The Big Green Elephant (84 Days To Go)

April 6, 2015 Michael Panik
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I have a lot of thoughts right now.

I think it’s been one of those weeks. A lot can happen in seven days.

This week we finished filming for our Kickstarter campaign video, which will also serve as a nice 3 or 4 minute visual intro to TSS as a whole. We did some talking head and performance footage at my very talented friends’ gorgeous Something Beautiful Studio & Design, as well as some action shots at Eagle Rock Thrift n’ More, where we got way more than we bargained for.

After our first store fell through (never wait until the day of to ask permission; lesson learned) we went to an alternative, and then to that store’s other location. It was there we met a woman who gave us the kind of confidence boost we’d so desperately needed for the past couple weeks.

As soon as we told this woman (whose name I’m afraid to publish, as we don’t have a release form yet) that we were filming an independent documentary about thrift stores, she began, without missing a beat, to give us a tour of their facilities, and a total rundown of their operations, complete with her thoughts on the importance of thrift stores to her, and the people they help.

It couldn’t have been better if I had scripted an interview.

She actually started talking about how beautiful it was that they can take what some people see as junk and turn it into something beautiful for multiple people. Andrew and I just turned to each other with this slack-jawed look of excitement. We’ll make sure she’s in the final film, because all of you people need to feel what we felt hearing someone be so passionate about what they do.

But why were we filming in the first place?

Well…I guess it’s time to talk about the 10,000 pound green elephant in the room. Oh yes, he’s been there for quite some time, smirking at me, and teasing us all into acknowledging him, yet there he’s sat. Now it’s his time for the limelight. His 10,000 seconds of fame. Time to climb on his big greenback and charge this problem head-first.

Starting to get the hints?

I guess we have to talk about…

…fundraising.

Ouch. Yeah, that hurt me too.

We’re making a film. We’re making an album. We’re traveling halfway around the U.S.A. to give you an all-access look into the frugal side of the modern American life style. We’re also broke, and the three don’t mix.

We knew from the outset of this project that we would need a small sum of funds to make it happen. We talked about several different ways to secure those funds, and ultimately decided that crowdsourcing would be our best bet. After some research and planning, we decided Kickstarter would be the best platform to partner with for our project, and moved forward in planning the campaign with a goal of $10,000.

That number and I are just now getting comfortable with each other.

I used to have to look at the ceiling or ground every time I mumbled it. Now I don’t have to mumble so much any more.

It’s almost ironic, isn’t it? (And not Alanis Morissette ironic, either) A documentary about living cheap and how people can spend as little as possible to have what they want and about helping the poor and making stuff out of junk is asking for ten thousand fat ones to make the film happen.

Well, no. Not really.

You see, the general consensus is that there’s no way you can make a professional, feature-length doc for less than $20k. Kevin Knoblock, a veteran of the genre, says his cheapest docs start at $30,000, and peak just north of one million bucks.

Suddenly $10,000 doesn’t just seem smaller, but laughably small. But that’s not the amount it’s going to cost to make this film. That’s what we’re asking for. It will cost more, but I am willing to put in everything else over that out of pocket; work the long hours, and get it down.

Most people are going to think we’re crazy to try and make a 90 minute documentary including a travel element for $10,000. Well, we are crazy, and most people tend to think whatever they very well want to. We’re not afraid of going the extra 100 miles to make this project happen on the smallest budget possible.

On April 16th, we’re opening up the campaign, and we’re not going to ask you to donate.

um wat.

We’re asking for your partnership. A donation is an offering of love with nothing in return. In crowdsourcing, it doesn’t work that way at all. For every dollar you pledge to back us, you’ll get something in return, from social media shoutouts, to film credits, to t-shirts, premiere passes, and more. There’s gonna be plenty of cool stuff, and we’d never want you to feel like you weren’t compensated for everything you “donate”.

I feel relieved, you guys. The elephant is free. We can all move on and boldly face the future.

And pray and pray that we get funded.


Weekly Inspiration

“The Sweet Part Of The City” – The Hold Steady
“Death With Dignity” – Sufjan Stevens
“Money” – Pink Floyd
“Elevator Operator” – Courtney Barnett
“Dead Inside” – Muse

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