Monday, March 28, 2011

Movies That Make Me Really Nervous to be a Filmmaker

Yesterday I asked the fans of Locked in a Garage Band on facebook and my followers on twitter which movies they'd recommend for their soundtracks. Now I have an incredible list of movies to see, some for the first time and some to watch again but this time with an ear to the music.

BellaNikki85 (Nikki Alonso of HardCoreIndie fame) suggested Kick-Ass, which was perfect for my research into coming of age teenage comedies with awesome music that I still hadn't seen.

Too perfect in fact. I just finished watching it now, and have already hit "play" with the directors commentary.

I'm scared.

This movie really does kick-ass.

The director, Matthew Vaughn, keeps talking about how they had such a small budget, and uses the term "no money" so many times that it makes me dream of the days when I can say such things about my own $30 million dollar movie.

One day right?

In the meantime, I'm reminded that every great movie has a really great script. It's all about the story after all. And that, we have. Thank frakk my sister can write a kick-ass script. How she does it, I have no idea. But me, I just work on the money. And getting more. I have a bunch of awesome meetings lined up this week with potential sponsors for product placements. Love those! Especially over wine. Lucky me!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Show me the Money! Crowdfunding Your Indie Film with Victoria Westcott - that's me!

Woohoo! So excited that this workshop is almost sold out already!

Crowd Funding your Indie Film with
Victoria Westcott

Victoria, BC, March 17th , 2011 -

This will be a hands-on, interactive workshop to help filmmakers learn the ropes of crowd funding from the first idea to the final two minutes. Victoria will focus on what lessons she learned in her own crowd funding campaign (she raised $20,000 for her feature film Locked in a Garage Band) and will use examples from other recently successful campaigns.

“As a group, we will examine what works, what doesn't, and what we can do for our own projects,” says Westcott.

The workshop will be a hands on opportunity to look at what will work for individual projects.

“Whether you're in pre-production, production or post-production - all types of projects can use crowd funding so let's help each other with planning different fundraising campaigns,” says Westcott.

Victoria Westcott - Producer

When she was sixteen-years-old, Victoria convinced the good people of Nepean, Ontario to give her enough money to fund an eco-trail building excursion through the jungles of Costa Rica. Sheʼs been convincing people to give her money for her intrepid endeavors ever since. From volunteering for a cataract surgery in Bangladesh to working in an English school in Guatamala, Victoriaʼs ability to put words (and dollars) into action knows no bounds. And since she already owns and operates a successful recruitment company, what better career path than independent movie producer?

Her vast experiences in both the cuddly world of volunteerism and the cutthroat world of business have proven to be the ideal preparation for writing (and sticking to!) budgets, hiring great cast & crew and getting through all the legal aspects of filmmaking.

Most recently, Victoria & her writer/director sister, Jennifer Westcott, managed to "crowdfund" $20101 for their upcoming feature film, Locked in a Garage Band. 68% of those funds were raised on the final day - in the last 10 hours mostly through Twitter & Facebook.

The Details:
Date: April 2nd, 2011
Time: noon-5pm
Place: CineVic 1039 Lee Ave. Suite #1931
Price: $20 CV/MN/VIFPA members $25 non-members

For Information Contact:
Krista Loughton 250-389-1590
Link to the event on Facebook:


About CineVic
Cinevic is an artist run cooperative facilitating the expression of unique, innovative voices in the ever-evolving language of film.
We are located in Victoria, BC, Canada at 1939 Lee Ave. Suite #1931 -- office hours are Mon-Fri 9:00am to 1:00pm.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Kickstarter Update #16: Press, Auditions, Fundraising Part 2, Workshop Love & a Picture of me with Don McKellar

I just wrote a ridiculously long kickstarter update which you should go check out, so I don't have to write it all out again. It's here.

I included the above photo of me with Canadian actor/screenwriter/filmmaker/superstar Don McKellar, who I met at the Victoria Film Festival. Figured I could add whatever photo I wanted, and today was as good a day as any to post this one. I lurve him.

Okay, off you go. Over to the kickstarter update. Nothing else to see here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Casting & Talent Agents - How to use Breakdown Services

Last night, we submitted the script for Locked in a Garage Band to Breakdown Services. We did one round of auditions way back in October and cast 3 of our characters so we could have just re-run the same ad and posted the other character breakdowns on the same sites (like Mandy, Backstage, Craigslist, etc).

But we remembered hearing that Breakdown Services was free service for filmmakers to use, and that they read your script and write the character breakdowns accordingly. That intriqued me. I always like someone else doing work that I then don't have to do. Awesome!

That's not all though. These guys are fast! We only sent the script last night, and received the breakdowns this morning. Love that.

Then, after you've approved their breakdowns & story line, they submit the details to all the talent agents in your desired area.

In the past 3 hours we've received 351 headshots & resumes.

I have to stop myself from logging in every five minutes to see what other actors are in the pile. Luckily, that is our Casting Director's job - the beautiful & talented Kristina Agosti. Otherwise, I'd waste days on there oooohing and ahhhhing. I'm a sucker for a good headshot, and get horribly irritated when actors show up & look nothing like their pictures, so it really is best that our CD does the weeding out (based on experience, skills, etc).

