Tag Archives: independent film

Jenni Spiro’s empowering rock song ‘Hey You’ to close ‘Over the Line’

The moment I heard ‘Hey You,’ I knew this was the song that had to accompany the dramatic closing scene of our film! Its riveting message and driven performance combine with the final shot for the movie’s perfect ending.

Jenni Spiro has made quite the reputation for herself as a performer here in New Jersey as well as up and down the east coast. Her writing is powerful, and her guttural delivery is reminiscent of artists like Pat Benatar and Melissa Etheridge.

Regionally, Jenni has rocked out regularly with the popular Jersey band The Benjamins. She also performs solo and duo acoustic gigs along the east coast.

A native of Lake Hopatcong, NJ, Jenni was born into a musical family. Her father is the keyboard player/vocalist for The Nerds, and her mother is bassist and lead vocalist for several Jersey-based bands. Jenni’s talent was first chronicled at the age of three by a reporter who saw her singing pitch-perfect covers atop a milk crate. By the age of seven, she was writing songs. And by 15, she had already mastered the bass and acoustic guitar.

Jenni Spiro joins a talented New Jersey/New York cast and crew that includes director/producer Mathieu Abric, score composer Landon Knoblock, and actors Stacey Van Gorder,  Cronin Cullen and Saba.

A co-production with Cloudy Sky Films, “Over the Line” is a dark comedy about a woman facing a self-imposed judgment day with wit and irreverence.

The script for “Over the Line” has won numerous screenplay competitions. Currently in the final stages of post-production, the film will be seen at film festivals during the second half of 2018 and throughout 2019 as a prelude to distribution.

Listen now to Jenni Spiro’s “Hey You” at Reverb Nation.

###

Image caption:
Jenni Spiro’s song “Hey You” has been tapped to close the film “Over the Line,” currently in post-production.

Closing in on the completion of our second film!

We’re about a month away from a final cut of “Over the Line,” our second short film!

So much was learned during the making of these two movies…not only about the process, but also about what it’s like working with different partners, collaborators, actors and crew. It’s become so obvious that no two film projects will ever be alike, for better or worse! But that’s an entirely different blog entry to follow in a couple of weeks. Right now, I just want to catch everyone up on the status of film #2:

Since shooting was completed in March, “Over the Line” has been in a constant state of post production! As you may recall, we shot the film entirely on green screen. To date, here’s what’s been accomplished:

• A preliminary rough cut was assembled. This was quite a task, as we never had the entire cast on set at one time! Yet, under our director’s supervision, everything flows so smoothly!

• The green screen was then removed.

• The background was then shot separately.

• Another rough cut was then assembled with backgrounds in place.

• And a final rough cut was edited just last week.

Here’s what happens next:

• Landon Knoblock has signed on to compose the original score. He will sit down next week with me and co-producer Shari Spiro to “spot” the rough cut for music.

• Saba, our director and editor, will perform color correction, sound editing, ADR and sound mixing while Landon composes and records the score.

• Once these steps are completed, the score will be edited in, as will the credits and the closing song, written and performed by popular New Jersey rocker Jenni Spiro.

A more detailed post as described above will be published soon. In the meantime, please visit the film’s website at www.overtheline-movie.com for cast and crew info as well as a full gallery of shooting images.

P.S.–It’s come to my attention that I have not been receiving all of the emails sent through this site. I am in the process of troubleshooting the problem. In the meantime, if you have written and have not received a reply from me, contact me directly at RMMessinger@gmail.com with “WORD PRESS” in the message bar. Sorry for any inconvenience!

Dongmei finishes its festival run!

Director/Producer Cedric Hill and Writer/Producer Bob Messinger were on hand in Las Vegas this month as “Dongmei” finished its festival run at the Hollywood Dreamz International Film Festival. Lead actress Heidi Li was also nominated at the festival as best actress in a short for her performance in the film.

Over the year, “Dongmei” has been screened in festivals such as the Indie Gathering International Film Festival, the AOF Film Festival, the Selenite Film Festival, the Depth of Field Film Festivals and others.

We are currently looking at various means of online distribution. Stay tuned for more info!

Bob Messinger, Jackie Messinger and Cedric Hill

How Plan B turned into Plan A+

My bad! I haven’t posted here in way too long. But I have a really good reason…I’VE BEEN MAKING A MOVIE!

