Project image
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$47,320
pledged of $200,000pledged of $200,000 goal
108
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Tue, October 15 2019 3:59 AM UTC +00:00
Last updated October 15, 2019

A GIFT

Two old friends and former lovers look back at their intertwined lives, and forward to a new America - all in the course of a haircut.

A GIFT

Two old friends and former lovers look back at their intertwined lives, and forward to a new America - all in the course of a haircut.

$47,320
pledged of $200,000pledged of $200,000 goal
108
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Tue, October 15 2019 3:59 AM UTC +00:00
Last updated October 15, 2019

About

My name is Marc Kristal, and I’m here to invite your participation in the making of a highly unusual feature film, about a transformative moment in time – in America, and in three everyday lives. A Gift, which I wrote and will direct, is what the Hollywood legend Cecil B. DeMille might have called ‘a personal story set against a background of great events’ – done on an intimate, rather than an epic, scale.

 What’s the story?

A Gift unfolds on Friday the 13th of January 2017, one week before the Trump inaugural. It tells the story of Guido, a 60-ish Manhattan luxury travel writer, whose wife has committed suicide in despair over the election. Guido has returned to his hometown on Long Island, and stops off at the home of Lizzy, a freelance private stylist for wealthy society ladies, and the high school girlfriend who’s been cutting his hair for thirty years.

Alone together in the house’s sunlit garden room, interrupted only by the brief appearance of her 12-year-old son, Lizzy cuts Guido’s hair – and they talk. About the pain of his personal loss. Their anxieties about what’s to come. And most of all about their own flaws of character and the missteps that grew out of them, the mislaid promise of youth, and what each has – surprisingly, profoundly – meant to the other. Until, in the space of ninety minutes, as the light fades and they’re enveloped by night, Guido and Lizzy find their way back to their best selves, and to each other.

Why does this film need to be made?

Why do I want to tell this story? Because like Guido I’m 60-ish and, looking back, I see how the choices I made helped or hindered my dreams. The journey of life is something all of us struggle with, and A Gift will speak to that in everyone who sees it.

Why a love story? Who doesn’t wonder, about someone or other, what might have been? Was there a man or woman, a boy or a girl, who – if the stars had aligned just a bit differently – might have made all the difference in your life? If so, A Gift will speak to that, too.

Why a week before the Trump inaugural? Just as we wonder how we got to where we are personally, we also ask, How’d we end up here as a nation? And – is there a connection between the two? A Gift considers that rather interesting question.

As for why a haircut: I really want to tell this story to you – it means more to me than any story I’ve ever told – and the simplest, most economical way to do it is with three actors, one location, a pair of scissors, and a comb. 

A $200,000 feature-length film? What’s the strategy?

Under the stewardship of our producer, Quentin Little, A Gift can be completed in its entirety for the low, low price of $200,000. The fact that the production is limited to a single location – indeed, almost to a single room; that there is a cast of three; and that the physical action is simple will enable us to maintain maximum control (while still leaving room for the unexpected). 

Our ten days of filming will be preceded by a week of rehearsal, to give the actors time to fully acquaint themselves with the set, the characters, and each other. The week of rehearsal will itself be preceded by a concentrated preparation period by the director of photography, Gregg Conde, and production designer, Alina V. Smirnova, that will enable us to develop and maximize our shooting strategies; and Gregg will be present throughout rehearsals, so that he fully internalizes the story’s trajectory and emotional turning points and can translate them into a unique visual language. 

The outcome will be a moment-to-moment experience that is vivid dramatically and cinematically. As President (Hillary) Clinton says, ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’ – and our plan is to succeed. 

Who’s going to be in it?

Typically when filmmakers undertake independent films, they attach a ‘name’ actor or actors, the better to excite interest and attract financing. It’s a tried-and-true strategy, but it comes with two pitfalls. The first is that the actor who lends his or her name may not be available when you’re funded and ready to go. The other, more serious issue has to do with appropriateness: the person you attach may have a bankable name, but not be the best person for the part. 

