About this project
Hi! We're SJ Son and Ginny Leise, aka comedy/writing/friend duo SJ&GINNY. Together, we make viral vids, web series, and films about destroying dicks, babysitting, and sad-fucking. We've been called "feminist comedians" by the likes of Huffington Post and Splitsider.
WHAT ARE YOU MAKING?
We're on Kickstarter to crowdfund our new TV pilot URBAN TEACH NOW (UTN).
Based on SJ's own experiences, UTN follows Eunice Son, an achievement-obsessed recent grad, who joins a non-profit teaching program after being rejected from her dream job on Wall Street. Eunice finds herself teaching at a public high school in New Orleans, ill-equipped with only her B.A. in Business Management and unflagging entitlement. She struggles to find validation in her new unfamiliar world, and fails to relate both to her students and her fellow teachers.
UTN encapsulates everything SJ&GINNY's comedy is about. We tell raw, personal stories with an absurd brightness from the point of view of women and people of color. We relish in writing and playing unlikeable anti heroes. Ya know, the type of characters that get men awards and women death threats. :-)
WHY SHOULD I BACK THIS PROJECT?
When it comes to diversity in film/TV, especially Asian American stories, there is a lot of TALK and not a lot of DO. Hollywood likes the IDEA of diverse stories, but in recent years, the actual numbers in Hollywood are stagnant.
It's so bad, in fact, the Feds (aka Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) launched an investigation into Hollywood's hiring practices this fall.
THE TOKEN ASIAN
As an Asian American actor, the number of racist, stereotyped auditions I go on would blow your buns off. AND the number of times my characters are violently raped in these stories, for the sake of being "provocative", would blow your eyebrows off!
Being marginalized can be discouraging. But being the insanely ambitious, restless creators we are, we decided to change this. We wrote a story about an Asian American woman who has agency, is the driver of the story, not an accessory, and the anti-hero of a hilarious and surprisingly sad story of a struggling teacher.
EVERYONE'S A RACIST
And sometimes, it's fucking funny. Urban Teach Now shamelessly talks about race and racism from the Asian point of view. From the racism Eunice encounters and reciprocates with her black students and white co-workers, to her own unconscious racism she perpetuates toward her Asian students.
WHY YOU SHOULD BACK US
Since we've begun working together as a duo in 2014, we've worked on a ton of projects together. Variety shows, one act plays, short films, web series - you name it, we produced it and all on our own meager actor/babysitter/caterer wages.
****Notable exception: Last year, we crowdfunded $5,000 for the post production of our short film Pillows. Full project here.
We've learned and experienced so much from these producing these projects. Now we're ready and hungry to work on our next big narrative creation!
The plan is to shoot in New Orleans in May, then fly back to NYC to hop right into post-production. We'll dedicate June and July to post-production, with a final cut ready by the end of July to share with our supporters. At that time, we'll also be submitting our work to TV pilot and web festivals. Woohoo!
Your support, no matter the size, will help us bring this project to life from top to bottom. Our funding goal accounts for every aspect of production include pre-production (casting, location scouting, production design, etc), a 7 day shoot (spanning NOLA & NYC), and post production (editing, color grading, sound mixing, original music, festival submissions).
We're reclaiming the hashtag #powerpuss from important internet cats to important women in power-- celebrating powerful and influential leading ladies in film, art, business, technology, you name it. As one of our rewards, we’ve even emblazoned a tote bag with #powerpuss as a token of our movement. We’ll be using this hashtag as an aggregator of all content related to Urban Teach Now. If you don't have a #powerpuss, guarantee you know lots of ladies with one. Support #powerpuss!
In an industry where a few (white) (male) (old) hands control what is funded and produced, we refuse to wait to be chosen. This campaign is a tribute to paving our own path. Thanks for reading all these words and we hope you support our campaign to be a part of something truly great.
WHO THE HELL ARE WE?
*SJ SON (WRITER, PRODUCER, EUNICE)
SJ is a gloriously sharp witted actress, physical comedian, dancer, and writer. She is 1/2 of the sketch comedy duo, SJ&GINNY, known for their viral comedy videos and original series, most recently in The Shame Game and Feminist Babysitter.
Having studied improv/sketch at PIT, UCB, and The Annoyance she is part of the long running improv team, Das Buttverk. As an actor, she studied at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, T.Schreiber Studios and graduated from Cornell. SJ is skilled at creating fun powerpoint decks and saying lots of cool words at meetings, a skill she picked up working in advertising, and as a teacher with Teach For America.
*GINNY LEISE (WRITER, PRODUCER, JULIE)
Ginny Leise is a New York based actor, writer and comedian. She is one half of the comedy duo SJ&GINNY. Their many projects include the sell-out variety show The Shame Game, the web series HOG: Hearts of Gold, Feminist Babysitter and the play Great Gig: A Corporate Training for Business. Their work as been featured on Huffington Post, Splitsider, i-D Vice, Jezebel, Bust and Bustle to name a few. You can catch Ginny performing stand up and sketch all over NYC and on MTV's new show Bugging Out.
