29 July 2010

5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part 19

There's a thing on Twitter called Follow Friday. Basically, you present a list of people that you recommend other people follow. It's a pretty popular idea and it makes everyone feel good. So with that in mind, I figure the least we can do for our wonderful Kickstarter backers is to give them a variant of the Follow Friday plug. So here they are, in order (well, some of them):


91. Joshua Bird: Josh "The Word" Bird went to college in Chattanooga, where we met at a Chattanooga Lookouts game and bonded over a mutual respect for Wily Mo Pena's formidable skills as a first base coach. When I left my super-competitive fantasy baseball league for a couple of years, Josh took over my team and turned it into a dominant powerhouse. The Yankees of the league, if you will. (Much like the Yankees, he often has the best record and then flames out in the playoffs.) Now we're in the same division, which means we have to tangle pretty often and either he ends up cursing Zack Greinke or I end up cursing Albert Pujols. For years he's promised to come see my movie if it ever plays in Annapolis, thinking clearly he'd never have to make good on that promise. And then he did. Muwhahahaha.


92. cdinucci0: a.k.a. Celeste DiNucci was the 2007 winner of the Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions, which pretty much makes her the smartest backer we've got. Originally from what we call in Maine "the other Portland" (Oregon), Celeste now lives in Philly, where she's busy putting together the Philadelphia Performing Arts Kitchen, a nonprofit production house "dedicated to supporting collaborations that are doing original, interdisciplinary, "devised" performance." It sounds like something right up our alley.


93. Meghan Walsh: As you could probably guess, there's a lot of people in the world with the name Meghan Walsh. I'm pretty sure she comes to us via Adam Woods, but I can't really narrow it down any more than that with any certainty. So let's see...here's my best guess: She might work for The Food Trust, which is a company that "works to improve the heath of children and adults, promote good nutrition, increase access to nutritious foods, and advocate for better public policy." And that totally sounds like someone who'd be friends with Adam.


94. Jade Gasper (@jadeofalltrades): Jade is, I think, the key person behind Mark It Alternative, a company that puts your company or organizational logo on all sorts of stuff like frisbees and water bottles and pens and whatnot. ooohhh, they even have a section for stuff under $1. But unlike a lot of those types of companies, they're green, locally focused, and a member of the Sustainable Business Network of Philly. Which means, basically, that they're good people.


95. michael montes (@michaelmontes): Michael Montes is a composer. He writes music for films. He makes albums. At least, that's what his website says. His bio, however, is much longer. He has 32 (!) IMDb credits as a composer, including an Oscar nominee for Best Live Action Short (it didn't win). You can listen to a ton of his work on this Muxtape page or you can buy them on iTunes. Seriously, buy them on iTunes. He's a cool guy (and pretty damned talented too).


Stay tuned for the rest of our backers! And, as always, you can still become a backer and get the same rewards as our other backers. Just click on the "Donate" button below and PayPal will take care of the rest.





Fish to Pond Ratio

I've been spending some time lately considering the problem of the fish to pond ratio. It's a simple enough idea: as a filmmaker (or really any artist), there's obvious value in having lots of resources at hand, but there's also the value of being one of the more well-known people in town. You lose the problem of competing with the big guns.

I guess the thing that's been bugging me is this: how big of a fish do I want to be in how big of a pond? And how big does that pond need to be for me to accomplish what I need to?

Or maybe, just maybe, there is no pond. Maybe the pond is really the ocean of film and I'm looking at this all wrong.

28 July 2010

Indies I Recommend: TILT

This is a new feature where I talk about indies that I personally recommend. I'll write more about this later, but for now I'm just going to steal something I wrote earlier. It's an important feature as one of the most important things we can do as a film community is tell people about things they might like. It's the best way to spread the word.

For this one, we're going to talk about a pretty great Kickstarter campaign that ends soon.


Let's talk about the TILT campaign. It's a campaign idea so very awesome that I wish I had thought about it first. Basically what they've done is created TILT: The Town and using Google Maps and some old-fashioned creativity, they've moved every single one of their backers into Brainerd, MN, given them their own stories and place in the community (I was a car mechanic!), and used that to expand the story. It's a fascinating combination of audience building and transmedia. It's also a lot of fun.

27 July 2010

5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part 18

There's a thing on Twitter called Follow Friday. Basically, you present a list of people that you recommend other people follow. It's a pretty popular idea and it makes everyone feel good. So with that in mind, I figure the least we can do for our wonderful Kickstarter backers is to give them a variant of the Follow Friday plug. So here they are, in order (well, some of them):


86. Patrick Lannigan: Patrick, a.k.a. The Irish Thug, is a poker-playing, uh, thug with a penchant for movies. He's currently working his way through the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die at his blog The Irish Thug. He was a damned fine lacrosse player in his day and graduated from Northeastern with a double major, which makes him way smarter than me. And probably way smarter than you.


87. Blake Irvin (@blakeirvin): Blake actually sold me the computer I'm typing this on, back when he worked at the Apple Store in Cranberry, PA. And yes, I need to get a new computer, as that was a long time ago. Blake and I went to the same college, where our circles would sometimes intersect, often at coffee houses and open mic things where Blake would play techo/dance music and I would, well, listen (I don't play any musical instruments). He's one of those guys who's ridiculously smart in ways I don't understand, other than realizing that he's very good at what he does. He's a passionate guy in that way and the scope of that is, simply put, often stunning. Check out his two blogs, I am so agree and ok boot.


88. Samuel Larson: Sam is one of the several backers who I know through poker. He's been a supporter of my work for awhile, having purchased a DVD in the past, which makes his super awesome. He has a keen sense of film, but an even better sense of economics and, more importantly, Minnesota sports. Minneapolis, by the way, is an amazingly cool city, one of my favorite places I've visited, even if the Metrodome was a terrible stadium. One of these days I'll have to check out the new park and, with any luck, Scott Baker will be pitching.


89. Lisa Chamblee: I thought I knew who Lisa Chamblee was, and spent a good chunk of time Googling, but was unable to find what I was looking for. If I'm thinking of the right person, then she has a Twitter account (which I can't find) and a blog (which I also can't find). Wait, scrap that. I'm thinking of someone else. But I'll venture a guess: the two people are connected somehow. I don't know how, exactly, but I bet they are. Regardless, thanks a million Lisa. We appreciate it. And if you're reading this, drop me a line. Let me know more about you.


90. Michael McWay (@Grand_Epic): Michael, who lives in San Francisco, writes the film blog Film as Folk Art. It's a new film blog, so take a minute and go check it out. Give the man some traffic in the beginning stages of film blogging because, really, the beginning posts are the hardest ones. You're not sure if anyone's even reading what you're writing and it can kind of feel like shouting into the abyss. But Michael's a smart guy, trying to find his film blog voice, so help him out. Give him some feedback. He'll be just fine.


Stay tuned for the rest of our backers! And, as always, you can still become a backer and get the same rewards as our other backers. Just click on the "Donate" button below and PayPal will take care of the rest.





Little known fact

Our old friends already know this (or, they might have an idea), but Up Country is not the first film I've made in the North Maine woods. Hell, it isn't even the second one (although the second one was a documentary that never really got released due to factors out of our control, but that's a story for a different day).

So sit back and enjoy the accidental verite film guard duty, in which two very intelligent people boil potatoes. They're standing in one of the Up Country locations, so this is also a bit of a sneak peak.



This is also the only film of mine I still show people that isn't on my IMDb page. Come on IMDb, get with the program.

