I promised to keep y’all updated on the twists and turns en route to making my bestselling novel, THE DIRTY GIRLS SOCIAL CLUB, into a feature film, and so that is exactly what I’m doing today!
First, the good news. Then the GREAT news. You ready?
The good news is that our first Kickstarter campaign was a success! I posted a project about a month ago, asking for donations to help sponsor the smaller expenses associated with the early developmental phase of the film. I asked for $3000 — and we got it in record time! I couldn’t believe it! Fifty-one of you guys, (fans of the book, and my friends) all chipped in whatever you could — and donations ranged from $1 to $500 per donor — and made it happen! THANK YOU!!! As soon as the money releases, I’ll be sending you your rewards. Hang tight!
Now the great news!
Along the way, a wonderful women named Fanny Veliz got in touch with me. Fanny is a filmmaker, and a damned good one. She let me know that I might have been thinking too small regarding the potential of Kickstarter, and referred me to her own very successful campaign, and the resulting AWESOME film. I am now not only a massive Fanny fan (sounds like something you’d buy for a hot…well, whatever) but I am also reconsidering quite seriously the way I’ve been approaching this whole thing. Here, take a look at Fanny’s film’s official trailer. Impressive, no? All done on her own, with a verrrrry modest budget.
Anyhoo, as the universe would have it, my son’s school was delayed this morning. (Bear with me, as this actually does relate to this conversation.) I was driving home two hours later than usual, and happened across an interview on Cosmo Radio with someone involved in the indie film world. He was saying EXACTLY what Fanny and my boyfriend, Michael Gandy, have been telling me, which is this: The past two to three years have seen a monumental change in the way films are being financed and made. Kickstarter is making it possible to get money for small indie films through crowd funding, and a new generation of high quality, inexpensive digital cameras is making it possible to make a BIG looking movie for a TINY budget. Just as is happening in traditional publishing, technology and innovation are slowly phasing out the way things have traditionally been done, opening up a whole new world of exciting independent storytelling!
I’ve started to shift my thinking away from a traditional indie route, whereby you get relatively big money through a few rich investors, hire superstars, spend a crapload of dough and then get studio distribution. The new paradigm is far more exciting that all of that. So…I’m thinking. Hard. About going low budget but high quality, and VERY indie…as in me and Mike and my talented friends getting together to make this movie ourselves. As in, doing it exactly the way we want. As in, switching from thinking I need nearly $10 million to get it done right to realizing (with a big fat thud of happiness) that I could actually make a GREAT movie (because, let’s face it, the story is already there!) for just a couple hundred thousand.
Part of the shift in the indie paradigm has also been that with video on demand a small filmmaker can bypass the traditional distribution route altogether, and go right to the viewer in their own home. This is tremendously exciting! So many possibilities.
So, there it is. I’m thinking we can not only do this ourselves, but really fucking do it ourselves — like, no strings attached, no outside control, just some fun, happy storytellers, making as REAL and SEXY and FUNNY and INNOVATIVE a film as we can.
The only really big sacrifice that this route might require would be either trying to get New Mexico to look like Boston (yeah, I know, good luck with that) or changing the setting of the story to be Albuquerque. I’m going to explore the location possibilities in the state. I know that New Mexico stood in for Chicago in a movie, and managed to do a good job. So…the only thing I don’t think we could authentically replicate here would be a Dominican and Puerto Rican nightclub. We just don’t have that many Caribbean Latinos around…or do we? Maybe we can bring a bunch of y’all in from New England for the nightclub scene!
Speaking of which…I am very interested in hearing from talented local actors. If we choose to go this route, we won’t be able to pay much, if anything, at first. But what we can promise is that you will be attached to a high profile project with tremendous earning potential on the back end, and we will share in that with you happily, especially if you are willing to lend us your gifts and enthusiasm for a pittance at the start. If you are an aspiring actor in another part of the country, but are in a position to rent yourself a place here in NM for a few months while we’re filming, I’m interested in hearing from you, too. I’m probably going to play Lauren myself…after all, she’s based on me and it wouldn’t even really be acting…more like “drinking with the camera rolling” … KIDDING! But I am considering going all out and being the creator, writer, director and star. How y’like dem apples? Why the hell not? Lots of other people do it. I have a story to tell. I want to tell it. I’m tired of waiting around. Plus, what better motivation to finally drop those last few pounds than knowing I’m going to be in pixtuhes?
Oh, there’s more awesome news. My dear and supremely talented friend Sebastian Arocha Morton has agreed to do the film’s music, which is fucking phenomenal. You NEED to go to his site right now and listen to his shit, because he’s incredible. Sebi is from Mexico City and is a total hipster music nerd, and he would ROCK THE HELL out of this movie.
One more amazing piece of news: Our friends at Southwest Airlines have agreed to supply the production team with free travel during the development of the film in exchange for featuring them somehow in the film. This is so frakking cool I can’t even TELL you, because I swear to you I only ever fly Southwest because they are the only airline in the nation that has NEVER had a fatality and I am an extremely fearful flyer. I want to publicly thank Lydia Martinez from Southwest for her help with this. Lydia has long been one of my biggest supporters, and she loves the Dirty Girls books. I am writing a big fat scene into the film, where Usnavys and Juan fly Southwest for the first leg of their European vacation. I love the airline. It would have been really hard to do this if the airline had been, say, United, because I can’t stand them. I love Southwest. Truly. So, yay!
So, you ask, what will the Kickstarter travel money go toward now? We’ve raised $3100, and we are still going to use it for hotels on a couple of fundraising trips (Texas, Arizona, LA) but we are thinking another good use of that money will be a good, solid camera with which Michael, my beloved and super talented boyfriend, can become our cameraman. First order of business is going to be to honor Fanny’s advice and make a fun, fast, beautiful short preview of the movie, to let people know what the next step is, and to start fundraising for STAGE TWO.
So keep your eyes and ears open for our second Kickstarter campaign, which will launch soon. I’m going to request quite a bit more money this time around, but we’ll have more time to raise it. Again, I cannot thank y’all enough for everything you’ve already done, and for everything I know you will do in the coming months.
If you want to send me your resume, photos, acting reel, etc, please email me directly at email@example.com