Born and raised in New Jersey mere minutes from the Cherry Hill Mall, Ginny spent her childhood trying and failing to get the family’s pet cat to hang out with her. Once, while proving to a neighbor boy she was faster than him, she ran full speed into a parked car. She lost two front teeth and won the race. After graduating from Colorado College with a B.A. in History & Philosophy, Ginny took the next logical step and moved to New York City to pursue comedy and acting.
*HEATHER FINK (DIRECTOR)
Heather Fink came to filmmaking after being a standup comedian for years and making funny videos before ending up at NYU’s Grad Film school. She currently pays the bills as a Sound Person, most recently working on Daredevil and The Get Down. Previous jobs include PR for a gay porn company, Senator Kennedy Intern, and Content Strategy for Digital Media companies. She’s Directed over 35 comedy shorts, most recently Sara Benincasa’s “The Focus Group" and her first feature film "Inside You."
*CANDICE VAUGHN (PRODUCER)
Candice Vaughn is a Creative Producer and Director originally from Florida. She graduated from New College of Florida with a concentration in studio arts/theater and began to make short films. She then went on to pursue an MFA at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. She has worked in key positions on films all over the world.
*JAMES COKER (PETE)
James is an actor, writer, and comedian living in New York City. He has been studying and performing improv and sketch at UCB, PIT and Magnet Theater since Fall 2008. You can catch him performing all around the city with sketch duo Coker & Stratton and PIT house improv team The Lunchmen.
He has appeared on NBC’s 30 Rock, Netflix's Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and in videos for Funny Or Die and MTV. James’ writing credits include sketch shows Coker & Stratton: 30 And Loving It!, Coker & Stratton: Brand Whores, Mascot For Hire, Revive 45: Central Florida Public Access Telethon, and the Channel 101 web series Skate City. James also starred in a pilot that was featured in the 2013 New York Television Festival titled Classless, which he wrote with Nick Bernardone (Hot Garbage Video, 30 Rock).
*DEE FREEMAN (MRS. MACMASTER)
Dee was born in Tallulah, Louisiana. At the age of 8 her family moved to California. Within 24 hours Dee discovered she had an accent. " I got a whut? What ya'll talkin' bout?" After high school, she joined the United States Marine Corps (Oorah). After leaving the Marines, Dee moved to Japan and worked at an all-Japanese radio station FM Aomori. Back in the states she landed the role of Barbara DeMarco in the long running hit Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Eventually she made her way to California where she's guest starred on some of the best...and the worst tv shows: X-Files, Shameless, Dexter, Cold Case, E.R., Seinfeld, The Shield, Crossing Jordan. Dee has two children whose interests have almost driven her insane. Her son Shane plays the drums...loudly. And her daughter Amber is into animals. At one time she had 14 exotics: 3 Ball Python snakes, 2 Blue Headed Tree Agamas (they turn turquoise when they get mad), a Chilean Rosehair Tarantula named Anansi, a Scorpion (he was mean), a Bearded Dragon (really sweet), an Iguana, a Water Dragon, a Pacman Frog, a Bare Eyed Cockatoo name Annabel who terrorized her the first 6 months they had her...and others. Over the years it's kept a lot of her relatives away. Black people and exotics don't mix.
*DANIEL K ISAAC (VINCENT)
Daniel K. Isaac (birth name Daniel Kyung-min* Kim**) was born in Fullerton, CA (if you've ever seen the movie Milk, this is the town that Harvey Milk gets booed in). When asked about why he decided to pursue acting, Daniel recalls some early advice given to him by his mother, something along the lines of all great men being great public speakers. And so Daniel was introduced to theatre at an early age, performing in local church productions, developing the fundamentals that would eventually lead him to Troy High School - where he spent his first two years playing water polo (speedos!) and studying computer science (nerd!). No matter, Daniel skipped the second grade and would wind up flying through subsequent grade levels in record speed. By the time he graduated from Troy at sixteen years old, athletics gave way to academics, which eventually led back to the stage, much to the chagrin of his scholastic-minded faculty. In case he never wins a Webby, Daniel would like to use this bio page to thank Mr. Joe Hufferd, his high school drama teacher for believing in him. And his high school guidance counselor who said by dropping Physics to take Drama Class, he wouldn't even be able to go to community college. And his mom. And God. Maybe not in that order.
Risks and challenges
This is the most ambitious project we've ever taken on. But our track record speaks for itself. Just last year we Kickstarted a short film (which back then, was our most ambitious project) and delivered. Everyone received their rewards. Everyone has seen the finished film.
SJ&GINNY are an experienced producing duo, and we know what it takes to produce on a low budget. We've assembled a killer team who will help shepherd this baby into the world.
Yes there are risks, but our body of work speaks for us. We are workaholics driven by our passion to change the types of stories the world sees.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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