What do I know about being a producer? The correct answer is nothing. In truth, I’m an actor, and I’ve never wanted to be anything else. So when my friend, Marion, approached me with a script for a web series that she had written specifically for me, I was touched and honored. And more than a tiny bit nervous. You see, Marion’s an actor, herself, with her own career to focus on, and I knew that, as amazing as this gift was, I couldn’t ask her to provide me with anything else. Though she had experience getting her own projects off the ground (her feature film “Golden Earrings,” which she wrote, directed, and starred in, also experienced a successful festival run), I had none. And I knew that, should I set out to give this script legs and a life of it’s own, the heavy lifting would have to come from me. I had been given a precious gift. And homework. Enter that nervousness.
Now I’ve always been a planner. Planning parties, planning trips, planning my life. So it may have seemed a natural fit, but this was not the world of hors d’oeuvres and music mixes. I had no idea how to plan to shoot a series. The exception being, the popular way to fund a project these days ~ Kickstarter. Having donated to several campaigns already, both from people I knew, as well as those I didn’t, I was aware of how beneficial the process was. And how fundamental it had become when creating your own project. I knew I needed to start there. It was my Square One. Knowing that was little comfort however, because the question then became: How do you convince people to give to your campaign? Or, perhaps more specifically: How do you stand out in a virtual flood of campaigns?
Anyone who has had or donated to a Kickstarter campaign knows the market is oversaturated with quests for funding that feature, or this short, a new video game, or heartwrenching documentary. To reach potential backers would take something more than sitting in front of a camera, defining my project and asking for their support. Looking at the campaigns I had been convinced into donating to, most of them had compelling examples of their work to speak to the quality and professionalism my money would go towards. Sold! Who wouldn’t want to help them? Pledge levels aside, I’d be getting a great product up and out to the world. They had instant appeal, and soon after, they had my money. But I’m not a filmmaker…or hadn’t been previously. There were no clips, sizzle reel, or mock ups to demonstrate the quality of my product. What did I have to show for myself? That aforementioned nervousness had not abated, and had, instead, intensified. Lovely.
Though I’d received advice to personalize the story in order to draw strangers in, I didn’t want that to translate into crying in front of a camera about how much this would mean to me. That wouldn’t reflect what I wanted to put forth. During a brainstorming session with Marion (she hadn’t left me completely out to dry!), we decided the uniqueness of the show was what would stand out. Though we didn’t have a single scene shot that we could showcase, we did have the tone. If we could transfer that to our campaign video, that would be our example. It would demonstrate our creativity and comedic abilities; the two essential elements people would be investing in. With that decision made, I felt I finally had a grip on the project, not that I was any less afraid, but feeling slightly more capable.
“Misdirected” is a comedy. Light, fast-paced, and fun. No edgy lighting, no moody characters, no gripping drama. Those are all fine and good, don’t get me wrong, and make for great montage moments (I love a good montage), but are completely out of place in the world I’m creating. It can’t be serious and does not need to be slick. If there’s anything the “Old Spice” commercials have taught us, it’s that ‘Fun’ is an appealing emotion, and is compelling all on its own. And silly can still be professional. I’m not just some yahoo acting crazy for the camera. We actually had a script to work from, marks to hit, and an objective to achieve. We chose to make our plea embody the essence of “Misdirected,” so that investors really would get what they see. I couldn’t have been more pleased with the end result. And my feeling of competence only grew.
The response to our campaign video has been overwhelmingly positive, with people tweeting that it’s the funniest Kickstarter video they’ve seen in a long time, in some cases, ever, and that it had them laughing out loud. And this from absolute strangers. Sure, friends like it too, but they have to ~ being forever bound by the chains of loyalty, and all that. So I can think of no greater confirmation that what we came up with was right, than the approval of the public. We all have different reactions to things and different reasons for giving. I don’t know that any one emotion is necessarily more effective than another; I do think it just depends on what is right for the matter at hand. I sit comfortably with the knowledge that I put together what best represented my project and me
We have 7 days left in our Kickstarter campaign (as of the publish of this article on 4-12-12), and we’re working to get it out to as many people as possible. Once we reach our goal, I can move on to the next daunting task of being a producer: production. But things aren’t nearly as scary in the middle of doing them, as they are at the beginning. It took me months to want to start this ball, but now that it’s rolling I’m already feeling confident.
Lauren Mora received a Bachelor’s Degree in Drama from UC Irvine, and appeared in stage productions throughout Los Angeles, before turning her attentions to film and television. She’s appeared in “General Hospital” and “Decoding the Past,” as well as the festival winning film “Golden Earrings” with Marion Kerr and John T. Woods. She’s also a host, having been featured on “YourLA” on KNBC, and a red carpet interviewer for Sound & Picture magazine. She’s a board game enthusiast and a hell of a model American!