Videoblogs Update: A Walk In The Sun

Our three leading ladies for the film.

Our three leading ladies for the film: Masha King (L), Rebecca De Ornelas (C), Phoebe Allegra (R). Photo by Zach Nading.

I just got back from a walk in the sun.

We begin shooting The Videoblogs in two days and I was able to go out and enjoy a walk in the sun.

This is not to say that things haven’t been busy. They have been. It’s been a long few months, and definitely the last two weeks have been a dash.

But we are in very good shape heading into Monday. And this is mostly because of all of you.

Thank you, once again, for your support — both financial and moral. We’re excited to begin this crucial leg of the journey.

I feel very fortunate. If you had told me a few years ago that I was going to have enough peace of mind to take a walk, get a bagel and a coffee, and then take my time on the way home to enjoy and appreciate life — two days before shooting my first feature film — I wouldn’t have believed it.

Has it all gone perfectly? No. But I’m not even sure I had any perfect expectations this time around. All I know is that, soon, Monday is going to come and we’re going to be on set shooting our film. We’ve done as much work as we could do, prior to now, to set things up as best as we could to squeak out something special. We’ll see how it goes.

Again, it couldn’t have happened without all of you. And it definitely couldn’t have happened without the wonderful cast and crew we have on this project.

It’s a privilege to be working for and with you all. More soon.

- Michael

The Videoblogs Monologues, Part 4: “Ramona”

Hello, wonderful readers (and Videoblogs supporters).

Here is the final installment in The Videoblogs Monologues. As a reminder, these videos were crowdsourced and produced as examples of what we’re aiming to accomplish with “Phase 2″ or our project, which has been renamed The Videoblogs Dialogue.

More info on that here.

Also, today is our last day of funding for the film. We’re hugely grateful to be over 100% funded on Seed and Spark. But any additional contributions still make a difference and are appreciated. Reasons as to why can be found near the bottom of this post.

Plans, Expectations, and HOLY SH*T

Woah. Thank you.

Woah. Thank you.

It’s part of the beauty (and sometimes the cruelty) of life — that it proceeds without regard to our plans or expectations. Which is my attempt at a more eloquent way of saying: Holy Sh*t.

The Videoblogs is currently 102% funded on Seed and Spark.

With a little less than two days to go.

How did we get here? The short answer is that a generous supporter, in the words of a pal, helped us “kick the door down”. We went from about 62% to 102% funded in an instant.

This was not planned or expected.

Before that, two friends from college had each contributed at a high level, to bring us to that previous point of 62%. What they had to say to me when I rushed out my sincere and surprised thanks — left me in tears.

Rebecca and I (and the whole team) are so very grateful for all of you. I cannot express that sentiment enough.

Thank you. Your support means the world to us. It serves as validation, and a reminder, that the struggle and the fighting is worth it. As I have said before — we promise to bring a great film to you.

Thank you.

So, where do we go from here?

Well, for the next few days, we would still encourage you to contribute if you can.

Here’s why:

  1. We’re already operating at a very limited budget level for a feature film. This is not at all a problem and we continue to be grateful to be in this position, but any additional funds past our goal WILL be similarly stretched to make challenges (and they will come) less challenging.
  2. We want you to see the film first. As summarized here, this film is also an experiment in helping to arrive at a model for sustainable, empowered indie filmmaking. Every person who simply “purchases” advance access to The Videoblogs via a $10 or $20 contribution is voting for this model. What does this mean? It means you’re helping us make the films that a growing subset of people want to see but which aren’t getting made by big business. We’re going to get The Videoblogs to you quickly, because you are our supporters. After that, who knows? It could take a year or longer before the film is otherwise made available.
  3. In line with our bootstrapped approach, we have not budgeted much money for post-production (editing) or marketing. This is because I can do most of it if I have to do it. But I am simply not as skilled or as efficient at certain elements of post as a professional editor, colorist, marketer, etc. And, even so, the completion of these tasks cost money. We may have to fundraise again next year for theses stages. I can promise you that if we end up with even a small surplus this time around, it will be stocked away to make that process easier.

It feels awkward to keep “the ask” open for these final days, despite our position, but these are in fact legitimate reasons. We would be doing the film, and those of you who have already supported us, a disservice by failing to be transparent about the fact that every additional little bit still helps.

