Crowdfunding & Festivals in Review

It’s been a whirlwind couple of months working on the Seed&Spark crowdfunding campaign to develop ACID TEST into a feature film while also screening the short in festivals like BendFilm in Oregon and the recent Austin Film Festival!

Crowdfunding for the second time around was a whole new adventure, especially given that Hurricane Harvey (and other natural disasters) hit all in the same timeframe. I was invited to contribute a guest blog on Seed&Spark about my experience. Read it here!

As we move into the holiday season, I’m looking forward to diving deep into the feature script and workshopping it in the New Year with my actors.

And make sure you check out ACID TEST’s website for all the latest info on the festivals and reviews!

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Now that ACID TEST premiered in the film festival circuit (more news on upcoming screenings soon!), my thoughts are going to the “what’s next” question. Over the next two years as the short makes its rounds in the festivals and we look to distribution options on platforms such as Seed&Spark, I want to keep the work and efforts we all put in together going. So I’m crowdfunding to expand ACID TEST into a feature film! 

Recently, Seed&Spark announced a “Hometown Heroes Rally” – an initiative where they’ve partnered with the Duplass brothers to help feature films find their audience, funds, and recognition. In order to qualify, filmmakers need to crowdfund for their scripted feature films over 30 days between September 12 and October 13 to raise at least $7500 and gain at least 500 followers. Finalists will pitch their projects to Mark and Jay Duplass for the chance to have them executive produce the film and up to $25,000 cash for production! The focus is on regional filmmaking and here in Houston, we’ve got that in spades. Texas is one of the chosen production areas, which makes sense since both brothers attended UT Austin.

I already have a draft of a feature adaptation of ACID TEST but it needs a lot of work. I jumped at the chance of raising development funds through this Hometown Heroes campaign.

In the midst of planning this crowdfunding campaign, Hurricane Harvey hit and I thought about cancelling it. How can I ask for money for a film when so many people need money just to survive? But I know Houston will recover, is already recovering, coming together in such an amazing way to help each other out. This campaign is one step toward bringing the larger film industry to Houston, creating jobs and opportunities, and I feel like if I cancel the campaign, I’m letting Harvey win.

I want this to be an opportunity for all of us. Incentives include film consultations and interviews with the heroes we have here in Houston. This is a Hometown Rally for Houston with an eye toward a stronger future.

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ACID TEST to BendFilm!

My short film ACID TEST will be in competition at BendFilm Festival this October! So excited to attend, and it was great, welcome new in the midst of Hurricane Harvey when I was under mandatory evacuation. Luckily my house escaped flooding, but my heart goes out to everyone effected by Harvey and now Irma. Fingers crossed that Jose and any others keep their distance!

Read more at http://acidtestfilm.com!

Losing your (festival) virginity

So my short film ACID TEST premiered last Sunday as part of Literally Short Film Festival’s “Local & Fresh” Selection of Texas shorts and I think it went really really well. A short write-up on it is found on the film’s website blog and includes a post about our cast-crew-contributor screening that occurred the week before. So I thought I would use this opportunity to express the anxiety of launching into festival season.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!! As a filmmaker, it’s hard enough just to get your film off the ground and into production. Then it’s another beast to get it through post. Then you have this thing, this video file, that you want people to see and you look out into the vast ocean of content and opportunities and you realize you are but a molecule of H2O. And while getting your film picked by a festival is completely out of your hands, there’s all this strategizing and connection-making to get noticed, to get a waiver or a discount…

I feel like I’m in high school all over again trying to get noticed by the popular crowd. Trying to catch the eye of the kid I like. Strategizing how I’m going to lose my virginity. Do I just get it over with? Or do I wait for someone I love? And what will people think of me once I’ve done it?

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Festival news!

