Grass-Roots Indy Film “Unidentified” Seeks Finishing Funds

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/78794623″>UNIDENTIFIED – TEASER TRAILER #1 “Tackett”</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/christopherdonnelly”>Chris Donnelly</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

There are a lot of indy films out there that are in one stage of the process or another.  Talented artists and film makers are everywhere, but many do not have access to funding that could bring their work into the light from with in the shadows.

“Unidentified” is one such film that has a crowd funding goal of $2,500 in order to finish its feature-length journey about a young man’s “Blair Witch” style documented journey of abduction.  Several scenes have been shot, but the film needs finishing funds in order to get out there and be seen.  In 1999 “The Blair Witch Project” was probably one of the earliest, if not the first, to use the internet to market itself and quite successfully.  That film cost about $40,000 to make and made much, much more at the box office due to a very successful urban legend campaign.

It was shot in a guerrilla style way, and today, probably would not have been given a second look.  The reason is that practically every grassroots indy film since has attempted to capitalize on the idea of making itself an internet sensation through one form of social media or another.  That business model has become so saturated that only those who win the luck of the draw, and happen to be given the time of day by the right people will succeed.

Indy film has had many different ways of trying to break through the fortified walls of Hollywood over the years.   Another success was Robert Rodriguez back in the early 1990’s with a film titled “El Mariachi.”  It had quite a small budget as well, and it was done guerrilla style, but in my opinion, it was a much better film technically over all, and they went the film festival route which is another business model that grassroots independent filmmakers still attempt to use even today.

Now neither of the two examples used crowd funding because it didn’t exist in the 1990’s, but today almost every filmmaker I know attempts to use this platform as a way to raise funds as opposed to the old-fashioned model of hitting the pavement and seeking investors.  There are actually laws with the SEC that prevent films from raising funds by individuals who invest less than a specific amount of money.

The point is, that funding a film is no easy task because funding a film in any capacity is a high risk investment.  I have personally invested in independent film before.  In fact, I actually received about two-thirds of my investment back through overseas sales of the film that I had invested in.  Which is pretty good considering when investing in a film one might as well be prepared to lose it all.  Most films are not profitable which is why Hollywood films are mostly formulaic.

Every once in a while Hollywood will take a risk on something original, but not without some kind of named star backing or starring on-screen in the film.  The world of independent film is full of landmines and unexpected obstacles as is film making in Hollywood itself.  The only difference is Hollywood is a name brand; whereas, grass-roots indy films are considered not worth the time or money.  But I tell you that is a misconception.  I’ve seen many grass-roots indy films made that are amazing stories and the no name talent are fabulous in them.

As for “Unidentified,” at the current moment this article is being written, the funding is nowhere near its goal of $2,500.  Considering that most Hollywood films cost millions of dollars, and even known indy films have budgets of hundreds of thousands of dollars I would say the investment is quite small to finish this film.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/87640323″>UNIDENTIFIED – Teaser #2 “Shaina”</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/christopherdonnelly”>Chris Donnelly</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Originally, the title of the film was “Chariots of the Gods,” but it caused quite a stir and detracted attention from the project itself.  People were more concerned about arguing over its title than actually helping or offering small investments toward its completion.  It’s funny how the grass-roots community works.  We all market to ourselves, and forget to step outside of our little corner of the world into the worlds of others who may actually be interested in giving to an artistic cause for the sake of art.  Grass-roots independent film artists even harshly criticize one another for going out and marketing.  The question is:  How else are people supposed to find out that you and your work exist?

 

If you are interested in helping to crowd fund “Unidentified,” and want see what all the fuss is about go to the link below, donate, and share.  Just so you know, I challenge all of you to beat out the crowd funding campaign of a $4,000 bowl of crowd funded potato salad.  If it costs $4,000 to raise enough money to cook a bowl of potato salad then surely you can donate enough to reach a goal of only $2,500 to finish the film “Unidentified.”

http://www.gofundme.com/chariotsofthegods

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MOFA & Russell Hopkins on the making of “Coathanger.”

 

Bible

“COATHANGER” MOFA 3-DAY CRIME WAVE FILM

The following is the Off Pudding Productions film entered into MOFA’s 3-Day Crime Wave. For more information about the film please be sure to view the previous blog article. Thank you for watching!

