Tag Archives: IndieGoGo
I tend to be a person who is always looking ahead, rather than looking back, but sometimes you can gain a lot of perspective by looking back and that can be critical for moving forward. Chris Guillebeau writes an annual review in his blog The Art of Non-Conformity and he suggests we do the same. It’s a yearly assessment of how you feel your past year has been – noting both your accomplishments as well as your low points. It helps you mentally prepare for how you want to live your life in the coming year.
Sometimes looking forward can seem overwhelming. But when I look back at what I’ve accomplished, I get the confidence I need to move ahead. With that said, here’s a recap of 2011 for Opening Our Eyes:
- Completed the film – That in itself was a triumph of accomplishment, but it took its toll. Doing the rough edit consumed most of my winter. I needed to cull through over 150 hours of footage, transcode it, add metadata, sort out the chaff, look at the b-roll and cut down the interviews to a 3 hour timeline. It was grueling for me – 14 hour days – 7 days a week for almost 2 months but somehow I got through it When spring arrived I handed the entire project to my editor, Erik Freeland who did a masterful job of editing the film. We worked together, discussing the particular stories within the film and Erik brought those stories alive with how he cut them together. The first cut of the film was finished in July.
- We were extremely fortunate to have gotten permission to use one of Jackson Browne’s song, Alive in the World for festival and community screenings. Our executive producer, Angel Burns who came on board this year, made that happen – making another dream come true. Jackson’s music and his social activism has always been an inspiration to me. I was able to personally thank him after seeing him in concert this fall.
- Another beautiful person came into in my life, randomly. Her name is Joyelle Brandt, she’s a singer, songwriter and an amazing artist. Joyelle wrote a song called “One“. She wrote to me on Facebook and told me about her song and how it delivered the same message as our film and that she would be happy to let us use the song in the film. We did – it opens up the film and it’s like Joyelle wrote it specifically for the film. We can’t thank you enough, Joyelle.
- Music is such a critical component of every film – it is the emotional component and defines the moods and the pacing of the movie. Dominic Brook a hip hop artist from Australian not only appears in the film during the Oasis story, but sets the tone with his music throughout that segment. Dominic is a kindred spirit in wanting to make a difference. He started Musicians Making a Difference and has helped a lot of young people find themselves through music.
- We were also fortunate to have digital artist Allan Davey come into our lives and design our beautiful “one sheet” as well as our DVD packaging. Allan’s poster told the story of the film beautifully and really raised the bar as far as our “look.” We could never thank him enough for his talents.
- Crowdfunding – About this time last year we were winding down our Kickstarter campaign. We had about a week to go and I remember stressing if we would reach our goal of $7500. With Kickstarter, if you don’t reach your goal – you get nothing so it was a very stressful time. We ended up making our goal on Jan. 5, 2011. Actually, we exceeded our goal and raised a little over $10,000. I was able to pay my editor (who deserved much more) and give a bit to the subjects in the film. Thanks to all our supporters we were able to finish the post production of our film, and that is huge.
- We aren’t doing as well with our second campaign on IndieGoGo. We still have a few days to go but we only realized 20% of our goal. With IndieGoGo, you get whatever you have raised, regardless if you make your goal. Maybe, our goal was unrealistic. Maybe it’s harder to raise money for outreach, PR and distribution, but that’s probably the most critical part in filmmaking – to get the film seen. But every dollar helps us defray the costs of pushing this out there and we are very grateful to all of our continued supporters.
- Apart from the crowdfunding, the San Francisco Film Society is now our fiscal sponsor, so that means that we can accept tax deductible donations via their 501c3 status. That will also allow us to be eligible for some grants. Does anyone know a good grantwriter who would like to come onboard?
- Festivals – We have been invited to the San Luis Obispo Film Festival in early March and Cal Poly is our sponsor. I’m looking forward to the festival and hope that our whole team will be able to be there as well. I did not get into Sundance or Slamdance. Sundance had over 11,000 submissions and will be showing only 11 documentaries. But I have printed out my “rejection email” as a reminder that I tried. I will proudly join the other 99% who tried but didn’t make the cut.
I hope there will be more invitations. We shall see, but regardless of festival invitations, the power of this film will be in community screenings.
