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An anxiety-ridden film about two egomaniacal restaurateurs descending into a nightmare world with their unpaid intern.
An anxiety-ridden film about two egomaniacal restaurateurs descending into a nightmare world with their unpaid intern.
195 backers pledged $14,281 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

Neighborhood Food Drive: a feature-length absurdist comedy project video thumbnail
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$14,281

195

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:

Lyra Hill and Ted Tremper in CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
Lyra Hill and Ted Tremper in CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

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 

Buki Bodunrin in CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY
Buki Bodunrin in CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY

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. 

The very different-looking FFF (left) and BUFF (right) awards.
The very different-looking FFF (left) and BUFF (right) awards.

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. 

Production photo from En Plein Air. Ted's getting makeup.
Production photo from En Plein Air. Ted's getting makeup.
Jerzy and cinematographer Lori Felker shooting EN PLEIN AIR
Jerzy and cinematographer Lori Felker shooting EN PLEIN AIR

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 (writer), Mike (writer), Bruce (lead actor), Lyra (lead actor)
Halle (writer), Mike (writer), Bruce (lead actor), Lyra (lead actor)

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) and Alex Inglizian (sound)
Robert Cauble (cinematographer) and Alex Inglizian (sound)

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

CUFF poster design by actor Lyra Hill
CUFF poster design by actor Lyra Hill

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

Artwork for Tom's album, and a still from the "How To" music video.
Artwork for Tom's album, and a still from the "How To" music video.

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

Production photo from the "Fly" video, and John's LP covers.
Production photo from the "Fly" video, and John's LP covers.

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

Jared Larson in SOME GIRLS NEVER LEARN
Jared Larson in SOME GIRLS NEVER LEARN

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

Stills from Jim Trainor's HARMONY
Stills from Jim Trainor's HARMONY

“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

Nightingale tickets, so pretty!
Nightingale tickets, so pretty!

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.

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    Thank you kindly! But you don’t just get a kind thanks here, you’ll also get a personalized thank you note in the mail, and a Special Thanks in the credits of the film.

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    Yes, thank you so much! You will receive a 3-month subscription to Fandor. Fandor has been hugely supportive of our work, and they offer the absolute finest selection of contemporary and classic cinema, which you can stream online or via Roku. Stream it! Love it! You'll also receive a link to a preview scene from the film, and a Special Thanks in the credits!

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    Thanks, thanks, thanks! As a token of our gratitude, you’ll be sent a digital copy of co-writer Halle Butler’s novel, JILLIAN (Curbside Splendor), plus a link to a preview scene from the film, Special Thanks in the credits, and 3-month subscription to Fandor!

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    My my, thank you! Please enjoy this digital version of filmmaker and songmaster, Thomas Comerford's most recent LP, II. You can put "How To" on your headphones while you wait for you special preview scene from the film, and your Special Thanks in the credits! You will also receive a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Thank you so much! For donating $25, you’ll get the link to the preview scene, PLUS a lovely poster from the Chicago Underground Film Festival. Take your pick from Lyra Hill’s 3D design from 2013, or Jay Ryan’s Projector design from 2010. You will also get a link to a preview scene form the movie, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    You're a sweetheart! Thank you! You'll get digital downloads of three John Bellows albums: CLEAN YOUR CLOCK, FAST HITS, and TRAVELLER'S SHOES (7"). You'll also receive a link to a preview scene from the film, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Gah, thank you! This is really lovely. You, my friend, will receive handmade books by either of my frequent collaborators, Halle Butler (comes with accompanying audio tape or VHS--limited quantities!) and Mike Lopez. Explore your madness with these little gems! You will also receive a link to a preview scene from the film, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    This is super generous! Thank you! You will get a two-book package from our friends over at CCM, plus a handmade bookmark. This also comes with a link to a preview scene from the film, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor

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    Thank you, oh my! Please accept a signed, personalized copy of co-writer/producer Halle Butler’s debut novel, JILLIAN. You’ll also receive a link to a preview scene from the film, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Thanks, thanks! You will receive an ultra-rare, hand bound, limited edition copy of the unpublished writing of Halle Butler: 1992 - 2015. Read everything from grade school short stories, to excerpts from Halle's new novel. This also comes with a link to a preview scene from the film, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Thank you, thank you! You will receive a link to a limited access preview screener of NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD DRIVE upon completion. Be the first to see the film! You'll also receive a link to a preview scene to whet your appetite, a Special Thanks in the credits to impress your friends, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor, which will also impress your friends.