MOFA 3 Day Crime Wave “Coathanger” Film

      This past weekend the Mid Ohio Filmmaker’s Association in Columbus, Ohio held its first official 3 Day Crime Wave competition.  The competition is a similar concept to the 48 Hour Film project.  The difference is that it is run a lot more loosely than the 48 Hour Film Project, its local to Columbus, and you get 72 hours to make a film instead of only 48 hours.  I have to tell you.  Having that extra day makes a huge difference.  First of all, there is actually time to get some sleep.  With the 48 Hour Film project there is no time for sleeping what-so-ever.  Every 48 Hour Film project I have participated in with Off Pudding Productions I have killed myself.  As 1st AD I always get to about 3:00pm in the afternoon on Saturday and feel like I could pass out at any given moment.  I even warned Rusty Hopkins the director last year that he might find himself managing a crew of about 15 alone at any moment.  Luckily, I didn’t pass out, but it sure felt close.sanctuarytalk

      The other great thing about the 3 Day Crime Wave is that there is still a pretty stringent time constraint so there is no time for dilly dally when one is not sleeping.  I think only one person in our crew actually spent less time sleeping this time around, and that was Christopher Donnelly.  We began shooting on Friday evening at the Westerville Inn in the seediest motel I was able to find in less than a week.  At our pre-production meeting, Jon Plante, team Off Pudding’s writer, asked that we find him a church with pews and an old school motel.  This was on Saturday afternoon about a week before the start of the competition.  moneyrusty

It became my responsibility to find the two locations and to line up craft services this time.  Our usual craft services go to guy and gal opted not to do it this time around.  Especially after the logistical nightmare we encountered on “Split” last summer combined with several unexpected extra mouths to feed.  Luckily, I was able to land Deb Soper on short notice to come out and handle that part of the shoot.  She worked on Horrors of War which is where I first encountered her and her husband Ken Wilson.  Ken Wilson did weapons on Horrors of War.

debsoper

On Thursday evening as the competition was kicking off, I was given the green light by Outville Presbetyrian Church in Outville, OH to use their church as our church location.  It didn’t hurt that by pure luck they were having their trustee meeting the week of the competition.  Had it not been for that I doubt we would have landed that awesome location.  Not only that, but it didn’t hurt that it was the church I went to growing up.  Many of my older relatives are quite active members of the church still.  I’m sure it was quite a spectacle for my aunt and her husband to witness the process of the making of a film unfolding on Saturday afternoon.hillbillybustin

I was able to secure the Westerville Inn through renting the room for the weekend.  We didn’t inform them of what we were doing inside the room.  After having called an old school motel in Kirkersville, OH, and discovering they had had a bad experience with a film crew in the past, I decided to keep that under wraps.  Our crew was uber small this time.  We only had myself as AD, Russell Hopkins directing, and Chris Donnelly as our DP.  Luckily at the last minute Scott Summit stepped up and volunteered to help me crew, and became our awesome 2nd AD.  I had a sizeable on camera role for this one so I definitely needed a go-to-guy.  Scott was a life saver for me on this shoot.  He also played a role as one of the confessors in the movie.ADwithscott

The film is just under 10 minutes in run time.  Chris Donnelly edited for us which is why he didn’t get any sleep those last few days.  We had several actors on the shoot including John Newkirk, and Jim McCullough who played the lead of Father Greene.  Alycia Yates, Off Pudding’s producer, played Sam, a hillbilly con artist.  I played the role of Mindy her sidekick con artist.  Bethany Schoeff was also a part of this production as she has been with Off Pudding for at least the past three productions.  Along with Bethany we had Natalie J Steiman, and Andy Falter as confessors, and Amy Talbott also landed on set to play the role of the church lady.  Amy is an awesome improv artist and someone whom I consider to be one of my improv and acting mentors.  Sadly, she is moving on to bigger and better things in Boston next month.  It was a pleasure to get to shoot a scene with her in the film.coathangermoney

I spent most of my on screen time working with Jim and Alycia.  It was a blast for me to work alongside them on camera rather than just as their AD.  Rusty Hopkins had directed that I play the character of Mindy similarly to a character I played called Ronduh in the short mockumentary “Grudge Match.”  The two characters are similar, but there are nuanced differences.  Ronduh was a good basis for Mindy.  Alycia delivers her character’s moments perfectly and I love Sam’s quote about the “abobo.”  Clever writing by Jon Plante translates into an excellent performance from Alycia Yates as well as Jim McCullough.  Rickne Scheid was gracious enough to join us again to be our on set photographer.  He has documented the last three Off Pudding productions.  His photography is amazing.  Rickne is so unintrusive with his glimspes into the process and into the personalities that make up the process each time.coathangerdoorext