We are actually in the final stages of post production right now, and it’s turning out so much better than I ever could have imagined.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Plan B had its real start when I met Cedric Hill through Mandy.com. Cedric is a 15-year film veteran and an instructor at both the New York Film Academy and Rutgers University Newark. When Cedric first replied to my Mandy posting, I replied to him that I thought his background might be too extensive for my little project, but he asked to see the script anyway. A day later, he got back to me and asked if we could meet. Not next week or in a few months, as so many other respondents had suggested. The next day.

We met on a Saturday over lunch in Montclair, NJ. I explained my no-budget plan to him, and he didn’t seem to flinch. We discussed not only the script and how it came to be, but also film in general. He kind of dug deep into my soul, which was a little unnerving, but somehow I didn’t feel uncomfortable revealing so much about myself (I’ve come to understand that Cedric has a true gift when it comes to getting people to open up and to trust him, which is probably one of the qualities that makes him such a talented director).

As the meeting progressed, he said something to the effect of, “Okay, now let’s talk about what kind of money it will take to make this film.”

I was a bit taken aback, because I’d made it clear that this was to be a no-budget film.

“Well, I have about $800 left from a screenwriting prize,” I replied.

By this time, I was so excited about the progress we’d made over lunch, that my mind started racing, thinking about how to raise more money. Could I even think about asking people to contribute again after two failed crowdfunding attempts (I hadn’t received a cent of what had been raised because I hadn’t reached my lofty goals).

“Well,” I continued, “I was able to raise close to $5000 the last two times. With some work, I could probably convince my supporters to believe in me one more time.”

“That’s a good start,” he said. “And once we have something to show people, we can probably raise some more for post production. When were you planning to shoot?”

“Six weeks,” I said.

“Make it eight,” he responded. “Let’s hold auditions Tuesday. We start rehearsals Thursday.”

I became silent. He knew what I was thinking.

“Place the ad on Mandy. We’ll have plenty of responses.”

“So we’re going to make a movie,” I said as we walked out of the restaurant.

“Yes. We’re going to make a movie.”

(To be continued in future blog entries, and soon…I promise! In the meantime, take a look at this link of Cedric telling a story to The Secret Society Of Twisted Storytellers. It will give you insight as to who he is, why he works with such intensity and passion, and why it it’s so easy to open up to him and love him).

‘Dongmei’ is trending on indiegogo!

Having raised 31 percent of its funding goal in fewer than three days, ‘Dongmei’ is now trending on the crowdfunding site indiegogo.com.

‘Dongmei’ is a short film written and produced by Bob Messinger, a New York-area screenwriter, and directed and executive produced by Cedric Hill, also a New York filmmaker. The project is a joint production of Messinger’s Where’s the Lake Productions and Hill’s To and Fro Productions.

Dongmei is a Chinese woman who ends up in the psych ward after fending off a couple of thugs and then inexplicably attacking the responding police officers. The story is an intense, psychological thriller written to keep audiences guessing throughout. It’s an extreme battle of wits between an intelligent, somewhat wise-ass, medicated and unwilling patient who’s adept at turning a conversation and a psychiatrist who’s overly confident he has what it takes to connect with her. The doctor’s confidence starts to falter, however, as the session intensifies and his combative patient takes charge, interspersing vividly descriptive and surprising accounts of her past with perfectly timed personal attacks on her new sparring partner. Even after the doctor seemingly regains control of the session, forcing Dongmei to face some hazy and painful images, it’s not unreasonable to expect the tables to be turned again to achieve an unexpected and powerful ending that will leave audiences questioning what was real and what wasn’t.

Auditions are scheduled for Tuesday, June 9, in a midtown New York studio. The casting call resulted in close to 100 responses. Principal photography is scheduled to begin on August 1.

To see how the project is trending, go to www.indiegogo.com, click the “See What’s Trending” link at the top, then click on the “Film” link. Or to go directly to the project’s page, go to http://igg.me/at/dongmei.

The journey continues! Cedric Hill named director and executive producer of ‘Dongmei’.

by BOB MESSINGER

Not only is Plan B falling into place, it coming together at a feverish pace, thanks in large part to our new director and executive director, Cedric Hill. Cedric is a 15-year film veteran and an instructor at the New York Film Academy.

