Check out the article in Fairfield County Weekly today.
Fund My Movie
Written by Kristen Cusato
Tuesday, 18 May 2010 14:00
Stamford filmmaker Bridget Stokes is relying on users of a web application to bank her first feature
Bridget Stokes has finished writing her script. The lead roles have been cast. She’s secured several locations on the Connecticut shoreline for filming; she has her permits and her shooting dates. There’s just one thing this fledgling filmmaker is missing: the money to pay for it all.
The 28-year-old, who lives in Stamford, started writing Herman and Shelly in 2008 and set herself a goal: to make the movie by 2010. She has raised some of the $150,000 she estimates she’ll need for production. “An investor pledged $7,500, and then, well, we’ve got credit cards,” Stokes says with a laugh.
Hence the reason she has embarked on a unique fundraising tool, the online platform Kickstarter. Herman and Shelly’s Kickstarter profile includes a plot outline, a pledge form and a video of Stokes asking people to invest in her movie. That video features her one-year-old daughter, Lua, cooing adorably.
“It’s hard to get people on board. Anyone who’s worked in low-budget film is savvy as to how quickly things can fall apart, but we know [the movie] will happen.” She’s also working to harness the power of social media to market Herman and Shelly. “I’m active on Facebook and Twitter and Foursquare. I can build my own fan base. And Kickstarter will get a bunch of people who’ve committed to being interested in the project.”
Herman and Shelly is about two quirky teens who meet in middle school and form a fast, strong friendship. It flashes forward to adulthood as Herman, a writer, and Shelly, a filmmaker, struggle with a common dilemma: the dream career vs. the job that will earn you money to survive.
A bit of art imitating life for Stokes? “It’s hard to write anything other than what you know. Everyone who’s come on board has said ‘You know what spoke to me? The part about following your passion even if it’s not gonna pay the bills.’”
Being involved in the film industry has actually helped pay Stokes’ bills for years. She worked in the production, sales and distribution ends of several companies, including IFC Films, and recently started her own company which purchased the distribution rights to two independent films. Being in her position puts her ahead of the game for her own film. “We are the distributor, we are cutting out a huge middleman and saving money.”
The 18-day shoot is set for late August and early September at several restaurants and school sites in Stamford. Stokes could have shot the film in New York City, but she wanted to work where she lives. “I’m turning over every leaf to find out how Connecticut can be a more viable place to shoot.”
Stokes is also holding fund-raisers with the real musicians she’s cast as fictional band “Zeitgeist.”
Through it all, Stokes says she wants to do what’s best for the film financially. “It’s not more important to get my name in the ether so I will get my next big project in Hollywood. I want to be true to the process and honest with my investors.”