From what I understand the screening for all of the 3 Day Crime Wave entries will be on Sunday, May 19th at 2:00pm.  The location of  the screenings is 3055 Indianola Ave, Columbus, OH 43202, at Studio 35 near Clintonville.  For more information on that I would recommend visiting the MOFA website if you would like to come out and see the final product of “Coathanger” or any of the other films made between April 19th and 21st.  I will include a link on this page for viewing in the future when MOFA approves that it can be shown outside of the initial screenings.  Until then, hope to see you at the screenings!  If you’re not local see ya soon anyway.  Chrisdonally2

Home Is Where The Hearth Is Contest

As an actress I am considered what many would classify as a “starving artist.”  The old stereotype that actors start their careers as servers or all actors are servers is not completely untrue.  Yes, I have had an acting career; however, acting is much like the lottery.  It is the luck of the draw mostly.  I always told other aspiring young actors that at the Indie Gathering Panels I used to host.  Especially when one is just starting out, but that continues on unless one is lucky enough to win the “acting lottery.”  When I say “win the acting lottery” what I mean is that actors who are lucky enough to be “discovered” in some way, or those who are lucky enough to get that big financial break on a given gig have won the acting lottery.

Thus far, I have not yet won the acting lottery.  I’ve been playing since I was 17.  I’m nearly 36 now and I still wait tables for a living. It is not by any means a comfortable living, especially in today’s world and economy.  However, just because I haven’t won the acting lottery doesn’t mean that I haven’t had some degree of success.  Most of my success has been virtual within the online community, and local within the Ohio film community.  However, I have been fortunate enough to win a few smaller acting lottery drawings like getting to work on feature films such as “The Rapture,” “Wicked Business,” or “Horrors of War.”  Yet only one of those movies actually paid, and it was not a million dollar ticket.  No matter, I still won the acting lottery with the opportunity to do what I love which is work in film.

After nearly 20 years of playing the acting lottery, and nearly 16 years of waiting tables off and on to make ends meet I now find the opportunity to put all that I’ve learned in film to the test.  At California Pizza Kitchen, a restaurant I have worked on and off for since 2001, they are having a video contest.  The objective is to tell a story about how one, as a server, makes their guests feel at home.

     The spec for the spot is about 60 to 90 seconds.  With the help of the director of the short film “Split” I was able to implement some animation within my contest spot, and shoot it interview style on green screen.  The grand prize for the contest is rent paid for one year.  As a server it is quite an amazing prize opportunity.  Not only that, but it was because of my time at California Pizza Kitchen that I was able to pursue acting at all.  Most regular jobs do not offer the flexibility needed to make last minute audition notices and pick up shoots.  Thus the reason behind why many    actors who have not yet won the big acting lottery jackpot choose this profession as their bread and butter.

Copy and paste the link  into your browser in order to view this mini production.

    http://mycpkvideos2.votigo.com/contests/showentry/1360752

Headshots By James Rollo

Last Friday morning I drove down to Hamilton, Ohio where we’ve been shooting the film “Escape” all summer.  It’s been eight years since I’ve had my headshots updated, and I must say that my look has most definitely changed.  However, there is much about it that is still the same in my opinion.  I chosen to have James Rollo, who prefers to go by “Jim,” take my headshots because I knew he was an absolute professional.   I had the wonderful opportunity to meet him on the set of “Escape” where he shot some behind the scenes photos for Lonzo Jones.

     The task of choosing a photographer is not an easy one when getting an updated headshot.  There are so many people who take photos out there at various levels.  There is also your agent, manager, or representative to consider.  They all have their own opinions of what is good and what isn’t.  The entire process of obtaining a valid headshot is very subjective in my personal opinion.  I have also discovered over the years, through various acting workshops, that what is preferred on the west coast can be vastly different than what is preferred on the east coast and elsewhere.  Style varies.  That is for certain.

     I remember I went to a workshop in New York City in 2007.  The instructor had every single actor bring along their headshot.  She evaluated each and every one of them.  Mine, at the time, was criticized for having the “floating head” look.  The instructor said it looked nice, but it had no body or reference to being attached to a body.  However, I had felt that I had gotten off pretty easy compared to some of the other participants in the bashing of headshots.

     For now I would like to praise James Rollo for his work and his help in getting together for a photo shoot with me by offering a link to his site and his amazing work.  Headshots are always an expensive investment when pursuing the business of acting.  I believe Jim is actually represented by Getty.  Check out Jim’s work at http://www.rollophotography.com.  Whether you’re an actor looking for headshots or someone else who has a need for a professional photographer James Rollo is an excellent choice.  Hats off!