I think I shot this on a Hi8 camera, or something. I don't remember. It wasn't my camera. It was, however, a finalist for some contest.

22 July 2010

5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part 17

There's a thing on Twitter called Follow Friday. Basically, you present a list of people that you recommend other people follow. It's a pretty popular idea and it makes everyone feel good. So with that in mind, I figure the least we can do for our wonderful Kickstarter backers is to give them a variant of the Follow Friday plug. So here they are, in order (well, some of them):


81. Shannon Black (@loreleileigh): Shannon pens the blog Chain of Gratuitous Episodes, a mostly film and television blog written from the heart of the Bible Belt (that poor, poor soul). And not just the normal Bible Belt, but Mississippi, which doubly scary. Shannon is big on the whole Oscar prediction game, and while we may not agree on Inglourious Bastards, anyone who singles out Colin Firth's performance in A Single Man as the best of the year clearly knows their stuff (although I guess she could just be a big Colin Firth fan). Shannon was very helpful in getting the word out about the campaign via the Twitter, and that makes her doubly awesome.


82. Leilani Holmes (@momentsoffilm): Leilani's directorial debut Death of the Dinosaurs was nominated for a British Independent Film Award in 2006, and her second film, Transference is due later this year. Leilani, primarily an actress who's studied on both sides of the pond, blogs over at Moments of Film where she found, much like I did, that Whatever Works was much more enjoyable than she feared it might be. Myself I think it has a lot to do with Larry David, but then again I'm a huge Larry David fan.




83. Sharlynn Verner (@farbeyondfrail): Shar spends her time these days in Kansas City as the better-looking half of the hit band far beyond frail. Their new EP Wonder is available at the Radiohead-styled "name your own price" thing (come on, don't be cheap) and you can find pretty much all their music on iTunes. I know Shar from way back in the day when we went to college together and she dated my friend Steve. Her family was from the area and a bunch of us used to go to their house for epic movie marathons, the most memorable of which was the Shaquille O'Neal marathon. A few brave souls actually stayed up all night watching, in order, Good Burger, Kazaam, Steel, and Blue Chips. I know what you're thinking: that sounds awful. It wasn't. It was much, much worse.


84. Sarah James (@ScareSarah): Sarah runs the UK based horror blog Scare Sarah, which writes about a ton of movies that have way too much blood for me to watch without getting sick. Have I mentioned that I have a weak stomach? I do. But speaking of blood, Sarah runs some kick-ass contests where her readers can win cool shit like this mug and this so very awesome mug from The Shining, which I must have. I simply must.


85. Dean Brandt (@dreamingant): Dean runs Dreaming Ant, which is without a doubt Pittsburgh's premiere DVD rental store. And since it's a DVD rental place and everyone knows that the coolest thing about the rental store is the staff picks, check out Dean's list, which is perhaps the longest staff pick list in the history of rental stores. No seriously, it's insane. And to give you an idea of Dreaming Ant's awesomeness, their all-time top rental? City of God. I know, right? So if you're in the Bloomfield area, stop by. Tell them I sent you.



Stay tuned for the rest of our backers! And, as always, you can still become a backer and get the same rewards as our other backers. Just click on the "Donate" button below and PayPal will take care of the rest.





UP COUNTRY Novella: Chapter 9

I've decided that in the process of raising $$ and working on Up Country (or whatever we end up calling it), to release the story in serialized novella form. Every $500 we raise, I'll put out another chapter. I'll be writing it (and revising it) as we go, so if we raise money faster than I can write, so be it. We've hit our goal, but we haven't finished the story yet. Enjoy!


[Carlton Cuse voice]

previously, on UP COUNTRY

[/Cuse]



Chapter 9

At first, it was nothing but silence and darkness.

The first thing to come back was the sound of breathing--heavy and labored, a little panicked. Then, birds chirping, the wind rustling, until finally John dared open his eyes.

Through the grass he could see a foot, then a leg. Paul was prone, not moving, and John was pretty sure he'd been shot. Without Paul, John knew he was fucked. It was simply a matter of the bad guys picking them off one by one. First Mark had been taken by the guy with an axe, and now Paul had been gunned down in a clearing. He wondered if there was more than one guy. Was the axe murderer working with the Guide? And if so, was there a third person? One guy he could elude. Two people, maybe. But three? Four?

On top of that, Paul was the one with the wilderness experience, the one who knew which berries you could eat and which were poisonous. John was pretty sure he could keep his bearings, but if he didn't know which way he was supposed to go, what good was that?

As John started to contemplate his next step, he noticed Paul's foot had moved. He was alive. But there was no telling if it was safe, so he had to stay quiet, he had to keep his voice down.

Psst

Paul's head whipped around and a sense of relief broke over his face. John held a finger over his lips and Paul nodded. They would have to communicate silently, using nothing more than hand gestures and lip reading.

"You ok?" John mouthed.

Paul nodded. "You?"

John nodded.

"Is it clear?" Paul couldn't see anyone, but wanted to be sure.

"Maybe?" John motioned for Paul to come toward the grass, and was careful to form the word, "Slowly."

Paul put his head down and used his elbows to work his way over to the grass. He angled himself to where he could have a better view of the clearing.

John made the universal signal for a gun with his hand and pointed toward the direction of the shot. It was the direction from which they had come. Could there be any doubt about the intentions?

Paul didn't need to do anything to communicate the next part. His face said it all. Paul was right. They couldn't go back to the camp. There was an axe and now a gun versus their knife. Going that way was out of the question. Mark's best chance was for them to find their way out and send the police in after him.

But first, they had to get the hell out of this clearing.

They looked around. The best they could tell, they were surrounded by woods. Logic dictated that their best move was to head for woods that were close, while being in the opposite direction from which they came.

John pointed over his shoulder and Paul nodded.

"On three"

John held up three fingers.

They both pushed themselves up onto their hands.

Two fingers.

Then their knees.

One finger.

Ready.

Go.

Hunched over, their heads down, they ran as fast as they could, trying to stay below the grass line whenever possible. The woods loomed. Another shot rang out, this one farther away (was it a warning shot?), and they threw themselves into the woods.

And still they ran, weaving in and out of trees, taking some solace in the fact that the tree trunks would at least deflect a bullet. The branches whipped at their faces, at their clothes, but they didn't care.

After a while, when John was reasonably sure they had put enough distance between themselves and the clearing, he slowed to a stop. Paul slowed too and they both took a minute to catch their breath.

Hands on their knees, they struggled for air and looked around. There was nothing but trees in every direction. Nothing looked familiar. Nothing looked any different than anything else.

Had they run father into the woods or closer to the highway? There was no way to tell. John pulled out his cell phone. There was still no service.

But at least no one was shooting at them. That was something, at least.



...to be continued...

These chapters will be free until a cliffhanger near the end when they'll only be for our backers. You can still become a backer and get the same rewards as our other backers. Just click on the "Donate" button below and PayPal will take care of the rest.






19 July 2010

5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part 16

There's a thing on Twitter called Follow Friday. Basically, you present a list of people that you recommend other people follow. It's a pretty popular idea and it makes everyone feel good. So with that in mind, I figure the least we can do for our wonderful Kickstarter backers is to give them a variant of the Follow Friday plug. So here they are, in order (well, some of them):


76. Yen Tan: Yen feature drama Ciao, was released theatrically in a bunch of cities a couple of years ago by Regent. Variety called it "A contemplative grace note". It won some awards. It even got a vote in the Muriel Awards for cinematography. He is also a pretty amazing designer, and is the guy behind all of the super cool posters that never stop coming out of Austin these days, as well as a bunch of other stuff. See, I told you he was good. Yen is currently prepping his next film.




