Meet the Team: Chase and George

We thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves. So every week, a couple members of the Kickstarter team will be saying hello, and picking out a few projects — past or present, successful or not — that they're especially fond of. (They will also be posing for GIFs. The GIFs are mandatory.)

This week, meet Chase and George:

Chase Pashkowich

Job: "I help watch over Kickstarter and maintain the system's integrity."

  • Tharsis Sleeps — "I love to see an artist take a perfectly good, well defined process and decide they can complicate it immensely. Tharsis Sleeps is an animated short about terraforming Mars, but every frame is an embroidered patch. Naturally, the music video for a psychedelic metal band."
  • World Domination Gardening 3-DVD set — "Farming and gardening are deeply ideological, but we are rarely condition to believe so. People should know how that ideology manifests, and World Domination Gardening documented just that. Plants are awesome, respecting them is extra awesome. And now I have several hours of people respecting plants to nerd out over!"
  • Roll Play Dice Tees 2 — "I need a flashier way to show the world that I'm super serious about die-based role playing. Enter these shirts. Killer."

 George Schmalz (@schmalztastic)

Job: "I help creators with film projects, and generally stare at film projects in various states of completion all day every day. These are a few of my recent favorites — currently live on site and needing some help finding their way over the finish line..."

  • The Viking of 6th Avenue — "Documentary chronicling the life of famed New York street personality and composer Moondog. Chances are he's crossed paths with some of your favorite musicians."
  • Two Please — "This is a sequel to the great dark comedy/horror short One Please (premiered earlier this year at Tribeca). Michael Berryman plays an ice-cream man who trades in some interesting currency."
  • Mountains of Madness — "Animated version of Lovecraft's 'At The Mountains Of Madness.' This may be the only chance the world will ever have of seeing this story come to filmic life. After you check out the campaign find the original short here."
  • Ambulante — "Diego Luna & Gael Garcia Bernal's traveling doc fest is making its first sojourn to the United States this fall."
  • The Janet Collins Story — "Animated short about the first African-American ballerina to perform at the Metropolitan Opera. Features some beautiful artwork."

LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow and Some of his Favorite Books

By now, you've probably heard about actor LeVar Burton's campaign to bring Reading Rainbowthe television show that taught a generation to love books—back to life through Kickstarter. Burton will revive the show in tablet form rather than on television, but that doesn't mean that an entire generation's love for the show that reminded us that reading was actually pretty fun has diminished at all.

Burton has been providing periodic updates on the campaign, but we decided to catch up with him to talk about what happened after the show ended in 2006, as well as some of his favorite books.

The Reading Rainbow campaign has been running for a few weeks now. How has it been feeling?

It’s been amazing and exhilarating and overwhelming and exhausting. It’s been all of that. A maelstrom of emotions. Everything you could possibly think of. 

Were you expecting the amount of support you've already received?

No. No no no. You know, most Kickstarters are 30 days, and we wanted to give ourselves an extra five days just in case we needed a little extra time to push it over the top at the end. We never anticipated making our goal on the first day. The outpouring of overwhelming love and support for Reading Rainbow has been amazing. Surprising and wonderful and humbling—it’s been crazy. In a good way.

When Reading Rainbow went off the air in 2006, you set out pretty quickly to secure the rights for the show yourself. When did that happen?

It was actually the announcement that Reading Rainbow was being taken off the air. It was that day when that announcement was made, that my business partner and I looked at each other and we said, "Now is the time. Let’s go for it." It took awhile to get the rights in order. The decision was quick and easy; the actual securing of the rights took another 18 months.

Did you already know what you wanted to do with the rights?

No clue at that time! We knew that we wanted it to be part of this new and emerging digital realm. We knew that television was always something that we could go back to, but we wanted to try and join the new media revolution and extend the brand beyond what it had been before and explore the potential for what the brand could be in the now and in the future. Even though we didn’t know what that was. We were thinking about a virtual world—it was really when the iPad was released that things began to crystallize for us. We recognized that the future of storytelling was changing. 

