Applause for a Cause is a student group at Northwestern University that produces a feature film each year. Our proceeds from the premiere every year go to charity. This year, Applause has partnered with Connections for Abused Women and their Children, or CAWC. Every aspect of the film from the writing, the directing, the acting, to the art direction is the work of students at Northwestern. It's one of the biggest collaborative projects at our school, with over fifty students participating in the creation of this year's film.
THIS YEAR'S FILM
Single, broke, jobless, and living with her parents in a painstakingly boring Pennsylvanian suburb, Charlie Spencer is quickly realizing that her twenties may not be the glowing phase of life that she had expected. She can't get her guitarist ex-boyfriend, Asher, out of her brain, her childhood friend Laura has become a drug-addled massage therapist and her new hookup buddy is more interested in clay animals than human beings. Though she quickly connects with an eccentric coffee-shop worker named, Nate, their friendship is tested by a trip back to Chicago to attend the launch part of Asher's new EP. A film about love, loss, and obnoxious indie rock, New Playlist attempts to answer the question: when will we be done getting over anything?
HOW YOUR DONATION HELPS
As a student organization, Applause for a Cause is always riding the edge of our wallet. Although we're shooting around our low, low, budget, the costs of shooting a feature-length film still add up. Everyone on our crew and cast is a student at Northwestern, and nobody gets paid-- instead, we all contribute a little. Your generous donations will help us cover the costs of:
- Location fees
- Transportation to and from locations
- Production design
- Replacing broken equipment
- Editing and color correction
- Sound design
Right now, many of our costs have been generously fronted by members of our executive board, but as students who work hard for every penny, we need all the help we can get. Our goal is to have New Playlist be festival-ready, and we need your help to achieve that.
We've been lucky enough to have our own basic equipment passed down through generations of previous filmmakers, but as equipment does, it inevitably breaks. This year, we received nearly a thousand dollars in grant money from the school towards equipment, production design, sound, and storage. However, this only covers a fraction of the cost of producing a feature. We want to do justice to the phenomenal script by Summer Benowitz and bring the characters and world of Conshohocken Pennsylvania to life.
Bonus: if we exceed our goal by $500 or more, we'll incorporate a llama into the movie.
WHO WE ARE
Summer Benowitz is a Junior RTVF major and creative writing minor with a focus in writing for screen and stage. Her other writing credits include, "Boxed," a short play in this year's Ten-Minute-Play-Festival (March 13th and 14th), and "Ghouls," a three-part twenty-two minute miniseries which will be available for online viewing this coming October 2015. Summer is thrilled to have been chosen as the writer of this year's Applause for a Cause feature film and would like to thank the amazing directors and spectacular cast of the project.
Erin is an RTVF junior hailing from southeastern Wisconsin, and she is beyond excited to be co-directing this year's Applause for a Cause film, New Playlist! Last year Erin worked on the Applause set as a grip, DIT, and sound recordist; she gained invaluable experience, and in addition the Applause team became practically a second family. Naturally, she is thrilled to be continuing the tradition once again with this year's incredible cast and crew! When Erin is not studying or poring over dailies footage these days, she enjoys traveling, singing, and thinking about ice cream. While at Northwestern, she has enjoyed exploring just about every aspect of the film-making process, from script-writing to editing. Her long-term aspirations include being able to one day write and direct her own original work.
New Playlist is about a girl who is coming to terms with herself as she enters the adult world. She goes through the difficult, convoluted, and sometimes hilariously awkward process of negotiating relationships between friends, family, and romantic partners, and comes out on the other side ready to embrace her own identity and needs. On my part, I chose this script because I felt it had an essential element that would resonate with my peers here at NU, and anyone else who has faced a liminal or transformative stage in their life. As for the process, we could not have gotten luckier with our cast and crew this year. Everyone continues to be a joy to work with--halfway through with our project, I've already made unforgettable memories and found a supportive, creative, hard-working community that makes me feel honored to co-direct this film! This is the most involved and most important creative project I've been a part of to date. I'm so glad it's being made for a charitable cause that matters, and I can't wait to share it!
Irene is a Radio/TV/Film and Middle East and North African Studies major at Northwestern University. Her passions include learning languages, Spaghetti Westerns, long walks on the beach, and punching evil witches for fun. She speaks Chinese, Japanese, French, and is learning Arabic, which is irrelevant to the project but a neat factoid to pull out when she wants to impress people. Previously, she has directed several short films, one of which was a finalist at the GITW Film Festival at Harvard. She's beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to direct New Playlist, her first feature, with Applause for a Cause, because the script made her laugh out loud several times a minute. She hopes that you're just as excited as she is for the finished product!
New Playlist is biting, cynical, uplifting, but most importantly, very, very funny. It's been an enormous privilege to work with such a capable and talented crew and cast. Coming from a writing and theater background as well as a film background, working with the writer, Summer Benowitz, and our actors, who are all a riot, has been an especially rewarding experience. The actors were selected from a pool of over sixty auditions, and I think it shows. I feel lucky to laugh my guts out on set every day. On more than one occasion, I've choked on my own laughter during a take. There is nothing more I'd like to do than to share this laughter with you, even if it gives you laugh lines and makes your stomach hurt. This has been the most meaningful creative adventure I've ever taken on, and I know that Applause is such a catalyst for personal growth for everyone who works on it.
