WHAT IS THE MOVIE ABOUT?
Convinced that throwing a series of lavish but unsolicited fundraisers for a local food depository will improve her public image in her gentrifying neighborhood, panic-stricken NAOMI convinces her level-headed business partner MADELINE to hire a naive intern to help them in their misguided philanthropy. The food drives are increasingly ineffective and disastrous. People are hurt, friendships are damaged, promises are broken, and no one does anything good for anyone else.
Channeling Dadaist social satire, the story is bleakly satirical and frequently absurd, with many surreal repetitions, loopy subplots, and disruptive non sequiturs that amount to an entertaining and unsettling narrative. The cadence of the script is influenced by the ensemble social satires of Jean Renoir, the incendiary surrealism of Luis Bunuel, and the personable absurdism of Donald Barthleme. The terrible-people-comedies of Frank Perry and Todd Solondz are hugely influential as well.
The ambition of this project is first and foremost to create a unique, funny, and idiosyncratic film. Beyond that, our goal is to find an audience through festival screenings, small theatrical runs, and eventual video distribution. It would also likely make for an interesting and unusual in-flight movie on a major international airline.
WHO AM I?
My name is Jerzy Rose and I'm a Chicago-based narrative filmmaker. Neighborhood Food Drive will be my 3rd feature-length film. My first feature Some Girls Never Learn was the opening night film at the 2011 Chicago Underground Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award and the historically-significant Made in Chicago award. Here is a fun, blurry photo of me holding these things as proof:
My second feature, Crimes Against Humanity premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in January 2014 in Park City, Utah. It continued onto many more festivals and screenings and received some lovely awards and blush-worthy press:
"Delightfully mean-spirited...a marvelous pastiche of the private-eye movie." - Orlando Weekly
"Rose and co-writer Halle Butler are masters of wry humor, delighting in their characters’ self-pity, casual dishonesty and cruelty. Mike Lopez and Lyra Hill are beyond perfect in the lead roles, generating spark showers of subtextual resentment in their scenes together." - Hammer to Nail
"Recalls the fiction of Thomas Pynchon in its mix of conspiracy plots, academic references, and loopy humor...Rose creates a distinct, propulsive rhythm for the comic dialogue.” - Chicago Reader
"Pee your pants funny." - Zach Clark (White Reindeer)
“Star Lyra Hill's wide-eyed, increasingly mangled deadpan gaze is worthy of a silent comedy all its own.” - Chicago Tribune
The film won Best Feature at the 2014 Boston Underground Film Festival and a Special Jury Prize for Best Ensemble Cast at the 2014 Florida Film Festival.
Crimes is available for streaming on Fandor and even played in-flight on Virgin American Airlines over the 2015 holiday season. I also directed a short film starring Crimes Against Humanity's Ted Tremper called En Plein Air which premiered at the ridiculously prestigious Telluride Film Festival last year (alongside, like, Birdman and stuff like that). It's "a lowbrow Eric Rohmer spoof" (Chicago Reader) about a pervy plein air painting professor pontificating profusely at a young couple.
So, you know, I'm pretty serious about this independent filmmaking business. The scale of my projects grows a little each time, and I'm happy to have greater and greater exhibition opportunities, but, at the same time, I believe my films will always be characterized by a do-it-yourself spirit and an uncompromising affection for weirdness and originality. I've never run a fundraising campaign for a film project before, but I'm more excited about Neighborhood Food Drive than I've ever been about any previous filmmaking effort. I believe it's a sharp and ridiculously good screenplay with a ton of potential and I have a really incredible team of collaborators ready to make it happen.
MEET A FEW OF MY COLLABORATORS
Halle Butler (co-writer, producer) is a Chicago-based fiction writer. Her first novel, Jillian, was released in February 2015 by Curbside Splendor. The book has been called “sublimely awkward and hilarious” (Chicago Tribune), “wickedly disaffected” (Kirkus), and “a frank depiction of modern indecency” (Electric Literature). Halle has worked with Jerzy on several screenplays. She co-wrote Crimes Against Humanity and En Plein Air. She also worked as a producer on those films, and has extensive administrative experience.
Mike Lopez (co-writer, co-creator, actor) is a video artist, illustrator, and fiction writer. Mike’s video work has screened at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Chicago Underground Film Festival, Doc Films at the University of Chicago, and elsewhere, and his handmade, illustrated collections of short fiction are available at bookstores throughout Chicago. Mike has worked with Jerzy on several films, including playing the lead role, Lewis Henry, in Crimes Against Humanity.
