Creator Q&A: Jocelyn Towne of "I Am I"

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Filmmaker Jocelyn Towne has been involved in a lot of cool projects (Almost Famous and Little Miss Sunshine to name a few) — but her latest endeavor, the feature film/very cool Kickstarter project I Am I, might just be our favorite so far. After falling in love with her inventive project video, we couldn’t resist dropping her a line with some follow-up questions about her creative process. Check out what she had to say below. Support her project here

So, the project video! It’s amazing — can you tell me a bit about how you came up with it? The idea did literally come to me while I was getting into bed one night, and I thought of that saying, “to get in bed” with someone. But I didn’t know what to do with it. Finally I decided to tell the story of how I started the project. I really did have a parrot named Hans, who I would sit with everyday as I wrote the script. I really liked the idea of doing it all in one take, and having people jump in and out of the story. So I sat down and wrote the simple version of what happened. Most importantly, I wanted it to be fun.

How was getting into conceptual bed with all those people? 

Amazing! Most of the “strangers” who got in bed with us are fellow actors from a classical theatre company I work with, the Antaeus Theatre Company in Los Angeles. They are all extraordinarily talented actors so for them to give me their time to jump into bed with Simon and I was quite a treat. 

What drew you to kickstarter as a funding platform?

There was a lot of discussion about this. We contemplated starting our own funding site on our film’s website. But after many meetings we decided we wanted to go with Kickstarter because of its reputation. And Peter Broderick spoke highly of it. 

I’m curious to know your thoughts on project presentation — you dedicate a fair amount of your page to managing the backer experience, which is awesome! But we don’t see creators being pro-active in that way very often. what inspired you to approach it this way? Do you have any tips for other potential creators? 

I think it’s very important to let backers know what they’re getting into. As I started doing research for my site, I looked at a lot of different projects, tried to analyze what worked on them and what didn’t. I found that the successful ones were very upfront and at the same time fun about how they informed their potential backers about their project. If someone is thinking about starting one, I would say do a lot of research, find which sites catch your eye and figure out why. Which site made you want to support it? Also, study which incentives on other people’s sites get the most traction and learn from that.

Can you tell me a bit about how the story for I Am I evolved? Is it a narrative based on personal experiences?

The story came to me because I knew I wanted to write an unconventional love story of sorts. I love stories like Harold and Maude. My Dad used to play the music from “The Man of La Mancha” and I have always loved those songs. It got me thinking about Don Quixote and his sidekick Sancho Panza and his love Dulcinea (Aldonza). Then I thought, what if Aldonza was not a stranger, but his daughter instead, and he couldn’t see her for who she really was? So that is how the story came about. And I turned Sancho Panza into someone who works at the assisted living home where the father lives. The Sancho Panza inspired character will be played by Jason Ritter. That is where the title came from… “I am I, Don Quixote, the lord of La Mancha…” The narrative is purely fictional, but I think the themes are very personal. It is about a desire to know one’s parents, to understand them, and to have them understand and know you. It’s about a woman who is in a state of arrested development, who does not know herself, and comes to discover herself with the help and love of her family. I am also fascinated with the idea of where our identity lies, is it our memories that make us who we are and if so, what happens if we lose those memories?

You seem to be very interested in process (im referring to your production blog and your awesome interviews with filmmakers) — can you tell me a bit more about that? is there something particular that you find fascinating in being a little more transparent/open with your creative methods? 

Until this project got started I had always been very private about everything I did. But there was a little voice in my head that kept telling me that if I wanted to make this happen, I would have to learn to be more open. And I knew there was something in that because it scared me! I am so glad I did. I had been wanting to talk with as many filmmakers as would sit down with me, and then it occurred to me that I should share their thoughts with whomever else was interested. I’ve done three interviews so far. The second one is coming out in the next couple of days. It’s been informative and above all, inspiring.

Any good stories from filmmaking so far? :)

We haven’t started production on the film itself yet, but I wish everyone could have seen Simon’s first attempt at getting out of the bathtub and up the stairs in time to get into bed! It didn’t work at all and he was naked scrambling for a towel. That was our first take. I completely lost it!

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      Laura Caraway on

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