As I’ve noted in this blog, I’ve learned so much from the last two crowdfunding campaigns, but perhaps the biggest lesson gained is that maybe I’d tried to do too much too soon. Perhaps trying to do a feature film the first time around rather than something smaller was a bit ambitious. Before people are going to fork over $75,000, they probably want proof that I can do what I say I can do.

Just to recap a bit, I’ve decided to do just that…write and produce a short film. My Plan B.

My original idea was to do it on absolutely no budget, using my Canon EOS and editing it myself. That may have been scaling things back too much. After meeting Cedric and absorbing his feedback, I’ve decided to do this project on a micro-budget of $5000 this time around…quite a bit less than my original $75,000 goal, wouldn’t you say? Every participant is donating his or her time and talent in exchange for film credit. There will still be costs, however… primarily equipment rentals, minimal travel expenses, a few props, craft services, film festival fees, marketing and a few other miscellaneous expenses.

So yes, here I go again, asking friends, family, acquaintances and complete strangers to be a part of this project, which has already received great reviews from people in the industry. As I point out in my just-launched indiegogo campaign, thanks to all the new avenues of distribution, quality projects that never would have been made before are being enjoyed by millions! This is due in great part by artists whose compelling motivation is to create and get their works out into the world and by supporters who believe creative energy should never be wasted.
I also point out on the campaign page that participation in the project not only helps us make a better film, it also contributes to the overall health of the art community and places supporters among the growing list of new media pioneers.

So the journey continues! If you get a chance, check out our website.

Plan B is officially under way! Searching for crew on Mandy.com

by BOB MESSINGER

It’s been a little over a month since I revealed “Plan B,” my proposal to make a no-budget, short film to further bolster my credentials (http://indiefilmmakercommune.com/?p=115).

The script has been polished, thanks in large part to suggestions made by my very capable readers. And now I am ready to start putting together a crew who would be willing to work with me on an unpaid basis for three consecutive weekends.

Why, you ask, would anyone be willing to work on a film for no pay? As pointed out by Mandy.com, the premier database of film and TV technicians and facilities on the web, aspiring filmmakers such as myself are often willing to lend their efforts in order to strengthen their credits for future work.

Because of Mandy.com’s recognized dedication and success in helping to get projects made, and because they typically record five million impressions per month, I have opted to begin my search for a crew through a posting on their web site.

The Mandy project description (which should be posted by May 4, 2015) reads as follows:

Award-winning screenwriter wants to produce a 20-minute, no-budget short drama for festival submissions. One single location (an office) with multiple quick flashbacks to be shot guerrilla-style at easily accessible locations. Estimate entire shoot to be 2-3 weekends this summer in or around Parsippany, NJ. Looking for a small crew for all functions (DP and sound crew should have own equipment or have access to such). College film students on break would be perfect, ideally a crew that has worked together. I will edit but am open to editing assistance. My plan is to direct, but I am also open to relinquishing those duties as well to the proper person. Also seeking primary acting talent…female patient (40-ish), Chinese; male (40) to play a psychiatrist who is not shown onscreen during his interaction with the female patient. Other non-speaking actors needed for quick flashback sequences. All positions unpaid with screen credits.

So please pass this information along to anyone you know who might be interested in helping me make this short film!

It may be unpaid, but I will definitely do my best to feed everyone very well!

Plan B

Okay, so my second crowdfunding attempt didn’t go as expected.

Admittedly, I did spend a little time feeling bitter. The preliminary numbers indicated that I should have been successful had everyone who had promised their support come through. But they didn’t. Not by a long shot.

But such is life.

I still have a lot of faith in the project. If it weren’t a viable one, it’s unlikely that it would have received the awards it has. But this script is going on the shelf. For now, that is.

From the very beginning, my advisors at Seed & Spark (still the premier crowdfunding platform for independent film, in my opinion) stressed that I would have an uphill battle because, as a first-time filmmaker, I had nothing to show. It didn’t seem to matter that I’d put together an experienced production team, a seasoned lead actress and original music, or even that I have a host of screenwriting awards under my belt. People still need to see what I have done before they open their wallets.