Bruce Bundy (NAOMI) studied acting at Tisch School of the Arts. She has a background in theatre and live performance of varying forms, including stand-up and burlesque. She works largely in film, both as an actor and writer/director. She had the fortune of playing Octavia in The Hunger Games films, and she also acted in the Independent Spirit Award-winning Without. With her collective Off the Picture Pictures, she has co-directed and co-produced three short films; The Mud, The Greggs, and Old Friends. The Greggs premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in January 2014, where it won the Spirit of Slamdance award. The Mud premiered at the Sidewalk Film Festival in 2012, and won Short of the Year on No Budge.
Lyra Hill (MADELINE) is a visual artist and filmmaker. She studied painting, drawing, sculpture, fibers, printmaking, bookmaking, film, video, sound, and comics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was active in organizing student groups. In July of 2011 she started the performative comix series, Brain Frame. Brain Frame grew steadily, with Chicago shows every other month, as well as hybrid and out-of-town events. It ended in August of 2014, on its 3rd anniversary. Lyra was the show’s emcee, curator, and organizer. Her most recent film, Uzi's Party, a 16mm experimental short, premiered at the Chicago Underground Film Festival. Lyra has acted in two of Jerzy’s films, Some Girls Never Learn (as Jessica) and Crimes Against Humanity (as Brownie Fromm).
Robert Cauble (cinematographer) is a NYC based cinematographer with a background in video art and experimental film. His video art has screened at many festivals and museums including The International Film Festival Rotterdam, London Film Festival and Madrid’s Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia. He is a member of the International Cinematographers Guild and has over a decade of experience working in the camera department on feature films, television shows, and commercials. This experience has afforded him the opportunity to assist and learn from many of the most skilled practitioners of the craft, including Academy Award-winning cinematographers. Robert lensed Jerzy's last feature Crimes Against Humanity.
Alex Inglizian (sound) received a BA in Sound from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. A seasoned engineer, he has over 10 years of experience in both live and recorded sound. He manages the upkeep of Experimental Sound Studio’s soft- and hardware and engineering, co-curates the SummerSonic series at ESS, and runs location sound and does post-production mixing for many independent film and video projects. Inglizian is a technical wiz, exhibiting prodigious skill in sound design, circuit bending, programming, and as an educator. He is an active musician and improviser around Chicago, playing in bands such as Dhalgren and El is a Sound of Joy. Alex did the sound for Crimes Against Humanity and En Plein Air.
BUDGET: WHAT IS THE MONEY FOR?
We’ve been incredibly fortunate to be able to secure the majority of our budget through independent investments. We have over $28,000 raised, but we still need an additional $14,000 to bring the project to life. The script for Neighborhood Food Drive is very ambitious. We have a cast of 15 speaking roles, with 5 primary actors making up the core of the ensemble, many of them coming in from out of town, and we’ll be shooting in locations all over the city. To do justice our beautiful actors and locations, and to realize the story perfectly, we need a strong camera department, sound, art department, production insurance to cover locations and equipment rentals, and, everyone’s favorite line item: FOOD.
We’ve made an itemized budget. Here is a simplified breakdown:
WHAT’S IN IT FOR YOU: DONOR INCENTIVE HIGHLIGHTS
We're part of a really vibrant artistic community here in Chicago, and we're lucky to work with talented musicians, writers, visual artists, and other filmmakers. All of the incentives have been given people who we have worked with in the past, and who are helping in some way to bring this next project to life. Here are a few highlights!
$15 - 3 Month Fandor Subscription
Oh, man, we can’t tell you how much your film streaming game will change when you have access to Fandor’s library. You’ll be able to see highlights from all the best festivals, hard to find classics, and a carefully curated selection of amazing films from shorts to features, docs to animations, experimental gems to cigarette ads starring Jacques Tati (seriously, they have that). You can watch all of Jerzy’s films on Fandor, too! We love Fandor.
$20 - CUFF Posters
The Chicago Underground Film Festival was founded in 1993, and has been a home for experimental, avant garde, and truly unique cinematic experiences ever since. Each year, CUFF has a different artist design their posters. The posters on offer here are Lyra Hill’s (our actor, hey hey!) design from 2013, and Chicago poster artist Jay Ryan’s design from 2010. Jerzy and CUFF go way back. He and Mike Lopez even directed a festival trailer for them in 2010.
