Category Archives: Indie Campaign

IndieGoGo Highlight — “Reasonable Fear”

by Gabriel Valdez

Reasonable Fear is a new Philadelphia short play festival exploring street harassment and rape culture. In the words of producer Alyson Rodriguez Orenstein, the series will feature “survivors’ tales, pieces on street harassers, pieces on the difficulty of reporting crimes like rape, and pieces on the media’s contribution to the sexual objectification of women.”

Orenstein and co-producer Amanda Sylvester are currently running an IndieGoGo campaign to make the show a reality.

Reasonable Fear will be presented at the Luna Theater April 16-25, and Saturdays will feature comedians addressing the subject of harassment and rape culture; the line up includes Rachel Fogletto, Vickie Fernandez, and Hannah Harkness.

Orenstein and Sylvester are putting on my favorite kind of production – being formed as something entirely new from the ground up. These kinds of productions can help theatre respond more swiftly to the social issues we deal with today. It’s also still rare to see theatre that’s produced by women or that features women as the focal point. Money from their fundraising campaign will go toward venue, set design, and promotion, among other things.

I don’t like to donate to anything unless I know where it’s coming from, that who I’m donating to is reliable. It’s why I list fundraising campaigns very rarely and only when I’m familiar with who’s running them. Touch Me Philly Productions is a theatrical production company with a history (you can check out their past shows here) of bringing successful live performances to bear, including hosted horror events, concerts, variety hours, and burlesque shows.

Stop by their IndieGoGo, hear what they have to say for yourself and if you’re in the Philly area or just want to see more shows that cover these topics, consider donating to help put this one up.

If you’re an actor in Philadelphia who’s interested in auditioning, you can also check out the listings, but please be aware you only have until March 7.

IndieGoGo Highlight — “Empress of the Moon: The Lives of Aphra Behn”

Empress of the Moon

If you’re a fan of swordfights, spycraft, and feminist plays, look no further. Empress of the Moon: The Lives of Aphra Behn has just over a day remaining in its IndieGoGo campaign. The play, written by Chris Braak for a cast of 6 women, is going up at this year’s Capital Fringe Festival.

What’s it about? Aphra Behn was an English spy in the Netherlands. When she returned and the Crown refused to pay her for her service, she became the first woman to make her living as a writer. Aphra Behn might not even have been her real name. And that’s the historical portion. To quote Braak, the play is about “what it means to create your own identity, to build a story for yourself as a person in general but as a woman in particular.”

I have a great deal of confidence in Braak as a writer. Visit the IndieGoGo page for Empress of the Moon: The Lives of Aphra Behn. If you like what you see, consider contributing.

In Competition — “My Dear Americans”

My Dear Americans lead

Today, I’m featuring director Arpita Kumar and producer Minnie Chen’s short film “My Dear Americans.” It’s competing in PBS’s Online Film Festival.

It’s a brilliant short story, only 7 minutes long, and let’s you share a unique day with a Sikh family celebrating the Fourth of July. It’s touching, and invites us into the private lives of characters you don’t often get to see on television or in the movies.

And that’s the thing, they’re not that different from you or me or the next guy. When something very painful happens, they react like you or I or anyone else does, yet they draw an admirable strength that underlines the resilience and optimism that drives people to immigrate to the United States in the first place.

From a filmmaking perspective, the best part of “My Dear Americans” is how well it creates empathy through its technical elements. It’s a superb example of how to choose shallow focus shots. They set the film’s crisp yet graceful, lyrically edited tone, but they also invite us closer to the wife’s perspective. Combined with over-the-shoulder and behind-the-back shots, they establish trust and shared perspective between the wife and the viewer. It all aids in subtly shifting you into watching from her perspective, creating that empathy and striking you right in the chest when that painful moment in the film comes.

That we’re then invited to share in a moment of intimate weakness is something special – it’s a hard moment to set up and realize properly in a full-length feature, let alone a 7-minute short, and this moment of emotion, of pure breakdown, is one of the most heartfelt scenes I’ve seen in any film this year. Both performers deserve appreciation. This is an important, important film that doesn’t tackle something new as much as it tackles something we shy away from, and it does it with profound emotional resonance.

So what are you still reading me for? Watch it and, if you like it, vote for it in PBS’s Online Film Festival.

(And if you love it like I do, vote for it in good, old-fashioned Chicago-style: several times. You’re allowed to vote for it once every 24 hours, until the festival ends on July 31!)

“My Dear Americans” — A Film for Your 4th of July

I’ll write more extensively about this fantastic film next week, but I’d like to point people toward “My Dear Americans,” a short film currently competing in the PBS Online Film Festival.

It is written & directed by a schoolmate of mine, Arpita Kumar, and it is a remarkable and touching 7 minutes well worth your time.

Enjoy it here.

