Tara Samuel is one of the reasons my husband John joined the independent film collective, We Make Movies. "She's good news," he says, and she is. I first saw Tara on screen in Ruby Booby, a film I told you about last fall, which she produced and starred in. She plays Ruby--quiet, unassuming, along for the ride and hoping not to get hurt. I can guess why Tara was attracted to the role--Ruby is her absolute opposite. Here's Tara: energetic, enthusiastic, a life force. I hope you enjoy her story.
The story of an independent director-producer team could be set in any city - but for us it was Pasadena. The filmmaking adventures of Jon Rannells and Tara Samuel are like a Family Circle map, dotting the Pasadena landscape: cross these train tracks to a fundraising evening of short scenes at the Rialto; jump this fence and attend a publicity stunt balloon launch at Lacy Park; run down this alleyway and find yourself at a wine & cheese screenplay reading at the Le Petit Vendome!
Our Film-Financing Coming Of Age story was set in Pasadena.
Curious about the balloon launch? But it's obvious isn't it? Jon and I decided that financing for his screenplay, Dream Box, could come from anywhere, including random places where balloons landed. So we attached Dream Box "Evening of Short Scenes" invitations to balloons, launched the colorful carriers into the air and let fate take care of the rest. Would-be film financiers would find our charming postcards, and mark their calendars! Sit back and collect!
We knew of course that this savvy tactic would need to be complimented by door-to-door efforts. No face-to-face contact - not necessary - just your standard Dream Box Postcard gift bag - complete with Dream Box Pen - left on your lovely Pasadena front lawn. (Perhaps you, dear reader, are still in possession of one of these collector's items.) Each unsuspecting homeowner would be sure to light up at the sight of their bag, read the invitation, and be irresistibly drawn to us! Let the checks roll in!
Cut to the Rialto. Magical baroque setting, trademark sharp and original Jon Rannells script; intelligent and heartbreaking acting.
Just a little low on audience members.
Cut to our next fundraiser - tucked behind Lake Ave. - hosted by the generous proprietors of the charming Le Petit Vendome! Never ones to give up - not ever - this event featured another outstanding screenplay written by Jon Rannells, Stand the Gaff. The setting was cozy and quaint. We were proud to be there.
Just a little short on attendees.
And then, we ran out of patience. Waiting for a silly thing called a budget can get a filmmaker down. So we went into production. Held weekly candle-lit BBQ script readings in Jon's backyard under the Pasadena stars. Selected our shooting dates. Borrowed everything. Made our first feature film - RubyBoobyTheMovie.com - in the nooks and crannies of Pasadena. Now to fund the DVD prints, the festivals, the licensing…sigh…breathe…
My great awakening: Films need budgets. And the Independent Film Fundraiser in me will never die. Film-financing is a welcomed step; fence to jump; river to scout - in the HOW on the way to the far greater WHY. As my great friend John Sandel says: "These stories need to be released." John introduced me to California poet Gary Snyder: "We call them stories because that's where we store our wisdom."
So a group that I co-founded, WeMakeMovies.org - we are raising funds for five remarkable films. This is the new Hollywood model. And you, dear reader, are a part of it. Have your Film Financing Coming Of Age Awakening with me. I dare you to join the ride. This is just the beginning… http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wemakemovies/we-make-movies-slate-two?ref=live
Along with Tara and the WeMakeMovies crowd, John S. and I are hosting a fundraiser at our house this coming Sunday, April 15th for their upcoming slate of short films (including John's!). Donations can be small or large. If you'd like to meet these independent filmmakers and become a film financier, contact me for details.