It Started with a Storytelling Podcast...
My name is David Chen and in 2009, I created a podcast called The Tobolowsky Files, which features incredible stories from the life of character actor Stephen Tobolowsky. Stephen has appeared in over 200 films and TV shows including Glee, Memento, Groundhog Day, Heroes, and Californication. But in the podcast, he plays himself, and shares profound, fascinating, and occasionally mind-boggling stories about life, love, and the entertainment industry. Stephen's folksy delivery and heart-stopping eloquence have always struck me as a compelling storytelling package that wider audiences would enjoy if given the chance.
The podcast spawned a radio program by Public Radio International, a book, and several sold-out live shows. Now we'd like to bring Stephen's stories to even more people by filming a movie. And we need your help to do it.
Some actual testimonies from people who've listened to the podcast
"I always learn something and I am always entertained. But it's the fact that I laugh aloud that stands out to me."
"I wish I could tell you how much your stories have touched and inspired me. I can only hope that you will keep sharing your knowledge with the rest of us."
"Thanks again for all of your wonderful stories. And please keep them up, because the days of the masterful raconteurs are all but faded away."
Movie! Fun! Stories! Backstage Passes!
Stephen's stories have been heard and read by tens of thousands of people around the world. But as someone who's seen his storytelling live in front of an audience of a thousand people, I can say that it's one of the most incredible theater experiences I've ever witnessed. I want to share this experience with the world by creating a concert film of Stephen's stories, and I'd be honored if you would be a part of it.
We have some great Kickstarter rewards, including the opportunity to meet Stephen backstage at one of our live shows, as well as the chance to have Stephen perform a private show for you and 20 of your friends in person. In addition, every reward tier $15 and above will receive a link to stream the movie when it premieres!
What's the Plan?
The plan is to shoot several of Stephen's live storytelling performances in Seattle, then edit them together as a film. To do this, we are working with a local production company called Super Frog Saves Tokyo, which has made a diverse variety of videos for both large corporate clients and small non-profits. We hope to complete principal photography in March, April, and May, then edit the film and have it ready to submit to the Sundance Film Festival in the summer. If we get in, we hope the film will be acquired for distribution.
Regardless of whether we get into Sundance or any festival, we fully intend on getting the movie out to as many people as possible. Should we be unable to find a distributor, there are several great options for self-distribution, including VHX and Vimeo on Demand.
Where's My Money Going?
Your money will go towards making and marketing this film, which includes expenses such as:
- Hiring a production company to do a multi-cam shoot of a live performance
- Renting out performance venues
- Graphic design
- Poster design
- Original music
- Festival submissions fees
- Various other costs for labor and supplies
It is really challenging to make a great-looking, great-sounding film for $40,000, but we are confident we can make it happen. However, any amount we raise above and beyond the Kickstarter goal will go towards more technical resources, and to offer compensation for creative contributors' time and skills.
I intend to blog about the entire experience of making, marketing, and distributing the film at www.slashfilm.com. /Film is the site where the podcast spawned, so it seems like the best place to share its evolution. Along the way, we'll learn together what it takes to create a film and get it seen by people.
I hope you'll consider helping us create a movie that will bring the art of amazing live storytelling to a bigger audience.
Risks and challenges
Stephen Tobolowsky is a seasoned veteran from show business who has both acted and directed films and live performances for several decades. However, making a movie is a challenging task and we will undoubtedly encounter setbacks in the process. Everyone involved is committed to bringing this movie to fruition. It is highly unlikely that we will fail in making the movie completely, although it may be on a different timetable than originally planned.
With regards to the distribution strategy, these are ambitious goals on a very aggressive timeline. It is a long shot to get into Sundance, which in 2013 accepted only 1.6% of all submissions. It's also likely that even if we get in to Sundance or another film festival like SXSW or Tribeca, we won't get picked up for distribution; storytelling films don't have an immediately obvious home beyond places like HBO, Netflix, and Hulu. We are willing to mitigate these issues by self-distributing the film if it comes to that.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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