77. Kirsten Bestor (@kirstenbestor): I'm so bad at names. I just realized that Kirsten went to the same college I did. To be fair, once I did forget my own middle name, so please don't take it personally Kirsten. Now that I've done some Facebook scanning, I think the pieces are starting to fall into place. She would have been a freshman my senior year, majoring in English. And even though I minored in English, I don't think we had any classes together (I didn't spend a lot of time on campus my final semester). I hesitate to say this, because I don't want to be wrong, but I think she was one of the roommates of a girl I was dating. At minimum, they're good friends. See, I kind of figured it out. These days, Kirsten is married, has 2 kids, and works at our old alma mater in the Cardiovascular Sciences Program (there's a Cardiovascular Sciences Program? Since when? See, this is what happens when you don't go to alumni functions.)


78. Jarrod Whaley (@jbwhaley): Mere days ago, Jarrod successfully funded The Glass Slipper, his second feature-length film, and has already begun filming. His first film, Hell is Other People premiered this last spring to sold-out shows at Cinequest, and then not-so-sold-out shows at Indies for Indies. But that's ok, because he's not bitter (right?). These days Jarrod lives in San Francisco with his girlfriend Ginger after living far too long in Chattanooga, TN. In a strange way, I feel oddly connected to Jarrod. We lived in Chattanooga at the same time (although I don't think we ever met) and now we're funding our second features at the same time. One might even think I'm stalking him. But I'm not, honest. Whoever told you that is a liar.




79. Brian Czarniecki (@briczar): Remember that play I was in that Dan Stiker directed? No? Oh. Well I'm not really sure how I ended up doing that. I'm not an actor. Oh sure, I gave a ground-breaking performance as a robot in a school play, but that was more an unwavering commitment to doing the voice than anything else. So, when Dan cast me in this play, I had no idea what the hell I was doing (or how the hell I even got there), and poor Brian was forced to play opposite me. The thing is, Brian is a really good actor, easily one of the best in Pittsburgh, and I'd put him in a damned film if he wasn't so damned busy. It would have been really easy for him to grumble about how bad I was, but he didn't. He took extra time to show me what I was doing wrong, some easy ways to do it better, stuff like that. It was immensely helpful. And when I'd suddenly add a string of profanity to my dialogue because I couldn't remember my lines, he went with it like it was in the script. A true pro.


80. Chris Cook: Chris Cook is a fine human being. Other than that, I don't know. There's a Chris Cook that's a friend of Gary King on Facebook, so that's possible, but that Kickstarter account didn't back Gary's campaign, so it seems unlikely. Chris Cook is just too common of a name to make a good guess. Even when I googled the email address listed, it came up empty. So Chris, whoever you are, thanks a bunch. And say hi. Let us know a bit about you.



Stay tuned for the rest of our backers! And, as always, you can join them!

18 July 2010

actual Kickstarter backer data

Some actual numbers from our Kickstarter campaign

I classified all our backers into three categories (friend, colleague, and stranger), the defining quality being how do I know them first? The "# %" is the percentage of backers and the "$$ %" is how much money they gave.




This is a breakdown of what day of the week people gave.




And this is the hour of the day, Eastern time.



Hopefully more to come.

The Cutting Room Floor

I talk with Casey Ryan of The Cutting Room Floor (@CuttingRoomMRB) about Up Country, Kickstarter, and what to do when you encounter a bear in the woods. Check it out!

Bonus crowdfunding

I know what you're thinking, "Why did no one tell me about this before now?" Well, that's a good question.

And sure, we've reached our goal, but that doesn't mean you can't join the list of our awesome backers and get in on some sweet rewards (including the chance to read the novella chapters before anyone else, and a free copy of the final couple of chapters that only our backers will get). The more money we can bring in, the easier it'll be to make the film. And we won't spend the money on caviar, we promise.

Check out the rewards on the Kickstarter page.

Then, simply click on the donate button below and PayPal will ask you for a dollar amount. And, viola! You're a backer. Just like all the cool kids.




16 July 2010

10 Tips for a Successful Kickstarter Campaign

So since my Kickstarter campaign recently hit it's goal (and still has time left!), I thought I'd give some thoughts that might help people who are planning to give this a shot.

1. Figure out your budget.

This won't be your goal, but figure out what the minimum number is that you need to make this film. If you get more, great. But this should be pretty easy to figure out. It doesn't need to be exact, just an estimate.

2. Figure out your rewards.

You want to make sure that your rewards have a low-cost way for people to see the film. The $10 download level is nice, as is the $25 DVD. Above all else, people want to see what they're donating money toward. Not all of them, but most, so have at least one level where people can see the movie for cheap.

Get creative with the rewards. See if you can team up with local businesses. Think outside the box.

3. Rewards cost money.

For each reward level, figure out what that'll cost you to produce. It seems obvious, but a lot of people forget that.

4. How many rewards?

One of the best things I found (and I've lost the link) is a survey someone did of 30 successful campaigns and the breakdown of backer levels. It was incredibly helpful in projecting how many DVDs I was going to have to make, for example, and how many posters I'd have to ship. These things add up. And as you can see, we pretty much were in range of the projections:



         Projected     Actual
$5.......22.31%......8.05%
$10.....26.77%.....24.14%
$25.....41.05%.....48.28%
$50........5.80%....11.49%
$100......3.57%......6.90%
$250......0.36%......0.00%
$500.......0.09%.....1.15%
$1000.....0.04%......0.00%
$2500.....0.02%......0.00%

From there you can calculate how many DVDs you'll expect to make for your goal. We projected 55 people at the $25 level. Don't forget that the $50 level people are also at the $25 level. Then, you can come up with an expected cost.

Add that to your budget.

5. Kickstarter tax

Then, of course, Kickstarter needs their money, as does Amazon. Add 8.5% to your total. Round up to a nice, even number and there's your goal.

6. Brother can you spare a dime?

Of course, if you don't tell anyone about your campaign, no one will give. It helps to line up a few sure things to get your campaign off to a strong start. That way it looks super popular. But don't burn all your sure bets. Hold on to some of them for when funding lags and you need a boost.

7. Conversation is key

You have to give people a reason to talk about your campaign. For UP COUNTRY I was writing the story as a serialized novella tied to the fundraising. Every $500 we raised, I wrote and released a chapter, which meant that every couple of days there was free content for people to digest. All the backers will end up getting all the chapters for free, but the free chapters will stop for everyone else before the end, giving people a reason to back the project, because there's nothing worse than a cliffhanger where you can't see the resolution. For those people, we'll probably sell the full novella as an eBook. We'll have hooked them (hopefully).

8. Thank you ______

This is probably the most important. The easiest way for your campaign to fail is for you to act like somehow the world owes you this. They don't. There's a recession on and people are just as hard up for cash as you are. So you need to thank them. And then you need to thank them again. Pretty much, fall over yourself thanking people.

One thing I did that people really liked was a series of posts called 5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part X where I did some searching and figured out who these people were, what made them tick, and then told everyone. A lot of them are filmmakers who have their own projects to plug. Help them with that. Tell everyone what these people are passionate about. It costs you nothing but time. And it will take some time. Do some digging and find whatever you can. Spend as much effort talking about the $1 donation as you do the $1000 donation.

