What’s the story of how this came about? What was the need you saw in the community that it emerged from?
Shane and I founded Bearded Chicken Productions Ltd. last year with the vision to grow Edmonton’s film community.
On the surface, we look like any small indie film production company. We have a slate of three feature films in development and still have our day jobs to support our storytelling. Our business model is what is different. It’s based on and in Edmonton… let me explain.
We have a supportive, nurturing film culture that promotes up and coming filmmakers. Industry professionals take time to mentor and teach in many venues. Edmonton is an incubator for filmmaking talent. Historically, that talent drifted to larger centres like Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and I hate to say, Calgary. Things are getting better, with the city actually attracting some of our talent back in recent years. Also, the content demands of our digital era creates a perfect environment for Edmonton to become a bigger player in the content production market.
What we are committed to is working with other local arts and entertainment independents to provide paid opportunities for cast and crew. If small producers work together, for example scheduling projects back to back with no overlap, we can provide a series of paycheques (albeit small paycheques) that sustains our emerging talent between larger projects. Together, we can work to keep our casts and crew in Edmonton. Take our collaboration with Rapid Fire Theatre for example.
Can you share a few examples of how your project works?
Our first project, AutoScript is a mockumentary about the production and attempted sabotage of the first ever computer written script.
We needed a cast in their mid to late twenties, and since it’s an improv mockumentary, we needed talented improv artists to help workshop and add that spontaneous dimension to our plot. Our natural local partner was Rapid Fire Theatre. We approached artistic director Amy Shostak and found that our corporate visions fit. RFT’s board of directors had recently decided to try to promote more paid opportunities for their cast.
We’ve moved forward with open auditions and we cast primarily RFT actors. We are cross-promoting their shows during our current cinecoup.com 1M social media campaign and are offering to share the stage with RFT when we host our first live event in early April. Amy and our cast are continuing to leverage their relationships in the improv community to glean online support for our 1M film financing run.
What’s the response been so far?
Giving our cast a paycheque each week is a good feeling. Because we haven’t produced and sold the actual movie yet, it’s a weekly act of faith that what we’re creating together will eventually become self-sustaining. We’ve gotten some good feedback. Our concept trailer is online, and we are working on weekly content to see if we can build an audience.
We want to make Edmonton proud and strut our filmmaking and improv comedy ability on a national stage. There are a few other projects from Edmonton. We are hosting a big PR event and inviting them as well to pitch their projects. We would love to have a 1M budget to tell our story, but the next best thing is if another local filmmaker gets to tell their story and funnels that budget into the pockets of my #yegfilm community.
As far as gaining support to collaborate to build and share crew resources, our vision has struck a resonant note with FAVA, yegfilm and Raindance Alberta. We met in January to discuss possibilities and will continue this work later this spring. Edmonton’s filmmakers want to grow our cast and crew and give them enough work to keep them here. My next step is to meet with other local companies and work on collaborative scheduling.
What are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?
1.) This is a learning process. We have to take our separate pockets of filmmakers and become a truely integrated and interdependent community. We’ll have to be more intentional and collaborative to grow, incorporate, and retain the next generation of talent.
2.) Staying on track. Even when we’re busy and buried under our own project, supporting others filmmakers and artists however and whenever we can is key to living our vision.
3.) Edmonton has huge potential to become an emerging filmmaking market — now is the time! Right now we have a small pie worth of filmmaking happening in the city. We need to collaborate and not compete to grow our pie. We can attract big projects (great for our cast and crew!) if we make a big tasty pie together.
What’s the next level for your project? What are you most excited about that’s coming up?
Finding money for AutoScript to become a reality.
We’re doing a national competition for 1M in funding and Canadian theatrical release in Cineplex theatres. It has weekly challenges and that is keeping us BUSY. The great thing is that our cast and crew are flexing their on-screen and behind the scenes muscle which makes them stronger. That benefits our end product (a movie for people to enjoy and laugh at/with), and builds the Edmonton film talent-o-metre in general. Opening up about ourselves online is a bit outside our comfort zone, but it’s a good challenge and exciting in its own way.
If people want to find out more about your project, support it or get involved – what should they do?
Watch the concept trailer and the weekly content we are posting at http://www.cinecoup.com/autoscript
Become a fan at cinecoup.com and vote for AutoScript in the voting rounds March 21-24, and April 4-7 (I will still be happy if you vote for any other yegfilm if our mockumentary isn’t a genre you enjoy – our second film is a thriller, so hopefully we’ll eventually make something that appeals to you!)
You’re all invited to our live event at the Metro Saturday April 6th at 4:30pm – we’re showing a short action film made in the “world of AutoScript” called BOOM! – Logline: if a action film was written by an algorithm programmed for entertainment, what would/could explode.