The urgency, of course, is gone. I literally dreamed of puppies and kittens last night. And a few dead birds, because there are always going to be some dark corners in there.

But, let’s choose to focus on the brightness today. At least in this one regard. That’s not going to be a problem for me, I don’t think. Because all of you have made me proud to do what I do.

Cast Interview: Masha King + Final Days of Funding

We’re down to our final few days to fund The Videoblogs.

We’re getting there, but we still need your help to get the Green Light on Seed and Spark.

We're a STAFF PICK. And we are over 60% funded.

We’re a STAFF PICK. And we are over 60% funded.

If you’re able to contribute, please consider doing so today to help us build momentum heading into Friday. What we’d most like to do is show you the film. For $10, we’ll send you a download when it’s finished. For $20, we’ll mail a DVD.

In the meantime, here’s our very own Masha King (Cass) answering some questions about her role in the film:

Casting Announcement: Rebecca De Ornelas

Rebecca will be playing Margaret, the lead character, in The Videoblogs

Rebecca will be playing Margaret, the lead character, in The Videoblogs

I’m going to attempt to balance this post with a modicum of objectivity. I’m going to fail at this. It’s lucky for all of us that art is subjective, anyway. Except that it isn’t. Not quite. Moving on!

There’s a good reason why objectivity is hard. Rebecca De Ornelas is, quite simply, is one of the most amazing people I have ever met.

We’re married. Let’s get that out of the way for the few of you who don’t know it. But, while we’re at it, let’s get a few more things out of the way.

When I say Rebecca is amazing, I’m not speaking as her partner. I’m speaking as a person and as an artist who has followed her career for years.

Still, as someone who has shared a life with Rebecca over those same years, I have had the privilege of watching her arrive at “some next level shit”, recently, as an actor.

I’m not the sort of person who would be capable of deluding himself about something like this. Just like I’ll never be the sort of person who would collaborate with someone just because we’re married. Rebecca isn’t like that either. No one who worked with us on our first film together knew we were a couple until the shoot was almost over.

There’s a very specific reason why I’m excited to be working with Rebecca as the lead actor in The Videoblogs — the character already belongs to her.

In the beginning, the character, Margaret, was written for Rebecca. It’s one of the benefits to being part of a creative couple that you can create things together that work to each of your strengths. But I’ve also learned to grow as a writer and as a collaborative filmmaker in recent years by watching Rebecca work. She’s taught me a lot about the value of trusting a performer with the time and space he/she needs to create, and about how much value performance brings to things that may start on the page or on the screen but truly emerge from the humanity of the actor.

Last night, Rebecca and I started rehearsing her first “videoblog” scenes. I almost cried hearing “Margaret” bare her soul for the first time. This was after just three reads.

Quite simply, Rebecca is a great talent, as well as a wonderful person to work with. All of us on The Videoblogs team are excited to watch her bring Margaret to life.

Here’s a video of Rebecca answering some questions about the film and her character. Below is her bio.

We have just a few days left to get The Videoblogs funded on Seed and Spark. If you’re a fan of Rebecca, please consider contributing to the film before Friday.

A generous contributor is currently matching all contributions, up to $1,000. If you’re a fan of Rebecca consider picking up an advanced copy of the film to help us get it made :-)

-

BIO

Rebecca keeps busy and she likes it that way.

Born in Flatbush, Brooklyn, to a Puerto Rican math teacher mom and a Portuguese fruit vendor dad, Rebecca learned the values of hard work and determination early on in life. These lessons helped her nurture her talents at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she trained at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting. They also provided Rebecca with a foundation for her current further study with renowned acting teacher and coach, Alice Spivak, who enabled her to put aside some of her fancy training and loosen the hell up.

After a few years spent working to become a better actor (it never ends), Rebecca decided it wasn’t enough to just be “in things” – she wanted to make them too. Spurred by her tireless work ethic (see above Portuguese Dad reference) and by the wonderfully creative people she has surrounded herself with over time, Rebecca co-produced the ambitious neo-noir crime drama featurette, Sex and Justice. Made with the help of friends and family, Sex and Justice was predominantly shot on a set built in a potato chip warehouse in Rhode Island. Rebecca and Writer/Director Michael DiBiasio then self-distributed the film, holding screenings at the Historic Columbus Theater in Providence, RI and at Tribeca Cinemas in NYC. The film was well-liked and well-reviewed but an overly ambitious business plan left them out of money and they were forced to live off free potato chips- more lessons learned!