9. There are no strangers.

You'll get money from people you don't know. But guess what? They aren't strangers. They're friends of friends. You just don't know their name, but 98% of the people who fund your film probably can be traced to someone you know.

So get people to talk about the project, to tell their friends. Who knows, you might make some new friends yourself.

10. Don't be scared.

Obvious but overlooked: if you don't tell people about your funding, they won't know about it. Try not to be a pest, but politely keep reminding them. You'll spend a lot of time doing this, but it'll take some people hearing about 10, 15 times before they pony up. Some people will just put it off. And some people are waiting to be a certain number backer or to put you over a certain $$ amount, so keep people updated.

It doesn't hurt to ask. Cast as wide a net as possible. You never know. You might get lucky.

15 July 2010

UP COUNTRY Novella: Chapter 8

I've decided that in the process of raising $$ and working on Up Country (or whatever we end up calling it), to release the story in serialized novella form. Every $500 we raise, I'll put out another chapter. I'll be writing it (and revising it) as we go, so if we raise money faster than I can write, so be it. The end won't come until after we hit our goal. Enjoy!


[Carlton Cuse voice]

previously, on UP COUNTRY

[/Cuse]



Chapter 8

John stood at the edge of the clearing, at the road delta, peering into the woods, looking for Mark. Even in the clearing, his cell was still without service.

All his life, he had heard the phrase "the silence was deafening" and assumed it was meaningless, an antiquated idea from a time long since dead. He understood it now. No matter how loud he called out Mark's name, no matter how frantically he yelled, the answer came back the same. Mark, his brother-in-law, was somewhere back there, somewhere between the safety of this field and the clutches of crazy axe murderer.

He wasn't all that fond of Mark. The kid could be kind of annoying, kind of a pain in the ass, but it was worth the domestic tranquility to try and get along with him. Or, at least to make some sort of an effort when the wife was around. But, really it was like that with all of her family. And it wasn't like they weren't polite to him. They were just...well, he just didn't like them. He wondered, sometimes out loud, if she was maybe adopted or something. Because, if you think about it, she didn't have a damned thing in common with her father.

But no matter his opinion of Mark as a human being, he was still family and he needed to make sure he was ok. He couldn't just leave him out there to fend for himself against that lunatic.

When he turned around to explain this, he noticed Paul was hurriedly putting something back in his pocket. He looked caught in the act, like a teenage shoving porn back under the bed as the bedroom door opened. It was a strange thing for Paul to do, but even stranger still was his insistence that they under no circumstances go back for Mark.

"Look," Paul said, regaining his composure, "he clearly can't hear you, so there's really only two things that could have happened back there. Either he got caught or he got away by running in a different direction. If he's caught, then he's fucked. He's dead or he's tied up in a hole somewhere and there's nothing we can do. We go back there to get him and it's a suicide mission."

"It's one guy. We could take him."

"With what, that knife? It's his territory. I'm pretty sure I saw a weapon. Do you even know which way we ran?"

"Not really."

"We don't even know it's just one guy. And if he ran the other way, there's no fucking way we'd find him."

Paul's reasoning made a lot of sense and John knew he was right, but he felt like he didn't have a choice. Like it or not, Mark was family. He had to do it, if for no other reason than his wife would never forgive him if he didn't. And that was a whole different kind of suicide mission. But, if by some miracle he could find Mark or, better yet, rescue him from the bad guy against all odds, he'd be a hero. It would be the ultimate marital trump card. Boy, dear, I don't know how that lipstick got on my collar. I mean, it couldn't have happened at work, or when I was saving your brother's life. So...beats me. It was worth a try.

"Paul, do what you want. I'm going after him."

John turned to head back into the woods when he felt Paul grab his arm and spin him around. Paul's eyes had a determination he'd never seen before.

"I don't know what you're trying to prove, but you can't go back there."

"I have to."

"No, we have to stay together if we're going to find our way out of here. There's no point in the three of us wandering independently around the woods. We're in a clearing, which is our best chance to signal someone for help. If we go back in there, we may never come back out."

"And Mark?"

"Mark's on his own now. We can't help him."

John took a deep breath. Paul was right, of course. "Fuck it. I'm going."

Paul sighed. "Ok, I'll go with you."

John turned back to the woods and the silence was shattered when a gunshot rang out. In the corner of his eye, he saw Paul drop like a rock. Out of reflex, he threw himself into the tall grass and covered his head.

There was only the one shot. The silence was back. He couldn't even hear himself breathing.

He didn't dare open his eyes.


...to be continued when our Kickstarter campaign hits $4,000...

5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part 15

There's a thing on Twitter called Follow Friday. Basically, you present a list of people that you recommend other people follow. It's a pretty popular idea and it makes everyone feel good. So with that in mind, I figure the least we can do for our wonderful Kickstarter backers is to give them a variant of the Follow Friday plug. So here they are, in order (well, some of them):


71. Jessica Fenlon (@drawclose): Jessica is a filmmaker and artist based in Pittsburgh. She's one of those artists who seems to do a little bit of everything, and I'm continually surprised by her range. She's on the board of Pittsburgh Filmmakers and writes for The New Yinzer, among other places. But really the best way to explain Jessica's work is to quote her:

The content of her work moves between two axis: the manual for wayward angels, material sourced in the joy of making and the wonder of strange imagination; and the poetics of annihilation, work produced in an attempt to reconcile the viewer with contemporary cultural trauma or some other difficulty of human history.

To see her film work in action, check out her entry in Public Domain Private Dominion, a found footage screening series that employs public domain works.




72. Jason Kirsch: You probably recognize Jason as the lead in Blanc de Blanc and he, of course, was fantastic. It was a small bit of luck that led us to him. We were on a pretty strict timeline and Jason was temporarily out of work, as the restaurant where he worked was undergoing renovations. He managed to swing us the part of the restaurant that was intact for a location and worked his ass off during shooting. I'd recommend casting him in a nanosecond. When the restaurant re-opened, it was re-named Plum and Jason got a promotion. So now he's super busy. But he makes one hell of a martini.




73. Chris Duranko (@duranko1332: I met Chris when he worked at the old Hollywood Theater and discovered that he also worked where I worked, which was odd, because I'd never seen him before. Of course, they did kind of keep me in the corner, away from other people, so maybe it isn't so odd. Chris is an up-and-coming, recently graduated film student. His website is still under construction, but until then, check out his reel:




74. Jaime N. Christley (@j_christley): Jaime writes for The House Next Door and Out, Damned Spot! among a number of other places. He's also the man behind Unexamined Essentials, a site that serves as "a directory of all of the films you should see, that you need to see if you claim to be a cinephile, a movie buff, a lover of the art form, etc., minus the films you likely already know about, i.e. 'the consensus classics.'" So, basically, a list of all the films you should see that you maybe haven't already. Pretty cool, no?


75. Kristine Young (@krismaggieyoung): Kris Young, a.k.a. Kris Werner, is an old friend from college. She and her brother Roland (who was in a lot of my classes) hail from Rochester. She has a healthy obsession with music, so it's little surprise that she married Dave Young, guitar virtuoso and sound genius. Together, they're the driving force behind Widget Studios, a Philly-based production company that turns our raw audio into gold. Back in 2007, I did some video work for them and managed to come down with a nasty case of strep throat, bad enough that I couldn't swallow for 3 days. Kris made me soup and forced me to drink vitamin C and insisted we go to the doctor. And because I'm a glutton for punishment, I kept editing. But if Kris and Dave hadn't forced me to see a doctor, well, I don't want to think about how badly that could have gone.



