Thank you for becoming a part of the Taking Stock family! We are completely amazed by the support we have received over this past month of our Kickstarter campaign. Not only did we reach our fundraising goal with days to spare, but we surpassed it by more than 30%! And we've received countless messages of kind words and interest from friends, family members, colleagues, and strangers, as well as multiple mentions in South African press. So now it's on us to make the movie that lives up to your expectations. But rest assured, we're up to the task!
Thanks to our backers, Taking Stock will definitely make it through production. But as we've explained below, we'll have many more expenses after the shoot is over, when it comes time for post-production. So we'll be continuing to look for grants and donations outside of Kickstarter throughout the coming months. Even if you missed the window of the Kickstarter campaign, it's not too late to get involved. Some of the options to do so are listed at www.takingstockfilm.com/#!screening_press/c1t44.
My father Clive is the owner of Benoni Discount Stores in Benoni, South Africa. He calls the shop his “Empire of Dirt,” after
the Johnny Cash song. For 35 years the business has been with him through marriages, children,
a divorce, family feuds, social change, deaths, several recessions, and the
rise and fall of Apartheid. Now he is talking about trying to reinvigorate the business, even as his issues with guilt and depression loom.
I believe that his life in business has had a profound
impact on his life outside the business. I also believe that his business has
had a much wider influence on the lives of his employees and family than he
realizes. Taking Stock is about exploring these relationships.
We've set out to document one complete month in the business: this June 2014. The shop stocks home-wares: everything you need for your kitchen, bedroom and bathroom, from pots and pans to curtains, brooms and blankets. My father once loved it, and now, I think, he hates it. He explains a month in business as follows: “At the start of the month, you hope for good sales. At the end, you pay your creditors, regardless. Sometimes the business has a month so bad, it would have been better to stay closed.”
Over the course of the month, I hope to learn what makes him tick, and be with him as he takes stock of his business and his life, examining his interactions with those around him at work and at home. This will be a film about Clive Stillerman and his complicated relationships
with his relatives, employees, customers and friends, as seen through the lens of
his family business, Benoni Discount Stores.
For the last few years, my father has been going to Shakespeare classes, to broaden his philosophical reach. This has inspired us to include a performative element in the film. Dramatic scenes will be acted, excerpts from novels will be read, and creative contributions from my father and his employees will be used to give us a totally unique view of South Africa and its people. Look forward to their renditions of Bruce Springsteen, Philip Roth, and David Goldblatt, to name a few.
To make this special film happen, there are a few major production expenses to cover... and I can't ask my dad to pay for them:
PLANE TICKETS - $5000
Over the past three years, I've worked with some incredible filmmakers at the USC School of Cinematic Arts in Los Angeles, California. You can read about the team we've assembled in another section below. Four of us -- Director Ben Stillerman, Producer Arun Narayanan, Cinematographer Dave Dorsey, and Sound Recordist/Designer Jan Bezouska -- will be making the round-trip from LA to Johannesburg.
CAMERA, LIGHTING & SOUND EQUIPMENT - $3000
It'll be pretty tough to make a documentary without any video or audio. We're seeking grants for as much as possible, but we'll still have to rent or buy a lot of the basics, and pay to insure them for the trip.
LIVING EXPENSES IN SOUTH AFRICA - $2000
For housing, food, and travel expenses within South Africa for a month. Even with the exchange rate, we'll be living as cheaply as possible (and hoping for a lot of free home-cooked meals from friends).
That brings us to $10,000, and that's not even counting post-production expenses like music, sound mixing, color grading, and licensing fees. Our true budget is quite a bit higher than our Kickstarter funding goal. But if we can meet this goal, we'll be well on our way. Every dollar counts.
This isn't just a film about my dad. This is a film about the delicate balance we all try to maintain between our professional lives and our personal lives. It's about the uncertain alliance between every business and the community it serves. It's a universal story of family and work, told from a uniquely South African perspective.
Ben Stillerman, Director
Ben is a South African documentary filmmaker who has been studying and working in Los Angeles since 2011. He is in the final stage of his Masters degree at the esteemed University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Taking Stock is a good indicator of Ben’s film interests - it is a personal story, driven by character and narrative, and concerns itself with questions of social justice, psychology, and community. While at USC, Ben has focused his energy on editing and directing documentary films, with the completion of a short documentary “The Pier” now on the festival circuit, and another hour-long documentary about Italian voice-over artists that is nearing completion. Ben plans to one day use his experience as a storyteller and educator to develop a modern production company based in different parts of Africa, in order to provide a new forum for compelling stories to emerge from the continent.
