30 January 2011

29 January 2011

Sometimes, when you spend all day editing, you are exhausted at the end. And sometimes, you get a little loopy.We're a little loopy.

29 January 2011

28 January 2011

Today, we went to Wexford, PA and traded some editing for editing.
I helped my good friend Josh Thomas with his editing workload for his job as a church video producer (we blasted Kanye West all day). Then, when everyone went home, we started going through my film UP COUNTRY, getting Josh's input on the rough cut.
Also, he just got a 7D so he wanted to play with it.

27 January 2011


As seen in downtown Pittsburgh...


26 January 2011

26 January 2011

Think of this as a dry run.

I'm in Pittsburgh (as you can see from the map on the right) to do some post work on UP COUNTRY. That starts tomorrow. Today, a trip to the Andy Warhol Museum, where we batted around the silver clouds and stumbled upon an opportunity to see []'s A FIRE IN MY BELLY, which the Smithsonian pulled late last year under pressure from the Catholic League and Rep. John Boehner. You can actually watch it online, but nothing beats watching super 8 footage on the big screen.

While watching it, we couldn't figure out if the issue was the depictions of Jesus, the masturbation, or the fact that the two were so close together. My guess: a little bit of all three.

17 January 2011

Kickstarter trailer

this is a test, mostly. The campaign is over. Music used by permission

10 January 2011

Mix CD: Track 15

If you're just joining us...

15. American Music
Artist: The Violent Femmes
Album: Why Do Birds Sing?

Ok, I was going to write about the awesomeness of the Violent Femmes, and about how I saw them play a free show in Pittsburgh a couple of years ago. They came out and basically just blasted through every single song of theirs you remember, then played a bunch of other stuff. Almost as if they'd found a compromise between playing the hits and playing what they wanted. Everyone went home happy.

But, then I saw the video was hosted on MTV.com and it was a major flashback. Remember when MTV played not only music videos but videos from bands like the Violent Femmes? I don't, because I grew up in Maine and the state just got cable TV 3 years ago. But I've heard it was really cool.

1. On the Road (Jack Kerouac)
2. The 50 States Song (Sufjan Stevens)
3. No Cars Go (Arcade Fire)
4. Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again (Bob Dylan)
5. I Know Every Street (Lohio)
6. Power (Kanye West)
7. Between Days (Red House Painters)
8. Dogwalkers of the New Age (Breathe Owl Breathe)
9. There There (Radiohead)
10. A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left (Andrew Bird)
11. Ladies Night (Jerome Wincek)
12. O New England (The Decemberists)
13. The Crane Takes Flight (Ted Leo & the Pharmacists)
14. California Stars (Billy Bragg & Wilco)

Mission: Improbable

Saturday, I really didn't do anything. I ran some errands and went to a high school basketball game, but other than that, I was pretty much off-line. Friday, as you may have heard, was pretty insane.

Really, the best way to describe the madness of A Year Without Rent Kickstarter campaign is with good, old-fashioned math.

+ The last activity on Thursday bumped our total raised to $4,359.00, which means that we raised $7,819.10 in the final 24 hours. And, yes, someone pledged ten cents. Or, as they tweeted, "in for a dime, in for a dollar."

+ Thursday into Friday, we held our second consecutive sleep strike, with the goal of hitting 130 backers. Backer 130 took a long time. Enough time that I was able to finish reading Neil Gaiman's AMERICAN GODS. We finally hit it at 4:34am ET on Friday.

+ That means that we gained 113 backers in under 20 hours. That's 113 NEW people who got behind the campaign in less than a day.

+ In the final hour, the total went up 49 times, either by people bumping their initial pledge or becoming a new backer.

+ Kickstarter sends an email every time there's activity on your campaign. The email for backer 243 came after the email saying we'd met our goal. Meaning, someone truly got in under the wire.

But the best visualization is this graph:

I could go over that last couple of hours in detail, but I think Scott Macaulay did it best at Filmmaker Magazine:
A look at McNelly’s Twitter stream — which was interrupted when he reached his Twitter limit for the day (I didn’t even know there was a Twitter limit) — reveals what those of us following online witnessed as a crowdsourcing battle of inches: last minute bonuses, including a Clerks 2 script signed by Kevin Smith; personal thanks tweeted to all contributors, which served to spread word of the campaign even further; all manner of superhero and movie references (“in serious need of the cavalry,” was one tweet; another was “We’re putting up a big Bat signal”); last-minute features in Film Threat and Film Courage; a team of invested friends and colleagues; and, mostly, a campaign that organically developed an unstoppable momentum mirroring the goals of the project itself. Indeed, an unfailing optimism was what seemed to push this campaign over the top.
I'll tell you a little secret. I'm not an optimistic person. In fact, I'm the opposite. But I knew that the minute I said we weren't going to make it, then we weren't going to make it. Us McNelly's are nothing if not stubborn. And really you have to be stubborn to survive in indie film. Any project worth doing is going to fall apart two or three times before completion. The difference between the ones that fail and the ones that succeed is very often a sheer force of will.

