. But we have things to say and we really want to make films that entertain and illuminate.

MY SPIRITED SISTER is written that way. After seeing BLUE JASMINE, I am more inspired than ever to make this film and take a big step forward as a writer and director. I just hope we can get the funding. The Kickstarter campaign could use a boost. This is a great project and Cooper and I are really passionate about seeing it happen.

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.

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.