$20 - Thomas Comerford's album, II
We're love-love-lovin' Tom's most recent LP, II. We loved it so much that we made a music video for the single "How To" with our regular cast of pals. Check it out here, and get ready to enjoy the entire album!
$25 - Handmade Books by Halle Butler and Mike Lopez
Co-writers and co-creators Halle Butler and Mike Lopez both have wonderful short fiction available in handmade books. Mike’s writing is a whirlwind of tropes and canny observations, told in a style worthy of the pulp classics. The stories are accompanied by black and white illustrations also done by Mike. Halle’s chapbook of The Restaurant Business was printed by Dikarya Press, and is currently out of print. The story follows a young man as he badgers his wife into helping him open a restaurant.
$25 - John Bellows: Clean Your Clock, Fast Hits and Traveler's Shoes
John Bellows is one of our absolute favorite musicians! Jerzy recently visited John and his bandmates Glenn Hendrickson and Sara Condo to shoot a music video for one of their new songs. We listened to Clean Your Clock while working on this script! Pick these up, and put 'em on repeat.
$30 - CCM Package
Civil Coping Mechanisms is an incredible press, and Juliet Escoria and Sean Doyle are some of our favorite writers. Co-writer Halle Butler had the absolute pleasure of meeting and reading with these two while she was on tour. Their writing is frank, chilling, insightful, and gorgeous. The handmade bookmarks will pale in comparison!
$35 - Signed copy of Jillian
Halle Butler’s novel, Jillian, tells the story of two fundamentally opposed co-workers at a doctor’s office who barely tolerate each others’ presence during the workday, and then return home to face mounting personal problems. It’s supposed to be funny! This copy will be personally made out to you, with a little drawing and a note.
$45 - Collected Films of Jerzy Rose
This set will come with Jerzy's first two features, Some Girls Never Learn and Crimes Against Humanity, as well as a handful of shorts. Meet the paranoid and paranormal veterinarian, Dennis Olsen, in Some Girls as he makes an ill-advised trip to the underworld, and follow Lewis Henry, Assistant to the Dean of Ethnomusicology, as he blunders through academia and an off-the-books criminal investigation in Crimes Against Humanity.
$50 - Jim Trainor's The Animals and Their Limitations
“One morning I echoed an enormous worm. I cried because I could not eat him all at once. God appeared to me and she said, ‘sometimes you have to kill more than you can eat.'” That's a quote from Jim Trainor's excellent animation, The Bats. Jim's films compare the mindless brutality of nature with our need to anthropomorphize. His work is funny, beautiful, and strange, and now you can own a collection of Trainor's animation series The Animals and their Limitations newly transferred in HD from the 16mm originals by Jerzy, on ultra-limited-edition home video (DVD or BLU-RAY). 26 editions (A through Z), each with a unique, hand-drawn cover image lovingly created Jim himself.
$60 - Special Screening at the Nightingale
The Nightingale is an essential spot for Chicago cinema. Located in the Noble Square neighborhood in a former tannery, the Nightingale curates and hosts screenings of classic and contemporary experimental films, documentaries, animations, new media, and everything in between. It’s an incredibly welcoming and exciting place to both see and share new work. If you haven’t been yet, go now! And then visit again at the Neighborhood Food Drive screening.
$75 - Banana Glove Game Prints by Lyra Hill
Lyra performed a live version of this comic at Brain Frame. It was a perfect mix of impressive, beautiful, and unsettling. Multi-talent! See the live performance, as well as Lyra's process for developing Banana Glove Game here.
$200 - Original Drawings from The Restaurant Business
Before Halle started writing, she studied drawing and printmaking at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. You’ll get a nicely matted and framed drawing from her collection of illustrations for The Restaurant Business. Very expressive!
$500 - Original Drawings for the Crimes Against Humanity Poster
You can have the original drawings for this beautiful poster, designed and made by Mike Lopez. The finished drawing comes with initial sketches. The drawing will be framed, and the sketches will be in a nice folio.
Risks and challenges
Every film production is prone to setbacks and unforeseen challenges. We’ll be working with the availability of our locations and actors under a short schedule with relatively tight resources.
That said, we’ve worked with tighter resources before, and we always get the job done. We have an incredibly talented and dedicated cast and crew, most of whom have worked with us before. We’ve done extensive pre-production to ensure that the set runs smoothly, and we have allowed for buffer days and a contingency in the budget.
I believe in the people I’m working with, I believe in the story, and I’m confident that with the experience and talent of our team, and with your support, we can create a truly delightful piece of cinema.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (27 days)