“The Fuck is your life. Answer it.” With those words I was hooked.
This blunt and loving sentiment was uttered by Sugar in response to the simple question, “WTF, WTF, WTF”? How can you not love the clarity of that answer? The straightforwardness of it. The dare of it. Live your life; the good and bad of it; you only get one, so live all of it!
The DEAR SUGAR column is about community and supporting one another, and so is Kickstarter. Our short film will serve as a kick-ass manifestation of Sugar's punk rock spirit. Her advice is authentic, unconventional, raw and heartfelt. I mean come on, how can you beat pearls of wisdom like, "Be brave enough to break your own heart,” “The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of it,” “Practice saying the word 'love' to the people you love so when it matters the most to say it, you will.”
Choosing to go with animation - especially David Polonsky's unique style of animation - is definitely an ambitious approach. It's expensive. And that's why your involvement is crucial in helping lift Sugar's words from the page and transform her into a living, breathing presence in the coolest way possible. So I hope that you'll please consider backing DEAR SUGAR today, and encourage your friends to do the same!
In 2010 the DEAR SUGAR online advice column launched on TheRumpus.net and garnered a devoted underground following. Two years later the captivating voice was revealed to be that of American memoirist and novelist, Cheryl Strayed. Sugar’s words of wisdom are delivered with compassion and a raw sense of direct honesty. Her advice is delivered with a spoonful of sugar and a dose of tough love: embrace the hardships, get out of your own way, and move ever onward. It’s unlike any other advice column you’ve ever read.
Here’s what people are saying about DEAR SUGAR:
“[Sugar is] turning the advice column on its head.” Jessica Francis Kane, The Report
“Charming, idiosyncratic, luminous, profane... [Sugar] is remaking a genre... Her version of tough love ranges from hip-older-sister-loving to governess-stern. Sugar shines out amid the sea of fakeness.” Ruth Franklin, The New Republic
Sugar can be tough and honest... but she’s never mean: in Sugar’s world, we all deserve love unconditionally, but also owe it to ourselves to act in the world to be the best, most authentic selves that we can be." Starred review, Publishers Weekly
“Dear Sugar will save your soul. I belong to the Church of Sugar.” Samantha Dunn, "Failing Paris"
Now I’m working to bring Cheryl Strayed's Sugar to life by producing an animated short film based on THE BABY BIRD, the column that launched the DEAR SUGAR phenomenon (read it HERE). I’ve assembled an amazing creative team and now all I need is YOU to make this happen. You're the missing piece of the puzzle!
Once complete I plan to submit the film to domestic and international film festivals, and hope to premiere it at the Sundance Film Festival.
Lisa Bellomo, producer
Lisa Bellomo has a long history working in the indie feature world, producing such films as HOW TO KILL YOUR NEIGHBOR'S DOG, starring Kenneth Branagh and Robin Wright, and LOVE IN THE TIME OF MONEY, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and stars an ensemble cast including Steve Buscemi, Michael Imperioli, Rosario Dawson and Adrian Grenier. She is currently co-executive producing HBO’s GETTING ON, starring Laurie Metcalf, Niecy Nash and Alex Borstein. Over the years she has been involved in developing numerous films, including Walter Salles’ THE MOTORCYCLE DIARIES, Tamara Jenkins’ THE SLUMS OF BEVERLY HILLS, and THE IN-LAWS, starring Michael Douglas and Albert Brooks.
She’s worked as an Executive at various production companies, including Michael Douglas’ Furthur Films, Robert Redford’s South Fork Pictures, Paula Weinstein’s Spring Creek Productions, Sydney Pollack’s Mirage Enterprises, Gail Mutrux’s Pretty Pictures, and Anima Sola Productions.
She’s served as a juror for the Seattle Film Festival, the Minnesota Indie Film Fund, and the Savannah Film Festival, and as an advisor at the Nantucket Screenwriters Colony, Columbia University Script Connect, and the Outfest Screenwriters Lab. She has also served on the Advisory Committee and Producer’s Mentor for IFP Project Involve.
Cheryl Strayed (AKA Sugar), author
Cheryl Strayed is the author of #1 New York Times bestseller WILD, the New York Times bestseller TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS, and the novel TORCH. WILD was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0, and a film adaptation of WILD, directed by Jean-Marc Vallée and starring Reese Witherspoon will be released by Fox Searchlight on December 5, 2014. WILD won a Barnes & Noble Discover Award, an Indie Choice Award, an Oregon Book Award, a Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and a Midwest Booksellers Choice Award among others. Strayed's writing has appeared in The Best American Essays, New York Times Magazine, Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Missouri Review, The Sun, and Tin House, among others. Strayed was the guest editor of Best American Essays 2013 and has contributed to many anthologies. Her books have been translated into more than thirty languages around the world.
David Polonsky, head of animation
David Polonsky graduated with honors from the prestigious Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, Jerusalem. Polonsky was the art director and lead artist for the acclaimed animated film WALTZ WITH BASHIR, which won the Golden Globe award and was nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Foreign Film category. He was also the production designer of the live-action/animation film The Congress, which premiered at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. His illustrations appear in all the leading Israeli newspapers and magazines, and his works in children's book illustration have won many awards.
Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer, writers
Writing/producing partners Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, known for their critically-acclaimed drama series BIG LOVE, recently created an adaptation of the British comedy GETTING ON for HBO. Will is a playwright, writer/producer and filmmaker. His plays have been produced and developed across the country. His first screenplay IN THE GLOAMING was produced by HBO in 1997. Together Mark and Will produced the independent feature based on Scheffer’s play EASTER in 2002. Mark V. Olsen, also an attorney and member of the New York Bar, has created, written, and produced several screenplays, teleplays, pilots and miniseries. For HBO, he wrote MARY CHESNUT’S CIVIL WAR, a six-part miniseries based on the private lives of confederate elite and their slaves in Civil War-era Virginia. He also wrote the screenplay for HBO Films’ CABRINI USA about the 40-year rise and fall of the Cabrini Green Housing Project in Chicago. In 2010, after being published in Best Plays of 1999, Olsen’s play “Cornelia” opened at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.