When I saw The Elements app on the iPad, I got so excited because it meant that books in this digital medium could take on an interactive quality that was only previously possible in your imagination. Now you could have an interaction on two levels: a physical visual as well as imaginative. The potential for children’s storytelling and children’s picture books was tremendous. 

In addition to that, Reading Rainbow was always famous for the visual field trip, as well as the books that we featured. So to be able—in short bites, two and three minute segments, Reading Rainbow was a very segmented television experience—in two or three minute segments we could have that same feeling, we could deliver that same kind of quality video field trip content. Then it was just a matter of figuring out what it looked like and what the UI was, and how do we deliver the books and make relationships with publishers, and get them to trust us with their books...

In a previous interview, you talked about how part of the reason Reading Rainbow went off the air was the No Child Left Behind initiative. The way you described it was: “government policy made a choice between teaching the rudiments of reading and fostering a love of reading." That seems like a very important distinction.

Yes. That was totally through my lens. My point of view, my assessment of what happened. I don’t think I’m necessarily wrong, but I want you to know that was through my lens. It very much seemed like that was what we were asking ourselves to do: to make a choice between teaching kids how to read and fostering a love of reading, that there was no room for both under No Child Left Behind.

In that same interview you talked about how, when you did Roots, part of that was about using television as an educational medium. There are people now worried about their kids spending too much time with iPads. Is this new iteration of Reading Rainbow about using children's technological interactions for educational purposes?

Yes. That’s correct. Absolutely right. It’s funny that 31 years later we’re still having the same conversation, only about different technology. The conversation 31 years ago when Reading Rainbow first came out, was Are children watching too much television? Is television going to be the death of our children's learning process? Reading Rainbow was revolutionary, and we decided to go in the opposite direction and use the medium of television because of its engagement properties to spread our message: that books are amazing. That books are great fun. I believe we are doing the same thing [now]. Our mission has not changed, but certainly the technology has. Now we’re using the engagement properties of the tablet computer to spread the same message.

How did you develop this love of reading that you’ve carried through life?

This is all my mother’s fault. My mother was an english teacher, and it was expected in her house that you read. She insisted upon it. Not only that, but my mother did something that I think is really, really important, and something I think we need to focus on in our current cultural climate. As an avid reader, my mother always read in front of me when I was a child. I just absorbed that example that reading is part of being human. She always had several books going for her own enjoyment and entertainment, and I really believe that that is, in a large measure, responsible. I grew up understanding the value of a relationship with the written word. It certainly has played itself out in my lifetime, you know?

How did it feel—loving reading—to be part of a show that was about loving books?

Well, the show was created by a teacher who wanted to address the summer loss phenomenon, which is when a child is learning how to read and they’re in the process of cracking the code, and then they take that three month summer vacation. When they come back to school in September, their reading and comprehension skills have plummeted. They’re rusty. It’s a muscle—especially at the beginning. You gotta use it. The idea at the beginning was pretty revolutionary, but it wasn’t rocket science, it was just observation. Where are our kids spending most of their time? That was the ’80s. It was in front of the TV. The television—the medium itself—gave us the opportunity to do storytelling in a really effective way. The book adaptation with moving the camera over the original art and then having a celebrity voice over it—sweetening that adaptation with music and sound effects. In a culture that has become increasingly frantic and frenetic, the pace of Reading Rainbow was always very easy. It was an opportunity to take a deep breath.

Growing up, did you have a favorite book?

I had a lot of different tastes. I think my methodology was to expose myself to as much as I possibly could. That’s how I found science fiction literature, which has become pretty much my favorite genre. The book that I recognize was very pivotal to becoming a reader for me was Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling, and then in high school it was just an explosion. I remember reading The Red Badge of Courage. It’s of course when I read the Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, for the first time—those were all books that I was introduced to in high school. Siddhartha I was introduced to in high school, [and] of course Beowulf, which I never really enjoyed. I don’t think anybody really enjoys reading Beowulf. And then growing up in Sacramento, I had an emergent political consciousness, and I discovered writers like [Tom] Wolfe and [Norman] Mailer—of course the beat poets: [Lawrence] Ferlinghetti, [Allen] Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac...and then there’s [James] Joyce—I was educated by predominantly Irish Catholic nuns, so…

Did your literary interests translate into your television work? It seems like they did.

