OUT OF THE FRYING PAN AND INTO THE FIRE!
On May 22nd 2017 – after 45 days – I was able to send a new email to our subscribers:
WE MADE IT!
Last Friday night we received the £100 donation that took us over our target of £10800.
WHAT A WONDERFUL ACHIEVEMENT THAT IS. Duncan and I know that we could not have done this without your brilliant support. Thank you for the confidence you have shown in backing us – we won’t let you down. We have allowed donations to continue, and are currently at £11,071 with two days to go. If you feel so inspired to donate again, please know that any extra money will go towards ensuring the crew are paid properly.
We were extremely lucky. We were in new territory now as donations continued to come in. I had a brief conversation with Ashon Spooner at Phundee – www.phundee.com – expressing some concern over this. Was it usual practice to let a Campaign run over if it exceeded its target? How long would you let it continue? Were we in any way undermining the integrity of our Campaign in doing so? Ashon told us to relax, and enjoy the ride. We were in a unique position – people now wanted to be seen to contribute towards success by donating. Not only could we now make our pilot, but even begin to draw up a real production schedule and actually start seeing the dream become a reality.
In truth, however, the end of the Campaign meant an opportunity to step away from the coal face of fund raising, of the incessant chatter in my ear 24/7 – where next to send an email, a tweet, a tumblr message,, an update, who next to pester – no, persuade – to part with hard earnt cash in support of our ambition. It is only by devoting yourself entirely to the task in hand do you stand any reasonable chance of achieving it. At the time it felt overwhelming, but at least the objective was clear. The moment you draw breath, having got there, succeeded – that’s when the exhaustion kicks in. And boy, did I feel exhausted.
You also turn from one role – with all its attendant demands and challenges – to another which is equally demanding but very different. You turn from Fund Raiser to Producer. I was now – effectively – a Producer of my own story, my own material. This is a role many writers aspire to, as it gives them more control over how their work is represented. But as the Gods say, Be Careful What You Wish for…
THANK YOU and WHAT’S NEXT?
Duncan and I are meeting tonight to go over a new list….all the things we have to do to make this happen. I am writing the script and we already have some wonderful help on research.
We look FORWARD to bringing you all up to speed on the next stage. THANK YOU AGAIN FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS Duncan & Nicholas
By now I had been introduced by Duncan to a wonderful Producer called Katie Dain who was herself involved in another production. The idea was that she would act as a Mentor, initiating me into some of the roles of Producer, and acting as a sounding board. I think secretly I was hoping that she might Produce Your Dads Gay as well. Because the more I was finding out about what was involved, the more intimidated I was becoming.
The project she was working on had hit various obstacles, and so I would turn up at her flat to talk about Your Dads Gay only to get a crash course not just in the practical skills of being a Producer – preparing a budget, organising clearances, casting, appointing a DoP – but also the crucial skills of negotiating, mediation, and maintaining your sanity. Katie’s laugh reverberated around the flat as she waved ash from her rollups and regaled me with yet another story – ‘I am giving up smoking, darling, really I am’ – but it was clear she wouldn’t – and couldn’t be our producer. But she offered huge encouragement at a time I needed it badly.
Two things were becoming clear. Firstly, that Duncan and I had distinct but different responsibilities. Duncan had to concentrate on finding a DoP – someone who would help him achieve his vision of our pilot. In an ideal world he would find a Designer too – to work alongside him and the DoP. I, on the other hand, had to concentrate on the script – adapting from my own radio series HOW TO HAVE A PERFECT MARRIAGE – but for a different audience and demographic.
Look at the post above – reading between the lines you can see how petrified we both were at the prospect of making YOUR DADS GAY! We substituted the difficult process of finding key personnel and making proper decisions for tinkering around the edges. Duncan and I met regularly, full of enthusiasm, but it was only a gradual process of really developing a proper game plan – perhaps a growing into these new roles we had created for ourselves. And meanwhile £10.4K sat in my business account – requiring detailed conversations with my accountant about how to manage it, and whether it represented income or not (it didn’t). Nothing about this project was proving simple – or straightforward.
Out of this period of uncertainty and lack of confidence came an awareness that without a cast we would have nothing. I had adapted the script – which everyone loved – and we had sat over a diary trying to schedule filming dates – hugely difficult due to the other commitments of the team to earn a proper living. We now had a wonderful intern – Hannah Bibi – who was doing a lot of fantastic research but unable to take on more of a Producer’s role due to simple lack of experience. In fact finding a Producer became the absolute priority. We had to have someone in charge, calling the shots and making stuff happen.
Duncan introduced me to a casting agent – Nicci Topping (www.niccitopping.com) – she loved the material and wanted to help. Fantastic. Now Duncan could send character descriptions to Nicci, and she started to send us through suggestions. To date we have cast two out of five roles – and Nicci is dealing with contracts etc… a huge relief!
Equally important, we have appointed a Producer – Rebecca Graham (www.bexgraham.com) – a fellow colleague at Westminster University where I am now teaching. Her impact was immediate and effective – transferring information, organising Skype calls, a quiet but authoritative manner and access to vital information about personnel. Both Duncan and I feel that she has been the best decision we have made thus far – and for the first time I can really sense this film coming together.
So as of the end of November we have the following
- Filming dates. Subject to fluctuations because of work commitments we have decided on filming between Christmas and New Year. This has advantages AND disadvantages (short filming dues due to light – disadvantage, cheaper rates on equipment hire – an advantage), but the decision has to be made, and made to work.
- As I said we are some way to finalising our cast. I am hopeful this will be completed by the beginning of December.
- Having advertised via some FB sites, Duncan has whittled applications down to three, all of whom come with their own equipment. He has met them all – and I expect a decision imminently.
- Production Personnel and Schedule. Rebecca is currently putting together a team, all of whom will be paid something. This is something Duncan and I feel most proud of .
- We have a wonderful location, ready for our designer to work on.
It is coming together. All systems kinda – GO! We are about to leap out of the frying pan and into the fire.