A video appears on the internet. Two high school girls circle a third with cell phones. They beat her viciously, and post her humiliation for all to see on the internet. Who does this? Why do they do it? What’s going on here?
SCENE QUEEN is a 90-minute movie that explores these questions. Teen bullying is nothing new, but the internet has brought it to a global playground - where the weak get sand kicked in their faces before a worldwide audience.
"Selfies," a much maligned phenomenon, are the other side of the internet coin. Look at them closely. You see a generation of teen girls owning their own images. You see a wide variety of self-expression—fear, confidence, sexuality, joy, love, insecurity, playfulness. There's power there, as well as vulnerability.
I’m interested in exploring both sides of the nature of self-definition on the internet. What kinds of questions do these developments raise about "girl power," bullying, and especially how teenage girls construct their identity around being seen? And around being the SCENE QUEEN?
Our "bad girl," Ashley, has 10,000 internet followers. When a girl from Ashley’s past threatens the construction of her new identity on the internet, Ashley targets her for humiliation and punishment.
Our hero, Jess, has been co-opted into Ashley’s group, and benefits from the internet notoriety if being "in" with Ashley's crowd. But when things get out of hand, Jess needs to stand up to Ashley’s bullying—or become a victim herself. Will she roll over? Stand up for herself? What's important to Jess?
I wrote SCENE QUEEN in 2008 with the intention of shooting it on digital video, for little money. I thought the subject lent itself to a "lo fi" treatment - a story that could be told with Youtube footage. The fight scenes are designed to look like something you'd find on Worldstar. The story itself takes what could be a liability - lack of money - and turrns it into an aesthetic choice.
The look and palette of the film is influenced by the electro/alternative warehouse club “scene” culture. We're in talks with some very exciting music acts from LA. Watch this space as we announce who will be appearing in the movie and contributing to the soundtrack!
WHAT'S IN PLACE?
We are ready to begin production in Austin Texas in September. We have a fantastic cast of talented actresses in the principal roles (the teen girls), and a solid attachment from fight choreographer Grandmaster Yi, who was the fight choreographer for Robert Rodriguez' SIN CITY. Grandmaster Yi and his students have been working with our actors to choreograph the fights since March, and the results have been terrific!
We are also working with Bittorrent to take advantage of their upcoming pay gate bundles to distribute the movie over their peer-to-peer network. I think the nature of this movie lends itself to online distribution, and Bittorrent is excited about the project and eager to work with us. We will, of course, submit the movie to key festivals (Sundance, SXSW, Toronto, Fantastic Fest, Austin Film Fest, LA Film Fest, etc) and seek a distributor for other digital channels (Netflix, Amazon, etc.)
WHAT DO WE STILL NEED?
Some very talented people are donating their time and expertise to this project; I'm humbled by the faith they have put into my little movie! It's also brought our real production costs down to almost half of my original budget.
What we still need are liquid funds for production expenses that are absolutely non-negotiable. We need to pay the actors a minimum daily rate. (SAG AFTRA rules, even for Ultra-low budget movies, of which this is one, are pretty clear on this point!) We need to feed everybody. And we need to pay key crew like sound guys, script supervisors, and other skilled production personnel who will keep us on time and under budget. And we need water. (Seriously, y'all. This is Texas in the summer. You have no idea how much water we need!)
The amount I'm asking for - $10,200 - is the minimum we will need to make our production days. When you contribute to this movie, know that your dollar is going directly to the production - it's turning into a sandwich that will fuel somebody for a day of shooting, or it's a check cut to an actor who's earning SAG minimum for the first time in their life. It's paying for equipment that will make this movie look and sound incredible.
Again, this is the MINIMUM we can get away with for production - if we are able to reach our stretch goals, we will be able to shoot longer (3 weeks would be a luxury!) and make the movie bigger, better, faster and stronger. (And of course, if we don't meet our minimum goal, you won't get charged!)
What's in it for you? Aside from our undying love and gratitude, and the warm feeling you get inside from contributing to a work of art: we have rewards! You can check out the full reward packages on the right (makes Vanna White type motions toward the side of the screen), but here are a few highlights:
$15 and up - You get your very own swankadoo SCENE QUEEN t-shirt (pictured above), which you can wear proudly to school, the club, or just while cleaning the house.
$25 and up - Your choice of the digital download or a DVD of the movie, depending on your preference. (Please note: the delivery dates of the movie depend in large part on when we finish and how it's distributed. If we get a distributor for the DVD, for instance, they may want a later planned window for releasing the DVD. If that happens, we'll be sure to let you know in advance!)
$50 and up - You get the download, the DVD *and* the t-shirt! Plus everybody gets a special thanks on the website, all the updates and a link to the Scene Queen streaming music playlist!
It's called INN PARADISO. It is made of awesome, and uses a lot of found instruments.
We'll put it in your swag bag for free, and it will change your life. (Ok, maybe it won't change your life. Our lawyers say we shouldn't make that claim. But it is definitely awesome.)
$100-200 level - You get all the swag plus tickets to a red-carpet screening in LA, New York or Austin, TX! (We'll ask you which screening you prefer when you choose this level!)
$250 - We'll feature your anti-bullying message on our website, www.scenequeenmovie.com, Twitter, and YouTube channel!
$1500 - We'll put your anti-bullying message IN THE MOVIE! That's right - you can appear in the movie, or we'll have one of our actors read your message for you.
$2000 - We'll give you a credited speaking role in the movie! (It's not a big role, but there are no small roles, right?)
$2500 -5000 - At this level, let's face it, you're getting a producer credit. Thank you for being an indie film hero!
Risks and challenges
Any independent film production is a challenge. Your biggest allies are momentum, and good will. When problems come up, you can't solve them with money, because you don't have any. You need to solve them with creativity (and sometimes, by slipping a case of beer to the right people).
In our case, I’ve been able to gather a team of solid, dependable professionals. We already have commitments from professional editors, a professional stylist, a professional stunt coordinator and fight choreographer, and a professional (and award winning) composer doing the score. Many of us have worked together before, we trust each other, we “get” each other, and we will be able to hit the ground running. Having the right team in place will minimize a lot of the risks involved in low-budget filmmaking before we even turn on a camera. We are working with a very small crew and minimal equipment, which will not only cut costs, it will make us more nimble as a crew and allow us to use our shooting days more productively. I’ve written the script with our budget in mind, so a lot of our problems are solved in the script stage.
Our biggest risk – which you’ve probably already spotted if you’re doing the math – is that we are not asking for our post-production budget. If we don’t get the financing that we are going after, that could be a setback. With a budget as tight as ours, if anything goes over our accounted-for costs – a print ad campaign, an ADR or foley session, a second digital master – we either need to find the money, or do without it.
Our promise to you, the backer, is that even if unplanned for costs do come up - and they will - we will find a way to finish the film and deliver a product to you. Our backers made a commitment to us, and we will honor that commitment with our own: we we won't let you down. You'll get a movie if I have to act it out with shadow puppets and cut it with scissors. (Actually, that might be a good idea for a stretch goal!)Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (38 days)