I'm Bill Crossland -- the guy from the video up there. I'm a writer, director, actor, producer, and (as I'm sure you can tell) reluctant public speaker. A little while ago, I wrote and directed a short drama/comedy starring two disabled actors (myself and my good friend Erik O. Mayer), which screened at this year's Sundance Film Festival.
That short film, Catching Up, was based on a feature length screenplay of the same name, which is the movie we want to make now. The idea was to take one small part of the script and create a short as a proof of concept -- and to hopefully get people interested in what we were doing. At Sundance, the short film screened to an overwhelmingly positive response from audiences who told us they had never seen disabled characters handled this way in a movie before and that they wanted to see more.
Shall we get to it, then?
If you're not into watching Kickstarter videos, then you're probably wondering what this movie is about. I'm here for ya, babe:
Frank, a high school teacher with Muscular Dystrophy, pretends to be dating his best friend, Lorraine, so her parents won't find out she's gay. But when his childhood crush moves back to town, his desire for a real romantic relationship is unexpectedly awakened.
...and things only get more complicated from there. Catching Up is a character-driven drama/comedy (terms!) about two friends, Frank and Lorraine, who find acceptance from each other but have a lot of fear about being accepted by other people in their lives. This relationship is very loosely based on one in my own life, as are some of the romantic misadventures and personal struggles that play out in the story. I co-wrote the script for this movie and will be producing, directing, and acting once again. You can't get rid of me that easily.
So that's the skinny on what's going on in this movie. But what's the vibe? Well, I have a particular fondness for 80s movies. I love how unpretentious they are, how their main goal is to entertain the audience with a good story. My aim is to make this sort of an 80s movie that never was, with unconventional leads that never really had a shot at getting a story like this told about them. Fear not -- when I say "80s movie that never was," I don't mean in any cheesy, overly referential way (it's not actually SET in the 80s), but in spirit. Kind of like an edgier John Hughes movie where the characters never got their sh-- together after high school. A "belated coming of age" story, if you will.
Doing Disability Differently
Like I mention in the video, I think if you're going to make a movie in a particular genre or dealing with certain kinds of situations, you might as well do it a bit differently than it's been done in the past, and this works both ways -- we'll not only be shaking up the idea of a relationship drama/comedy by dropping in a not-so-average leading man (in case you haven't noticed, I'm not Ryan Gosling -- much to the chagrin of many people), but we'll also be shaking up the idea of a "disability movie" by stripping away absolutely everything about that idea besides having a physically handicapped character as the lead.
What would it look like if we took a character like Frank and dropped him into a romantic story where his disability isn't the main focus or the ultimate obstacle to be overcome? There are no discussions about medical prognoses or desires to become normal in this story, and [SPOILER ALERT!] Frank will live to see the end of the movie. Yes, Frank's disability has an impact on the story, but the disability itself is not his greatest challenge -- it's his fear of not being accepted by the woman he loves. This is just one of the nuances of our script that I'm really pumped about, and that I think are largely missing from movies that treat "Disability" as a genre in and of itself rather than as just one part of a character's life. So...there.
"So what the heck to you want from us, Bill?"
So here's the plan: My team and I are very excited to have found an experienced casting director for this project. Her name is Bess Fifer. Bess is a New York-based casting director with quite a few movie and television credits to her name, including work on the Netflix shows DareDevil and Stranger Things. She's going to go out and cast some talented people for several of the lead roles in this project. Part of the $25,000 will go to her so that she can do her job effectively -- and because it's generally good business to pay the people who are working their butts off for you. The other part of the money will go to a lawyer who can draft contracts and documents necessary for pitching to investors. And towards setting up our LLC for the movie so we can operate nice and official-like. You know, all the sexy stuff.
If we reach our goal, we can get these things in order, cast some talented actors to do the movie, then use those assets to attract investors so that we can raise our full budget. That's the long game, and we're willing to put in the work to get there. The thing is, the more people we can get to donate to this campaign, the faster we can get there. Every dollar that goes over our goal will be put directly into the budget for this movie. With your help, we could theoretically go way over our goal, meet some of our stretch goals, and go into production much faster than we could have without your support. And that, it sort of goes without saying, would be awesome.
I'm just one member of a ragtag crew of space pirates -- wait, wrong movie -- I mean a loyal team of creative, highly effective professionals (with varying degrees of charm) that are working to make this movie a reality. This is the Catching Up team so far (in alphabetical order, so they won't know who's my favorite):
- Mindy Beach: Producer. She also worked with me on developing the story for Catching Up, and was one of the producers of the short that screened at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Her strengths include scaring you into finishing on time/under budget.
- Bill Crossland: Producer. Writer. Director. Actor. You get it.
- Patrick Morris: Producer/Writer. Patrick and I studied film together at Temple University, receiving our useless arts degrees at the same time. He also worked on our Sundance-accepted short film, and he's my writing partner on the feature script for Catching Up.
- Josh Tate: Producer. Josh is an experienced line producer (which means he's a logistical mastermind) and has written, directed, produced, and worked on projects featured at Sundance, South By Southwest, and Slamdance. He's also the nice one.
Those are my people. It's a good group, and we'll be building out our team further as we raise more of our budget. I can't tell you how lucky I feel to have a team of friends/collaborators I trust and love working with, and who believe in me and my vision for this project.
My hope is that you will believe in this project as well. We can't reach our goal without your support, and with your support, we could potentially do so much more. I think the time is right for a movie like this, and lately I've been hearing more people say that they're tired of seeing disability handled the same way in movies over and over again. I'm of the mindset that if you want something made a certain way, you should just make it that way. So instead of shouting into the void, please lend your voices to our campaign and let's make it happen together. Please donate, share, and harass your rich uncle for me. He'll break eventually.
See you at the movies.
Risks and challenges
While the time it takes for us to raise all the money we need and go into production is largely dependent on you guys and how well this campaign performs, in any case we will work our hardest to make this movie happen, and we have specific plans in place for achieving our goals for this project. Our style is to be uber-tactical at every turn, carefully thinking through and planning each stage of the process to maximize quality and minimize the chances of anything slipping through the cracks.
Our previous Kickstarter campaign (the one for our micro-budget short film) was successful, and everyone received their rewards. Not only am I committed to making this movie, but also to properly managing this campaign -- that means keeping you guys informed and making sure you get what's coming to you.
That sounded less threatening in my head. Anyway, this is a team that's used to rolling with the punches and thinking on their feet, and I'm confident that we can tackle any challenges that lie ahead.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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