ACID TEST has been selected to play at the Literally Short Film Festival here in Houston as part of their Local & Fresh selection of Texas shorts. We are honored and excited to launch our festival season by premiering at a festival where we can celebrate with our family, friends, contributors, and community at large. The Festival Director and fellow filmmaker friend Lorís Simón Salum is a supporter of ACID TEST and I’m so pleased to be included in a festival that celebrates its Mexican roots since the mother character in ACID TEST is Mexican-American.

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Visual Storytelling

Making movies is telling a story through pictures, performances, words, and sounds. I began this journey into movie-making through visuals first when my father taught me how to develop photographs when I was in 1st grade. No, before that, I started ballet like many pre-schoolers and started learning about physical movement and performance timed to sound. Eventually, I began writing and falling in love with the written word. I would rewrite and rewrite letters to pen-pals until they were perfectly worded and that the words fell on the page in a visually interesting/impactful way. I began taking piano lessons.

But learning all these techniques does not give you story. For story you have to live. You have to understand, or at least seek understanding. You have to engage in relationships and the world around you, expand what you know and try to look through another’s eyes…It’s a never-ending quest to find story, to write story, to tell story because you are constantly learning and experiencing and framing…

Add to all that the variables of performance, location, crew, equipment, luck, and making movies becomes a miraculous feat when one is completed. A study in controlled chaos. You have to tell a story using the visuals you capture, supported by the sounds you captured and/or design.

So here is a story of how I started discovering my eye.

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We did it! ACID TEST funded!

ACID TEST got the green light on Seed&Spark meaning we received the funds raised in April to get us through post-production. More to come!

Thank you to everyone who contributed and followed, tweeted and posted. We couldn’t have done it without you!

And if you want to support ACID TEST but didn’t get a chance to during our Seed&Spark campaign, you can still make a tax-deductible donation through our fiscal sponsor SWAMP!

Jenny

New Music Video!

So proud and excited to share the news that the band Giant Kitty, featured in my short film ACID TEST, asked me to direct their music video for the title song of their debut album “This Stupid Stuff.” The song is about microaggressions in our language and actions today that perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices in our world. The lead singer came up with the concept, which I formalized and structured for shooting/editing purposes.

“The new video, directed by Jenny Waldo, is one of those combination concept and performance videos that’s a throwback to the ’80s, when music videos had their own dedicated television station and the politics of hate weren’t as overt as they are now. With the clever use of the most basic of props, sticky notes and a Sharpie, interwoven with footage of the band performing the tune on stage, ‘The Stupid Stuff’ exposes the absurdity of the politics of hate and fear and its reliance on stereotypes and labels to feed into the ignorance and prejudices that adversely influence your actions and interactions with others.”Examiner.com

Enjoy!

Why this project? Why now?

There’s a lot of work that goes into making a movie – short or long – and I know it’s a choice I make to do it, especially when it’s outside of my day job that keeps me and my children alive. Yes, I would love to be able to do this as my job full-time, but it’s also incredibly freeing to choose which projects to do and when. And no matter how much is going on at my day job, I am constantly, constantly, working on a creative project. I don’t see filmmaking or writing as “work” even though it’s hard. I don’t see it as work even though I know sometimes I’m sucking at it. To me it’s like breathing – it’s part of my autonomic system. It’s in my DNA.

The cover for my journal when I was 15

That knowledge was something I discovered when I dropped acid as a teenager and came home after a concert with hours more to go in my trip. All I wanted to do was write things down. I was a wildly moody teenager (or maybe that’s just being a teenager) and writing about the world and about what was going on in my head helped me survive from one day to the next. I truly believe that writing saved my life, and as it saved my life it became my life. So no matter what I’m doing, every day, I’m writing or reading or watching something that expands my knowledge of the world, of myself, of people, but mostly of storytelling. The goal changed as well from simply surviving to the next day to producing something for someone else to enjoy.

Recently, I wrote a short film about this moment in my childhood. ACID TEST will be in production at the end of January. So the question is: Why this project? Why now?

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