Did I actually think we were going to pull it off? Honestly, I don't know. I think I kind of convinced myself somewhere along the line that it had to happen. There was such a huge difference between the $$ that was coming in and the level of support we had, that it felt like the dam could break at any minute. I was just worried it would break too late. (And it almost did).

If you really do want the "secret" to this sort of thing, here it is (thanks to Jessica Fenlon for grabbing this):

Anyone who tells you anything else is trying to sell you something.

The most important thing to take from this is that a good idea, properly executed, can still grab everyone's attention--assuming you're willing to put in the hours. But more importantly, this is a community that can be rallied. All I really did was lay the groundwork. But the community got behind this and collectively showed that we can push something toward a goal. It shows that despite all of our flaws, we can unite around some common goals. If you ask me, that's the biggest thing we can learn from this. A rising tide helps us all. The indie film is not, nor will it ever be, a zero-sum game.

With that in mind, let me thank a few people. First and foremost, David & Karen at Film Courage were warriors. Their Twitter got shut off too. Words cannot express how fantastic they were. Kevin Fox came to the party late, but once he arrived, he was like a force of nature. Mark at Film Threat called this one early on. As did Spoxx, Phil Holbrook, Nathan Cole, Jeanne Bowerman, Zahra, Sheri Candler, Michele Simmons, and Jake Stetler. We got a ton of twitter/facebook help from Sherry Cummings, Jessica Fenlon, Jon Reiss, Peter Ong Lim, Jamie Calder, Ben Lim, Kevin Deen, Kim Garland, Lance Weiler, Edward Burns, Lloyd Kaufman, Victoria Westcot, Fans of Film, Metronome Pics, Leslie Poston, Patty Fantasia, Marcella (a.k.a. movieangel), Dianne Van, Amanda Lin Costa, Nina Gibbs, Tom Vaughan, First Glance Film, David Spies, Marty Lang, Gary King, King is a Fink, Corine Roberts, Rufus de Rham, Miles Maker, Sasha Stone, and many, many more. Of course, Ted Hope, Scott at Filmmaker Magazine, and Robert Mitchell ran articles. Really, there's hundreds and hundreds of people to thank.

And, of course, Echo the Dog, who says any backer who wants can come rub her belly. Also, they can play fetch with her. She'll be taking a nap on the couch.

06 January 2011

Mix CD: Track 14

Hey everyone. So we're getting to the punch-drunk portion of the program. It's also the exciting part.

Yesterday at this time we were at, um, ~$2800. Since then we've moved past $3k (which is a magic #) and we're just a hair away from $4k. We're closing strong and, dammit, we're gonna get there or die trying.

Last night, several of us (Rufus de Rhan, David Branin, Karen Worden, Phil Holbrook, Jeanne Bowerman, and Kevin Fox...among others) staged a Sleep Strike and picked up something like 11 new backers. I think we'll be going again tonight. At least some of us will.

As I type this, someone just pledged $1, which is awesome. No, really. Roughly 30k people a day are seeing tweets about this campaign. 30,000! Imagine if they all gave $1.

Yesterday, I got a wee bit riled up when someone emailed me that I was crazy or this was impossible or something, and I went off on this little rant on twitter, which people seemed to like. There's a little bit of cursing (gasp!)
I'm going to ramble for just a minute about this campaign. Apologies in advance.

We're under 25% with fewer than 3 days left on @YearWithoutRent's campaign. Yes, it looks to be pretty much impossible. I don't buy it.

Then again, you're talking to a filmmaker who made a french film without speaking french...for $15. Then made a 23 minute nearly silent film

about a pregnant woman attempting to seduce some poor sap w/o telling him. That nearly beat a film starring Rainn Wilson in INTERNET voting

It's been viewed around, I dunno, 125000 times online. Again, a 23 minute nearly silent film about a pregnant woman

Then I shot and edited a feature film in 2 WEEKS (#2wkfilm) with just a script outline. An outline I wrote in days and re-wrote as shooting

like, while the camera was actually running. @loopmovie called it "a masterpiece". A producer called it the film of the year.

then this summer I shot a feature in the northern Maine woods--for $4k--with a cast & crew that had never met before the first day

of filming. A cast & crew that came from all over the country, none of them local. Our electricity all came from cars idling

as close as we could get them. Often a mile or so away through dense woods. It looks fantastic.

So this, getting a crowdfunding campaign over the hump that's been endorsed by a who's who of indie film?

Fuck, that ain't impossible. That ain't nothing. Impossible is what indie filmmakers live for.

This is just the second act in the movie where it looks bad. The third act is coming. The happy ending is coming.

So get on board. You don't want to miss wild ride at the end. http://kck.st/dExFQg

(thanks for listening)

Anyway, that was the rant. It felt good to type that yesterday. We've had a ton of support from lots of really great, tireless people. I'm truly humbled.

But enough about me, we want music, dammit!

14. California Stars
Artist: Billy Bragg & Wilco
Album: Mermaid Avenue

I think this album won a Grammy, but I'm not sure. Anyway, British folk singer Billy Bragg teamed up with Wilco to do an album of unpublished Woody Guthrie songs. It's a pretty great album, but I think pretty much everyone agrees that this is the best song. Hell, Wilco still plays it over 10 years later.