Stay tuned for the rest of our backers! And, as always, you can join them!

5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part 14

There's a thing on Twitter called Follow Friday. Basically, you present a list of people that you recommend other people follow. It's a pretty popular idea and it makes everyone feel good. So with that in mind, I figure the least we can do for our wonderful Kickstarter backers is to give them a variant of the Follow Friday plug. So here they are, in order (well, some of them):


66. Julie Coffin: Ok, we're going to take a shot in the dark here. The only Julie Coffin I can find is on Facebook and she's a mutual friend of two of our backers, Aaron Tainter and Ben Kennedy (who she's currently dating...oh, so that's her last name...). And, actually, Julie came to see Blanc de Blanc during it's multiplex run. Julie lived in Denver for awhile, but now resides in Portland, Maine, where she knows lots of hip artistic types.


67. Alonso Mejia (@Alonsomex): Alonso is a very talented cinematographer who lives in Mexico City and posts pretty often in Spanish. Even though I took two years of Spanish in high school, I really can't say a damned thing. Well, that's not true. When I lived in Chattanooga my friends Antonio and Sandra taught me this: la misma mierdes todos los pinches dias (hopefully I spelled that right). Anyway, I'm trying to figure out how we can get Alonso up here to shoot this project, as I think he'd pretty much be perfect for it. Check out his reel, which kicks ass:

Demo Reel Alonso Mejía, Cinematographer 2010 from Alonso Mejia on Vimeo.



68. 42 McKinstry: When young, innocent William McKinstry came to college in the fall of 1999, he was a late change to the roster. So late, in fact, that no one had even told his RA yet to change the name on the door. He was my neighbor, and since the name on the door said "Jeff", I welcomed Jeff to the floor, then proceeded to ignore his insistence that his name wasn't Jeff (It was on the door, after all). I then told everyone on the floor to only refer to him as Jeff. By the end of the first week, he'd stopped answer to anything other than Jeff, even in class. But Jeff is a pretty boring name, so every month we changed it, and ever the team player, he went along with it, only answering to his current name. Man did his professors really hate that. After his Freshman year, we settled on Milo (for the alliteration and the Catch-22 reference), but for one month it was 42. Milo is a lover of super-elaborate pranks and was very nearly kicked out of school for them. You learn very quickly that when asked if you know about any of his activities, you should claim ignorance. He's not allowed to drink any caffeine, else he won't sleep for a week, and he's kind of like a puppy. He's also one hell of a guy.


69. Jim Emerson (@jeeemerson): There's a good chance you've heard of Jim. Jim was a film critic for the Orange County Register, edited the multimedia CD-ROM Microsoft Cinemania, was a guest writer for a time on Saturday Night Live, and co-wrote the film It's Pat: The Movie. He is currently the editor-in-chief for a little webpage called RogerEbert.com and writes the essential companion blog scanners, which is easily one of the best film blogs around. But I don't need to tell you that. He also votes for the Muriel Awards and has 2 dogs that photograph well on Facebook.


70. thraveboy (@thraveboy: Reid Gershbein is the madman behind the #2wkfilm filmmaking challenge. Basically, for some reason Reid thought it would be a good idea to shoot and edit a film in a mere 2 weeks. Yes, shoot and edit. It's an insane idea, and I'm just stupid enough to take it up. His entry in the project was The Dabbler, the Dreamer, and the Man Who Broke the World, which you can watch for free and then make a donation to support the film. Likewise with his previous feature Here. My Explosion.... Reid lives in San Francisco where he has a day job at Pixar. Check out the trailer and, like, buy a DVD:





Stay tuned for the rest of our backers! And, as always, you can join them!

14 July 2010

5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part 13

There's a thing on Twitter called Follow Friday. Basically, you present a list of people that you recommend other people follow. It's a pretty popular idea and it makes everyone feel good. So with that in mind, I figure the least we can do for our wonderful Kickstarter backers is to give them a variant of the Follow Friday plug. So here they are, in order (well, some of them):


61. zahra (@fnafilms): Fellow Boston sports fan Zahra is the force behind FNA Films and the upcoming film Pissheads. Zahra is based in Gatesheeed in the UK (3 e's? Really? Is that a typo?), and I know what you're wondering: did this Red Sox and Pats fan move to the UK from Boston or is he a Brit who somehow got religion when it came to American sports? There's gotta be a story there, right? I do know one thing: Zahra would really like to join me in consoling the Steinbrenner family with the fact that at least he lived long enough to see the Red Sox win the World Series. Twice.

Pissheads Promo One from FNA Films on Vimeo.



62. Benjamin Kennedy: Ben is my oldest and best friend. We've known each other for way too long, probably longer than we've even been aware we were alive. He was going to be backer #3, but when our mutual friend Aaron beat him to it, he said the hell with it and put it off. Ben's family owns a cottage on a pond a mile from my childhood home, where I spent many, many summer days and they even shot part of Mel Gibson's A Man Without a Face. We've seen more Red Sox games together than I can count, and we were at Fenway when Mo Vaughn and Frank Thomas each hit 3 HR, and when John Rocker got a standing ovation because, well, he was probably the only person who hated New York as much as Red Sox fans. Only, the standing ovation was a sold out crowd clapping and booing at the same time (because, hey, we still think he's a horrible person). He threw 6 straight balls, none of them close, got pulled, and then got another standing ovation, this time for helping the Sox win. It was awesome. Anyway, I lived with Ben in Chattanooga, TN for a bit, and have many hundreds of times stayed up late at his place, playing Mario Kart and Risk into the wee hours of the morning. Ah...good times.


63. Daniel Stiker (@stikerd): Dan was going to give more money in exchange for me writing a rough draft of a play he's working on, but I'm having some writer's block issues on it, so I'm not sure it's going to happen before the deadline. But, you know, it's not like I'm not writing something else. Anyway, Dan's specialty is theater. He directed me in a play version of the Jerry Rubin novel DO IT! (I played David Dellinger, who was a pretty amazing guy). Dan later directed a play I wrote, on a building mid-afternoon somewhere in the world, which the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pointed out was nearly as long as the title. But most of you will recognize Dan's work as an actor. He was the lead in L'Attente and played the villain in Blanc de Blanc. And if I can, I'll try and figure out how to work him into this film too, but it might be tricky.




64. Tiffany Lowe: Tiffany's husband Everett was the lead in my first two short films, yesterday and window shopping. No, you can't watch them. They're terrible. But they're important going forward in this way: Everett's character in window shopping is reading a book which is supposed to be the book version of yesterday. He's not all that impressed with the book, especially with the main character. That book has appeared in every one of my films since, most notably in L'Attente (see above), and when mentioned directly, is always ridiculed. Look for it in this one. It'll be somewhere. Anyway, Tiffany also went to college with us. She's a fantastic cook and has an Oscar party every year, which I am now going to take the liberty of inviting you to. She won't mind, honest. Oh, and while you're there, make sure you add "bitches" to her grocery list.


65. Martin McClellan (@hellbox): Martin is based in Seattle where he's a writer and designer. He writes a column for McSweeney's, which I did not know until just now. See, I'm learning as we go, just like you are. As you'd expect from a designer, Martin has a really cool-looking webpage and two--two!--blogs: Hellbox, where he writes about movies and such, and Spitball!, where he writes about writing. He also works for msnbc.com, but that doesn't seem to be nearly as interesting as the other stuff.


