Success!

It was incredible. Absolutely amazing. A thrilling nail biter. There aren’t enough adjectives in the English language to describe it. It honestly felt to me, much like Game 6 of the 1986 World Series when my Mets rallied from two runs down, two out, nobody on in the tenth inning to beat Boston. The event: the Kickstarter campaign for MY SPIRITED SISTER. (Notice, just text, no link.)

We did it! We reached our goal, raising $10,170, so the film is green lit and preproduction begins on September 3. I gotta tell you, ladies and gentlemen, it wasn’t easy.

The campaign ended this past Friday. At the start of the day, we were only 44% funded. It didn’t look good. Cooper and I talked on the phone Monday, discussing our back up plan in the event we missed, which looked very likely. We consoled ourselves with the fact that we had learned so much and made a huge improvement over the feeble campaign we ran last year for ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? that only hit 10%. We knew that applying what we learned this time, we would make it if we tried again. We didn’t have to.

It was a phenomenal rally, $5685 for the day, more than six times the amount of our prior high for one day. It began in the afternoon when we got two $1000 pledges. We were close to two thirds of the way there and although it would take a hell of a rally, it suddenly looked possible. We got down to business, not only Cooper and I, but also her fiancé Jimmy, the true star of the campaign team. The campaign end time was 7:59. I arrived at their home around 6, with us just over 67%. It was getting really exciting. The countdown on the campaign page had switched from hours to minutes and there was that great feel all sports fans know of the clock ticking down while their team mounts a comeback.

Coop and I took to social media, tweeting furiously, hitting Facebook, announcing updated totals and counting the minutes. Jimmy basically put the campaign on his back and carried us. He got on the phone and starting calling people, pulling in pledges. We watched the percentage go up as the time went down. It was within reach, but would we make it?

The minutes dropped to single digits and were just over 82%. This one was going to the wire. People were increasing their earlier pledges, coming in from Kickstarter’s “ending soon” listing. With only four minutes left, the number rose past $10,000 and we had it. What a wild ride! We celebrated, hugs all around. I stayed for dinner and celebrated with my friends. Truly one of the most amazing and satisfying days, not only of my filmmaking career, but of my life.

As I drove home, feeling great but exhausted, my mind turned to the next tasks. Putting together the budget, creating the schedule, location scouting, casting the rest of the roles, wardrobe, set dressing, shot lists, equipment rental. I knew I should take a day or two and relax, but it’s so hard to shut it down.

It’s been a fun weekend, we’ve been getting phone calls and emails with congratulations. Preproduction begins on September 3 and we are so excited to make this film. It was such a good feeling to send the email to our stars and their families, letting them know we made it. They’re terrific kids, they’re going to be great in the movie and their video was huge in bringing in pledges.

So there you have it, folks. We’re making a movie. That means you’ve got about six months worth of blogs coming. Stayed tuned. As  the saying goes, “You ain’t seen nothing yet!”

Publicity!

There are a number of areas in which we are aiming to improve our performance on our current film.  One of the most important is publicity.  I did make an attempt at this on ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?  It was the reason, after all, that I started this blog.  I never really got the hang of it though.

Early in preproduction, I had a member of my team assigned to handle our social media.  He had some problems with his computer but honestly, was not making much of an effort anyway.  For this individual, filmmaking is a hobby, just a way to satisfy his curiosity about how movies are made.  I ended up handling all of it myself.

It’s not difficult, just time consuming and with everything else a director must do, there isn’t much time left over to really do the job effectively.  I also was new to both Facebook and Twitter.  I have done considerable studying and also have learned from my past experience.  I’m trying to manage my time better and make room for PR.   I’m off to a better start on MY SPIRITED SISTER. 

With our IndieGoGo campaign going live next month, it is crucial to get the word out about the film and our crowd funding goals.  I’m much more adept with social media, for example, in the use of hashtags.  I’m doing a much better job in reaching more people.  This time around, I am also using traditional media, as recommended by mentors I trust.

I contacted the arts editor of the Danbury, CT News-Times and a reporter is going to write a feature article.  He’ll interview Cooper and me about our lives as independent filmmakers and also about MY SPIRITED SISTER.  It will be a great way to reach out to our local community and let them know what two of their fellow citizens are doing and how they can be a part of it.

I’ve also booked an interview for us on a public access television program in West Hartford.  I’m very excited.  I did a fair amount of television in my stand up days, public access and interviews on local news stations.  It’s a lot of fun and I’m very comfortable doing it.  We’re also planning to book our three young stars on the show in a few weeks to help give the campaign a boost at the midpoint.

It’s very exciting and I’m proud that we’re taking such big steps forward.  We’re hoping to raise a significantly greater amount of money for this film.  We want to make a better movie and would love to be able to pay everyone involved at least something for their efforts.  We’ll also be able to rent more and better equipment and have a bigger budget for set design and wardrobe.

I’m feeling proud of myself.  I’ve always picked things up very quickly and that seems to be holding true thus far for my filmmaking career.  My confidence is at a very high level and my self esteem has never been better.  Pretty good for a neurotic kid who never went to film school.  Like my fictional counterpart from ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? Danny Kresky, I’m no ordinary schmuck.