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A comedy about a jazz pianist who seeks psychiatric help when a beautiful blonde starts to affect his playing.

About the filmmaker

During my freshman year of college, I decided to take director Stanley Kubrick's advice for young filmmakers and "make a movie of any kind at all." The result was "turnaround", a 6-minute comedy about a collegian who wakes up from a nap in the library to find the woman of his dreams.

The following year, I upgraded equipment and made a 40-second visual poem called "medi-em". The project was a finalist in the 2012 Director's Circle of Shorts.

Next, I completed my largest undertaking to date: "The Organist". Written as a freshman, filmed as a sophomore, and edited as a junior, this 45-minute film served as an educational experience on the art of seeing a lengthy project to completion. Not only did I learn how to persevere, but I got to work with an amazing cast (including legendary Birmingham, AL actor John Wright, Jr).

After making another experimental film this summer, I decided to focus my energy on "Hypo-critic".

About the project

"Hypo-critic" is similar to my first film in that it tells the story of a man who is head over heels for a woman he hardly knows. With "Hypo-critic", however, I plan to delve a bit deeper into the psychology of the main character.

The film will last about 15 minutes. It follows the story of quirky jazz pianist Sam Kenning as he reveals the most recent problem with his playing to his psychiatrist, Dr. Devon. Over the course of the session, Dr. Devon must read between the lines to discover what's really hindering Sam and give him advice accordingly.

My goals with this film are:

  • To showcase the beauty of my city: Birmingham, AL.
  • To highlight the talent of my fellow jazz musicians via the soundtrack.
  • To build on my existing personal relationships with the actors in order to create effective characters on-screen.
  • To draw on my previous film experience and create a movie of the highest quality.

Cast

T.W. Ballew as neurotic jazz pianist Sam Kenning.
T.W. Ballew as neurotic jazz pianist Sam Kenning.
Earvin Comer as Sam's psychiatrist, Dr. Devon.
Earvin Comer as Sam's psychiatrist, Dr. Devon.
Rebecca Ryan as the elusive Catherine Turner.
Rebecca Ryan as the elusive Catherine Turner.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

1. Studio session - This winter I plan to hire out a professional studio and record the original soundtrack for the film. The challenge will be to record all eight tunes in only a few hours. However, I have faith in the talent and ingenuity of my musicians. With an appropriate amount of rehearsal time, I know the "Sam Kenning Trio" will be fully prepared for the pressures of studio recording.

2. Scheduling - I plan to shoot most of the film's exterior scenes during "magic hour", the half-hour period before sunset, in order to capture the locations at the height of their beauty. This decision places a huge limitation on when I can film, but I know the results will be worth it. Through careful planning and a great deal of flexibility on the part of my crew, I feel confident that we can stay on schedule.

3. Extras - The Sam Kenning Trio's gig at "The Alligator Club" is one of the film's biggest setpieces. In order to create the effect of a real jazz club, I need several dozen extras to fill the allotted space. I plan to call on everyone I know (both in town and out) and bribe them with food and fame to help me bring the Alligator Club to life!

4. Festival deadlines - In order to be considered for many of the major film festivals, I need to have the final cut of "Hypo-critic" by May 1st. That only gives me a month to edit! My plan is to review footage daily throughout the filming process so that I can start deciding which takes to use early on. Over the course of many late nights/early mornings, I know I'll be able to find the rhythm of the film and put all the pieces of the puzzle together.

Thank you for considering this film. Remember to check out the rewards for giving on the right-hand side of the page!

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Funding period

- (30 days)