Stay tuned for the rest of our backers! And, as always, you can join them!

UP COUNTRY Novella: Chapter 7

I've decided that in the process of raising $$ and working on Up Country (or whatever we end up calling it), to release the story in serialized novella form. Every $500 we raise, I'll put out another chapter. I'll be writing it (and revising it) as we go, so if we raise money faster than I can write, so be it. The end won't come until after we hit our goal. Enjoy!


[Carlton Cuse voice]

previously, on UP COUNTRY

[/Cuse]



Chapter 7

John ran faster than he had run in years, faster than he thought was still possible.

He had never seen eyes that contained so much hatred, so much hunger, so much pure evil. In his mind's eye they were yellow, almost glowing, like a wolf or a coyote or a bear, ready to tear him limb from limb at the slightest provocation. The sort of eyes that haunt your dreams. Had he been mistaken? No, there was a weapon--an axe or a spear or a sword, something sharp and painful. It was a man protecting something, defending his turf, and he had intruded.

He ran like a man possessed, blindly down the road. Branches whipped his face.

He knew he should look back to make sure Paul and Mark had gotten away. He had yelled to them, hadn't he? The moments after he had come across those eyes had been something of a blur, so he couldn't be certain, but he thought he had yelled something. At minimum they would have a head start on the psychopath and should be able to outrun him. Mark, especially, was young and somewhat athletic, but he wasn't sure about Paul. How fast could he run? He knew Paul was older, but couldn't be sure how old, exactly.

He ran some more.

Paul had been on one knee, wiping blood on the grass when John had fallen away from the shed and bolted. On closer inspection, Paul saw the blood had been smeared on the rock with a wide brush and had started to dry and turn brown. He figured it was still relatively fresh, and was about to make a more thorough investigation when he had heard John's panicked yells of Run, run. Fuck me, run. His right hand was still on a rock for support, so he used it to push himself up and followed John's lead.

He looked back briefly to see a man lumbering out of the shed. That was all he needed to see.

The wind rushing past his ears, his heart pounding, John tried to focus his attention. He thought back to his high school track days, trying to remember his coach's tips. He pumped his arms, lengthened his stride, and was careful not to turn around, lest he slow himself down. Plus, he figured whatever was going on back there, however close the axe murdering serial killer might or might not be, it was probably best that he not know. He remembered a story he'd once heard, something about how you don't have to outrun a bear, you just have to outrun the guy next to you. It was enough to know there were two people between him and danger. All he had to do was stay in the lead.

And so he ran, down the road, ducking to avoid low-hanging branches. When he came to a fork in the road, he took it.

In his fishing boots, Paul struggled to keep up with John. He could see John up ahead, pulling farther ahead. John would vanish from view when the road turned, then reappear when it straightened out again. Paul tried to call out for John to keep up, but he was having trouble drawing enough air into his lungs and his cries came out as nothing more than the wheezes of a desperate man. He feared John would run too far ahead and be gone for good.

John's lungs burned. He had no idea how far he had run (A mile? Two?) when the road emptied into a clearing. He kept going.

Paul saw John reach the clearing and figured it might be his last opportunity to get his attention, so he slowed his pace in order to gather the resources for one last scream. He shortened his step and the shift in stride put him off-balance. He never saw the root that caught his toe, sending him tumbling to the ground.

"John!"

John slowed when he heard his name and turned around to see Paul face down in the dirt, scrambling to get back up. He ran back to help and readied the knife in anticipation of the madman, should he come barreling around the corner, but he didn't appear. It was oddly quiet.

Had they lost him?

Paul was on all fours, struggling for breath. His hat was gone. His face was flushed crimson. The fall had knocked the rest of the wind out of him. It took him a minute to speak.

"Who the fuck was that?"

John bent over, his hands on his knees. He had no idea. "You ok?"

Paul nodded. "More or less."

It was another minute before either one of them spoke. John straightened up. "Hey Paul?"

"Yeah?"

"Where's Mark?"

They turned around, looking back in the direction of the camp. There was no sign of Mark. No one was yelling. They couldn't even hear someone running through the woods. It perfectly quiet. Too quiet. There was no sound at all.



...to be continued when our Kickstarter campaign hits $3,500...

5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part 12

There's a thing on Twitter called Follow Friday. Basically, you present a list of people that you recommend other people follow. It's a pretty popular idea and it makes everyone feel good. So with that in mind, I figure the least we can do for our wonderful Kickstarter backers is to give them a variant of the Follow Friday plug. So here they are, in order (well, some of them):


56. Kevin Goldstein (@Kevin_Goldstein): I'm in this hyper-competitive fantasy baseball league where each of the 16 teams has a 20 player minor league squad and we've gone to the trouble in installing a rule against drafting players still in high school. I used to have a lot of time to research prospects, but now I don't so much anymore, which is where Kevin comes in. Kevin is the prospect guru over at Baseball Prospectus, the ultimate destination for a hardcore baseball fan like myself. He was pretty much the first guy to start hyping Neftali Feliz, and that worked out pretty well. He writes daily updates that are one of the first things I read in the morning. Now that I don't have so much time, I pretty much just go off of Kevin's Top 11 Prospects write-ups. And you know what? My team is a lot better for it. If you're even a casual baseball fan, you need to be reading (and subscribing to) Baseball Prospectus.

Ed. note: If you're in my fantasy baseball league, you probably should disregard that.


57. Steve Michalik: Steve and I went to college together, where he roomed with Aaron O'Neil, the guy who taught me how to edit. I spent a good number of hours in Steve's room playing Mario Kart when I should have been studying. He majored in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, which means that Steve is a whole lot smarter than I am. Facebook tells me he has 3 kids (really? 3? wow), and I know he has a strong love of NASCAR. Actually, the only way I know the NASCAR season has started is when Steve starts posting about it in my news feed.


58. blim8183 (@benlim): Ben Lim lives in Brooklyn where he writes the film blog Lucid Screening. He's a pretty hard-core soccer fan, which means he's been camped out in front of a TV for the last month, but that's to be expected. Ben directed the short film Gas, which played at STIFF, but other than that, I can't seem to find anything about it. Really, though, to summarize Ben, you really need to read Stages of a Cinephile. It's awesome.

EDIT: Gas has been found. I must be getting tired if I managed to miss a vimeo page.

Gas from Benjamin Lim on Vimeo.



59. Simon Abrams @simonsaybrams): Simon is a film critic for The L Magazine, The New York Press, and Slant Magazine. I know. Impressive, right? Like all awesome people who write about film, Simon is one of the illustrious Muriel Award voters. He did name Ravenous the best film of 1999, which means that on some level, he's crazy.


60. Brian Covey (@dv0rak: Brian comes to us via Kent Beeson's Twitter telethon. He works at the Omni Group, where they make productivity apps for the iPhone and iPad. Other than that, I don't really know much about him, so here's his bio:

Brian is something of an anomaly amongst the members of The Omni Group, since he didn't enter college until well after he could legally operate a motor vehicle, thinks that Portland is still far cooler than Seattle, and believes that Babylon 5, not Star Wars, is the definitive science fiction work of the latter half of the twentieth century. (Firefly, of course, is the first great work of the twenty-first, though Battlestar Galactica was comin' on strong for a season or two.) These deadly secrets will undoubtedly destroy him should they ever be discovered, so guard them well, my friend.


