American Diner is a documentary about the lives of people who eat and work in three diners across the United States.
This documentary is about the lives of every-day Americans as they eat and work in three diners across the United States. Through the interpersonal relationships found in these restaurants, American Diner creates a picture of the ever-changing nature of American identity. We investigate the question: what does it mean to be American? Where has this nation been, where is it now, and what might the future hold?
Small-town diners began as small, mobile food wagons. They first opened in the 1870’s to serve the night owls and night-shift employees who had nowhere else to eat after a long day of work. As they gained popularity, these modest establishments became immobile and extended their hours of operation. They were meeting places, icons, and staples of the communities they served. Eventually, in accordance with the construction of the Interstate Highway System, diners began to cater to hungry travelers on their way to new destinations.
These restaurants occupied two roles: they were permanent fixtures of the surrounding community, yet also brief, one-time stops for those traveling along the nearby highways. Many of today's small-town eateries still embody this duality, and in so doing, they reflect the transitory yet enduring nature of American identity.
Current State of the Project, and the Reasons for its Success
My partner Allison Radomski and I have already gone through the pre-production, production, and post-production steps for the first of the three diners. Pre-production started with research into the history of diners and the concept of American identity. When confronted with the challenge of finding a diner that would participate, we called municipal governments and churches in small towns to find where the locals ate. We visited over two dozen restaurants throughout Illinois, spoke with their owners, and eventually decided to shoot at The Good Table in the summer of 2011.
Production came next. Once at The Good Table, we did not begin shooting right away. We hung out at the counter, the booths, and the tables for 12 hours a day. We talked with people, introduced ourselves, and became a part of their community. When we started shooting, we spent eight hours a day at the restaurant, four or five days a week. People talked with us, joked with us, and shared their stories. They let us listen in on their conversations. People appreciated the fact that we did not have an agenda, that we were simply interested in them as they are. Five weeks later, we had to leave.
That fall, post-production began. We started cataloging and editing the footage ourselves. We took notes on every shot of the 50+ hours of footage we had collected. We then began to create a trailer for the upcoming grant applications.
In the next year, we merely need to employ the same strategies to repeat our past success. In fact, the second half of the project has already had a successful start; owners at five restaurants in Pennsylvania have committed to participating in the project. We will choose one of these to be the second diner of the documentary. We will look for the third diner in California, using the same strategies we have used twice before. Production will be completed by October of this year.
Then we will edit the footage ourselves, just as we have already done. The final documentary will be about 90-120 minutes long, use 30-40 minutes of footage from each diner, and shot in 1080p. We have already confirmed three screenings in Illinois for the spring of 2013: one at The Good Table in Braidwood IL, one at Chicago Filmmakers in Chicago, and one at Doc Films in Chicago. We will continue arranging more screenings in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and California.
Of course, unexpected events often arise in documentary production. We have found that the small size of our crew, and our willingness to think creatively, has given our project the flexibility to meet any challenge. The past year has given us plenty of experience in coping with the unanticipated, and we are confident in our ability to continue working through the unexpected.
Why We Need You
We have already secured the funds necessary to complete production by October of this year. Now we are asking for your help with post-production costs. We will use your contributions to buy more editing equipment (faster external hard drives, additional editing software, DVD burners, etc.) and to hire a technical consultant who will help organize the footage into a database program. Editing is a lengthy ordeal, especially when trying to cut over 150 hours of footage down to about 90 minutes. Additional equipment will help speed the process, and the database will help keep things neat and organized. With your help, American Diner will ready for distribution by the spring of 2013.
We will use the facebook page American Diner Documentary to post updates on the project as shooting and editing progresses. It will also list the dates, times, and locations of screenings throughout the United States.
Thank you so much for your help and support!
Isaac and Allie
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
pledged of $5,000 goal
seconds to go
Funding Unsuccessful This project reached the deadline without achieving its funding goal on May 27, 2012.
Apr 26, 2012 - May 27, 2012
Pledge $1 or more
The sincere thanks and appreciation of the directors, plus your name will be listed under the Assistant Producer section in the credits (unless you don't want to be listed). Every little bit helps!Estimated delivery: Jun 2012
Pledge $5 or more
The above, but with your name listed under the Executive Producer section of the credits (again, unless you don't want to be listed).Estimated delivery: Jun 2013
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All of the above, plus a photograph of one of the diners.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
Pledge $25 or more
All of the above, plus a DVD copy of the documentary.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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All of the above, but with the DVD in a black case with decorative exterior signed by the directors.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
Pledge $75 or more
All of the above, plus a limited edition American Diner coffee mug.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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All of the above, plus two additional photographs (so that you get one photo from each diner) all signed by the directors, and your name in the Special Thanks section of the credits.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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All of the above, plus a limited edition American Diner t-shirt.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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All of the above, plus a limited edition American Diner poster.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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All of the above, plus the poster will be signed by the directors.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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All of the above, plus a DVD of the directors' most recently completed documentary on Promontory Point in Hyde Park, Chicago.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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All of the above, plus four additional DVD copies of American Diner with their covers signed.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
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You complete your holiday shopping months ahead of schedule! You get all of the above, plus 11 more DVD copies of American Diner with their covers signed. We will also include a personalized thank you letter from the directors.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013
Pledge $2,000 or more
All of the above, plus a phone call from the directors in which we talk about pretty much whatever you want.Estimated delivery: Jul 2013