A common frustration for actors on both coasts is the constant grind of looking for work, auditioning, and waiting for the phone to ring (or for the email/cmail to appear). As an alternative, 10 other women and I decided to take our careers into our own hands, and independently produce projects together! Our first collaboration is a short comedic film, THE KIDS MENU.
Our writer, director, line producer and co-star are all very talented men, all with many years of experience in the business. So, how did 10 talented, energetic, dedicated ladies and I get involved as producers? In a word, SPUNK. Here’s our story; even though I’ve been living it for the past few months, it still feels like a bit of fairy tale to me.
HOW IT BEGAN
Our team-leader and co-producer, Nyle Lynn, and I officially met through our Agent Albert Bramante at a mixer for his talent agency Emerging Talent Agency; soon thereafter, we started working on a Web Series with other actors from ETA, and when that went on hiatus for the summer, Nyle contacted me to suggest something else: “So, Maayan, do you want to produce a short film with me? There are some really high-level people involved in the project, and it’ll be a great experience.”
(Until that moment, my experience in producing on-camera material was creating my own web series, “Maayan’s Music Minute”; our per-episode budget was under $500, completely self-financed, and I had written, produced and hosted it myself, hiring friends for direction, camera, sound and PAs. But I trust Nyle, so I said – )
That conversation was the first of many which got me involved in Associate Producing THE KIDS MENU.
STEP 1: FINDING THE SCRIPT
Nyle had attended a reading at The Indies Film Lab in New York City, where writers, actors, and directors get together, read scripts and workshop projects. At the Lab, she heard a very funny, very New York play by Richard Vetere being read. After the reading, Nyle came up to him and said: “I love your script and I’ve been looking for a project to produce, we should talk.”
STEP 2: BUILDING THE CREATIVE TEAM
After several phone calls and emails, Richard introduced Nyle to director Paul Borghese (Once Upon a Time in Brooklyn), and Nyle and Paul clicked; then Richard and Paul talked with their friend Vincent Pastore (The Sopranos, Bullets Over Broadway) about playing the lead role of Carmine in THE KIDS MENU. He said Sure, as he had read the script before for Richard and has worked with Paul on various films. In addition, producer Al Messina (Dough Boys), who is tight with Richard, jumped on board to help Nyle out with some of the details.
STEP 3: BUILDING THE PRODUCING TEAM
With Nyle leading the way, we started reaching out to all of our actress-producer friends who we felt would be both focused and energetic hard workers and fun to work with; as Etta Devine noted in her blog, fundraising is hard, potentially stressful work, and we wanted to build a great team that we could rely on to make it a rewarding experience all around.
After many phonecalls, Facebook messages, meetings and emails, our group of talented producing actresses came together:
So far, so good!
STEP 4: FUNDRAISING
While our writer, director and line producer are used to the large investment or studio system of raising money for a project, Nyle proposed funding it ourselves – through Crowdfunding.
After building a budget with Al Messina, our line producer, we concluded we had to raise $50,000 – enough to produce the movie and pay all cast and crew and pay all the taxes, permits and fees and even pay the producers for their work. How do we do that? We had purchased the book How to Raise $25K-$100K for your Film, Web Series or Show by Jodie Bentley and Nathan Reid, and started following its instructions, adjusting along the way:
Put together a kick-ass producing team? CHECK.
Film a top-notch, professional indiegogo video? CHECK (and it really, REALLY helped that Nyle’s husband, Shane Maritch, happens to be a professional DP).
Tell everyone we’ve ever met since the day we were born that we are working on this project? CHECK, CHECK, CHECK.
Tell everyone else in the world?
Well, that’s what we’re doing, right now!
To keep ourselves motivated and excited about the film, we created a closed Facebook group to share the great marketing ideas we all came up, be it a producer’s friend who created wonderful graphics to celebrate our movie (for example:
…or a Spa Day to celebrate when we reach a fundraising milestone. With 11 other women to bounce ideas off of, the sparks keep flying, the creativity keeps blossoming, and the team keeps growing!
In a business where there is so much competition, we feel that we’ve created a true women’s creative partnership (indeed, Nyle’s LLC is called “Collaborative Media Productions”); we support each other, laugh with each other, and celebrate each other’s successes.
We’re even getting family involved – my sister Sarit Schneider is assisting with PR, and Nyle’s cousin Mim Paquin is coming on as a consultant
Through this joint focused effort of producing together, we’ve created a bond of work, creativity, and friendship: In the words of the immortal Gershwins, then, “Who Could Ask For Anything More?”
We are raising funds for THE KIDS MENU through Indiegogo until October 4th, at http://igg.me/at/TheKidsMenu, and will be filming in Brooklyn in mid-October. For more information, or to find out about joining our production team or crew, please write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.