In an intimate, three-character piece like this, casting is everything. And so rather than trumpeting the marquee appeal of a loosely attached name, we’re trumpeting the talents of Sabrina Hyman, our casting director. Sabrina has curated a selection of superb, seasoned actors, broadly experienced in film and theatre, who can bring Guido and Lizzy indelibly to life. Once we’re funded, we will choose people who are ideal for the roles, an ideal couple – and available. And I promise that, once you see A Gift, you’ll think, ‘I can’t imagine anyone else who’d have been better in those parts.’ 

 A double benefit.

Though it’s set before the 2017 inaugural, I would like A Gift to respond to what has happened since that day. Accordingly, I will donate 25 percent of all my profits to organizations committed to combating climate change, protecting the human rights of undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, and preserving reproductive freedom. Thus if you contribute, not only will you be an arts patron – your pledge will ultimately serve philanthropic, social, and political ends as well. 

 In sum…

No doubt you’ll see many films this year, and in those to come. But you will never see anything quite like this. By turns comic and painfully raw, panoramic in its social, artistic and political themes yet deeply intimate, A Gift is an all-too-human story of loss and redemption, set against the challenge of the about-to-begin new America.

So, please: Join us on this adventure. Make a gift of whatever you can to…A Gift

THE FILMMAKERS

Marc Kristal (writer/director)    Marc’s four-decade life as a screenwriter includes work for a number of Hollywood studios and producers, most notably Irwin Winkler. Marc wrote the international co-production Torn Apart, one of the first English-language films to examine the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and created the script for Saigon ’68, about photojournalist Eddie Adams’s infamous Vietnam War picture, which received the 2013 Best Documentary award at the L.A. Shorts Fest. As a writer/producer/director of films, videos, and commercials, Marc has worked for a broad range of organizations and individuals, from Rolls-Royce and Lamborghini, to the International Center for Photography, to President Jimmy Carter. Also an art, architecture, and design writer, Marc has authored, co-written, or contributed to more than thirty books.

Quentin Little (producer)     Quentin is an independent media producer focused on physical production in the service of emerging voices. He has managed production for independent features (among them No Pay, Nudity, starring Gabriel Byrne, and #Horror, top-lined by Chloe Sevigny) and virtual reality (Lincoln in the Bardo, Google's Hamlet 360: Thy Father’s Spirit), as well as commercials and branded content (for, among others, HBO, Marriott, and Nike). Prior to his career in production, Quentin served as Head of Development for Mark Cuban's HDNet Films and Producer/Programmer for the non-profit Independent Filmmaker Project.

Gregg Conde (director of photography)     Born in Manila, Gregg explored documentary and stop-motion as an undergraduate photography major, then served as director of photography for his classmates' films while pursuing an MFA at Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program. Upon graduation, Gregg had completed numerous short films and three narrative features – one of which, Four, was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award. In addition to serving as DP on multiple films, documentaries and videos, Gregg has launched two companies: Think/Feel, a creative production studio specializing in commercials and branded content, and RoundO, a documentary film group with a presence in the art world.

Alina V. Smirnova (production designer)     Currently based in New York, Alina received her BFA in visual art from Cornell University and an MFA in Design for Stage and  Film from New York University. She has designed numerous short films, five feature-length films and a set for an Emmy award-winning HBO documentary Jim: The James Foley Story. The first feature she production designed, Keep the Change, won Best Narrative Film at Tribeca Film Festival 2017. 

Sabrina Hyman (casting)     Sabrina is an Emmy - and Artios-nominated casting director for film, television and new media. She was casting director, along with Avy Kaufman, on the HBO limited series The Night Of, directed by Steven Zaillian and starring John Turturro and Riz Ahmed. Most recently, she was one of the casting directors on the upcoming HBO series Mrs. Fletcher, based on the Tom Perotta novel and starring Kathryn Hahn. She has cast several independent features, including Seth Fisher’s Blumenthal, starring Brian Cox and Laila Robins and Danish Renzu’s The Illegal, starring Suraj Sharma. She resides in Brooklyn and is a member of the Casting Society of America, the Television Academy and New York Women in Film & Television.