Arun Narayanan, Producer
Arun began producing, directing, writing, and editing short form video content while at Brandeis University in Massachusetts, where his comedic webseries about campus life amassed over 50,000 views on YouTube and his first short film won “Best Undergraduate Film” at the university’s film festival. Since moving to Los Angeles, Arun has had films featured in the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival, the Playhouse West Film Festival, and Shorts Showcase on PBS. He will graduate from the USC School of Cinematic Arts with an MFA in Film & TV Production in 2014.
Kelby Wood, Associate Producer
Kelby Wood is from Shawnee, Oklahoma. He graduated from UC Davis majoring in Film Studies in 2011. Kelby is currently a Production MFA candidate at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, set to graduate in May 2014. He has produced several short documentaries during his time at USC, and has plans to produce and direct a feature fiction film set in his home state in September 2014.
Corina Maritescu, Associate Producer
Corina was born in Bucharest, Romania, in the last year of the communist regime. In her teens, Corina emigrated to New York, where she found fiction and non-fiction writing, sociological study and the shaping of her own queer, immigrant identity. A life-long film fan who remembers most of her childhood in relation to scenes from American and Romanian movies, Corina will complete her M.F.A. in Film and Television Production from USC in 2014.
Dave Dorsey, Cinematographer
Dave grew up in the small rural factory town of Sidney, Ohio. From around the age of eight, he began working in his father’s auto body shop and to this day he has a deep-seated love of tangible get-your-hands-dirty work and all things gear or wrench related. He went to school to be a painter, before finding his love for film, to which he has since dedicated his time and energy. After receiving his M.F.A. from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, Dave hopes to continue working as a freelancer in order to fund the projects he is most passionate about.
Aaron Bush, Technical Consultant
Aaron Bush was born and raised in rural Oklahoma, then moved to Hawai’i to pursue a Ph.D. in Marine Biology and teach college biology classes. Before starting the MFA program at the School of Cinematic Arts, he jumped out of airplanes, fought wildfires, practiced martial arts, served on the board of directors of non-profit organizations and, on occasion, spoke kindly to animals and small children. He likes motorcycles, brewing beer, cats and making movies.
Jan Bezouska, Sound Recordist and Designer
Jan was born in Prague, Czech Republic, at the end of the Communist regime. He was four years old when the Czech nation experienced the Velvet Revolution and the barbed wire was taken down. He is the first generation of students with the opportunity to study abroad and experience other Western cultures. Jan graduated from FAMO in Czech Republic and West Virginia State University. His background is in sound, music and classical twerk, which he has practiced while pursuing his M.F.A. at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
Sean Jarrett, Editor
Sean Jarrett is a third year MFA-Production Candidate at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Sean has served as editor on a number of USC projects including Miss Mustard Glade, one of two projects produced for Subway’s Fresh Artist Series. Sean is currently directing Over/Under, a USC advanced documentary project. Sean was the recipient of the 2012 and 2013 Dana & Albert Broccoli Foundation Scholarships.
Damir Omic, Kickstarter Editor
Damir Omic was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and immigrated to the United States at the age of four. In an earlier life, he studied Physics at UC Berkeley before ultimately finding his way to film. He has worked in various capacities on a number of projects, with a heavy emphasis on editing and post-production. In his spare time, Damir likes to imagine a world without computers.
Amanda Pope, Mentor
Emmy award winning director Amanda Pope’s directing, producing, writing, and editing credits over her more than 20 year long career include documentary, dramatic, and social advocacy programs. Her work has focused on the dynamics of creativity in fine art, public art happenings, urban design, theatre and dance. Her award-winning public television documentaries: “Jackson Pollock Portrait,” “Stages: Houseman Directs Lear,” narrated by Jason Robards and “Cities for People,” narrated by Cloris Leachman have all been broadcast nationally on PBS. Her program series, “Faces Of Change,” documented grassroots reformers and emerging leaders in seven countries of the former USSR.Recently she directed “The Legend Of Pancho Barnes And The Happy Bottom Riding Club” about a pioneer woman aviator. The film was honored with a 2011 Los Angeles Area Emmy in the arts and culture/history category, broadcast over 1200 times on American Public Television for PBS and featured at numerous festivals and screening venues. The Desert of Forbidden Art, which she directed, produced and wrote with Tchavdar Georgiev, was broadcast in 2011 on PBS’ Independent Lens and honored with two nominations at the national 33rd CINE’s Masters Award for Excellence in Independent Filmmaking. Amanda has served on the Boards of New York Women in Film and Women in Film Foundation in Los Angeles, and has been a jury member for the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences student films, The Humanitas Prize, and the International Documentary Association’s feature documentaries. Amanda is a Professor in production at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts.