I’m always amazed when I get asked this question or a question like this because it presupposes that I had any real sense of choice in this at all. I say about my career: "I have taken that which has come my way and made the best of it."

You have a unique ability—for someone that takes what comes his way—to play a lot of universally beloved characters.

Yeah. It’s crazy huh. I do see this. I honestly see that there is a through line that begins with Kunta [Kinte, the protagonist of Roots] and ends with Geordi [La Forge, Burton's character on Star Trek: The Next Generation] and LeVar is right in the middle.

Is there any aspect of your literary background that helped you recognize something important in these roles?

If you look at it through that literary lens: Roots was based in a novel. Gene Roddenberry was a writer of science fiction, those teleplays were morality plays, really. And Reading Rainbow is nothing if not literature-centric. So yeah, when you put it that way, I’d have to agree that books and the written word have played a pivotal, crucial role in the unfolding of my career.

Did you grow to love any book through doing Reading Rainbow?

There are two that I always like to mention when given this opportunity. One is a book that boys tend to love called Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, and the other is a book for everybody, but I love recommending it for girls, and it’s called Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman.

What do you like about those books?

Both of them are books that really remind me of the essential nature of being human. Enemy Pie in a very funny way: it deals with a young boy who has an enemy in his life and his father helps him come to terms with it in a way that is very surprising. He makes an "enemy pie" for the kid, and the kid of course expects that the enemy pie is something they will eat. He wonders, is it going to poison him…how is this enemy pie? Because his dad has told him, "I know how to fix your problem with an enemy pie." How is this going to happen? When, in fact, the father sends the boy on a journey that ends up transforming his son’s relationship with this kid from being enemies to being friends. 

Amazing Grace is a story about a young black girl who wants to be Peter Pan in the school play. There are kids in the class who say that she is not qualified because she is A) black and B) a girl. But Grace triumphs through the power of her imagination—and she was, because of the power of her imagination, the perfect choice for Peter Pan. They’re both books that really talk about the human experience in an age-appropriate manner for kids that informs us that there are always bumps in the road of life and it’s not what happens to you that determines who you are, it’s how you deal with what happens to you.

Is there any book you are reading, or read recently, that stands out?

Right now, I’m reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, and it is excruciatingly good. [I love] that it is excruciating to read, and I can’t put it down. I can’t not turn the next page, but I don’t want to see the next bad thing. I don’t want to experience the next bad thing that happens to this guy. It’s a train wreck, but you can’t avert your eyes.

Kickstarter, the White House, and Makerspaces!

At Kickstarter, we constantly see how Makers are fueling the future – they’re the ones who are taking ideas and putting them into action. Sometimes the end product is something big and crazy, like a Delorean hovercraft, and sometimes it’s a tiny object with a major impact, like the MaKey MaKey.

The White House also knows how important Makers are. President Obama recently announced new efforts to encourage all of us “to be makers of things, not just consumers of things,” and today he’s hosting the first-ever White House Maker Faire! We’re really excited to be at the White House today, alongside some amazing Kickstarter creators, in celebration of creativity and innovation. (Did we mention there is a livestream? You can watch it here!)

As part of the Maker initiative, President Obama challenged us to come up with new ways to support makers. We thought, besides the community and funding that they can find on Kickstarter, what else do makers need?

Makers need places to make things! They need to be able to share ideas and collaborate with like-minded people in a supportive, open, and friendly environment that encourages creativity and spurs innovation. As Kickstarter alum David Lang, the creator of the OpenROV underwater robot put it in his book Zero to Maker: “Making, I discovered early on, was about the art of finding other people – seeking out teachers, creating and joining like-minded groups, collaborating with strangers – and co-creating together.”

So in the spirit of creating incredible things, we’re excited to announce a new sub-category devoted to Makerspaces. Kickstarter is a natural place to find support for building a new Makerspace or improving an existing one – you can get feedback from the people who would want to join, and offer membership as a reward. Some great Makerspace projects have already happened on Kickstarter, like the LA Maker Space and MakerKidz in Annapolis, but we know there are more out there.

