“What’s your budget,” they would ask. “5K,” I’d respond. Their responses would always amount to the same thing, in spirit: “Cool. Totally doable.” And then whoever it was I had just told about my short film would nod in approval and kick a rock, or continue writing his or her screenplay, or something. (That exchange has happened probably 20-30 times over the past year.) As for the number itself—I had in my head that with two actors, one location and a dialogue-driven script, $5,000 sounded about right. So 5K became my lucky number. It even sounded a bit, I don’t know, slick.
But of course, if you’re anyone who’s anyone—and by anyone I mean a doer-of-things, a creator who actually creates—you know “slick” doesn’t get you anywhere. Nor does just discussing it. After moving to New York from LA last year and going through three rounds of producers, the budget of my film, Interior Teresa, went from a slim and sexy 5K to a bloated $25,000 before trimming down to a completely reasonable, realistic $15,000 and then losing even more weight and reaching a number that eventually slapped me upside the head and said, “Make shit happen!”
So, hello, 10K, the Dunkin Donuts of budgets. It’s not gourmet by any means (any), and it’s not the commercial standard of a Starbucks or the so-unacceptable-but-we’ll-take-it of a 7-Eleven. If you’ve ever had a Dunkin Donuts coffee, it gets the job done and doesn’t taste too bad going down, either.
Caffeine-based metaphors aside—I decided I needed 10 grand to make my short. But how?
For the answer, all it took was a walk from Brooklyn Roasters to Chase bank and back. I had put off tackling my project via crowdfunding for a few reasons. As I mentioned in my last entry, everyone tells you how much work it is and how grueling it can be. But one day while on my lunch break—I work at a stellar production company called Juniper Jones for my day job—I was talking to a certain Kickstarter employee who, in the time it took me to travel between Slacker Haven and Serious Financial Institution, convinced me the most recognized brand in crowdfunding would be worth the work. He killed it (the convo I mean). Sure, anyone can make a movie. I could make this for my 7-Eleven, 5K budget, and it could be bad and no one would know it ever happened if I didn’t want them to. But what movie maker doesn’t want an audience? Successful films of all sizes and ambitions have some things in common: Build your audience early. Build the buzz, so when the movie comes out, you already have a foundation. (Added bonus? It holds you accountable.)
So yes, persuasive Kickstarter employee. I will do it! I will do a Kickstarter. Yes, I will raise 10K.
So here I am. I’m throwing myself full force into this Kickstarter. I’m sending it to everyone. I don’t care if they judge it or are annoyed by the fact that I’m asking for the $50 they were going to use to see Deadpool. At the same time, I’m throwing myself into pre-production for Interior Teresa. On a call last night to discuss our shot list, my DP Elle Schneider asked, “Are you nervous?” “No,” I responded, laying my head on my pillow. “I’m too tired to expend any extra energy on nerves.”
It turns out a serious crowd-funding effort and making a film have that in common—both are a hell of a lot of work.
Meredith Alloway is a contributor to Paste Magazine, Nylon, Complex, Collider and Press Play on Indiewire. Interior Teresa is her first big film venture. She is currently in the last stretch of raising money through Kickstarter and will be shooting the film at the end of February in NYC. Follow her on Twitter.