Risks and challenges

From inception we have approached this project, a chamber piece with a small cast and intimate setting, with an economical mindset. The $200,000 budget, inclusive of a contingency of 7% for any unexpected bumps in the road, allows the production to pay a small crew fair wages over this short time frame and secure our passionate core team and a handful of critical support position.

Fundraising through Kickstarter, rather than based on the "bankability" of attached cast, avoids the pitfalls and delays in the casting process and accelerate our progress to camera and ultimately the screen. Your contribution helps see the film through to fruition while its content is at its most resonant - amid the uncertainty of a nation at yet another crossroads in 2020.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge US$ 1 or more About US$ 1

    BLOW OUT

    You can contribute any amount you’d like to the making of A Gift, from $1 to $10,000, simply by hitting the ‘Back this project’ button. Beginning at $25, we’ll offer a range of thank-you gifts to you, to express our heartfelt appreciation for your support.

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    A LIGHT TRIM

    A thank-you on our social media sites, which remains up throughout the campaign.

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    FINGER WAVE

    A digital copy of the shooting script, autographed by the writer/director and the stars.

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    MANI PEDI

    A week before the film comes out, you’ll have one-week access to a password-protected streaming site that enables you to see the completed film.

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    - A thank-you on our social media sites.
    - An autographed copy of the shooting script.

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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    WASH & SET

    A ‘special thanks to’ in the film’s closing credits.

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    - A thank-you on our social media sites.
    - An autographed copy of the shooting script.
    - Online access to the completed film one week prior to release.

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    ITALIAN RAZOR CUT

    A tote bag bearing the film’s title, with your personalized ‘A Gift’ comb-and-scissors barber kit inside.

    PLUS
    - A thank-you on our social media sites.
    - An autographed copy of the shooting script.
    - Online access to the completed film one week prior to release.
    - A ‘special thanks to’ in the film’s closing credits.

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

    SHAVE AND A HAIRCUT

    A Skype conversation with the production team and actors, giving you an exclusive look at how the film was created, and a ‘Gift’ poster inscribed to you by the actors and writer/director.

    PLUS
    - A thank-you on our social media sites.
    - An autographed copy of the shooting script.
    - Online access to the completed film one week prior to release.
    - A ‘special thanks to’ in the film’s closing credits.
    - A tote bag and personal comb-and-scissors barber kit.

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    Pledge US$ 2,500 or more About US$ 2,500

    FOUR BUNDLES BRAZILIAN BODY WAVE

    An ‘Associate Producer’ end credit, two tickets to an invitation-only screening and after-party, and a DVD or digital copy of the film.

    PLUS
    - A thank-you on our social media sites.
    - An autographed copy of the shooting script.
    - Online access to the completed film one week prior to release.
    - A tote bag and personal comb-and-scissors barber kit.
    - A Skype conversation with the production team and actors.
    - A ‘Gift’ poster inscribed to you by the cast and writer/director.

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    THE WORKS

    An ‘Executive Producer’ credit, and an invitation as an ‘honored guest’ to the wrap party at the end of filming.

    PLUS
    - A thank-you on our social media sites.
    - An autographed copy of the shooting script.
    - Online access to the completed film one week prior to release.
    - A tote bag and personal comb-and-scissors barber kit.
    - A Skype conversation with the production team and actors.
    - A ‘Gift’ poster inscribed to you by the cast and writer/director.
    - Two tickets to an invitation-only screening and after-party.
    - A DVD or digital copy of the film.

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    1 backer
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    Pledge US$ 10,000 About US$ 10,000

    THE KEYS TO THE BARBERSHOP

    A walk-on silent bit in the film – you’re in the picture!

    PLUS
    - A thank-you on our social media sites.
    - An autographed copy of the shooting script.
    - Online access to the completed film one week prior to release.
    - A tote bag and personal comb-and-scissors barber kit.
    - A Skype conversation with the production team and actors.
    - A ‘Gift’ poster inscribed to you by the cast and writer/director.
    - Two tickets to an invitation-only screening and after-party.
    - A DVD or digital copy of the film.
    - An ‘Executive Producer’ credit.
    - ‘Honored guest’ invitation to the end-of-filming wrap party.

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    0 backers
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Funding period

- (28 days)