HOW BIG LITTLE IS
A film about Irving Feller.
“If you're really listening to yourself it will always be original.”
Through the lens of a young filmmaker struggling to find her voice, HOW BIG LITTLE IS tells the story of Irving Feller — a New York artist and fur trader on his last journey across America to trade his wares and to “see the Indians.”
Artist and filmmaker Jenn Nielsen met Mr. Feller after walking into his fur shop one afternoon in 2005. After spending many afternoons in the shop drawing together and discussing art and philosophy, the two began an unlikely and intimate friendship. It is through this friendship that Mr. Feller's art comes to life, and his life takes on new meaning.
A man full of extreme contradictions, Irving has made a career out of selling myths and mantras. A formally-trained abstract artist, he never “made it” in the art world, but danced only at its margins. HOW BIG LITTLE IS is a meditation on the meaning of friendship, art, love and loss, and how one man's life can give an artist her voice.
Featuring music by Daniel Rossen (Grizzly Bear, Department of Eagles) from his solo EP, Silent Hour/Golden Mile, released in 2012.
Irving Feller has been a a fixture on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn for over 60 years. Many knew him as the Manhattan Furrier, selling Native American jewelry in front his shop while donning a full, feathered headdress. But those who ventured into his peculiar storefront, knew that he was also a prolific artist.
Jenn Nielsen was just one of many people whom was taken by Irving's eccentric character, wild abstractions and powerfully simple language.
Find out more about Irving’s story in the press section of our website:
- NEW YORK TIMES — JAN 2007
- TIMEOUT NEW YORK — JAN 2009
- NEW YORK TIMES — MAR 2011
- DOSSIER JOURNAL — AUG 2011
WHO WE ARE:
JENN NIELSEN — Director/Producer
MELISSA MEDINA — Producer
WILLOW ROBIN — Director of Photography
RACHEL WEBSTER - Supervising Editor
Trailer and Kickstarter video edited by Collin Ruffino.
Learn more about the team here.
WHY WE NEED YOUR HELP:
To this point this project has been paid for entirely out of pocket with the generosity of countless friends, volunteering their time and talents. And now we need your help to raise the funding necessary to work with an experienced documentary editor.
With over 200 hours of footage, an extensive archive of Irving’s artwork and years of meditating on the themes of his life, we’re ready to start editing this rich and dynamic research into a finished film.
We’re interviewing editors and have received substantial enthusiasm and interest in working on our project. However, given the time consuming nature of editing, it will not be until we raise these funds that an editor will be able to fully commit.
By meeting our minimum goal of $15,000, the editing process will be fully funded by this Kickstarter campaign. This is the most important step in the process of making a documentary film of this genre.
Exceeding this goal would allow us to continue further into post-production!
Contributions made after reaching our minimum goal will contribute towards the essential details of audio mixing, color-correction, title graphics, music composition, archival research, and more.
Any donation, however big or little, will help to push this project forward and add to the momentum that's already building!
OTHER WAYS YOU CAN SUPPORT THE FILM:
Spread the word!
- Post a link to our Kickstarter page on your wall or re-post our updates on Facebook
- Send a personal email with a link to our website or Kickstarter page to your friends and family or anyone whom you think would love to see this film
- Like us on Facebook
- Follow us on Instagram or Twitter
We are so grateful for all your support and encouragement and have come up with a series of great rewards show our sincere thanks! Below is a visual breakdown of the descriptions to the right.
By translating his iconic, graphic drawings into all-over patterns for textiles and other objects in collaboration with local artists & designers, we hope to draw a continuous line between Irving's legacy as a designer and maker of hand-crafted garments for over 50 years — and the new wave of artists and designers that moved into Greenpoint 10+ years ago.
Collaborators include: In God We Trust, D'Emploi, Emgie Libris, Manimal and New Friends. Keep checking back throughout the campaign for additional rewards by artists Dan Funderburgh and Tracy Timmins!
$1 or More
Your name on our backer list means so much to us! We have a non-monetary goal of reaching 500 backers. The simple act of supporting the film, with a pledge of any size, is incredibly meaningful.
$15+ Set of 4 Postcards
Beautiful photos capturing Irving Feller's special world. Mail them, frame them, share them! (Photos by Jon Feinstein, August Heffner and Jenn Nielsen.) 4"×6"
$20+ Monochrome Drawings Zine
A ltd. ed. catalogue / zine created on the occasion of Feller’s 2011 solo exhibition at Cleopatra's Gallery in Brooklyn. Designed by Greenpoint-based designer August Heffner. 8.5"×5.5"
$25+ Digital Download of the Film
Reserve your own digital download of the film. This reward will be included in all the rewards $25 and higher! Plus, of course ... our sincere thanks!
