CROSS STITCH is a character-driven dark comedy set at Stone Lake, Wisconsin’s famous annual Cranberry Festival. How far will one woman go to win the festival’s Bake-Off? Can she maintain her reputation in this tiny lakefront town? How many products can be made from cranberries? All these questions and more will be answered in CROSS STITCH, written and produced by Cristi Rumpza & Emily Schmidt.
Who are these people and why should you move your laptop to find your wallet and give them money?
Another great question. Cristi Rumpza and Emily Schmidt met in 2006 in a Minneapolis improv class and they have been creative collaborators and close friends ever since.
Cristi Rumpza is a Minnesota native who has been working in Film and Video for the past four years. She holds a degree in Cinematography and is the Founder of Girls Aren’t Funny Productions, where she specializes in Comedy. In addition, Cristi has been acting for eight years, twenty-eight if you count elaborate home video performances. In her earlier career, Cristi worked as a Juvenile Corrections Officer so she can also diffuse a fist fight, should one arise. Cristi’s true passion is working in Film and she is proud to say that she has won awards for wardrobe, hair/makeup, and best acting ensemble. Her short film, Deposit Box, was also a finalist at the 2012 48 Hour Film Project. In short, Cristi loves to make people laugh using fun and compelling imagery.
Emily Schmidt was raised in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, and currently resides in Los Angeles. She is a 2010 graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she majored in Dramatic Writing and minored in Producing. She currently works as an assistant to a TV writer. Emily has a vast portfolio of writing that includes sitcom pilots, specs, sketches, plays and short films. Her favorite thing in the world is creating smart and funny material with people she loves and admires. For the past five years, Emily has written and produced original comedic plays in the Minnesota Fringe Festival -- two plays earned “audience favorite” encore performances. She has also been improvising for over ten years and is currently in the Advanced Study program at Upright Citizens Brigade in LA. She loves the Midwest and baking bundt cakes for others.
Why the Cranberry Festival?
Every year, we -- and a few other amazingly talented and funny women who will be involved with the film, Maureen Tubbs and Samantha Pereira -- spend a long weekend at Emily’s parents’ cabin near Stone Lake, Wisconsin (shout-out to Pat & Larry Schmidt!!). We do things like grill steaks, drink a lot, and play Pictionary until it gets too competitive and we have to independently cool off. This past year, we were at the cabin during Stone Lake’s incredible Cranberry Festival.
What is typically a quiet and sleepy lakefront town transformed into a bustling center of commerce and festivities. We were blown away and beyond impressed with the dedication and sheer joy associated with this festival -- a cranberry bog tour, cranberry-infused everything (including wine -- holler!), tons of booths selling homemade wares, a parade, a coronation and more. Everywhere we turned, there were ranch dips to buy and folks to chat up. We had a blast. And we saw the potential for a story. We wanted to share this festival with everyone.
We love the Midwest. A lot.
Both of us come from a place of seven-layer bars, gossiping Lutheran church ladies, and passive-aggressive conversations. They are our favorite characters to write and the most fun stories to tell.
We also want to produce a film that employs the talented and hard-working people of the Midwest.
Our cast will include local improvisers and actors. We also really sorta kinda want to hire Josh Hartnett, who is technically local talent. He’s from Minneapolis. We realize he might be kind of expensive. He may not be available. We are not promising that.
We want this film to be, like, really good.
We plan on submitting Cross Stitch to several festivals across the country. Some of the money raised will go to those submission fees. But mostly, we want to make sure this is a film that will make us proud and represent who we are as comedy writers and filmmakers. We are ready to embrace the challenges associated with creating an independent film, but we also want to do everything we can to make it look great.
Without, you know, SPOILING EVERYTHING, some of our bigger costs include:
- Paying cast and crew
- Transportation to Stone Lake
- Camera and equipment rental
- Editing and sound mixing
- A parade float that includes a giant papier-mache trout.
Whether you can give $1 or $1000 (can you?), you are a part of this film and we hope you love it!
Risks and challenges
We like to think we've predicted and problem-solved a lot of the challenges we might face (and challenges we'll probably never face, but, you know, just to be safe). We are both conscientious, responsible people who always see a project through to the end and think pragmatically and creatively.
That being said, here are some challenges we've thought about:
Q: You live in different cities. How can you successfully collaborate in different time zones?
A: True, but the internet is a beautiful thing. Cristi has been contacting crew in Minneapolis and scouting locations, while Emily handles a lot of the emailing. She'll also come back for the filming.
Q: Are you shooting everything on location in Stone Lake? All in one weekend? All at one festival?
A: We're going to shoot essential shots at the festival and at the Schmidts' cabin/the lake. Other scenes will be shot elsewhere, closer to the Twin Cities.
Q: What about the weather? Fall in Wisconsin can be more like winter everywhere else, right?
A: We've thought about the weather a lot. We have to, we're Minnesotans. Rain/cold requires more provisions on set, but because shooting on location is so integral to the production, we will be prepared for it.
- (29 days)