The main reason to submit to Breakdown Services is actually to get your script into all the agents hands in one go. If your script is as good as you think it is, then the first hurdle is accomplished just in getting it to the right agents. They pay attention to the breakdowns, rather than scouring websites (that actors are on, but not necessarily their agents).

I'll keep you posted on how it goes for us, but right now I'm feeling pretty confident.

Anyone else out there have experience with this kind of thing? Please share your thoughts below. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Last Man on Earth

My sister filmed this short with her kids during a snow day a couple of weeks ago. Our brother, Garett Westcott, did the music. He's also doing the music for our feature film.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Unique Film Funding

That's me! On the A Channel yesterday. That was fun. Thanks guys. Ya'll ROCK our socks.

If you missed the kickstarter campaign, you can still donate here:

Monday, March 7, 2011

Crowdfunding WIN! Or How to Raise 65% of Funds in a Day

Wow. Can you believe that graph?!

If you missed it, Friday March 4th was a pretty cool day in the life of Locked in a Garage Band. Our kickstarter campaign ended at 9:54pm and we just managed to raise the $20 000 needed with 2 minutes to spare. Kickstarter is an "all or nothing" platform, so if we didn't raise what we asked for, no money would have changed hands. The fact that we raised 65% on the final day is huge, and for those of you on twitter on the day, you could see the pledges coming in from around the world.

Just a week ago, I had an experience of a lifetime in attending Elton John's Academy Awards Viewing party. Friday night beat that.

Not to say the party wasn't everything I thought it would be. It was. And more. But having hundreds (maybe even thousands?) of people around the world tweeting about our movie, making pledges and increasing their pledges was absolutely incredible.

It was the best day of my life.

So how did it start?

I woke up at 7:30am to a tweet from @LordBronco in Portland telling me to get up & start tweeting. We had both participated in @LMcNelly's epic kickstarter win (in which he raised $7000 on the final day of his campaign "A Year Without Rent", also mostly through twitter), so I trusted Lord's advice. I've never met him in person, nor have I ever met Lucas McNelly - but I just knew I should listen to him.

Throughout the day, Lord Bronco gave me tips that I followed. He told me to tell stories about the cast & crew, to give some insights into the movie and the shooting of our teaser/trailer. I took it one step further and told stories about my sister & me and how we grew up on a farm outside of Ottawa. I tried to be funny, I tried to type fast, and I tried to be honest. My sister took over for about 30 minutes while I took a much needed break to purchase wine, and while I was gone she told funny stories about me. Some were true, and some weren't. She's a screenwriter after all.

I was told to be careful not to tweet more than 350 times in an hour, which I laughed at. How could anyone tweet 5-6 times/minute? But I remembered that Lucas got kicked out of twitter in the final hours of his kickstarter campaign, so I tried to be careful.

There were moments when we thought we wouldn't make it.

There were moments when we thought we were losing our minds.

At one point, I offered to name my first born after the next backer and 2 people backed us at about the same time - Dom Zook and Vanda. That was funny. So funny that I had tears streaming down my face at the twitter discussion I was having with complete strangers around the world. I think Vanda's in Prague, and Dom Zook is in LA.

We loved the comments from people pouring in to encourage us to keep tweeting. In the last hour, I think my entire twitter stream was about our movie. Whatever else people had been tweeting about was silenced in my world.

In the last few minutes I was eventually kicked out of twitter. We raised the money at 9:52. I had just enough time to tweet "APPLAUSE!" and twitter booted me out. What timing!

Today, a journalist from ATV called me to do an interview about the incredible last minute success of our kickstarter campaign. Another journalist from Douglas Magazine set up an interview with me for Wednesday afternoon. You know what's awesome about all that? I'm not having to come up with great press releases! The media is calling us! YEAH! That's the way we like it. Any indie filmmaker will tell you that.

When we researched how others were successful with kickstarter, we found blog posts that really helped us. So I'm hoping to write a post that tells you a bit more about how we worked on the campaign and what worked for us.

I'll also share a bit about what to say to people who say things like,
"Have you heard about indi-go-go? You get to keep whatever you raise even if you don't get the full amount!"
My answer:
"Oh yeah? Interesting. I'll have to check it out. Thanks for the tip, but we like the 'go big or go home' approach and we think we'll get it,"

What I was really thinking was
"Uh yeah we've heard of indi-go-go! Of course we have. We've done our research! And we chose kickstarter because we want more than a couple of grand! AND WE'LL GET IT! Someone else raised $100,000 for their feature film. We can raise $20 000. I used to go door to door for Greenpeace. Now we have the internet! Just you watch. We'll show you."
See why I didn't actually say what I was thinking?

A whole lot of people will offer advice. Some of it you'll listen to, and some of it will cause you to cringe. Sometimes you'll wonder what the hell you were thinking when you clicked "sign up." But if you believe in your project, and you're able to put your life (and pride) aside for a month or more, then you're good to go.

