It’s easy to worry obsessively over how much we have left to do. Let the worry grow and grow and flower into panic. Back in September, when we decided to shoot in February, it really sounded like enough time to leisurely make a movie. Hahahaha. “Leisurely” + “make a movie” = hahahahaha. The time between Thanksgiving and New Years passes so quickly it basically doesn’t even happen. CUT TO FLOWERING PANIC.
So I’m going to take a deep breath and think about the stuff that is coming together, things that remind me to be grateful. I want to fill all the loose spots in my jittery brain with reasons to feel calm and ready.
1 – Serena Hedison.
This woman is very largely responsible for the fact that any of this is happening. She’s a treasure. I treasure her.
2 – My family.
My parents. My aunt Anna Marie. My sister-in-law Megan (who is currently selling the finest letterpress calendar it it possible to buy, for a ridiculously low price). My parents-in-law. My cousin Stuart. My cousin Cathleen.
My mom offered to cook meals for crew. My dad-in-law offered legal services to form the LLC. I am buoyed and deeply moved by the ways my family supports this effort. I’m hearing a lot of “I’m so excited for you, how can I help?” from people who mean it, and this is a well I draw from when things seem literally impossible.
3 – Seed & Spark.
More on this soon, but I truly believe that this is the model everyone will be using. This is the future of independent filmmaking.
4 – Imani Coppola.
The song she wrote for the film is finished and it’s wonderful. Alexis and I have kept it on a loop for days. I know that Imani is a gifted songwriter and one of the most creative and interesting performers in the world, but this song still exceeded my expectations by miles and miles and miles. It’s called “Don’t Skip A Beat,” and it will be on every party playlist I make for the rest of my life.
The song will be a donation perk when we fundraise, and also plays during a sweet and pivotal scene in the film itself. I use a piece of it in the teaser. It is the anthem of this movie and of this project. Oh my god, it’s good. I can’t wait for everyone else to hear it. I feel like I’m hoarding something beautiful, but as of December 1st, it will be gloriously unleashed on the world.
WOW. We’re making a movie. I’m so fucking excited to make this movie.
As part of our fundraising page on Seed & Spark, we need to have a video. Many videos on kickstarter pages have an interview with the creative team, but I wanted to see if we could do something a little more interesting. So I wrote a 2ish minute short that works in tandem with the feature, but is totally separate content. Like a DVD extra.
This past Wednesday, Alexis and I borrowed a camera from the very nice guys at Toy Closet Films and asked some favors of a few actor friends. We shot it all out in about four hours.
I asked the unbelievably talented and kind Claire Coffee to star in the short. She has read more that six versions of the script over the past year, and has given me desperately needed encouragement and consistently great advice. Do you even know how unreasonable it is to ask someone to read your feature script multiple times? That is a straight up ridiculous thing to do to someone. But Claire was always gracious and totally cool about it. More than once, her feedback pulled me back from a ledge of self-doubt and anxiety. This girl is the type of friend we all want to have and hope we can be to others.
The other part of the short involves a young family picnicking in Prospect Park. I asked my friend Kim Griffin, who I’ve known since we were 16 and Cherubs at Northwestern’s summer acting program. She is a brilliant actress, and is about to star in the feature A LOTUS TIL RECKONING. Her husband, Brendan Griffin, just wrapped Clybourne Park on Broadway. Their son Liam is the cutest fucking thing in the world.
This shoot reminded me that I’m a fool for not having more roles for women in my film. My next script will rectify this, I promise.
The teaser goes live on Dec 1st when our fundraising page launches! There is so much about this film that I cannot wait to share.
I’ve been a fan of Imani Coppola since Legend of a Cowgirl, which I played on repeat through much of high school. Through the unlikely magic that is New York City, she’s actually now a good friend. When writing the script, I put in a character named Gema Fund, a pop star from 300 years in the future. Gema doesn’t make an appearance in the film, as it takes place entirely in modern day Brooklyn, but she’s referenced repeatedly, and the Rachel character at one point sings part of a Gema Fund song. I also imagined a real, produced version of that song playing during the closing credits. When picturing Gema, I always saw Imani.
When I boldly asked Imani if she’d be up for writing a song for the film, she said yes (because she’s not only talented and beautiful, she’s also deeply, extraordinarily kind). She suggested a trade – would I edit one of her music videos? I said HELL YES I WILL LET’S DO THIS.
She’s still working on the song for the film, but here’s what I cut together for her:
One of the things I’m most excited about with this project is the opportunity to collaborate with artists I admire. I could not be happier that one of the most stylish New Yorkers is part of our team.
A little less than a week ago, Hurricane Sandy made a mess of things in New York and New Jersey. The lucky ones – like Alexis and me, in a high-ground part of Brooklyn – have felt stranded, subway-less, our lives put on hold. Then there’s lower Manhattan, where Serena lives, which was without power or water for days. And of course Staten Island and parts of New Jersey are still in desperate straits.
This is when asking people for money, or preparing to ask people for money, to make a film feels… Ridiculous. Offensive.
And yet – I have to believe that this is the point of art. To exist in the face of misery and give people something else to look at. And this is a story about Brooklyn, which will be fully shot in Brooklyn, hiring New York City locals, eating food from Brooklyn restaurants, renting equipment and uniforms and picture cars and whatever else from this area.
I’ve lived in this city for 12 years, and I love it. I love it. That is something that New Yorkers all have in common: we want to be here. We have to want it, it’s too hard to live here for it to be an accident, and for most of us, that required coming from somewhere else. We were all drawn to this place because it is magnetic and difficult and worth loving.
So I wrote a New York story. And I still intend to tell it.