Thus, as promised, I have come up with Plan B.

I have written a short script that I plan to shoot and edit myself. It is tentatively titled “Dongmei.”

Settings are simple. If necessary, I will sell my car to purchase or rent lighting, sound equipment and other gear. Shooting will be done on a first-generation Canon Rebel EOS, and editing will be done on Adobe Premiere Pro.

Principal photography will be in one location. Eight easily obtained locations will be used for super-quick, intercut flashbacks. Shooting will be done in and around Parsippany, NJ.

Running time will be about 20 minutes, and I plan to shoot in early summer. The whole shoot should take about five days (not necessarily consecutive).

The cast consists of two actors with speaking roles and a handful of actors with non-speaking roles for the quick flashbacks.

Volunteers are wanted for this no-budget film.

The female lead should be a Chinese woman, around 45, with no Chinese accent, but the ability to speak a few Chinese words (Cantonese or Mandarin).

The male lead should be around 35 (only his hands and arms will be seen).

Non-speaking cameo roles include:
• Two young thugs being beat up by a woman on a street corner.
• A young woman in her 20s witnessing the skirmish.
• A woman on a cell phone being attacked while sitting in a salon chair (any age).
• A Chinese girl around 7.
• A Chinese girl around 10.
• A Chinese girl around 16.
• A Chinese girl around 13.
• A gruff-looking Chinese nanny, around 45.
• A 35-year-old drunk father (lead male can double if necessary, as his face is never seen in lead role).
• A 35-year-old mother).
• 30-year-old skinny man (an uncle).
• A middle-aged overweight man (a john).
• A 46-year-old Chinese woman (an adult version of the 10 and 16-year-old.
The non-speaking cameos are very small, easily acted parts. All will get film credit.

Other volunteers are needed in virtually any capacity (sound, lighting, editing, sound editing, gofers, etc.). To volunteer, contact me at F1Promo@aol.com.

In the meantime, I have been approached by writer/director Caytha Jentis (“And Then Came Love” with Vanessa Williams and Eartha Kitt, “Bad Parents” with Janeane Garofolo and Cheri Oteri) to work with her as an associate producer on a new episodic comedy-drama pilot called “Now What?” We’re holding a kickoff fundraising event this Thursday evening, March 26, at The Slipper Room on New York’s lower east side. Feel free to join us! Admission is $20, and there will be a cash bar and some raucous entertainment. I will be posting more about the event on Facebook today. The project is an exciting one, and it will help me build professional credits that should benefit me on future projects.

So there you have it! Plan B, as promised. With Plan A only temporarily shelved!

As always, comments and suggestions are welcome!

We’ve launched on Seed&Spark!

by BOB MESSINGER
@bobmessinger01

A few months back, I posted my intentions of switching to the crowdfunding platform Seed&Spark to re-launch my film project. To recap the reasons for my decision:

1. Seed&Spark is a crowdfunding platform strictly for independent film projects.
2. They provide an in-depth Social Media Handbook and other helpful materials.
3. As a selective platform, Seed&Spark does not allow filmmakers to launch an inferior or minimally prepared project.
4. Unlike Kickstarter’s “all-or-nothing” platform, Seed&Spark works on “80%-or-nothing,” noting that “Every indie filmmaker knows how to make that scene work with a little less money…”
5. Seed&Spark has a streaming video distribution platform as well as a partnership with Amex NOW for selected licensed distribution.
6. Seed&Spark lets filmmakers request non-monetary contributions such as camera, wardrobe and lighting rentals.
7. 70% of films that crowdfund on Seed&Spark get funded, compared to only 40% on Kickstarter.
8. Seed&Spark’s fee is lower than any other crowdfunding site.

Since my initial post, I have spent hours poring over Seed&Spark’s “Awesome Downloads,” which include documents on crowdfunding to build independence, prep and campaign schedule templates, and, of course, their detailed social media handbook.

Well, I did re-launch on Seed&Spark a few days ago, and the experience so far has been even better that I’d anticipated!

After my initial submission, I received an in-depth campaign critique from Seed&Spark Director of Crowdfunding and Community Erica Anderson. I’m not talking about a few lines of suggestions. I’m talking about paragraphs of well-written, to-the-point, knowledgeable and convincing feedback. With Erica’s ongoing help, I performed three edits to my pitch video, taking it from an unruly six minutes to a manageable three minutes (to be honest, she would have preferred that I’d have edited out another minute).