$30+ Tote (Natural)
Natural Color 100% Cotton Canvas Tote Bags. Hand screen printed logo art and Irving Feller ”fur” print will definitely stand out at your next trip to the farmers market. 14"×16"
$35+ Tote (Black)
Black Color Color 100% Cotton Canvas Tote Bags. Hand screen printed logo art and Irving Feller “fur” print will definitely stand out at the farmers market AND the gallery opening. 14"×16"
$40+ D’emploi × Irving Feller 15pens Pouch
Get the “15pens” pouch in the Irving Feller “fur” print, made in collaboration with D’emploi. Canvas body with brass ring zipper. D’emploi goods are made in New York on a Depression-era Singer using domestically produced materials. 4"×8"
$40+ Emgie Libris × Irving Feller Notebook
Let Irving's artwork inspire you to create your own! Get this durable, flexible notebook with Irving Feller “fur” print cover. Beautifully handbound by Marilyn Glinka of Emgie Libris. Made in the USA. 3.5"×5"
$45+ In God We Trust × Irving Feller Pocket Square
Limited edition pocket square in the Irving Feller “fur” print, made in collaboration with In God We Trust. 100% cotton. 13" x 13". Made in the USA.
$65+ In God We Trust × Irving Feller Bow Tie
A real dandy of a reward...Limited edition Bow Tie in the Irving Feller “fur” print, made in collaboration with In God We Trust. 100% cotton. Measures 35" in length and 2.5" at widest. Metal sliders to adjust length, from 13 3/4" to 18". Made in the USA.
$180+ In God We Trust × Irving Feller Button Down Shirt
Limited edition Button Down Shirt in the Irving Feller “fur” print, made in collaboration with In God We Trust. 100% cotton with plastic buttons. Our classic men's button down. Tailored slim through the waist to keep things classy. Contrast lining in collar and cuffs. Dry clean only. Made in the USA. (*NOTE: When the funding period is over we are going to send out surveys to each of you to get your size choice(s) for your shirt(s). You'll receive an email from Kickstarter with a link to fill out the survey.)
$290+ In God We Trust × Irving Feller Mini Menswear Combo
This reward features all 3 of the above mentioned IGWT rewards: pocket square, bow tie, and button down shirt. In God We Trust is Shana Tabor's multifaceted brand, comprised of both men’s and women’s clothing, jewelry, and accessories. In God We Trust prides itself on manufacturing all of their designs exclusively in the USA. Currently all design and production of the In God We Trust jewelry collections is done in-house at their Greenpoint studio, and the apparel collections are produced either in the NYC garment district, or in-house in Greenpoint.
$65+ Accessories Combo
(Pocket Square + Black Tote)
Hey fancy pants! As they say “accessories make the outfit.” This reward features both the above mentioned IGWT pocket square and HBLI black tote.
$80+ Artist Combo
(Notebook + Pencil Pouch + Natural Tote)
Picture your next eureka moment: reach into your HBLI tote, grab a sharpie from your D’emploi pouch and scribble your genius into your Emgie Libris notebook.
$150+ Manimal Bundle
For the ladies! This reward is not to be passed up. Comes with ALL 3 gorgeous items pictured:
- Four Point Bindle Purse in Electric Yellow — leather, 12.5"×12.5"
- Ribcage Earring in Marigold — suede, 2.5" drop
- Knotted Scrap Necklace in multi colors — suede, 16" drop
Manimal was formed after designer Kristen Lombardi's first visit to the American Southwest. Her process is driven by a deep appreciation for the almost forgotten world of artisan crafts and craftsmanship. All pieces are hand made in Brooklyn, NY.
$375+ New Friends Weaving (All gone!)
Art weaving by NYC artists New Friends. One of the nine weavings in the TROPPO IV series for One Kings Lane Artisanal. Made with Catskill Merino Sheep Farm wools, Japanese paper yarns and metallics. Weaving comes framed as pictured. A stunning addition to any curated wall space. 9"×16"
$75+ Irving Feller Original Artwork
$125+ Debra Mintz Original Artwork
Irving's relentless dedication to art had a profound affect on anyone lucky enough to meet him. His legacy lives on through the equally strong artistic voice of his daughter, Debra Mintz.
“Ever since I was old enough to pick up a pencil my father Irving encouraged me to draw just by watching him, as he was always drawing or painting and talking about his favorite subject, which of course was art.”
$50+ Tracy Timmins Print
Tracy Timmins works in painting, drawing, collage, video, and installation. She presents collaged imagery, which illustrate isolated subliminal gestures sourced from various media. References to advertisement, news, fashion and film are all found within the work.
Raised in the woods just outside of Eugene, Oregon, Tracy’s rural upbringing is often echoed in her work. Fur, hair and other residuals of nature often allude to her earliest memories of her father’s work in wild life rescue and the llama farm she grew up on. Perhaps, due her early natural surroundings Tracy became fascinated with contrary notions of pop media and entertainment. Television, glossy magazines, and fashion subsequently became favorite subjects for interpretation. Raised in the era of supermodels, slasher films, and MTV, her work often investigates what subliminal effects these influences and their media have on a society as a whole.
In this work, specially created for How Big Little Is, we interpret a portrait of the filmmakers making a portrait of Irving, as he, in turn, draws a portrait of the filmmakers. A portrait of a portrait of a portrait!