Plus, some of the coolest projects on Kickstarter have come out of existing Makerspaces, like the Artisan’s Asylum in Somerville, Massachusetts. Makers at the Artisan's Asylum created the 3Doodler, which raised $2.3 million from 26,457 backers and is now available in the MoMA Design Store, as a tool for other makers to create more new things!

We hope today’s news will be a rallying cry for builders, hackers, developers and makers everywhere, and we couldn’t be more excited to work with President Obama to support a #NationofMakers.

Meet the Team: Jes and David P.

We thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves. So every week, a couple members of the Kickstarter team will be saying hello, and picking out a few projects — past or present, successful or not — that they're especially fond of. (They will also be posing for GIFs. The GIFs are mandatory.)

This week, meet Jes and David P.:

Jes Nelson (@calamity_jan)

Job: "I answer questions and offer advice about the site for both backers and project creators. (I also sit across from Alfie. He's awesome. You will meet him soon.)"

  • Food Pyramid Investigates the Continental United States — "Food Pyramid pulls influence from 70s German electronica, 80s Chicago house, and acoustic ecological investigations (little to do with health class). They also hail from Minneapolis, MN (my home), and were the first to introduce to me Kickstarter through this project! Enjoy their music here."
  • Lucky Luna — "Lucky Luna is quickly becoming my favorite dinner spot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn! The creators, Howard Jang, Ken Ho, and Marisa Cadena, combine Mexican and Taiwanese street style food, classic cocktails, along with chill and attentive service — I couldn’t ask for more. Request a 'Rainy Day' from the bartender, and order everything on the menu. This place rules."
  • Northern Spark — "Northern Spark is an all night arts festival that encourages consideration of what’s possible in public space. Spanning across the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St.Paul), this is the one night out of the year when these neighboring cities really feel connected. In regards to the visual landscape of the event, I like to describe it as a State Fair for multimedia enthusiasts — there are projectors everywhere."

David Peter (@davidnoob)

Job: "I engineer and maintain stuff for backers, creators, and fellow employees." (Note: Good job hiding your whole "narwhal supervillain" hobby, David.)

  • Superhot — "What an amazing game concept. I haven't owned a mouse for three years, but I think I'm getting one for this."
  • Reading Rainbow — "It's for an incredible cause with one of the greatest project videos I've ever seen. LeVar Burton (through Geordi La Forge) is a childhood role model, and when he visited the office, I got to shake his hand and eat popsicles and talk about books. I think I was teary."
  • Schmuck, a Graphic Novel — "I love stories about life. Unfortunately, this creator got diagnosed with leukemia, the same cancer my father has. Life. I'm anxiously awaiting his convalescence."
  • Hello Ruby — "I think it's important to get people excited about programming at an early age. And she posts such incredibly detailed posts about how much she's learning from doing this — it's great!"

Jenny Drumgoole Wants to Wish You a Happy Trash Day

The first-ever Happy Trash Day was a thank-you for multimedia artist Jenny Drumgoole's local trash collectors. Since that day, Drumgoole has been holding regular surprise parties for the sanitation workers of her home city of Philadelphia. 

This is what happens: dressed as her character, Soxx, Jenny picks a location, finds out when the sanitation workers arrive, and sets up her party (complete with snacks, party favors, and her own colorful clown outfits), and waits for the guests of honor to arrive. 

There's also an awareness-raising element: the parties that she puts on are not only a pick-me-up for the trash crews that come down the city's streets, but also a way to educate citizens about the situation of the sanitation workers of Philly, who haven't had a raise in five years. The project she's running will help her to throw a month-long blitz of parties. 

We talked to Jenny about Happy Trash Day, how it came to be, and why it continues to happen. 

How did the first Happy Trash Day come together? 

Happy Trash Day started as just a little thank you for my trash collectors when I asked them to film a couple of scenes with me as this character I’ve used in previous videos, “Soxx." I asked the trash crew as they came down my street to throw me a bag of garbage and lift me up. They were great. It was really hot that day and it was towards the end of their shift. I was not expecting them to oblige the way they did. 

