Judgment Date: Death Row Poker Pro v Disgraced Idol Judge
Movie: A poker pro on death row must use all his skills to win his freedom on the comeback TV show of a disgraced Idol judge.
Judgment Date is a high stakes thriller involving the clash of two worlds. The first is TV talent shows, like American Idol, Britain's Got Talent, or the Voice. The second is no limit poker, often seen in Las Vegas.
Summary: A poker pro on death row is given a chance to win his freedom by dinner dating a disgraced Idol judge on her live comeback TV show. Initially, she toys with him, but soon realises he's not quite the pushover she expected.
It turns out that not only is his life is on the line, but her career is also hanging from a threat. On top of that, even though she doesn't yet know it, even greater danger is threatening her.
It's a gripping tale, full of mystery, high stakes, sexual tension, secrets and lies, obstacles, reversals, twists and turns, humour and surprises.
I've sent the script to over 30 people in the film business, and have had quite a lot of very encouraging feedback. For instance:
“First, I have to tell you that I loved reading your script. It caught me early and I just couldn’t take my eyes off the page. You have a tremendous gift for dialogue.”
“You have a tremendous story of revenge and redemption.”
Paul Pastore, optioned finalist in the Austin Screenplay Contest.
“There’s no doubt you CAN write a screenplay- that I am most assured of. In fact, I think, overall, you are a better writer than I.”
“As I said earlier, you ARE one helluva good writer.”
Geno Scala, optioned multiple contest winner at Shark Eating Man Productions
The screenplay was in the top 15% of entries when I entered it into the Nicholl Fellowship, which is run by the team who give out the Oscars each year. While that's not an earth shattering result, at least it gives an indication that I do have a few clues about telling a story ...
They say that you should always write the kind of film that you'd like to see, and I've definitely done that. I also think the audience could be quite large: poker fans and TV talent show fans. We'll see!
I wrote the screenplay myself, and made sure it could be made for a low budget. I'm looking to raise as little as possible here on Kickstarter, but I still want to pay my cast and crew well for their time and talents!
The more I can raise here, the higher quality the film will be. I've also budgeted for marketing and distribution, as there's no point making the film if I don't have the funds needed to get it in front of viewers.
So why did I choose this story? Like many people, I've enjoyed some of the incredible performances and stories from American Idol, Britain's Got Talent, and similar TV talent shows.
Having done some acting and karaoke, I have huge admiration for anybody who gets up in front of a big crowd, and gives it their best shot!
While we often read about how the show winners go onto make best selling albums, or go on tour, what about the other contestants? Those who might not be quite so talented? How are they treated by the judges? Usually not very well, or worse.
There's always one really nasty judge who loves to put down and humiliate contestants. I always wondered what drives these nasty judges, apart from the obvious ratings?
And what would happen if a contestant had the power to hit back?
A contestant with nothing to lose. Maybe there would be some justice for judges?
Hmmm ... what if there were criminal contestants?
This show is about who lives and who dies.
The ultimate vicarious thrill for an audience.
So I've pitted the cruel cool of a desperate aging TV star against the sharp mind of a poker playing death row inmate, to see how this deadly hand plays out.
That, in a nutshell, is Judgment Date.
I'm also a keen poker player, and have always wondered whether the skills needed at the top level are transferable to so called real life. I expect many of them are, especially the ability to read people.
If you think we can't possibly make a feature film on a few thousand dollars, you're right!
This crowdfunding campaign is for the trailer, not the full film. However, I've left the original perks available, just in case people want to fund the film right now. You never know til you try it!
If we can get full funding for the feature film during this campaign, then we can start shooting it very soon after the trailer is finished. Saving time is always good. There's no time like the pleasant!
If you'd like to read a few 3 page trailers I've written, please visit this page:
Most people don't have time to read an entire screenplay, but a 3 page trailer script, or watching a 3 minute trailer is another matter!
Please let us know which trailer you like the best. Thanks!
If it takes a village to bring up a child, it takes a small town to make a film.
I obviously can't make this film all by myself, or even with a great cast and crew. I'd really love your help, not just for funding, but also to spread the word. The more people know about this project, the better!
If you click on the following image, you can quickly and easily share Judgment Date on your social network. Thanks in advance :)
By the way,an Australian dollar is worth about 90c American. So if you contribute a Aussie dollar to support this film, it's under one US dollar.