Stay tuned for the rest of our backers! And, as always, you can join them!

13 July 2010

5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part 11

There's a thing on Twitter called Follow Friday. Basically, you present a list of people that you recommend other people follow. It's a pretty popular idea and it makes everyone feel good. So with that in mind, I figure the least we can do for our wonderful Kickstarter backers is to give them a variant of the Follow Friday plug. So here they are, in order (well, some of them):


51. Heather Kafka (@heatherkafka): Heather is an acclaimed actress who has made me promise not to go all crazy talking about her, so I won't. But we compromised with this: Heather is the lead in the Sundance favorite Lovers of Hate, a film LA Weekly called "...the most exciting American indie I've seen in a while." IFC picked it up, so you should be able to see it either in a theater near you, on the DVD, or onDemand, depending on various factors. LOH also includes the work of at least 2 other backers: David Lowery, who did the cinematography, and Adam Donaghey, who co-produced. It was exec-produced by the Duplass Brothers. Check out the trailer.




52. Mike Day (@Mauk2678): Mike and I graduated from the same private high school (Coastal Christian School), albeit years apart. I think his older sister was in my brother's class. As a result, my memories of Mike are pretty vague (I'm getting old. I'm starting to forget stuff.), so I really know him better via Facebook than real life. He's a rarity in CCS alumni, a kindred liberal spirit who backs Obama and gay marriage and all sorts of things that the Religious Right freaks out over. There aren't very many of us, so we've gotta stick together.


53. William Speruzzi: William is the author of This Savage Art, a blog billed as "a steady diet of obsessive cinema and screenwriting in the dark." He doesn't update it all that often, same with his Tumblr page Red Meat & Black Coffee, but when he does, it's totally worth it. He wrote and directed the 18 minute film The Face of the Earth, which you can watch here and get on DVD here. He lives in Brooklyn, where he cheers for the Yankees. Considering what happened earlier today, I'll give him a pass on that.


54. The Annapolis Pretentious Film Society (@PretentiousFilm): Let's say you're a filmmaker and you've got a really cool feature you want to start showing at venues around the country. What to do? Where to go? Well, the venue at the top of your wish list isn't in LA or NYC, it's in Annapolis. The Annapolis Pretentious Film Society, curated by Pericles and Lisa DeLucia Lewnes, is one of the best screening series in the country. They bring in a wide variety of thought-provoking films to an inquisitive and engaged audience and they treat their filmmakers like royalty. You can't go wrong with APFS, either as a filmmaker or a viewer. In fact, making this film good enough to screen at APFS is one of our top goals. Check out fellow backer Gary King at APFS:




55. Pericles Lewnes (@loopmovie): The man behind APFS, Pericles Lewnes shot to cult fame in the 80's when he directed the Troma classic Redneck Zombies, which was, for a time, the answer to a Trivial Pursuit question. Pericles has worked with Ang Lee and Ted Hope, used to be a NYC cab driver (I can personally attest to the fact that he can still navigate NYC like a cabbie), and now lives in Annapolis with his wife Lisa. He is, quite possibly, the nicest person in the indie film community. In 2007 he made his second feature, the Lynchian mind fuck LOOP, a film about fear and chaos in the aftermath of 9/11. It's one of the most interesting and compelling films around. I promise you've never seen anything like it. It's something of a masterpiece.





Stay tuned for the rest of our backers! And, as always, you can join them!

12 July 2010

5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part 10

There's a thing on Twitter called Follow Friday. Basically, you present a list of people that you recommend other people follow. It's a pretty popular idea and it makes everyone feel good. So with that in mind, I figure the least we can do for our wonderful Kickstarter backers is to give them a variant of the Follow Friday plug. So here they are, in order (well, some of them):


46. Stephen Mullen: Stephen Mullen (a.k.a. weepingsam) is the man behind the film blog The Listening Ear. He has a peculiar love for foreign language cinema, but recently he's been writing about the World Cup. The cat in his Facebook profile photo looks, well, evil. Anyway, his blog has a wealth of information on it. Take, for example, this post about Blue Velvet.


47. Matthew: I have a suspicion I know who this is. Problem is, I'm only like 50% sure that it's that Matthew and not one of 3 or 4 other people named Matthew that might back us. So...will the real Matthew please stand up?


48. Rachel Shaw (@rachelvshaw): Rachel is an actress who played the female lead in my last two films. She's also helped write and produce our epic film Blanc de Blanc, which was a big huge awesome hit and recently had a 1-week run in a multiplex. She lives on the outskirts of Pittsburgh with her husband Pete (who's a fantastic chiropractor, by the way) and her 3 year-old son Liam (you may remember Liam as the contents of Rachel's pregnant belly in gravida). She has another kid on the way. She was really appreciate it if you bought yourself a copy of Blanc de Blanc. The DVD will be out later this year.




49. Joanna Stocker: Joanna is one crazy bitch. I met Joanna during a 12 hour car ride between Maine and Pittsburgh in my freshman year of college. I rode with her and her sister Elizabeth and for the next 2 years, we made that long, long trip together. She never drove, but she did a fantastic job of keeping me awake, although she was in the car when I drove into a semi-truck on I-80. For the rest of that trip, I needed no help staying awake. She lives in Augusta, Maine now and when I'm in town we try and meet for either Chinese food or beer, sometimes both. She is one of our most ardent supporters. If you see her, help the rest of the people we went to school with convince her to move. Philly and Pittsburgh are fighting over her.


50. Sam Ippolito: Sam lives in Pittsburgh where he runs the blog Pittsburgh Indie Movie Examiner, a valuable resource for the people of Pittsburgh to learn what's happening in the world of indie film, as it relates to them. He casts a wider net than the Post-Gazette, or even City Paper (although Al Hoff at City Paper does a fantastic job). I met him when he one of the regulars at Indies for Indies. He wrote of the series that it was "something cinephiles can cherish and look forward to." and said of fellow backer Amir Motlagh's Whale: "the film, especially in its quieter moments, has a dream-like quality that rewards the viewer with its insight into just trying to be able to juggle life's hardship with an innate desire to just enjoy life." It's a great blog, a must-read for Pittsburgh indie aficionados.



Stay tuned for the rest of our backers! And, as always, you can join them!

5 of the Greatest People in the World, Part 9

There's a thing on Twitter called Follow Friday. Basically, you present a list of people that you recommend other people follow. It's a pretty popular idea and it makes everyone feel good. So with that in mind, I figure the least we can do for our wonderful Kickstarter backers is to give them a variant of the Follow Friday plug. So here they are, in order (well, some of them):


41. Michael Parent: Michael is one of my Facebook friends, which as we all know, is a bond stronger than blood. He lives in Quebec City (where I once had a great vacation as a kid) and as someone who's favorite quote comes from Truffaut ("Film lovers are sick people") is clearly a man with whom I have much in common. His employer is listed in French, so I have no idea who that might be (or if it's even relevant), even though I once made a film entirely in French.


42. Kent M. Beeson (@Kza): Kent is a fellow Muriel voter and author of the fantastically titled blog The Kent M. Beeson of Western Civilization. I'd write more, but I doubt I'll top his self-penned bio, so here it is:

Kent M. Beeson has three kids. Three kids! Jesus! How the hell did that happen? Biology's a weird, weird thing, man. If you told him ten years ago that he'd have three kids, he would've thought you must've meant like robot kids or something, you know, life-size tamagotchis, shit like that. But no, these are the real deal, flesh, blood, all of it. And he knows they're his, too, 'cause where else would they get those fat cheeks and stubby noses? Man, DNA's a bitch. Anyway, when he isn't busy raising his three non-robotic progeny, Kent sometimes squeezes in some writing, usually some fiction, but he's just as likely to simply pass out.