- Sneak Previews – My dream came true when I saw this film on the “big screen” at the State Theater in Traverse City, Michigan. It truly was a fantasy come true, to stand there with Erin and watch as they hand placed each letter of our names on the marquee that hot July night. What made it even more special was to watch the film in such a beautiful venue with a lot of my family and friends in the audience. My family made that one of the most memorable days of my life. It was a day of sharing and connecting where all the circles came together. I’ve had a couple other private screenings, and some have been with Erin which is great. It’s always interesting to get live feedback. Last month I showed the film to young Brazilians in Sao Paulo. It was the first time that I got feedback from a non-American audience. It was very well received and it confirmed in my mind that not only this film has a global reach, but that it really resonated with this “20 something” demographic. That gives me great hope for the future.
I’ve had quite a few speaking engagements this year but I think the one that stands out is the TEDx talk I did this month in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It was an honor to be invited and I met some amazing young Brazilians who are doing some interesting things in their lives. They are looking at the world through a different lens and to listen to them throughout the day was incredibly energizing.
- PACA – I had a great time speaking at the Picture Archive Council of America. I talked about the making of this film with a small crew and budget. I talked about the possibilities for distribution in this day and age. The ASPP American Society of Picture Professionals, sponsored my talk and they may bring this talk to their chapters in 2012.
- Grateful for our followers
Without the support of our family, friends and virtual friends from all over the world – this would never have been possible. Every time any one of you has commented or written an email – it has given us the energy and encouragement that we needed to keep going. You have no idea how meaningful all of your comments have been. They’ve certainly helped me through some of the toughest times.
Going forward in 2012 – well that’s a whole other blog post. But I do know that I need to devote more time to my business. There are so many things I wish to do and only so many hours in the day. But it helped to sort it out in my head, and in writing this recap. I realize that even though it seems like there’s so much to do – look how much we’ve done.
I never fully realized the power that is within me to make a difference, until recently. Last summer, my daughter and I spent time with extraordinary people who were providing homes for orphans, feeding the hungry and curing the ill. They were all people we met while making a documentary about the change makers in our world – people who are making our planet a better place.
Our goal was to inspire and motivate others as to what they can do to make a difference in their own communities. Our goal was to cause a shift, in culture and in thought – from “what in it for me?” to “what can I do?” We’ve just begun to submit this documentary to film festivals and show sneak previews to small audiences but I can already tell that this film has affected change and the potential it has to move people to action.
From our first sneak preview at the beautiful State Theater in Traverse City, MI to a recent screening at MIS in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I feel the energy in the room and the collective desire to strive for a better world. I feel the power of film and the power within me as a storyteller and filmmaker. I feel the time for this film is now and that people are hungry for hope.
Many documentaries take the critical point of view and certainly have more conflict. Opening Our Eyes is different from other docs in that it shines a light on what IS being done to create positive change by individuals all over the world. Somehow by showing the small acts, this film makes all of us believe that we can create change as well. It empowers us to believe in the possibilities and gives us the hope we seem to be yearning for these days.
When I first conceived of the idea for this film, inspired by friend and neighbor Maggie Doyne, I was looking for some positive hope myself. I was tired of listening to the hundreds of “experts” on TV talking and all of them needing to be “right” – and nothing was getting any better. That was long before the Arab Spring and the Occupy movements. What I was sensing was the rest of the world was feeling the same way I was and decided to do something about it.
Time will tell if the film continues to create awareness and moves people to action, but at least I’m hopeful again.
We can’t do it without your help.
This was a remark that someone made to me after the screening of Opening Our Eyes the other evening in Seattle. It was probably the nicest thing that anyone has said to me since I’ve been screening this film.
Most of you who have been reading this blog know that this film was created by my daughter Erin and I during our 99 days in the field on six continents while making this movie. We had a lot of “together time” and that was the best part of the experience. Our little two-person crews was able to work on a shoe-string budget made up of airline miles, hotel rewards and trades for gear and services. and create a 76 minute documentary.
During the Q & A after the screening, one attendee asked about the financing of the film. I told her that even though the shoot part of the production was financed with airline and hotel points and trades, there were still the costs of visas, vaccinations, and all the post-productions costs of editing, sound mixing, music rights and stock footage. When all was said and done, including buying the gear, it was just under $50,000 – and that doesn’t include film festival submissions, PR and marketing etc. going forward. I did raise $10,000 on Kickstarter and we are currently running a funding campaign on IndieGoGo, but where did the other money come from?
