Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!: Where Will Your Message Take You?

Welcome to Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!, where indie moviemaker Jayce Bartok talks about the dos and don’ts of crowdfunding from the trenches of his own crowdfunding campaign. Have a question for Jayce about his movie, Tiny Dancer, or just crowdfunding in general? Ask away at .

There is truly nothing more empowering than having actual money in the bank for the production of your film. Two weeks have passed since our Producer’s Dinner to raise money for Tiny Dancer, and in that time Tiffany and I have been collecting checks from our amazing investors, moving money from PayPal to our LLC (damn those service fees!) and draining our NYFA account of crowdfunded donations. As the number in our bank account climbs, I start to feel like we are actually going to be able to make our film. But what version of Tiny Dancer are we going to be able to make?

Tiny Dancer started out as a $1.7 million film we hoped to attach Charlize Theron or January Jones to. Melissa Joan Hart (we love her) was attached as the director, then theater director Jackson Gay (whom we also love!). And here I am today overjoyed that we have $39,000 in our LLC. So how do you make a script budgeted at $1.7 million for under $100,000? That’s the next step Tiffany and I, and the amazing team we’ve put together, have to undertake. The more I think about it, the more I realize I want to make a film that feels daring and impressionistic, an intimate portrait of two women who are confronted with a simple question: “What do I do now that I can’t do what I wanted to do anymore?” A film that doesn’t try to be a big film on a micro-budget, but a chamber piece, so to speak, that feels in keeping with its humble grassroots beginnings.

How do I do this? Well, now that the dust is settling and the summer is beginning, I have to sit down with the script and rewrite, rewrite, rewrite. Get that page count down! Cut those additional parts! Out goes that gala scene—who needs it?! Another priority is to work with my actors—Katherine Crockett and Daphne Rubin-Vega—to get to the heart of these two women, finding arcs that we can realistically put on the screen. I also have to have conversations with our DP, Kate Phelan, about what we can and can’t afford in terms of equipment.

I am happy to announce that we have brought on Patricia Beaury, producer of A Song Still Inside, written and directed by Gregory Collins and starring my good friend Rodrigo Lopresti, to help Tiffany and I produce Tiny Dancer. Patty is not only a Tiny Dancer investor but also has two micro-budget films under her producing belt already. She can really be instrumental in making this film happen on the cheap by helping secure locations for free, filing rebate documents and scheduling the bejesus out of the film until we’ve left no stone unturned during pre-production. Patty agreed to work on the film if I promised not to ask her to invest any more money, because she can’t say no to us. (Her words!) I take that as a good sign of our newly honed fundraising abilities.

Patty is a perfect example of the “You never know where the day might take you” attitude to making your film happen. I worked with Patty as an actor on Gregory’s film, then she donates to our film… then she invests… and now she’s producing! You might not think your message is getting out there when you run into that person on the street who hangs their head and says, “I would love to donate, but funds are tight.” But don’t forget to take into account other ways in which they can help your project: By spreading the word, referring you to investor friends or signing on to work on your film.

In fact, just today I was auditioning for a commercial at the studio where Mary Stuart Masterson and I recorded the director’s commentary for The Cake Eaters, my other film, which she directed. The engineer did a bit of a double-take when I entered the studio. I reminded him about the commentary session, and then he asked how my film was going. “You mean Tiny Dancer?,” I asked. “Yeah!,” he responded. I couldn’t figure out how he’d heard about it, though I imagine our e-mail updates are the cause. I told him where we were in the process; then he said that, when we were finished, we should bring Tiny Dancer to him. “I want to help you out,” he explained. “I loved your other film.” You never know where the day will take you when you are putting your message out there.

This week, I’d love to give a big Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie! shout-out to a project that I think is awesome and worth contributing to: Refugee Kids: One Small School Takes On the World, a documentary from director/producer Renée Silverman about children from global hot spots—like Egypt, Iraq and West Africa—who, with the help of the International Rescue Committee, resettle in the U.S.. Jesus… I am already crying here! Visit their Kickstarter page and throw $25 their way so they can make their $10,000 goal in the next 11 days.

Jayce Bartok is an actor/producer/writer/director who runs Vinyl Foote Productions from Brooklyn with his wife Tiffany. He wrote, co-produced and starred in The Cake Eaters and can currently be seen in USA’s “White Collar” and in the upcoming feature films Predisposed, opposite Melissa Leo, and Price Check, both of which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. To stay updated on his Tiny Dancer progress, follow @JayceBartok and @TICNYC on Twitter.

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