Erica responded to my correspondence within hours, each time providing more and more guidance.

The only recommendation I didn’t take was to postpone my launch until after the holidays. I do agree with prevailing research that there is too much social media competition to sustain a holiday campaign. That’s why I’ve selected a 45-day rather than a 30-day campaign. I’ve decided to use the first 15 days to tie into my regular hard-copy holiday mailings to friends and family, and then focus on social media after the holidays (as a marketer who has worked both tech and pre-tech campaigns, I still find value in breaking through the clutter with old-fashioned, personal mailings).

Seed&Spark is truly a selective platform. It’s become so obvious to me that their prime purpose for being isn’t to cash in on the crowdfunding craze. They are independent filmmakers who are dedicated to their craft and who want to see good films get made and distributed.

I recommend that all filmmakers considering the crowdfunding route check out Seed&Spark.

And while you’re at it, please check out my campaign at www.seedandspark.com/studio/it-aint-no-sin. Your support through a contribution and recommending the project to friends and colleagues would be greatly appreciated!

I’ve decided to use Seed&Spark to re-launch my crowdfunding campaign!

by BOB MESSINGER
@bobmessinger01

Don’t get me wrong…Kickstarter is a phenomenal crowdfunding platform! It’s just that, after careful research, I’ve come to the conclusion that the relatively new platform Seed&Spark is best suited to meet the needs of my particular film project for the following reasons:

1. Seed&Spark is a crowdfunding platform strictly for film projects. I believe this will work well for me on several levels. It will help me better attract niche supporters who care about independent film. It will help separate my project from the clutter of non-film projects on the other sites. And, because the Seed&Spark staff deals only with film projects, my belief is that their specialized support will assist me in running a truly effective campaign.

2. I’ve never claimed to be a social media guru, and I believe that was a major detriment to my Kickstarter efforts. Seed&Spark stresses social media, as do most of the other crowdfunding platforms. But unlike most other sites, they back up the importance of social media by providing an in-depth Social Media Handbook, which has armed me with greater insight than I had when I launched my last campaign.

3. Seed&Spark is a selective platform. They will not allow me to launch a campaign for an inferior product or to launch a minimally prepared project. If they feel my project is lacking in any respect, they will provide tips on how to make it a viable one. Nobody enjoys rejection, but I’d rather be given the opportunity to make my project the best that it can be before launch. And because Seed&Spark is a selective platform, I believe their users feel more comfortable supporting projects on their site.

4. Whereas Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform, and Indigogo will allow me to keep whatever I raise even if it is nowhere enough to complete my project, Seed&Spark is an “80%-or-nothing” platform. I am quite comfortable with this. If I can raise at least 80%, I know I will be able to get the film made. As the Seed&Spark website points out, “Every indie filmmaker knows how to make that scene work with a little less money…”

5. Unlike other crowdfunding sites, Seed&Spark has a streaming video distribution platform for me to offer my film for public viewing. They also have a partnership with Amex NOW, a channel reaching 67 million homes, for selected licensed distribution. I don’t know at this time that I’ll take advantage of these programs, but it is nice to know that they exist!

6. Seed&Spark lets me request non-monetary contributions such as camera, wardrobe and lighting rentals. This allows me to best use all cash contributions I may receive and may also act as an incentive for supporters who may not be in a position to contribute cash, but may be able to contribute an item needed to complete the film.

7. 70% of films that crowdfund on Seed&Spark get funded, compared to only 40% of projects on Kickstarter. I like those odds.

8. And I’m saving the best reason for last: Seed&Spark’s fee is lower than any other crowdfunding site I’ve researched. They take 5% of all money pledged, but they also offer supporters an opportunity to add 5% to their order to keep the filmmaker from losing that money. And according to Seed&Spark, 90% of supporters choose to add that 5%. Plus, Seed&Spark won’t compel me to set up an outside payment account, which usually requires administration fees beyond the normal credit card fees.

So right now, it seems like a no-brainer to submit to Seed&Spark.

I’d be grateful to hear your opinions on selecting a crowdfunding site.