So the following week, I decided that I/Soxx should thank them. I put up balloons and streamers and modified a happy birthday banner to read “Happy Trash Day." Then I just waited for them to come. People who passed would stop to take pictures and ask what I was doing. I said “It’s trash day and I’m here to thank the trash collectors”.

When the trash crew finally came, I found out the crew that came the week before was not my regular crew. So when my regular guys drove down the block for this first official Happy Trash Day, they didn’t know what was going on (they just saw a clown jumping and waving them down in the street). Once they saw the signs and balloons they started laughing and said that no one back at the sanitation yard would believe that anyone would do this, so they wanted to take pictures. They also took the balloons and the Happy Trash Day banner for the truck. From then on, I just wanted to make the parties bigger and more memorable. 

Once I was several months into doing the parties, I found out that the sanitation workers haven’t had a raise or a contract for more than five years. So Happy Trash Day has become both a special thank you for the trash collectors and a way to help push towards a contract resolution…while having the most fun possible. 

What's the best reaction that you've gotten so far? 

It’s hard to pick one favorite reaction to Happy Trash Day. I’ve done them in several areas throughout the city, so it’s been really nice to meet so many sanitation workers in the city. Everyone’s reaction starts with a bit on confusion, then turns to excitement when I explain that this is a party for them. It’s also nice to see the reaction of people who pass on the street. Neighbors will come out when they see what’s happening and bring more refreshments for the trash collectors. 

I’ve also gotten emails from people in different states (and even in Europe) who want to have their own Happy Trash Day! That’s pretty great. 

Speaking of reactions, what's the public reaction been like to the advocacy element of the project?

Everyone has been really supportive of Happy Trash Day so far. It’s hard not to like a happy clown on the street having a surprise thank you party. It’s a fun, spirited (and slightly bizarre) atmosphere at Happy Trash Day. I set up all of the decorations between everyone’s garbage that has been put out. I’ve found that most people in Philly don’t know that the sanitation workers have continued to work without a raise or a contract. It has become a kind of subversive way for me to rally people to do right by people who work so hard for the people of Philly. 

I have been going to Philadelphia’s City Council and speaking during the public comment portion of City Council meetings about Happy Trash Day (as Soxx of course). At first I thought they were going to have security escort me out, but thankfully they didn’t. 

I’ve even had meetings with Councilmen where we have talked about an official resolution marking an official Happy Trash Day in Philadelphia. But I’ve decided that there can’t be a true Happy Trash Day until the sanitation workers get their contract resolved. So that’s got to happen first. 

What influences you in general and with this project? 

Filmmakers and artists like George Kuchar, John Waters and Michael Moore. I’m also inspired by really epic ’80s bands like AC/DC. I also am really influenced by my super talented friends who have helped me with the project and make their own work. 

What else are you working on? 

Well, the project proposed for this Kickstarter is going to take a lot of my time over the next several months. There are going to be some really fun themed trash days (you pick the theme if you donate $100!)…one donor has already sponsored a Robot themed trash day! But I am also working on a really exciting collaborative video series with my husband and two friends called “Soxx’s Power Hour." 

We just finished shooting the first episode (there’s singing, dancing and some pretty epic music) and are already planning the second episode. We’re shooting it all around Philly. The first episode should be done in about two weeks, so look out for it!

Introducing Two New Categories: Journalism and Crafts

Kickstarter’s a home to countless kinds of creativity — so we like to make sure all the different communities that bring their ideas here have a little space to call their own. That’s why we recently added 94 new subcategories: everything from space exploration to vegan food. Today, we’re excited to create official homes for two fields where creators have already brought huge amounts of energy and ingenuity to Kickstarter: journalism and crafts.

It’d be a vast understatement to say the world of journalism is currently experiencing a lot of change. To us, that means it’s more important than ever to make sure journalists have the tools and resources to try new things — whether they’re professionals looking for innovative ways of funding and sharing their work, or ordinary folks with a hunger to tell the stories around them. Together, we’ve seen people launch terrific podcasts, magazines, works of photojournalism, websites, and striking tools for learning about the world. We’re sure we’ll be seeing even more amazing things to come.