Dani is a Radio/Television/Major and Creative Writing Minor at Northwestern University. When she's not DPing she enjoys searching for cat pictures on tumblr, eating guacamole, writing, and discovering new artists. Her current musical obsessions are FKA Twigs and Chet Faker. She's enjoyed being on set and also learning new things about herself like the need to pack an extra Cliff Bar. She's anxious to see what "New Playlist" will look like and where it will go.
Yvonne Zhang is a sophomore studying Radio/TV/Film and Economics at Northwestern University. She likes math but loves art more. As a result of watching too many movies (she has watched 901 total, which takes more than two months to finish if watching nonstop), she often thinks of her own life as a movie: she sees the obstacles in life as a climb to the climax and works hard towards her happy-ending. She enjoys reading, cooking, and furry things. She has an unusual love for getting organized and spends her spare time making to-do lists, updating calendars, and color-coding her emails. She is thrilled to be producing New Playlist with the incredibly talented people of Applause for a Cause.
Kerry is a junior at Northwestern University studying Mathematical Methods in the Social Sciences and Sociology. This is her third year with Applause, where she has moved up the ranks from production assistant to executive producer. When she is not busy taming production schedules and movie budgets, she enjoys listening to Motown hits and rewatching classic sketch comedy shows. (Her current obsessions: Marvin Gaye and Mr. Show)
Nicole Borden is a Northwestern RTVF major hailing from the south shores of Long Island. Nicole is a TV/film fanatic with a strong interest in casting and development. She is honored to be a part of the Applause team for her forth year and is beyond proud of the entire New Playlist cast and crew! #WeAreMakingAMovie
Caroline is a senior Theatre and Psychology double major at Northwestern. She loves clay figurines, snapchat, Coffee Lab’s chai tea lattes, and telling Tom that he’s an idiot <3. But on a real note, she is so honored to be a part of the Applause team. She feels extremely fortunate to be working with such a talented cast and crew. Special thanks to Irene (Mom) and Erin (Dad) for this incredible opportunity and for tolerating her sea creature-like appearance.
Tom DeFrancisco is a junior theatre major with a passion for the performing arts, classic arts, and astronomy, but maybe not in that order. He has been in several productions on and off campus, including Vertigo Production's Animal Style, Purple Crayon Players' The Boy at the Edge of Everything, and Jewish Theatre Ensemble's Rent. In his spare time, he plays guitar and stares at the night sky (thought not frequently at the same time). Working on the Applause film set has been a fantastic experience, as he's gotten to learn all about film procedure, equipment and--most alien of all-- film acting. he's thrilled to be part of such a talented, lovely cast and crew in the making of this production, and hopes Center for Abused Women and Children will do great things with the money raised.
Jacobi Alvarez is a Senior Performance Studies major at Northwestern University who directs, dances, acts, choreographs, and studies Japanese. Recently, she has danced in Danceworks at NU, directed the play Mother Hicks, played Tink in Peter Pan, directed a dance film, and traveled to Japan to research the myth of Urashima Taro. Working on this project had been really lovely. She can't wait to shoot all the awesome scenes from this script!
Alex is so excited to be in his first student film at Northwestern! A theatre major, Alex's most recent performance was in the 2015 Dolphin Show, TITANIC, as Harold Bride. Proud member of F15 & EX.
Elaine is beyond thrilled to be a part of her first Applause for a Cause film, New Playlist. Some of her recent credits include Godspell (Peggy), The Nina Variations (Nina Mikhailovna Zarechnaya), How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Smitty), A Chorus Line (Tricia), South Pacific (Liat), A Year With Frog and Toad (assistant stage manager), and Harispray (Judine/Dynamite). Many thanks to my family and friends, this amazing cast, the brilliant creative team, and everyone else involved with this production.
Risks and challenges
On a film set, there are countless things that could go horribly wrong at any moment. There hasn't been a day so far where everything has gone according to plan.
So far, finding and locking down locations has been an enormous difficulty for us. Once, a location cancelled on us the day before. Another time, the plumbing in a location broke and flooded the entire place. One time we got to location and it turned out that one line in our insurance papers needed to be modified. In these situations, we adapt. As a zero-budget film, we don't have much flexibility in our solutions, so we have to be creative and reschedule scenes to fit the locations that we have. We always have a Plan B ready in case something falls through.
Another enormous pain in the rear end of every filmmaker is equipment breaking or getting lost. So far, we've broken two lightstands (the director slipped on ice and took one down with her), the slate's falling apart, one of our lights is missing an essential component, our sound equipment is barely holding together, and our slate is held together with duct tape. Every time something breaks, we're usually able to jerry-rig something together so that it still functions. However, on the not-so-rare occasion where something becomes unusably broken, we're forced to do without it.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)