I'm also keen to hear from anybody who's got any advice to share. I believe that all of us together are smarter than just a few of us, so please, don't hold back if you have something to share. Thanks!
I won't duplicate the list of perks here, but I do want to ask what kind of perks would appeal to YOU. Sure, I've created a list that might appeal, but you know better than I do about what might appeal to you.
Even a dollar would help our campaign, as the more people pledge, the more curious other people get, and the whole thing snowballs.
On top of the current perk list, whoever contributes the most to fund this project will get a special surprise perk at the end of the campaign, just to say thank you for your wonderful generosity!
For those who'd love to help out, but don't perhaps have as many funds to help out, there are other special perks:
- Whoever refers the biggest total contribution
- Whoever shares this project to the most places online
In other words, if you're cashflow poor but network rich, you deserve to be rewarded for helping the project, too. But again, please remember that even a dollar really does help more than you'd imagine!
I'm also open to any other ways of helping out that you think deserve a special perk. Maybe you can think of something I haven't thought of?
Any contribution, even a single dollar, is encouraging for all of us working on this project, as it means that yes, there will indeed be an audience for the film once it's made.
Maybe you live in Adelaide and can :
- help out on the set?
- spread the word locally?
- introduce us to local media?
Or perhaps you're you're a social media expert, and can help us get the word out online? If so, let's talk!
The budget for the trailer will be divided pretty equally amongst everybody involved. It's only a day shoot, so it seems a fair way to do it.
For the feature, I've tried to keep the budget down, as the smaller the budget, the more chance I have to get funded. However, if I want great cast and crew, and I do, I really need to pay them. The quality of the film will definitely reflect how well I value those who make it!
If we can hit our stretch goals, then this will of course change.
Here's the current timeline for Judgment Date:
Distributing the Film
We are carefully selecting a multi talented team, each of whom have a great number of different film making skills. This allows great flexibility if something happens during the shoot, and one crew member has to take a break, or cannot continue working.
These things do happen, so flexibility is crucial.
That said, here is the team so far, starting with me:
I spent a decade as an actor, appearing in a dozen short films as well as two feature films, before turning my hand to other aspects of film five years ago. I've found these far more appealing the acting itself.
Since then, I've made two short films, an Internet training DVD, and written many short film scripts. One recently sold to an actress in LA and is now in post production. I can't wait to see it!
I've also spent time on various sets helping out behind the camera, or holding the boom pole, or various other roles.
This is my first feature film as producer.
Kym has spent over 30 years working with film and video in various forms. He has made about a dozen documentaries for the Australian TV networks Seven, Nine and Ten, as well as three short films of his own.
He has also appeared in about 50 other short films, as well as numerous TV docudramas, TV programs, telemovies, training videos, a feature film, and as a voice actor in nearly a dozen animated films.
If we raise more than our goal, but not enough to shoot the film, all extra funds will be saved for when we do another campaign for the whole film.
That said, we're very much hoping to raise enough during this campaign to shoot the film right after the trailer. Here are our stretch goals:
- $55k: we will shoot the film straight after the trailer. It's far easier if we can use the same team of cast and crew to shoot the whole film straight away. People get busy with other commitments, so if we can raise enough from this campaign, we'll dive right into shooting the entire feature film at once.
- $60k: we will hire a Producer of Marketing and Distribution. Even though I'm doing a great deal of this myself, as well as hiring 3rd party contractors, having a specialist come on board would really help with both marketing and distribution. Again, these roles are often forgotten, but without them, nobody sees the film :(
$80k: we will shoot with a 4k or a professional camera. Although story and acting are what will make or break this film, it would be wonderful if we had the funds to shoot using a better quality camera. However, they're not cheap. so if we get extra funds, we'll be able to rent a high end camera package for the whole shoot.
- $100k: we will hire a TV star for a few days. This would greatly increase our chances of getting into cinemas, both here and aboard, as well as getting far more coverage in the media, both online and in traditional print, radio and TV. Yes, some people still do follow those old fashioned options :)
- $200k: we will hire a movie star for a few days. Yes, this is real 'pie in the sky' stuff, but if somehow a miracle occurs, and we raise this much or more, we'll hire a real life movie star for a few days. The sky really is the limit for stars, but we'll hire whoever we can afford! What would it take to make this happen? Hmmm ...