43. Caroline Shaw (@amomslove): Caroline Shaw, mother of actress Rachel Shaw, is one of our most ardent supporters, always volunteering to help spread the word either via social media or help in writing a press release or whatever else comes to mind. Her husband Bernie has been known to drive and pick up rental equipment when no one else could and I once borrowed his van for the gravida shoot, after which I hit a deer at 2am after a 18-hour shoot. That was a long day. Caroline is the voice behind A Mom's Love, a "monthly online magazine chock-full of insightful articles for busy mothers." Check it out!


44. Laura (@quadraticmedia): Ok, I'm doing a little deductive reasoning here. Based on the timing of the Kickstarter email and a tweet in support of the project, I think Laura is the Laura K. of Quadratic Media. Honestly, I don't know a whole lot about them, but they have a pretty cool webpage. So let's pull from that webpage. QM is billed as "a creative culture label for ambitious ideas. A multi-disciplinary media lab, we produce, curate, and distribute content for culture hungry audiences." Our Laura would then be Laura Kleger, who according to LinkedIn, works at the Guggenheim. Wow. As we say up here in Maine, she seems to be right wicked smaht, ayuh. She also is a producer on The Discoverers, a reenactment comedy. Check out the teaser.

The Discoverers | An indie film coming soon from Quadratic Media on Vimeo.



45. Rich Engel: Rich is the Director of Marketing and Communications for Pittsburgh Filmmakers, a school for the digital arts that also runs three of the art house theaters in Pittsburgh. He's also the point man for the Three Rivers Film Festival (now taking submissions for shorts), the largest festival in Pittsburgh. They programed gravida in 2007, where it was in the shorts competition. He also has a blog, which he updates sporadically.



Stay tuned for the rest of our backers! And, as always, you can join them!

UP COUNTRY: Chapter 6

I've decided that in the process of raising $$ and working on Up Country (or whatever we end up calling it), to release the story in serialized novella form. Every $500 we raise, I'll put out another chapter. I'll be writing it (and revising it) as we go, so if we raise money faster than I can write, so be it. The end won't come until after we hit our goal. Enjoy!


[Carlton Cuse voice]

previously, on UP COUNTRY

[/Cuse]

Chapter 6

To call it a road was...generous. Sure, it fit some definition of a road--chiefly, you could drive a truck down it--but it was little more than two tire tracks in the woods. Despite the fact that the bridge had been gone for what seemed to be several years, the road looked to be somewhat recently used. Paul guessed that someone had been driving ATVs across the brook, or perhaps a truck with 4 wheel drive when the water was low, but the traffic had done little more than maintain the integrity of the ruts. The trees hung over, creating a gauntlet of branches under a canopy that blocked out the sun. They could only see thirty or so feet until it made a gradual right turn and was eaten up by the forest. It could at best be described as a tunnel through the woods that was just barely big enough to fit a vehicle.

John was pretty certain that this road would lead them to the highway, or at least to a dirt road, so without discussion he started down it. And really, what was there to discuss? They could either follow a river or a road and a road was, at very least, man-made. It seemed to be taking them in the general direction from which they came, so it was something of a no-brainer. It never occurred to him to ask the others.

And so they walked, John in the lead, for a quarter mile until the road came to an intersection. To the left the road spread out a bit, opened up into something a little more spacious. Straight ahead appeared to be more of the same. But through the trees to the right, there was a building.

They had found their way out.

John motioned for Paul and Mark to catch up and they all stood there for a minute, staring at what appeared to be a hunting camp.

It was a small camp, placed in among the trees with a semi-attached shed over to the right. The trim and the porch had long ago been painted green. The shingles on the roof were badly in need of repair. It was obvious this building had been around for decades, if not longer. But in the area in front of it someone had gone to the trouble of doing basic masonry around a campfire and there was firewood stacked in the small clearing that served as a yard. As abandoned as the camp itself looked, it wasn't.

John went first, walking about half-way before he started calling out to no one in particular. Hello? Is anyone there? There was no answer, so he walked the rest of the way and stepped up on the worn, knotted planks that made up the porch. The camp was covered in gray shingles (had they always been gray?) that looked similar to the ones on the roof, only a different color. There was a hunting knife with a 6-inch blade jammed into the windowsill. John set his fishing pole down against the gun rack nailed to the wall and pulled the knife out of the wood, gripping it as a weapon. He slowly opened the wooden door, then the screen door patched with duct tape. It slammed shut behind him.

Once inside, it took John's eyes a second to adjust, to focus. Despite the fact that there were four rather large windows, the camp didn't seem to get a lot of sunlight except for on the white table to John's left. It was old and chipped, but looked new compared to the linoleum on the floor, which was cracked and peeling beyond recognition. In some spots it was non-existent. From the gas lamps that hung from the ceiling, John surmised that there wasn't any electricity. He was right. They were too far from a power line for it to even be an option. To the right there was a sink, but the spigot had been taken out and taped over, and a metal bucket with quite possibly the original version of the "All" logo was turned upside down inside it. There didn't appear to be a single thing in the camp that wasn't older than John himself.

Hello?

Straight ahead was a wood stove, and behind that there appeared to be another room.

Is anyone there?

John pushed the curtain back to reveal bunk beds, two queen sized mattresses with another two more on the other side of a partial wall. The mattresses were lumpy and stained. John could see where a mouse had ripped out a good deal of stuffing and made a nest, exposing the metallic spring. There was a duffel bag on the floor and a sleeping bag rolled out on the top bunk, but no one was in the camp itself.

Outside, Paul and Mark looked around. Mark made a slow circle around the perimeter. Paul looked at the wood pile and spent a few minutes in the middle of the yard, taking in the surroundings while John went inside. There was a rusted out oil drum that had been used to burn garbage. He could see that the campfire had been recently used, as there was a tiny bit of smoke coming from it. He bent down to take a closer look as John came back outside.

"Anything?"

"No, but someone's been here. I'm going to check the shed."

The shed had been built more recently than the camp, but was in worse shape. There were gaps in the boards and from the smell, John could tell that at least part of the shed functioned as an outhouse. The door was shut. He walked across the porch and reached to open it.

Paul shifted his weight to get a better look at the fire, to maybe get an idea of just how long ago it had been used. He reached his hand out for a rock to steady himself and it landed on something sticky. Annoyed, he went to wipe what he assumed to be pitch on his pants, but it wasn't pitch. It was a dark red. He touched it to his tongue.

Blood.

The rock was covered in blood.

"Oh my God. Uh, John?"

John had the door to the shed half open when he noticed the silhouette of someone standing in the corner. He was heavy-set, hadn't shower or shaved in weeks, and looked as if he had been living out here for months, maybe more. But John didn't see that. What he saw was a crazed, maniacal look in the man's eyes and the gleam of light reflecting off whatever metal object was in his hands.

"Holy shit." He stumbled back and gripped the knife tighter.

The man took a step toward him and started to swing the metal object through the air.

"Oh fuck!" John scrambled off the porch, nearly tripped on the uneven ground, and took off.

"Paul! Mark! RUN!"




...to be continued when our Kickstarter campaign hits $3,000...

There was an error in this gadget