And we’re especially pleased to announce that the Guardian, an institution with a global reputation for producing great and uncompromising journalism, is launching a curated page to highlight compelling projects from around the world. Caspar Llewellyn Smith, Head of Culture at Guardian News & Media, explains it this way:

“At the Guardian, we’re excited by new forms and models of journalism, and Kickstarter’s focus on the fourth estate is something we’re happy to support by helping pick the projects that we think look most interesting.”

Since Kickstarter launched, we’ve also seen hundreds and hundreds of beautiful crafts projects funded: knitting and candlemaking, glasswork and pottery, woodworking and taxidermy and more. They’re rarely blockbuster projects — when people work by hand, with attention and care to every piece, they’re usually not interested in big numbers. But that’s exactly why these projects are some of our favorites, and why we wanted to give them a home of their own. There’s a lot to love about these crafts, from the rich traditions behind them to the imagination that comes out in each work. From now on, you can see all of that artistry under one banner.

A last quick note to those of you who’d already backed a project in every category, filling in all 13 little pie-slices on your profile page: sorry! You might be a couple categories short again. But we doubt it’ll take long for you to come across an exciting new podcast or photobook, or the work of a passionate weaver or printer, and fill right up again. Just watch out for more new categories as our community grows and changes.

Jocelyn Towne on the Creation of her Film I Am I

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When writer/director/actor Jocelyn Towne launched the Kickstarter project page for her film I Am I at the end of 2010, it appeared alongside an inventive video pitch for the film. In a single take, Towne and a cast of actors and close friends popped up in various rooms of the house she was living in (and also her bed), selling the concept. It's a difficult piece of choreography, and rather than obsess over getting it exactly right, Towne allowed for a few flaws. It's warm, watchable, and entertaining. On Friday, June 13th, the film—which is about about a woman meeting her mentally ill father, who thinks she's his wife—will see wide release in theaters and on demand. We spoke with Towne about that notorious project video as well as what's been happening with I Am I over the last few years. 

How did you arrive at the concept for your project video?

I knew that I had to do something that stood out. I watched as many Kickstarter videos as I could get my hands on. I played devil’s advocate with my own emotions watching other people’s videos. I knew I was doing it from a very intellectual place—watching the videos. So I was like, "what’s going to move me to contribute to someone else’s project?" Most of the time it was not people who said, "we have a really heartfelt project that means the world to us." That didn’t usually move me most of the time. Everybody has a heartfelt project, so hearing that didn’t turn the emotional meter for me, but what did usually was something that was humorous and light and funny and had me enjoy just watching the video itself. That was my inspiration for trying to come up with something that would do that for me.

It looks like it was done in one shot.

It was. I was overwhelmed by getting the project together and I thought, well if I don’t need an editor it would be so much simpler. So how can I do this on my own without needing an editor? Oh I’ll do it in one shot. Even though it took a lot of choreography, we got it in seven takes. It’s not perfect, but I didn’t need it to be. It’s good but it didn’t have to be perfectly framed every single time. It just had to have the right feeling. That’s what I was going for. Making sure the feeling was there. I wrote the script out and that took awhile just to think of the idea and then people came over that evening. I’d already rehearsed it with our DP and myself and we knew what we had to do and people just jumped in and did their parts and did them great.

When you were coming up with the idea was it just as simple as thinking that you wanted to get people over to your house?

All the people in the video are friends from my theater company, so whenever someone needs help, people from the theater company are there to help, so it wasn’t hard to get friends over to help out because that’s what we all do for each other.

There’s a weird balance between making a dramatic film and a lighthearted project video. Were you worried about it clashing with your film?

I worried about everything. I worried about that. I worried about what people would think of me for asking for money, which is kind of how I came up with the idea for the video of asking people to get into bed with you. I was like, "this is uncomfortable for me." Asking people for money is as uncomfortable as just asking people to get into bed with me if I didn’t know them. Which is where that idea came from. I stressed out about almost every single thing in the video and the campaign, just because it was such new territory and I didn’t know that many people who had done a Kickstarter campaign before myself. Ultimately, I thought that people would relate more to me and the project if it was more lighthearted, and I hope that even though the movie is dramatic in tone, i tried to tell the story with a lightness of touch so it wasn’t too heavy-handed. I think it accomplishes that. I don’t think it’s a melodrama, so I wanted to find that with the campaign video too.

