Concluding a Campaign

About six weeks ago we launched a campaign to raise money for Closure, as detailed in the post M Day. Our goal was to raise the funds and immediately go into pre-production. If we remained on schedule we would start shooting on January 9th and shoot for three six-day weeks.

The good news: we were able to get commitments from nine different investors, who pledged a total of $54,000 to making the movie. This is very flattering that so many people had faith in me and this project, and were willing to back up that faith with cold hard cash.

The bad news: while $54,000 is a lot of money, it is less than 20% of our budget. This means that there is no way we can make the movie the way we want to make it, which included paying our actors the union scale rate under a professional contract, having a full crew and support staff, and securing the multiple locations in the script. The amount of money we still need would be extremely difficult to raise via crowdsourcing, and even if we could we wouldn’t have time to get it all before our projected shoot date.

So what does this mean? To put it simply: we failed.

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One word says it all

There’s no way to sugarcoat it. We set a goal, and didn’t come close to reaching it. We wrote numerous emails and made a number of phone calls, but at the end of our campaign we came up way short. Some of the people who turned us down were very positive, offering to connect us with other potential investors and producing partners. Others turned us down outright. Others never responded to our query. All responses (or lack of responses) were to be expected.

But I’m not depressed about it. We’ve heard it all before. “Failure is part of the path to success.” “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” And my favorite, from the Book of Curly: “If at first you don’t succeed…” Well, check it out for yourself.

Okay, so maybe I’m a little depressed about it. I wanted to spend the month of December buried in pre-production, then kick of the year by shooting a movie. A challenging but successful three weeks, then a few months editing, some placement in big film festivals, then world domination.

So what now? Crawl under a rock until the holidays are over? Bury myself in other work? Write a new script?

Yes to all of these, but this doesn’t mean abandon Closure. In fact, Beau, Catia and I have a new plan and a timeline to make it happen:

Step one: Revise the budget and script. Beau will create a lower budget version, which will involve fewer crew members, lower pay for the actors (with a lower budget, we can utilize a contract with SAG/AFTRA that allows for lower pay), and fewer shoot days. To help get the budget down, I will attack the script with a sharp scalpel, cutting out characters that may only have a few lines, and assign the important details those characters provide to larger characters. Also, I will cut out locations that may be too expensive (do I really need that restaurant scene?) and generally make this script easier to shoot from a production standpoint.  When: December 2016

Step two: Reach out to investors again. If our investors were willing to be on board with a  larger budget, surely they will come on board with a much smaller budget. There are certainly advantages (and a few disadvantages) to this type of investment. Hopefully they will come through with the same amount, or maybe slightly more. When: First week of January 2017.

Step three: Launch crowdfunding campaign. Hopefully we can get all we need from investors, but if we need to bridge the gap we are prepared to crowdsource. I have never actually created a crowdsourcing campaign, so hopefully people out there will respond positively. The hard part is that crowdfunding is a big job. Many hours a day go into a successful campaign, and it will be a challenge to find the time between production work on the movie, my other projects, and… well, raising a two-year old. When: Launch last week of January 2017.

Step four: Make the movie! With funding in place, all that’s left to do is finalize every detail before we shoot. Locations, casting, crew hires, props, set, wardrobe, lighting, sound, etc… all this need to be done in advance of the shoot. But we feel we can get everything done prior to shooting. When: Start shooting mid-March, for two weeks.

Ambitious? Certainly. Possible? Definitely. The best way to overcome failure is to not let failure stop you. Keep going. And so we will.

Until then, thanks for reading this blog, have a very happy holidays with those close to you, and stay tuned for more success regarding Closure in 2017.

 

 

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Overcoming Fear

After I published my previous post announcing the date we go into production, a strange thing happened: I stopped sleeping.

No, not all the time. And since my son was born nearly two years ago, my sleep has been, shall we say, consistently inconsistent. I want to be clear that I’m not blaming the boy; he sleeps very well (thanks, Dr. Ferber!). I routinely wake up, and fall back to sleep. We all do, actually.

But now, when I wake up sometime between 2:30 and 4am, it takes me longer to fall back to sleep. My mind races: where did I go wrong? What have I done with my life? I should have gone to grad school. I should have taken the advice from every fortune cookie, rather than callously throwing them away. And after a few nights in a row of 60-90 minutes of blinking up at the ceiling, I figured out the cause:

I’m anxious about making this movie.

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Not pictured in this stock photo: me. I also have a digital alarm clock because, you know, it’s not 1953. But this guy does have nicer hair than me, I’ll give him that.

Now that we’ve set a date, and told you good people about it, there is more pressure. What if it doesn’t happen? When will I be satisfied with the script? Where will we get the money? And why is that bird happily chirping when dawn is still two hours away? Go to sleep, bird!

Fear of failure. That’s what it is. In fact, if I really want to psychoanalyze myself, what I think is fear of failure is actually fear of success. By doing nothing, or by doing something half-assed, I’m already failing. In fact, by not having made this movie yet, even though the blog about making this movie is already three years old, I’m actually successful at failing. I’ve spent three years of my free time writing the script, and most of that time has been taken up with revisions, readings, feedback sessions, and more revisions. All of this is busywork (important gestational work, sure) but too much of it may result in jogging in place, treading water, Moonwalking in circles (I just made that one up, like it?) and is delaying forward progress.

This past weekend my wife, son and I went to a gathering at a child-friendly brewery/bar – to those of you without kids, child-friendly bars exist, and they are wonderful. Sure, most of the time I’m on the move, beer in hand, following my toddler and screaming “that’s not your purse, put it down!” But there are a few moments of zen. At one point, I drank my 329 Lager along with my friend Michael, an actor who has been involved in the development of this script from the beginning, while watching my kid play with an enormous Connect Four board.

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Not pictured in this stock photo: my actual child, or the bar.

“Hey, I read your blog. Congrats on setting a date” Michael said.
“Thanks, I’m getting excited.”
“So where is the money coming from?”
“You know, I’m not completely sure yet. We have someone who’s going to work on it, but…” I trailed off, drinking my beer.
“So nothing concrete?”
“Nope.” I sweated more. It was a hot day in The Valley, right?
“Well don’t you think you should be doing something?”

And that is the crux of it. I should be doing something. The more I do, the harder I work, the better I sleep. All of us know the joy of our head hitting the pillow and instantly falling asleep due to the exhaustion of hard day’s work.

It’s time to work hard. And while making the film is the ultimate end result victory, I need to focus on the day to day grind. I just need to recognize that hard work, in itself, is success. The positive results will come later.

So now that I’ve acknowledged that I’m a success at failure, maybe it’s worth risking being a failure at success.

And if this movie thing doesn’t work out, maybe I can become a freelance fortune cookie writer.