I answered her questions by telling her that when my mom died in 2004, she had left me a little money. I had never spent a penny of it until we began this project, when I set up a separate LLC, Nola Productions, named after my mother and placed my inheritance into that.
I think my mom would not only be proud of me, but also her granddaughter, my daughter, Erin. My mother always thought of others and their needs first – before she thought of her own needs. She taught me to think about how my actions could affect others. She also taught me to believe in myself and encouraged me to follow my dreams. She gave me everything I needed to accomplish this film – the courage to take action on my dreams and the means to make that happen. I think she would be proud of what I chose to do in her name.
I just received some fabulous news. That is that the San Francisco Film Society has agreed to be a fiscal sponsor for Opening Our Eyes. This is huge because it means that we can apply for grants and accept donations under their 501C umbrella. I would be remiss if I did not thank my husband, partner and best friend, Tom Kelly for filling out the application and providing the reams of necessary documents. He really came through for us and I can’t thank him enough.
It’s been very challenging, raising money for film festival entries, setting up theatrical screenings and promoting the film. But what would be the point of our team’s tremendous efforts in making this film if it ends up being the best kept secret?
I truly hope that this this sponsorship and 501C status will encourage individuals, institutions and corporations to donate to Opening Our Eyes so that we may realize our goal and inspire and motivate others as to what they can do to make our world a better place.
The San Francisco Film Society is one of the oldest and most respected film groups in the United States and to get this distinction is truly an honor. We have been so blessed by so many people who have believed in our project and have either contributed money, their expertise or both. I can’t even begin to express how meaningful this experience has been and how it has changed my life in so many ways. Quite simply it has given me hope – at a time when there is much hopelessness and despair.
Please help us get this film out there. If you are involved with foundations or work at corporations that give, please pass along the link to our project. You never know what may transpire and hopefully this has made things a bit easier. All donations are tax deductible.
Every one of our subjects and their causes will win if this film gets noticed globally. It is off to a good start with the trailer being seen in over 114 countries – but we have a lot of work ahead. I can do a lot of things on my own – and have – but I need everybody’s help on this one.
It’s not just a movie, it’s a movement.
3 Ways to Donate:
Through IndieGoGo – get a reward
Through the San Francisco Film Society online
Checks: Payable to San Francisco Film Society
Write Opening Our Eyes FSP 1378 in Memo Line
San Francisco Film Society – ATTN: Finance Department
39 Mesa Street, Suite 110
San Francisco CA 94129-1025
I never thought it would be easy – taking a trip around the world – let alone making a feature film on virtually no budget – but we did it. The journey around the world, nor the making of the film was ever driven by ego. If it had been, it would be easier to call it quits and get back to life as I once knew it. Instead, I continue to invest my time, my money and my heart and soul into what we started over a year ago. Why?
I don’t have a reason for why I continue to work on this project and try to get it seen. It’s not an obsession – but I do think somehow it’s what I am meant to do. At least that’s what I tell myself on those days that the disappointments seem to outweigh the triumphs.
I seem to be at a place with this project where something needs to happen. I put all the pieces into place – from the planning – to completing the journey – to making a film out of over 150 hours of footage – to where I’m at now – trying to get the word out. But I’m at a point where I really need your help.
How you can help:
- Tell your friends and co-workers about this project and urge them to share the link to our campaign on IndieGoGo
- Interact with others. I’d love it if people were dialoging with one another on this forum and I wasn’t the only one talking.
- Tell me you’re out there. Silence is deafening – it’s also disheartening. It keeps me going when I hear from folks.
- Help me with your connections. It’s all about networking and surely there are people you know – that could give this film some legs.
- Have an event around the screening of the film and bring me into speak about it.
- Make a contribution. Every little bit helps and I appreciate every single contribution, no matter how small.
I didn’t build a home for orphaned children like Maggie, or set up a food rescue program that feeds hundreds a day like Ronni Kahan, but I did make a film to create awareness and inspire and motivate others. That’s what I do – I’m a storyteller and through my photographs and motion imagery, I have the power to move people to take action. I may not be saving peoples lives, but films do have the power to influence. And just imagine the influence this little film would have – if we all got behind it and spread the word and started making our world a better place.