There's no point just making this film if nobody knows about it. I've allocated funds in the budget for a PR specialist, and am already working the social media angle. That's where many people focus these days.
I'm already pretty active on social media, so please follow me there to keep in touch:
I'm currently connecting with folks interested in both TV talent shows, and poker.
I'll also be setting street teams loose, as well as researching other options. Yes, it's almost like a full time job!
This is one reason why a dedicated PMD would be so helpful.
That's why it's so encouraging whenever anybody here shares this project with their own networks, either online or offline. It really does make a huge difference, so thanks in advance!
We will start with the usual suspects: film festivals. We'll apply for whichever ones are available after the film has been completed. If we're accepted, that will give us some buzz, which will greatly increase the chances of getting theatrical distribution.
Then, depending on how distribution has changed since this project began, we'll pursue DVDs, Cable, TV, then online: iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, etc. It's hard to know in advance, as this changes so quickly!
You've made it all the way to the end of the pitch. I admire your endurance! Please help us make this movie, and contribute to our Kickstarter campaign. It would be very helpful. Thanks very much!
Please also click on the image below, to share with your social network:
Thanks very much!
Risks and challenges
Hmmm ... this looks like a long list of risks. Despair not! All film projects have these risks, but many aren't aware of them. That's where the trouble lies. Pre planning can make all the difference ...
The Producer aka Me
The biggest risk in any film project is always the guy in charge. He has the drive, the motivation, the big picture, and ultimately, it's up to him to make things happen.
Although I've only made two short films and an Internet training DVD so far, I've studied making films intensely, and will be hiring crew with far more experience than I have. That always helps a bundle!
I've also managed some pretty good achievements in the past, with a small team, such as writing software that ran at the White House for a while.
For a bit more about me, please read the section called, surprisingly, About Me. Thanks!
The bottom line: I have no doubt this project will do well, mainly because I have a great set of friends and mentors to help me along the way.
Cast and Crew Availability
This is always a risk in making films, but at the lower end of the game, it's not such a big issue. i.e. I don't have to wait for two megastars to line up their busy schedules to shoot at the same time.
Believe it or not, there is always a huge oversupply of excellent actors, all looking for work, all looking for that one break that will take them to the next level. For that, I'm grateful.
Badly designed perks can take lots of time and money away from the main task of making and distributing the film. That's why I've chosen most perks to be digital items, easy to replicate and distribute online.
The only exception is a DVD, because many of us still like to have something physical to hold! Also, at the top end, some perks include travel and other experiences, as well as all the previous perks.
Getting into Cinemas
This is always a challenge for an independent film. Far more films are made every year than can screen in your local multiplex. That's one reason why we're hoping to overfund here: so that we can hire a star.
Even having a single well known actor on board for a small part can make all the difference in attracting interest from distributors!
Of course, in our dreams, if we overfund by a huge margin, we might even be able to get starts to play both lead parts.
Hey, I can dream, can't I?
Even if we don't manage to get into cinemas, we can still rent arthouse cinemas, and do a roadshow around the country, or even overseas.
And of course, there's online distribution via iTunes, Amazon and Google Play, where we can get in front of over a BILLION potential viewers. Even better: there are no execs behind desks saying whether we can do that or not! True freedom for the indie film maker.
Sometimes an idea hits the consciousness, and several films come along at the same time, about the same topic. e.g. a huge asteroid headed for the Earth, or a film about magicians. That can be a nuisance.
On the plus side, this can help build interest in the subject, as the public is often happy to see more than one film on the topic. However, after 2 or 3 or 4, they might get a little bored.
Luckily, it's usually only two at a time that show up in theatres.
TV Talent Shows Peaking
It's also possible that interest in TV talent shows might peak and fall. However, that doesn't seem to be happening at the moment, and our timing is good. e.g. this film should be complete within 6 months or so.
Yes, there do seem to be quite a few risks associated with making films, but after careful study, I don't see any of them being a real problem. The big challenges are unforeseen problems, and I'm afraid, as much as I'd like to, I can't tell you what those are :)
So please do pledge to help us make this film a reality. Even a dollar would help, believe it or not, although the more you pledge, the more goodies you can collect as perks ...Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)