$50 Dan Funderburgh Print
Dan Funderburgh is a Brooklyn-based illustrator, artist, and wallpaper designer whose creations are rooted in the world of decorative arts. Inspired by his research at the Montclair Art Museum for a site-specific installation he made to complement the exhibition Warhol and Cars: American Icons, Dan has chosen to print Motor Lodge in honor of Irving's western road trips from 1973 through 2009.
The automotive icons and detritus scattered here are both litter and artifact. The scene references simultaneously a forensic crash site investigation, an archeological dig, and the rusted springs and hubcaps that lie in every roadside culvert. The American automotive industry has a long tradition of borrowing from Native American culture. Every Pontiac, Winnebago, and Jeep Grand Cherokee seeks to evoke the majesty of a Western expanse they eventually helped to pave and demystify. The hunting paths of the Choctaw became cattle trails and railway lines that evolved into our interstate highway system. These mufflers and cup holders are a legacy we leave for future generations of anthropologists to discover and decipher, to make educated guesses about our diets, travels, ritual, and culture.
$1,250+ Amelia Bauer Photograph
Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico and a long-time resident of Greenpoint, Brooklyn; Amelia's artwork and particularly this photograph from her Extra Terrestrial series, eloquently speaks to Irving's story and experience of exploring the western United States. She not only captures the exquisite beauty of the landscape we traversed while following Irving along his trade route; but draws attention to the powerful force of nature that drew Irving, a native New Yorker, to return to it year after year.
Amelia Bauer’s oeuvre is a series of discrete investigations into our cultural conceptions of the natural world. She examines her surroundings -- particularly the deserts of Northern New Mexico and the forests of Central New York -- through a lens of history and mythology. Aesthetic traditions are repositioned to create spaces that exist somewhere between our fears of the uncultivated wild and our romanticism of the “virgin” landscape. In this way Bauer explores the American experience of the frontier -- the transitional landscapes at the boundaries of civilization.
Bauer’s interventions, both photographic and sculptural, are representative of a distinctly American endeavor to bend nature to will yet also address the psychological and historical motivation underlying such efforts. Whether through applying decorative themes and gestures to materials found outdoors or interfacing directly with the environment itself, the outcome is a nuanced marriage of the inherently untamable and the age-old human desire for control.
$250+ The Manhattan Furrier Time Capsule Tour
Browse through the archives of Irving's artwork and ephemera from The Manhattan Furrier (there's a lot!). From tools he used in his craft as a furrier to the thousands of automatic drawings he created in his shop, you will be taken back through time to the 50s, 60s and even the 80s through lush layers and textures that were saved from the store before it closed in 2011. This reward also includes a private tour of Greenpoint with Jenn (the filmmaker and long-time resident). Peter Pan donuts and coffee included.
$1,000+ Original MANHATTAN FURRIER Storefront Sign Repurposed into Minimalist Low Table.
Own a piece of Greenpoint history!
The Manhattan Furrier was a family owned business located at 686 Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn from 1918 to 2011. Although Irving was trained in his father's fur shop in Astoria, Queens, he bought The Manhattan Furrier from his uncle in 1952.
Just prior to taking over the business, Irving had been working for $60/week in Manhattan's fur district and was fired for reading the industry paper, Women's Wear Daily. He borrowed $900 from his new wife, Selma, bought the business, and began building the unique shop / studio that so many came to love.
The original MANHATTAN FURRIER metal and porcelain enamel storefront sign has been repurposed into a low table and generously donated by the lovely owners of Grand Wythe.
This two-piece sign sits perfectly inside a welded steel low table frame, the dimensions for the table are 88" x 30" x13". The letter "R" was damaged and removed during the salvage process, the sign now reads MANHATTAN FURRIE. Heavy gauge sheet metal construction with a rich cobalt blue and white porcelain enamel finish. Beautiful patina with neon connection holes throughout the surface.
$2,500+ Executive Producer Credit
See your name one the big screen! In return for your very generous support, you will be given the official honor of executive producer. You will be listed in the film’s closing titles, website, and IMDb. Plus you'll receive a tote bag + an original Irving Feller drawing + our undying love and gratitude!
Risks and challenges
When it comes to our remaining challenges, we know that this film will be completed. We have a ton of great footage, and have already invested so much of our time, money, and hearts into this project already.
1. Additional fundraising will be needed.
Once we meet our minimum goal we will be well on our way to telling Irving's story, but we will still need to secure funding for other post-production costs as mentioned above.
2. Creative License
Since the main goal of this campaign is to fund an editor to begin the most important stage of post-production -- the final narrative has yet to be uncovered. The themes will always be the same, featuring all of Irving's rich and layered history, interests and beautiful artwork; but the final output of the film has yet to be determined.
We’re so grateful that you’ve taken an interest in helping out and we’re excited to introduce you to Irving Feller. He’s a truly special person and we feel so lucky to have known him. People like Irving don’t come around very often and there’s no way we're going to let him slip through the cracks of history.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)