Here's Where It All Begins... (the short version)
Set in a “small town that time forgot,” the gently absurd, comedic short, Mr. Hopewell’s Remedy, tells the story of a hapless inventor whose failure to create the antidote to sorrow sets in motion a magical alchemy for joy.
I wrote the story after visiting a rural recycling center where I saw the sign "No Co-Mingling of Recyclables, Punishable by Jail " (or words to that effect) and wondered, "Who goes to jail for improper recycling?" That afternoon, the name Darla June Koons occurred to me and I thought "I bet Darla June's greatest ambition is to change that last name." From there, the rest of the story just fell into place.
When I wrote this little 13 page script, I thought putting it together would be a cinch. I figured $5,000 would cover it. You can imagine my reaction when I heard $15k-$20k!!! But I had a director who was enthusiastic about it -- one who'd won awards even! So I figured I'd just keep going until something major stopped us.
Nothing did! With the generous support of donors like you, we shot and edited our movie (the story of that amazing journey follows). And the finished picture looks like it might just be quirky enough to screen at the Sundance Film Festival!!!
However, the festival deadline is weeks away which means -- the race is on!!! Come join the team! I know we can make it!!!
The budget to complete the film is $3850. We have $2500 of that, which leaves a mere $1350 to raise. The breakdown is as follows:
$1500 for the score: composer, musician and recording
$400 for special effects
$1200 sound edit
$750 sound mix
I have no doubt we'll finish this film with flying colors. Right now, I'm super excited to give you the opportunity to play with us, join the team, and tell us where you are so we can submit Mr. Hopewell to a festival near you!
How We Got To Where We Are: (The Longer Haul)
On Your Marks!
After writing the script, I showed it to my friend and former classmate, award-winning director Kathi Carey. Not only did she like the script, she wanted to direct it!
Our first step was to meet with director of photography Gabriel Diniz, to go over the script and how we wanted to shoot it. I'd never done anything like this before -- as an actor I'm consumed with creating my character, not considering how each shot contributes to the story -- but as a writer, it was amazing! They found all sorts of things in the script that I had forgotten were there. The whole project took on new weight and import listening to other people envision the story I'd seen inside my head.
At that same meeting, we ran into James Patrick Stuart -- a friend from acting class whom I hadn't seen in maybe a year. After seeing him, Kathi and I sort of joked, "Wouldn't it be great to get him!" knowing he was waaaaay out of our budget and much too busy doing TV shows and feature films to bother with our little story...
As I started preparing to make the film, I enlisted my brother, artist Johnny Carrera (author of Pictorial Webster's, which is now part of a major installation at MASSMoCA) to design the logos for Mr. Hopewell's Remedy, and as a special bonus, he created The Bleaksfield News- Quandry -- a newspaper prop filled with surprises (Hint: a signed copy by the artist could be yours -- a collector's item for art and book lovers).
Over the next several months we scouted locations and I started my initial fundraising. My personal challenge was to make the fundraising FUN! So over the course of 12 weeks, I produced 12 little videos that had something to do with Mr. Hopewell's Remedy to entertain donors and to galvanize interest. That was a feat in itself, I've included one here just to give you an idea. They are really goofy, but so much fun and THANK GOD Mr. Hopewell's Remedy has a real director! (Hint: A Vision Flower could be yours for contributing just $10!)
By the end of the fundraiser, we'd raised over $13k from friends, family and even a few strangers who had faith in our abilities and were intrigued by the project. We set our calendar and started casting.
From the beginning, Kathi wanted Funny-or-Die host Steve Tom to play Sheriff Leon. She sent him the script and he said YES! (And he didn't even know me then!) Knowing that Steve and James Patrick were friends, Kathi encouraged me to call James Patrick -- I did, and lo and behold, he said something about the bees' knees and that he'd do it (without even reading the script)!
(Bees happen to figure rather prominently in Mr. Hopewell's Remedy, so I took that as a sign.)
As the shoot drew near, there was one little nail-biter...The Penguins of Madagascar.
James Patrick was scheduled to go to work on the show the week following our weekend shoot. He warned me that sometimes they want the talent there early....
So rather than freak out, I took a walk on the beach.
Walking along Santa Monica beach at sunset put me in mind of childhood summer days spent at Sunset Beach, NC, where we always found dozens of sand dollars. Moments later, I found the only sand dollar I've ever spotted in California!!! I picked it up and turned it over to see the perfect flower pattern on the other side.
(Flowers also play a prominent role in Mr. Hopewell's Remedy -- I took it as another sign.)
Once on set, Kathi brought in a third person to help the two of us on the production end of things, the incomparable Ryan Angel. And with all the work of our fantastic crew, the shoot went off without a hitch. I showed up the first day, amazed to see no fewer than 18 people working on my little story -- most of them for free! Seeing the first shot go off between Sheriff Leon and Mr. Hopewell -- something I'd only ever imagined being brought to life --made me so giddy I nearly cried. The three days went by like a dream.
Next, editor Dave Manship worked his magic and now we've got an edited film! One that we've been told has the right stuff for the Sundance Film Festival. Well, we're crossing our fingers and we are bound and determined to finish in time to submit it!
As I stated at the outset, we just need $1350 to finish the film!!! Any additional monies will be used to cover the 10% fee that goes to Kickstarter and Amazon payments, and then another few hundred to mail all the fabulous prizes -- but I'm not going to bother all you generous people with that. If you like what we're doing enough, the rest will follow!
In fact, if enough follow, we'll tip that $1350 mark and I will be thrilled to take special requests for festivals you'd like us to submit to -- how fun would that be???!!! You tell us where you are, and we submit it to a festival near you!
I'm also really excited to hand out souvenirs like the posters, bouquets, labels -- especially The (hilarious) Bleaksfield News-Quandry! They were all made with a lot of love and I'm eager to share these special mementos with you.
What I learned about fundraising the first time around is that it's not the money that makes these things happen but the energy and goodwill that the money represents. LIKE the project on Facebook! Even better, SHARE it! Pledge $1! Your enthusiasm and encouragement, in whatever form it takes, will help us blow past that finish line! We've had something special on our side so far and we are sooooo close right now -- with your support, I just know we're going to make it!
Photographs courtesy of Mark Rasmussen
Risks and challenges
I can think of very few risks and challenges facing us now. The composer, sound editor and special effects professionals we've chosen to work with are people Kathi has worked with before so we know we can expect great quality.
Foreseeable glitches might be differences of opinion, regarding score, instrument choices, the trickiness of the special visual effects we're going for, the prominence of incidental, background sounds. Thus far, when Kathi, Dave and I have had differing ideas, we've looked at the issue from all sides, discussed the alternatives and then agreed on which works best. I have no reason to believe we won't continue working in the same way, but this is my first time doing this. If any of you have experience or wisdom to share -- let me know!
Beyond that, the saddest fate would be if Mr. Hopewell doesn't get to show at any festivals. I know it's a hard potentiality to swallow, but if indeed that happens, I will invite every one of you to host a screening of your own, and there's always an audience to be found online!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (18 days)