Armed with additional knowledge and perspective, Rebecca went on to co-produce and star in Multiverse, a dramatic sci-fi short, which is available now to view. Rebecca is also a member of Alice Spivak’s OnTheRoad Repertory Company, formed in collaboration with her advanced acting classes made up of working actors. OnTheRoad produces revivals and original plays in and around New York City. With OTR, she will be playing Amy in George Kelly’s The Show-Off.

Rebecca is a member of SAG-AFTRA.

Videoblogs Interlude: On Depression and Hope

It’s hard to know how to act today.

On the one hand, I want to respect the boundary between the exposure the majority of us appear to be feeling, following the loss of a beloved artist who at one point or another touched all our lives. It doesn’t seem like an appropriate time to be promoting something.

On the other hand, I’m not “promoting” anything. If your impression has been different in recent weeks, I’m sorry. What my team and I have really been trying to do is ask for your support. We feel compelled to make a piece of art and want to share it with you. The only way I felt it could happen was this way: by going directly to you first for validation that this is a worthy idea.

And that’s why, despite even my own sadness and confusion and fear, we’re going to resume our efforts today (after last night’s brief hiatus) to get The Videoblogs made.

It may seem inappropriate to be asking for money, in order to make a movie about mental health, in the days following the death of an icon that appears to have been a result of either depression or the disease of addiction (or both). It seems less appropriate, though, to me, with so little time left, to scuttle the last several weeks of these heartfelt efforts because of this tragedy.

Allow me to be very honest with you about something, not as a means of proving anything but to make it clear why we’re doing this.

I have felt inconsolably alone in the world. I have felt hopeless beyond repair. I have had thoughts, in the past, about ending it all. That’s about as much as I can really say about it, right now.

By some grace, I got help. I started to learn that loneliness, as contradictory as this sounds, can be (is) shared.

Just as we together bear the grief of loss, we can together take on the responsibility to change. We can decide, while or after the grieving process works its course, to contemplate how to move forward.

For me, I need to continue to strive for more openness and bravery in these areas. So I am going to continue efforts to fund and produce The Videoblogs over these final days of our funding push.

Pushing to get the film made doesn’t feel any less like the right thing to do, this morning, as compared to yesterday morning. To be honest, it hardly feels more urgent after what’s happened.

I’m mourning the loss of Robin Williams today. More than that, though, I feel for his family, and all the families around the country and world whose struggles with the sometimes overbearing responsibility of just being human…sometimes result in the tragic loss of life, livelihood, health or happiness.

Depression, addiction, mental illness, these are not just the problems of the afflicted or their nearest and dearest. They are sicknesses in the world that are not made any better through ignorance or neglect.

Since last night, I have seen people reminding others that help is out there, that they can reach out — and I join that chorus. The message we received from NAMI-NYC, in regards to The Videoblogs Dialogue, is repeated below for anyone who might need a number to call.

I’ve also heard others say that reaching out “is not that easy.” Having been there, I don’t disagree.

What I would like to say to that last group, however, and anyone listening to them, is this: just know that there is hope. I promise you that. I am proof.

NAMI-NYC provides support groups and is available to direct people towards any care they may need in dealing with any difficult subjects. Please call their resource helpline at 212-684-3264 or visit their website at: http://naminycmetro.org. Outside the NYC Metro area, call The National Information Helpline: 1 (800) 950-NAMI (6264).

Multiverse Featured on Film School Rejects, Screening in NYC Wednesday

poster_image_web

Check out this featured review of Multiverse on Film School Rejects, by Managing Editor Scott Beggs! My favorite part:

By the end, you can easily imagine Franz Kafka watching this, putting his arm fraternally around DiBiasio and then buying him a beer.

Read more at Film School Rejects: http://bit.ly/1nJb3Gd

I will take that beer.

Also, Multiverse will be screening again in New York City THIS WEDNESDAY at 7PM at People’s Lounge and Bar, as part of CongestedCat’s Indie Works Screening Series. Rebecca De Ornelas and I will both be in attendance, and I will be participating in a Q&A.

Register to attend on Facebook if you’re local to the city and haven’t seen the film yet (or want to see it again).

And, as a reminder, we have less than 5 days left to fund The Videoblogs. A generous supporter is currently matching contributions!