On the I Am I site you've been conducting interviews with your father and other filmmakers. They don't come off as promotional, more just genuine interviews about filmmaking. Why did you do those? 

There were definitely selfish reasons—the first one was my dad, so just getting to have that time. Getting him to talk about his experience and just having that closeness with him. It was also because I wanted advice from people I knew and admired. I wanted to do more of those interviews too. I had some other great people lined up. I still want to interview them about their first filmmaking experience, it’s just everything kind of took off and got really crazy and busy. It was just trying to get practical advice from friends and filmmakers about what it was like their first time making a film, and seeing if i could use any of that advice before I went into my first filmmaking experience.

Having a dad that worked in film means you probably grew up around it. Did you always want to get into it?

I was always interested in writing from a young age. I think that was definitely a huge influence from my dad because I always watched him writing in his office. That was something that’s always been part of the grand scheme of things. Becoming a filmmaker and directing was something that was very new and part of this project. I didn’t have any aspirations originally to direct it. It was my producers who told me that maybe I should consider doing it because I had written it just for myself to act in. That was what my dream was originally. Then refocusing to become the director of the story—which I realized I really wanted to be without knowing it. I realized how much control i wanted over the story. It was something that was new. I’ve fallen in love with in the process of doing my first film, and now I got to direct a second film and actually sit behind the camera the entire time. That was a newfound love as I ventured into this whole process.

Why is it important to you to have such complete control?

I think that when you’re telling a story that means a lot to you, to think of giving up control somewhere along the way to either a studio or other artists completely... I love collaborating, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to collaborate, I just love being able to have a voice in the decision making process as it goes down the road of everything: of distribution, post production, everything. I’m so glad I did it with I Am I because getting the film out into the world is just as difficult as getting it made, and a huge part of making sure that you have control of your film is making sure that you have that voice throughout the entire process.

You’ve already made a second movie, but now I Am I is getting a wide release. How do you feel about that?

It’s a very strange feeling because in some ways after making it through all of post-production, I kind of let it go and also because getting a distribution deal took awhile longer than the normal—or whatever normal is, i don’t even know anymore—it just took awhile to get a distribution deal, and to get the one we thought was right for the project. I got to see it with an audience a couple times when it did its film festival premiere and then it just sort of went into hibernation for awhile. I had to kind of let go of that feeling of getting to share it with the world, but not really feeling like i had to gotten to share it yet, because I hadn’t shared it with anyone from Kickstarter and those were all the people who helped get it made. It was this very strange feeling of work, work, work and then nobody really gets to share it with you. So the fact that it’s coming out now is really exciting and surreal. I feel lucky I get to have this part of the process too. In some ways I was accepting that just the process of working on it was enough, and now that I get to actually have the part of it where people see it, I’m remembering, oh yeah that’s what filmmaking is about: getting to share it with the world. I’m re-opening that feeling of actually getting to have an interaction with people after they see it. I’m excited about it.

When you initially put I Am I on Kickstarter it was a lot less common for films on the site to make it into wide theatrical release. At the time, did you feel like you were willfully removing yourself from the film industry when you needed to be part of it?

The way I thought of it was I was getting something done by any means necessary. It definitely felt like taking a step out of the known way of getting a film made, but I felt desperate enough to do whatever it took to get my project made. I had the fire underneath me of wanting to start a family and have children, and I felt like it was now or never—if I don’t do this now, there’s never going to be an easier time. Discovering Kickstarter was a complete revelation to me, because I hadn’t heard of it before my producers told me about it. So I started researching it, and all of a sudden it became this incredible possibility of being able to get things done on my own terms. It feels like I’ve always tried to do things that way. I think it has to do with having artistic control. I remember when I was writing the script to this, people said, "Oh, you could try and sell this. Maybe some big actress would be interested in playing this part." I had a lot of encouragement to relinquish control of the script and see if I could sell it and just be seen as a writer. I didn’t want to be seen just as a writer, I really wanted to play that part for myself, which was why I had written it. I had to take a different road.

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