Brenda Goodman, Mentor
Brenda Goodman is a producer of independent films as well as documentaries, television and music video. Goodman’s credits include Anna (winner of Golden Globe for Best Actress), Emma & Elvis (Kathryn Walker), Mac (directed by John Turturro), Prisoners of Inertia (Amanda Plumber and Chris Rich) and The Ballad of Little Jo (Ian McKellen). Her documentary credits include Observance Observed (ABC), Blues Story, No Place Like Home and Chuck’s Story. She also produced documentaries for PBS including Roses in December, Growing Up Poor and Heartstrings. Goodman produced The Baby Sitter’s Club pilot for HBO. She was the Executive Producer for the 2000-2001 Human Rights Awards and the director for Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS [DIFFA]. In addition to her producing credits, Goodman was the in- house writer, producer and director at Reeves Communications. She is the winner of the National Association for Youth Mentor Award for her music video work with Ziggy Marley. In 2000, the National Greek Academic Honor Society named Goodman Professor of the Year. Brenda is currently working on the documentary SEX(ed), The Movie.
Risks and challenges
This is a documentary, so it's impossible to predict exactly what's going to happen when production begins, and that's part of what makes it such an exciting medium. Fortunately, we have an incredible crew of talented and experienced filmmakers from USC that know how to roll with the punches. And the finished film will fulfill a graduate thesis project requirement, so we can guarantee that it will be completed!
THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT! If you donate $10 or more, you'll get an HD DIGITAL DOWNLOAD OF THE FILM after it's complete. Plus you’ll get access to our PRODUCTION BLOG, featuring updates, pictures, and videos direct from our shoot!
THANK YOU FOR SHOPPING WITH US! If you donate $100 or more, we'll send you a link to view exclusive BEHIND-THE-SCENES footage, and we’ll invite you to a special online Q&A SESSION WITH THE CREW! Plus all previous rewards.
THANK YOU, COME AGAIN! If you donate $250 or more, we'll send you the official Taking Stock movie poster AND AN ORIGINAL PROFESSIONALLY-PRINTED PICTURE from the production -- AND the crew will sign them both! Plus all previous rewards.
YOU'RE HIRED! If you donate $500 or more, we'll send you a link to a ROUGH CUT OF THE MOVIE before it's complete, so that you can send us YOUR FEEDBACK and help us make it even better! Plus all previous rewards.
EXPAT SPECIAL! Outside of South Africa Only: If you donate $750 or more, we will send you a SPECIAL PACKAGE WITH ALL YOUR FAVORITE SOUTH AFRICAN TREATS, like Mrs Balls Chutney, All Gold Tomato Sauce, 5 Roses Tea, and Cadbury’s chocolate! Plus all previous rewards.
BUSINESS PARTNERS! If you donate $1000 or more (up to $2499) as a business, we'll credit you as a FINANCIER at the end of the film AND we will ADVERTISE YOUR COMPANY on our Facebook, Twitter and Website feeds! Plus all previous rewards below $1000.
GET IT AT COST-PRICE! If you donate $1000 or more (up to $2499), we'll credit you as a FINANCIER at the end of the film AND and we’ll send you a beautiful signed and framed Archive-Quality production picture of your choice. Plus all previous rewards.
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY! If you donate $2500 or more (up to $4999), we'll credit you as an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER at the end of the film! You will also receive a VIP invitation to a screening of the film. Plus all previous rewards.
YES, BOSS! If you donate $5000 or more, we'll credit you as an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER at the end of the film and your name will appear on the official Taking Stock poster! You will also receive a VIP invitation to a screening of the film. Plus all previous rewards $1000 and below.
MONOPOLY! If you donate $10000 or more, we'll credit you as MR. MONEYBAGS at the end of the film, and on the official Taking Stock poster! Seriously! You will also receive a VIP invitation to a screening of the film. Plus all previous rewards $1000 and below.
DOOR-BUSTER SALE! **This reward will expire on Friday, April 11th!** If you donate $400 or more before April 11th, Director Ben will write you a HANDWRITTEN LETTER OF LOVE and film A PERSONAL THANK YOU VIDEO just for you! You'll be surprised when they arrive in the post one fine day in the coming year -- guaranteed to make you feel good about yourself when they arrive! Plus all previous rewards.