Eddie Rouse approached me with the idea of writing something for him to appear in as Sammy Davis, Jr. and I told him I'd try to come up with my take on a Rat Pack movie. I stumbled into this story idea as part of a larger feature film idea and felt that it worked on its own as a short film, and here we are.
Eddie plays a Sammy Davis, Jr. impersonator hired via Craigslist to perform for a boy's birthday party. He arrives at the boy's home, meets the boy's mother and finds her living in a hoarder house. Despite the bleak surroundings, the woman is full of life and excited to meet Sammy Davis, Jr. She's homeschooled her son and kept him in the dark about modern music, movies and the outside world. The boy is a huge Rat Pack fan and his birthday present is a personal performance from the Candy Man himself.
Upon entering his bedroom, we discover that the boy is not a boy at all, but a bed-ridden and severely ill man (played by Steve Little) on the brink of death. Connected to hoses, tubes and IV's, the man has a hankering for Milky Way candy bars and a very specific short list of requests for Sammy Davis, Jr.
I conceived of this film with the actors Steve Little (Eastbound & Down, The Catechism Cataclysm, Wrong), Eddie Rouse (George Washington, Low & Behold, Undertow) and Margie Beegle (Harmony & Me, Computer Chess) in mind. Thankfully, all of them have agreed to star in the film.
Clay Liford (Producer) - Clay serves as Producer and Director of Arts+Labor in Austin, TX. As a Director of Photography, Clay has shot twenty features, including the award winning films St. Nick (Dir: David Lowery, SXSW 2009) and Gayby (Dir: Jonathan Lisecki,SXSW 2012). He has written and directed three features to date, including the festival hits Wuss (SXSW 2011, AFI 2011 Audience Award Winner) and Earthling (SXSW 2010). His comedy short My Mom Smokes Weed has played over forty festivals, including the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. He is a Graduate of the University of Texas film program.
Zack Carlson (Producer) - Zack is a writer/producer living in Austin, TX. His previous production work includes The American Scream (named one of 2012's best documentaries by Roger Ebert), which he produced for director Michael Stephenson, as well as international horror anthology The ABCs of Death and independent comedy Zero Charisma. He was a lead film programmer for the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Fantastic Fest for many years, and co-authored the book “Destroy All Movies!!!” He's currently at work on six features, including collaborations with Michael Stephenson (Best Worst Movie), Jason Eisener (Hobo with a Shotgun), novelist Sam McPheeters (author of “The Loom of Ruin”), the Zellner Brothers (Kid-Thing) and Todd Rohal (The Catechism Cataclysm). He doesn't eat fruits or vegetables.
Megan Griffiths (Producer) - Megan has been working as a director and producer in the independent film world for over a decade. Her latest directorial effort Lucky Them (starring Toni Collette, Thomas Haden Church and Oliver Platt) premiered at the 2013 Toronto Film Festival and will be distributed by IFC Films. Megan’s previous film Eden (starring Jamie Chung, Matt O’Leary and Beau Bridges) premiered at the 2012 South by Southwest Film Festival, winning the audience award and the Chicken & Egg Emergent Director Award, as well as a special jury recognition for Jamie Chung’s outstanding performance. Her film The Off Hours premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and went on to screen at festivals around the globe and secure distribution through Film Movement. Megan has worked as a producer on Todd Rohal's The Catechism Cataclysm (Sundance '11) and The Guatemalan Handshake (Slamdance '06 Special Jury Prize), and a co-producer on Robinson Devor's Zoo (Sundance '07) and Lynn Shelton's Your Sister's Sister (Toronto '11, Sundance '12).
Ben Kasulke (Director of Photography) - Recently awarded a Genius grant from Seattle paper The Stranger, Ben has served as a Director of Photography for Lynn Shelton (Laggies, Touchy Feely, Your Sister's Sister Humpday), Megan Griffiths (The Off Hours), Guy Maddin (Brand Upon the Brain!), PFFR (The Heart, She Holler), Todd Rohal (The Catechism Cataclysm), Colin Treverow (Safety Not Guaranteed), Joshua Leonard (The Lie) and Katie Aselton (The Freebie).
Sam Wainwright Douglas (Editor) - Sam is a director and producer living and working in Austin, TX. His film, Citizen Architect: Samuel Mockbee and the Spirit of the Rural Studio, was broadcast nationwide on PBS in 2010 and continues to screen internationally at theaters, museums universities and film festivals. It premiered at the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival. Sam edited and co-produced Along Came Kinky: Texas Jewboy for Governor, a film on musician/writer/raconteur Kinky Friedman and his independent run for governor of Texas in 2006. That film, directed by David Hartstein, premiered at the 2009 South by Southwest Film Festival. Sam also directed The Holy Modal Rounders… Bound to Lose, a surreal chronicle of the infamous bad boys of 1960’s folk rock, The Holy Modal Rounders. Sam is currently in production with a documentary about land art.
Arts + Labor (Supporting Production Company) - Arts+Labor is a creative content community based in Austin, Texas. Their production studio is home to writers, directors, producers, designers, animators, editors, musicians, sound designers, and developers with a passion for storytelling in every medium... from branded content, commercial campaigns, websites and apps to documentaries, features, and short films that have gone to the Sundance, SXSW, Cannes, and Venice film festivals.
Why Do I Need Your Money?
Ideally, I'd be totally loaded and able to pay for these things myself, but that's not the case. I'd like to pay minimal fees to each of our actors and to the key crew involved. We also need money for the actor's flights, some production design materials, meals, gas and some practical effects work. If there's anything that we can create or make ourselves, believe me, we're doing it. Favors are being asked of everyone we know and many services have been offered for free and equipment and time donated by production and post-production talent in Austin, TX. This short film feels like the right kind of project to be funded by a site like Kickstarter, as it is not a profit-making venture for anyone involved, but rather a personal project that wouldn't be possible without donated funding. For real, folks!
There are a number of rewards being offered for donations to the film, including links to the final movie, DVD copies of my previous films, hard labor in exchange for cash, on-screen credits and props from my previous movies. Honestly, send us any ideas and we'll make it happen.
Risks and challenges
There is no profit to be made from a short film. There's no risk in recouping our money when we know it ain't gonna happen.
The actors and crew listed above are all on board and have promised to see this film through to completion. It will be a rather speedy turnaround. There are the normal risks of death and murder and an occasional kidnapping, but we have made it through much worse before, so this seems like it should be a smooth ride.
Plain and simple, this is a story I want to tell. It happens to be 12 minutes long. It works at that length and no one is going to mess with it. It's straight from one brain, amplified by dozens of smarter brains and projected on a screen. The way movies should be.
I promise a story you've never seen or heard before and images that have yet to be created.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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