Spenser Fritz (director/writer) and Amanda Dillingham (producer) met at Watkins College of Art & Design. Spenser majored in directing and screenwriting, finding his knack in the world of comedy. Amanda majored in studio art and found the skills she had learned were helpful in production design and producing. After realizing the unstoppable power of their working relationship, Spenser and Amanda decided to embark on the biggest production of their life: marriage.
While courting, Spenser told Amanda stories of his childhood in Indiana. Spenser had unfortunately couldn't correctly pronounce his Rs, which meant he couldn’t pronounce his own name. His middle name was Michael and he always thought it’d be easier to just go by that, plus then he could be more like his role model, Michael Jordan. After all the stories, Spenser set pen to paper (or hand to a keyboard) and began writing the script for Cecil.
After millions, okay maybe 50, different rewrites, lots of feedback, and many days of pitching, we connected with Jay Walters (actor/executive producer). We all worked really well together spit balling stories and concepts, and quickly realized that besides being friends, we could also make great movies together.
Over the last three years, the comedic story has morphed and changed but the plot has stayed the same. The comedy is set in the 90s and is about a boy who has a speech impediment that bars him from being able to correctly pronounce his own name. After being bullied, his best friend and confidant, Tiffany, suggests that the only way for Cecil to save himself from social travesty is to change his name to Michael Jordan.
Cecil’s character traits start out quiet and shy but as he figures out how to climb the ranks of popularity, he begins to show a more outgoing, confident attitude. Cecil's best friend, Tiffany, is a precocious fourth grader who keeps him in line. She is the school reporter and uses her knowledge to navigate the social stratosphere. She is the ultimate mastermind, sometimes a little too smart for her own good. Between Cecil and Tiffany, life is a fun adventure where anything is possible.
Overall the film has a strong anti-bully theme. We hope children will walk away with the idea that it is not only okay to be different, but being unique is better! Having a lisp doesn’t make Cecil a bad person or unpopular. All of us have things we’d like to change about ourselves and only to later realize that those things are what make us stronger, more unique people.
Cecil also lightly touches on ideas of children coping with divorce, as Cecil’s parents are wrapped up in their own world of misfortune. Often for children, divorce is a time of vulnerability, especially when forced to switch schools. We hope this film allows parents and their children to talk more openly about their feelings.
Finally, Cecil above all is a comedy. There will be comedic moments for kids, such as the zany characters and crazy adventure, as well as moments for the parents, such as the 90s pop culture references. We’ve spent the last few years watching great movies of our youth, such as The Sandlot, Goonies, Blank Check, Mighty Ducks, Son of Rambow, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and Clueless. These movies serve as our inspiration of films that can be watched by the whole family.
After working on the film for the last three years, we’ve found an investor who will graciously put up $40,000. Our Kickstarter is for $16,000 and we also have an investor who is willing to match our earned funds. Kickstarter takes a 5% fee, and payment processing fees are between 3% and 5%. This means that if we are successful, we will have a final total budget of around $72,000.
This budget will go towards principle and post-production costs. We realize for a feature $72,000 is not a huge budget. We have plans to keep our costs down, such as having a smaller crew, keeping a smaller cast, and shooting in a quicker amount of time. In addition, one part of the budget will go to securing name talent to help with distribution of the film.
This is a passion project for not only Spenser and Amanda but everyone involved. Your donations will make this film a reality!
We are very lucky to have this campaign be matched. Every single dollar matters to this project as if successful it will be doubled. You can help make this film happen!
Risks and challenges
One of our major challenges will be what happens to the film after the post production. Most of the funding from this campaign will go to making sure we are creating a polished film that is as good as it can possibly be to increase our chances of distribution. With the budget we’ve outlined, it will give us enough shooting days to keep the actors fresh, as well as the crew. But that also means that our schedule will have to be tight and we will have to really move as a cohesive unit, cast and crew alike.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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