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  • Writer's pictureJenny Waldo


Updated: Oct 10, 2023

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since our amazing Table Read at the Houston Cinema Arts Festival, funded in part by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance grant.

Martha’s Mustang has been trucking along through various workshops and labs (described in more detail below) that have been critical to refining the script and putting things in order so that we can make this dream of telling Martha’s story on the big screen a reality!

The writer and actor strikes in the industry impacted our project. Even though I am an independent filmmaker, the goal for Martha’s Mustang has always been to find industry partners such as a name actor. While this pains me because I love all my local actors and admire their incredible talent, the business side of the industry – especially for a project of this size with a $2M budget – require us to at least try to make inroads in the industry. I experienced this directly with my first feature film, Acid Test, especially on the distribution and marketing side.

Things are ready to move forward as we FUNDRAISE for development funds.

Martha’s Mustang is now fiscally sponsored by From the Heart Productions, who sponsored Acid Test as well. This non-profit allows for us to raise funds through charitable donations, meaning that ALL DONATIONS ARE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE! In order to pursue the next phase of development for Martha’s Mustang, my goal is to raise $50,000 by the end of 2023 to pay for a casting director, entertainment lawyer, line producer (who will fine-tune the budget), with the bulk of the funds used to secure a well-known actor for at least one of our juicy roles. Please check out our fundraising page.

  • All donations get a social media shoutout THANK YOU!

  • Donations over $500 get an 11x17 of our current poster

  • Donations over $1000 get a bound print-out of the script

  • Donations over $5,000 get a Thank You Credit in the final credits of the movie

  • Donations over $10,000 get an Associate Producer Credit in the final credits of the movie

With these elements in place, can pursue our dream production with a $2.5M budget for Martha's Mustang! This "package" will secure the rest of the financing, done in a more traditional manner through investors and product placement.

The MORE you donate, the BIGGER your tax benefit! We are eternally grateful for ANY amount before it all helps, and we also know that with inflation and coming out of the pandemic, times are hard.

You can also give in FREE ways:

  • Spread the word - let your friends and family know about this project and ask them to donate

  • Share our posts on social media

  • Reach out with any contacts or connections that might help us accomplish our goals - help us tap into our 6 degrees of separation!

We are offering a 5% finders fee for anyone who directly connects us someone who donates!

In order to do justice to Martha's story, we are looking for industry partners (Executive Producer, established Producer, name talent, Sales Agent, Distributor). If you know of anyone who would be a good fit for our project, please let me know and help make an introduction!

Let's help each other. Martha's Mustang is truly a community film. Martha is alive and well, as are many of the real-life characters from our story. People of Baytown still remember the "purple planter" and the fight with City Hall. As we move forward with this project, any leftover funds will go toward pre-production and production on the feature, which we plan to shoot NO MATTER WHAT in the summer of 2025!

Here are some of the experiences Martha’s Mustang (and I) have grown from:

The table read itself was an amazing experience and I thank you all for participating. Listening to the story come to life really helped shine light on what’s working and not working in the script. The feedback from you and the audience was also critical in getting our story to its next iteration. For one thing, the audience was split on the love triangle between Martha, Scott, and Billy. What I discovered in listening to the table read was that the biggest problem was the fact that the love triangle had nothing to do with the Mustang. Structurally, sub-plots eventually effect the main plot, with everything culminating in the climax of the film, but that was not the case with the love triangle sub-plot. In further discussions with Martha, I decided to age the son, now named Mikey, to fifteen, which is closer to the real age of Martha’s son at the time and also provided a sub-plot of Martha as a single parent of an angsty teen in a storyline where the Mustang itself is effected during the climax of the film. I’m very excited about this new development and think it provides a beautiful emotional impact after the legal circus of the trial in a “she wins the battle but loses the war” analogy when it becomes clear Martha’s attention on the Mustang has distracted her from the more important needs of her son. With that major change in the characters and storyline, Martha’s ex-husband Scott becomes a catalyst for Mikey’s downward spiral when Mikey discovers his father starting a new family with his new wife, which then eliminates the love triangle aspect. The love story with Billy still exists as a way for audiences to fall in love with Martha and pay homage to such a wonderful man, and he becomes a proxy for the unresolved issues Martha has from her marriage to his best friend, creating tension and conflict.

The other “big note” from the table read revolved around the stakes for Martha and how to make the audience worry that she might not win. I’ve answered that by backing up the story a little bit where we see her working under her father briefly before a heart attack presents the opportunity for her to take over. The struggles of being a single parent to a teenager also heightens the stakes as well and I’m confident that our story will be compelling.

Following the table read, I participated in the Stowe Story Producing Lab where I met some amazing peers and mentors and learned about the producing, financing, and distribution requirements of a > $1M “low budget” independent film. This was especially eye-opening when one of the first speakers said that being a multi-hyphenate producer-writer-director can be a red flag for financiers because there can be an inherent conflict of interest between the business needs and the creative needs of the project. This is one of the reasons why I’m looking for industry partners and co-producers who have more experience and can balance out my “vote” while also providing guidance on how to make Martha’s Mustang as successful as possible in this industry. The good news is that our type of “feel-good” “female-oriented” film is very popular, especially with a protagonist over 40.

In the spring, I participated in From the Heart’s Intentional Filmmaking Workshop, where I built a business plan and pitch deck materials under the guidance of Carole Dean and Tom Malloy. Tom’s business plan model was especially helpful to see how much revenue Martha’s Mustang might need to earn in order to be successful at the budget level we are looking at. I’ve been making adjustments and being mindful of this ever since, especially because I want to make this film NO MATTER WHAT! I don’t want to wait too long, especially with our aging subjects, and so I’m looking at creatively producing this film and engaging in the community to defray some of our costs. That means that if our industry efforts to attach a name actor take too long or prove ineffective, we will be moving forward with our amazing talent of local cast and crew!

Finally, in the summer, right as the strikes started, I went to Vermont for the Stowe Story Narrative Lab to workshop the script. I met with producers and managers and honed my verbal pitch. It put into perspective how much our film has broad appeal and warrants an industry approach.

So, it’s been a lot! It’s been incredible! And I’m looking forward to what comes next.

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