Currently, through their company Anima Sola Productions, Will & Mark are developing film and television for HBO.
Alex Borstein, voiceover
Alex currently stars as Dawn Forchette in the highly acclaimed HBO live-action series GETTING ON and is a multi-hyphenate talent and an Emmy-nominated actress/writer best known for voicing Lois Griffin on the Fox mega hit FAMILY GUY, as well as playing the hilarious and unforgettable Ms. Swan on MADtv. On the film front, Alex can be seen in Seth MacFalane’s A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST as Millie, the madam in the town’ s brothel. She also appeared in MacFarland’s directorial debut, TED. Not just a comedic actress, Alex starred alongside George Clooney in the six-time Academy Award nominated film GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK. In addition to acting, Alex has served on several writing staffs including FAMILY GUY, MADtv, and the Showtime Emmy Nominated series SHAMELESS.
Never have I felt so personally connected to a project, and that's why I'm deeply passionate about bringing Sugar to life. Check out the rewards I've lined up - there's some really fun stuff available. Only with your help will this become a reality, so THANK YOU for supporting DEAR SUGAR!
Risks and challenges
Because I have a solid, experienced team assembled, I am confident that we can successfully complete a kick-ass animated short film. But as with any large undertaking there can be unexpected hurdles to overcome.
I've lined up some great rewards, and some of them require a good amount of planning. I am SO grateful for your contributions, and to show you how appreciated you are for giving, all rewards will be fulfilled as efficiently as possible.
Get advance access to a digital stream of our completed Dear Sugar short film, PLUS an exclusive digital download of Mark & Will’s “Dear Sugar” script so you can see how the writers do their thing, translating the column to the big screen.
Get a personalized, signed copy of “Tiny, Beautiful Things” by the badass who started it all, Cheryl Strayed aka Sugar. PLUS enjoy early access to the digital stream of our film, a digital download of the script, and a Thank You credit.
MAIL FROM SUGAR: Get a hand-written personal note from Sugar herself. Tell Cheryl a little bit about yourself or a loved one, and she will send a card back with some of Sugar's wisdom and love. Good for any occasion, for a friend, lover or even a one-night stand! PLUS get a digital stream of the short, a digital download of the script, and a Thank You credit.
DEAR SUGAR PACKAGE: We're going to Sugar swag you out! Get a signed "Write like a motherfucker" mug, a "Sugar Says" poster, and of course a signed copy of “Tiny, Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed. PLUS enjoy early access to the digital stream of our film, a digital download of the script, and a Thank You credit.
THE ULTIMATE DEAR SUGAR PACKAGE: A limited-edition DVD of Dear Sugar (our film will NOT be widely distributed!), a hard copy of the script signed by Mark & Will, original Dear Sugar artwork signed by David Polonsky, a signed copy of “Tiny, Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed, a digital stream of the short, a digital download of the script, and a Thank You credit.
A 20-minute Skype with Sugar herself, Cheryl Strayed! Get your BOOK CLUB together and split the cost amongst yourselves, or just do a 1-on-1! What you talk about is entirely up to you: get some relationship advice, talk about your favorite new books, or just shoot the breeze. You name it. PLUS a digital stream of the short, a digital download of the script, and a Thank You credit.
TWO TICKETS TO THE SEASON TWO PREMIERE OF HBO'S "GETTING ON"! Get on Mark & Will's personal guest list and meet the cast of the show, including Alex Borstein. PLUS exclusive access to a digital stream of the short film upon completion, a digital download of the script, and a Thank You credit. (LA area only. Travel and lodging not included.)
HEY, SCRIPT WRITERS! Have a 1-on-1 in-person script notes session with writer/producer Will Scheffer! Send your script to Will ahead of time, and then he'll take you out for dinner to discuss and give you his seasoned, professional feedback. PLUS exclusive access to a digital stream of the short film upon completion, a digital download of the script, and a Thank You credit. (LA area only. Travel and lodging not included.)
Calling all aspiring writers! Send your script (play, feature, TV pilot) to Mark V. Olsen & Will Scheffer. They will read it and give you feedback in order to get your script in tiptop shape. They’ll even hop on Skype with you to discuss! PLUS a digital stream of the short, a digital download of the script, and a Thank You credit.
You rock! So we're inviting you and a friend to an exclusive pizza-popcorn-and-refreshments premiere viewing party with Mark & Will for their HBO comedy "Getting On" in their comfy Hollywood offices! PLUS a digital stream of the short, a digital download of the script, and a Thank You credit. (Travel and lodging not included.)
Best day ever! Will Scheffer will teach a day-long master writing workshop for you and FIVE of your friends in Los Angeles! And if you get tired of writing, Will will take you out shopping on Melrose or watch your favorite movie with you! You call the shots. To truly thank you for your support, you will receive an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit on the “Dear Sugar” short, PLUS a digital stream of the short and a digital download of the script. (Travel and lodging not included.)
You're our angel! To give you our biggest thank you yet, how about you throw a literary party in Portland with Sugar herself, AKA Cheryl Strayed! Have up to FIFTEEN of your friends over and Cheryl will be there with bells on. We’ll do the math for you: that works out to less than $1k per person to meet the best-selling author, have a drink with her, read with her, or simply just hang out. To truly thank you for your support, you will receive an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER credit on the “Dear Sugar” short, PLUS a digital stream of the short and a digital download of the script. (Travel and lodging not included.)