If you like it, vote and support it. And however you came to be an American, have a very happy Fourth of July!

My Dear Americans

Empress of the Moon: The Lives of Aphra Behn

Empress of the Moon

Aphra Behn. A spy for the British crown, whose job was to turn English expatriates in the Netherlands into double agents. A spy who returned to Britain impoverished because the English King Charles turned around and said, “Hey, guys, do we have to pay her? No? Let’s not pay her then.”

What’s a woman to do when she’s impoverished? Obviously, the only choice is to turn to the most debasing profession of all – become a writer. And that’s exactly what she did, claiming a spot in history as the first woman to make her living as a playwright. She was also one of the first fantasists in modern history,

Wouldn’t you like to see that story play out in front of you, preferably with sword fights and expert commentary about the history of identity…with more sword fights?

Chris Braak has written this very play. It’s called Empress of the Moon: The Lives of Aphra Behn, and it’s going up at the Capital Fringe Festival.

Now, I only highlight the fundraising campaigns here that I think are top-notch and worth your time. I don’t want to highlight anything that I think can’t be pulled off. Here, the play’s already written, its run is already booked, actors already cast, cast already choreographed. This IndieGoGo campaign is to help defray the cast and crew’s travel and accommodation costs to the Capital Fringe Festival.

Braak himself is one of the voices I trust and listen to most when it comes to the culture and politics of identity. This article he wrote at Threat Quality Press remains one of the clearest and most incisive pieces of writing on gender representation in the media that I’ve read in years.

Chris Braak is a special writer, and I want to see him succeed. He is one of those few I hope crafts the storytelling of tomorrow. If you’re someone here who’s familiar with him, consider contributing to his IndieGoGo campaign. If you’re unfamiliar with him, read a bit more about his play here, and then visit IndieGoGo.

Putting “Ideal” Over the Top


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I posted about “Ideal” three weeks ago. In the meantime, Kevan Tucker’s horror comedy blew its $8,000 IndieGoGo campaign out of the water. There are still a brief four days left to contribute, however.

Why should you when it’s already topped its goal? Because this is filmmaker Kevan Tucker’s best chance yet at being able to strike into bigger and better filmmaking. The more capable he is of getting his ideas onto screen, the more likely “Ideal” is to serve as a successful short film in its own right, and a successful proof-of-concept for a larger film with studio financing.

As a critic, I champion the things I love all the time – the movies, the ideas, other writers. This is my chance to champion a filmmaker whose talent for narrative and social commentary is only as limited as the opportunities he gets. That’s why I want to see that IndieGoGo number rise even higher – so he can make the most of this particular opportunity. Visit his IndieGoGo page and learn more about “Ideal.” Check the project out. See if it’s your cup of tea, and if it is, throw some of that tea money his way – you drink too much tea already anyway.

FYI, I have no affiliation with “Ideal.” I am not involved in the production in any manner. Tucker’s just a filmmaker and friend I’ve admired since college. If anything, he still owes me some Mexican take-out from five years ago. I assume Mexican takeout accrues interest and that he owes me Mexican dinners for a year now. Stop reading my babble (for now). Go visit “Ideal.”

IndieGoGo Highlight: “Ideal” by Kevan Tucker

Ideal Kevan Tucker

Kevan Tucker is the most effective filmmaker I know. He’s the one most likely to get his vision up on screen. I’ve been blessed to work with him a few times – he’s always the person on set who knows the most about what’s going on, it doesn’t matter if he’s in charge or holding a microphone.

He is currently prepping a short film called “Ideal.” It’s a psychological horror movie satirizing the fashion industry. I highly recommend you check out his IndieGoGo campaign.

Tucker directed the comedy web series Compulsive Love. Before that, he directed the feature film The Unidentified, which won Best New Director at the Brooklyn International Film Festival and became a staple of PBS’s Reel 13, a program which highlights independent films.

There are some big names on “Ideal” – Uncorked Productions debuted two movies at SXSW this year. Jared Parsons produced Hulu original series Battleground. Tim O’Neill produced and edited both The Unidentified and Compulsive Love. If “Ideal” is a success, Tucker may be given a much-deserved shot at directing a longer, feature film-version called Spare.

Some readers will know Tucker, the vast majority won’t. To be honest, what I most envy about him is that he doesn’t have that voice in his head telling him why he can’t accomplish something. It comes across in his films with an energy and exuberance that’s often breathtaking, and it’s what lets him create exceedingly polished films about big ideas on minimal budgets.

I’ve seen him go to the mat to make sure a story’s told the way it ought to be, and I’ve never seen him be anything but kind and generous to his casts and crews. I’m featuring him here not because I’ve worked with him before, but because I want to see “Ideal” made. I want to see the career that opens up to a filmmaker like Kevan Tucker if it is. He’s the sort of storyteller I want to see making the movies that shape our world 20 years from now.