Anyway, more to come on my thoughts on crowdfunding. If you have any questions now, please let me know in the comments section! This really is an incredible filmmaking community and I'm happy to share my experience with anyone who asks.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Thank YOU!

Every single time someone pledges to our kickstarter campaign I get an email to let me know. And every time someone tweets it, I also get an email about it. I check facebook every five minutes. Every single time one of you sends us your words of encouragement, we feel just a little bit more confident that we'll reach the full 100%.

I'm a pretty upbeat person, but asking for money from people is hard on the ego.

But you know what? You guys and your amazing support seriously does make it so, so worth it.

I just wanted to let you know that.

Thank you. You rock.

Even Stars Need the Porta-Potties: Elton John's Oscars Party 2011

Here I am, ridiculously nervous standing outside our hotel in West Hollywood, waiting for my taxi to Elton John's Oscars Party last Sunday night. I was one of less than 1000 people who were lucky enough to attend the event.

My sister, Jen Westcott, the writer/director in our team, opted out of the party so she could enjoy the luxury of watching the awards from the hotel room without her 3 kids crawling all over her. She ordered room service, had a glass of wine & enjoyed the solitude. Jen's also a bit of my opposite in that she's much more shy than I am. Most people would never know that to meet her, but it's true. The whole idea of a schmooze-fest like Elton John's party just doesn't turn her crank, whereas I love that kind of thing! Guess that's why I'm the producer eh?

So what would you love to know? Hmm...

They mispelled my name...but I didn't care. I tweeted it anyway!

There's an article all about my experience in today's Times Colonist which you can read here. Read all the way to the end to hear about stars using the porta-potties.

Here I am proving that indeed - the washrooms were porta-potties! And no VIP loos either. Imagine being in line when Heidi Klum needs the loo. Yeah, that's exactly what it was like. Too funny!

There were a few highlights for me in particular.

Seeing Florence & the Machine perform in such an intimate setting was absolutely the best thing that's ever happened to me. I only recently bought their album, and while I enjoy it, it's nothing compared to seeing Florence Welch belt out those tunes in person only a few feet away from my table. That woman has a voice and a half!

*This isn't my video, but I found for anyway!

When Elton got up to perform with her, the whole room erupted. And then, to top it all off, Florence had us jumping up and down in our highest heels! It was AMAZING. My feet killed afterwards, but I was a proud jumper who couldn't care less in that moment. Plus, I was dancing right beside Jenna Ushkowitz who was also seriously loving the performance. We joked that it would be incredible if Florence came on Glee.

Also, meeting Chris Colfer and Ashley Fink from Glee. Amazing. Saw Glee on Oprah last year (before Ashley had joined the cast), and as a former teacher, I'm their biggest fan and told them as much. Very cool kids!

Malin Akerman is also a very cool person to talk with. I had the pleasure of speaking with her a few times throughout the evening as our table hosts were good friends with Malin. She asked where I was staying and when I told her "West Hollywood" she replied that she loves it there! In particular, she enjoys having a coffee at 8am without her hair or makeup done, and not being hit on and don't I just love that?! Yeah. Not so much my reality but hey, I liked laughing with her about it anyway. Such a sweetheart and from Canada ta'boot! Photos to come...

And of course, the speeches about HIV/AIDS and what the event was all about were pretty amazing. David Furnish (another Canadian and Elton John's husband) spoke eloquently and inspired us all to take more action. I hear that 4 million dollars were raised that evening. Wowsers!

Now, if only a few of those folks would spare a couple more dollars for our kickstarter campaign.... cough cough.

As for the actual awards ceremony, we watched the Oscars during dinner (which was incredible btdubs) - so that means, we didn't actually get to hear most of the speeches as people chatted throughout. As a movie lover, I gotta admit - I was kind of envious of Jen back at the hotel room watching in silence from home. Not that I would have traded spaces with her for anything - I just like watching the Academy Awards! So, I'll do as my host says she does - watch it tomorrow after I've slept and caught up on work stuff.

I know, I know - you'll tell me that it was a trainwreck and the worst academy awards ceremony in the history of awards ceremonies (that's what twitter's all a'buzz about anyway) but I don't care. Because when I watch the awards, I'll be thinking: that it just might be my sister up there one day, accepting the award for best original screenplay, or best director, or hey, even me for best picture. Not that they ever award "coming of age comedies!" but in the words of Justin Bieber, never say never.

Oh, he wasn't there by the way. Sorry to say. ;-)

More stories & photos to come I promise! But right now, back to plugging our kickstarter campaign to death. I know you're sick of it. I am too. But just pledge what you can, post it, repost it and then we'll all return to life as normal, but this time with enough money to make our movie! Come on folks. WE CAN DO THIS!

70 people have backed us so far, we have only 3 days left and if I can get invited to Elton John's Oscars party after making a goofy beatbox video with my sister and some of our cast in our garage, then by George - surely we can raise $15 000 before the campaign ends in just 3 days. Right?! Are you with us?