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    Many, many thanks! You will receive DVDs of the collected films of Jerzy Rose, including SOME GIRLS NEVER LEARN, CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, and some shorts! You will also receive a link to a limited access screener of NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD DRIVE, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Holy moly, thank you! You will receive a limited edition DVD of Jim Trainor's animal films! Newly transferred from the 16mm originals by Jerzy, and never before available on DVD, each copy comes with a unique, hand-drawn cover. You’ll also receive a link to a limited access screener of NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD DRIVE, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Oh, you! Thank you so much! You’ll be invited to a special cast and crew screening at the Nightingale Cinema (limited seating!). You’ll also receive a link to a preview scene from the film (to help build your anticipation), a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

    Can’t make it to the Nightingale? No worries! We will help you host a private screening of your own, and Jerzy and co-writer Halle Butler will skype in to introduce the movie and discuss the film afterwards!

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    You’re too much! Let us express our gratitude by taking you out to two screenings at the 2016 Chicago Underground Film Festival! Meet filmmakers, talk movies, and soak up Chicago’s vibrant film scene at the Logan Theater. [Travel not included.] You will also receive a personalized DVD or Blu-ray of the completed film, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Thank you! You will receive THE BANANA GLOVE GAME, a three page risograph printed comic made by our actor, Lyra Hill. The comic is unbound. Hang it on your wall, why dontcha? You will also receive a screener of the film upon completion, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Oh, thank you, thank you! You will receive a silk-screened poster featured in the movie! The poster will be for the food drive, in the style of the Chicago Imagists. It will be poppy, pretty and over the top! You’ll also receive a screener of the finished film, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Our eternal thanks! Our frequent musical collaborator, Joshua Dumas (he composed the scores for CRIMES and SOME GIRLS) will interpret a dream you’ve had, on electric bass, and send you an mp3 of the recording. Joshua is amazing to work with. This is a great opportunity to see, up close, how he translates ideas into sound! You will also receive a screener of the finished film, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Oh, my! Please accept a handmade wooden lamp crafted for you by Jerzy. Its attractive, minimal, monolithic design will look great on any bookshelf. Illuminate your room or use it as a bias light when watching movies at home with your complimentary 3-month Fandor subscription!

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    Oh gosh, oh gosh, thank you! You will receive a framed, original drawing from Halle Butler’s illustrated short story, THE RESTAURANT BUSINESS. NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD DRIVE is an evolution of this comic, so you’ll have a little bit of the idea that started it all! You will also receive a DVD or Blu-ray of the finished film, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Thank you! This is very generous. You’ll be invited to visit the set during production. You can be an extra in a scene, or take a quick tour of the set, whichever you prefer! If you’re not in Chicago, we will give you a virtual tour via skype. You will also receive a DVD or Blu-ray copy of the finished film, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Wow, wow, thank you! Allow us to sing your praises (ahem). CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY composer, Joshua Dumas, will record a cover song of your choosing! You get to pick the style of the cover, and then you get to sit back and listen to a song made just for you. This also comes with a DVD or Blu-ray copy of the completed film, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Ah, thank you! For your generosity, please accept the original artwork for the CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY poster, drawn by NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD DRIVE co-creator, Mike Lopez! You'll also receive a DVD or Blu-ray of NEIGHBORHOOD FOOD DRIVE, a Special Thanks in the credits, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor.

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    Pledge $700 or more About $700

    Thank you so much! You’re incredible. You will receive the original neon sign used for the restaurant, CIAO, in the film. It will be green! It will also be a great conversation piece. In addition to this, you’ll receive a DVD or Blu-ray of the film, Special Thanks in the credits, a 3-month subscription to Fandor, and our undying thanks IRL.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Oh, I can’t believe it! This is beyond generous. For donating at this level, you’ll get an Associate Producer credit in the film! We will keep you up to date on our progress via email, send you links to preview scenes, a link to the screener of the film, as well as a DVD or Blu-Ray, and a 3-month subscription to Fandor. You'll also receive a personalized thank you note from the cast and crew.

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Funding period

- (27 days)