The video is from 1999, which is pre-Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, before all that craziness with the record label (check out the documentary I AM TRYING TO BREAK YOUR HEART). It also features the lineup that a lot of people associate as "true" Wilco. So there's LeRoy Bach and the late Jay Bennett, plus a very young Jeff Tweedy. RIP, Jay.

05 January 2011

Mix CD: Track 13

Ok, now we're really in the home stretch. right now we're just shy of 25%. Now normally, the truism is that campaigns that hit that mark hit their goal 95% of the time. I don't know how many have gotten there as late as we have, but don't let that deter you. This is still possible.

Remember, our second backer @spoxx has pledged to put in $100 per $1k raised. So if you figure that we've got 10 of those left in-hand, we're a lot closer than it seems.

We've been campaigning behind the scenes to get featured on the front page of Kickstarter, but haven't had any luck yet. It's weird, because right now we're the 6th most popular film project on Kickstarter and clearly the one on there with the longest odds.

But, hey, we're indie film people. If we let stuff like that get to us, we'd never make any films, right? Tell an indie filmmaker something is impossible and they take it as a dare. Well, people think this is impossible. The hell with them.

Ok, rant over.

We've also, in case you haven't noticed, picked up some more love. Indie producer guru Ted Hope (American Splendor, etc) was kind enough to let me guest blog on Truly Free Film, which was pretty exciting for me, as Ted's was the first producer name I ever equated with quality. Then that post got tweeted to the masses by none other than Edward Burns. Edward recently went back to his indie roots with his $25k film Nice Guy Johnny. It's definitely worth checking out if you haven't already.

Which brings us to the Mix CD

13. The Crane Takes Flight
Artist: Ted Leo & the Pharmacists
Album: Hearts of Oak

This is, far and away, my favorite Ted Leo song. Is it because of the whistling? Maybe. Maybe not.

Yeah, I think it probably is. And when you're on a road trip, whistling is pretty awesome.

Ok, back to work. UP COUNTRY isn't editing itself, you know.

Oh, and if you want an idea of just how far we're reaching, check this out:

03 January 2011

Mix CD: Track 12

We're in the home stretch. If you look on Kickstarter, we're actually one of the most popular film/video campaigns, and clearly the project on that list with the longest odds. So if we're going to make this goal, it's gonna take something of a miracle. [Ed. Note: Hey Kickstarter, it'd be really awesome if you put us on the front page]

I think we can do it. Maybe I'm deluded, but the response from everyone has been so overwhelmingly positive that it's hard to imagine it failing. But, we shall see.

Anything you can do to help spread the word is much appreciated. It's an all-or-nothing campaign, so if we come up even $1 short, we get nothing. (and you pay nothing)


Most of you have probably heard of Mubi. It used to be called "The Auteurs" and I think it's affiliated with Criterion. I know you all know who Criterion is.

Anyway, the Mubi Garage joins the long list of outlets endorsing our little endeavor by running a post in their Notebook from yours truly. And, naturally, I snuck in images from UP COUNTRY, because when you've got a chance, you do it.


Quick note on yesterday's song: I was unsure if Yoshi's was an actual place and speculated that Jerome Wincek may have, in fact, been talking about the Shamrock. Well, backer Jennifer Blyler informs me that Yoshi's is a real place, and that it's so scary it makes the Shamrock look like the Ritz Carlton.


Anyway, here's track 12.

12. O New England
Artist: The Decemberists
Album: Always the Bridesmaid, Vol 1

I know what you're thinking. If A YEAR WITHOUT RENT is starting in New England, shouldn't the Mix CD start with the song "O New England"? The answer, of course, is no. Why? Just because. I dunno. It felt like a good fit here.

This is probably my favorite Decemberists song, although this album (with is really just a single, as Vol 1 has 2 songs) has most of my favorite songs of theirs, once you include Vol 2. And for some reason, there's 2 more songs on my iTunes that aren't listed in either (Record Year and Raincoat Song). I'm not sure what the deal is with those.

Anyway, here's a live performance of "O New England", complete with witty banter.

02 January 2011

Mix CD: Track 11

We have quite a lot for you, and I haven't even gotten around to doing the next video of a perk. This may take you a few minutes to get through, but there's good stuff all the way through. I promise.

A @spoxx challenge

I'll let the comment speak for itself:

OK folks...
I think we should really send this guy out on the road to see if he has the guts to follow up on his promises ;-)

So, here's the deal:

I'll put in 100 bucks for every 1000 that are on the table.

So I'll raise my pledge to...
... $ 300, once $ 3,000 are pledged;
... $ 400, once $ 4,000 are pledged;
... $ 500, once $ 5.000 are pledged;
... $ 1,200 if we reach the $12,00 goal.

It's my word!
Let's do it!

A very cool (and every generous) challenge. Naturally, now we have to make him regret it. :)


Also yesterday (talk about starting the year off with a bang), we posted the very first footage from my upcoming film UP COUNTRY. Check it out.


All of which leads us to the next song in the Mix CD. Whew.

11. ladies night (at yoshi's)
Artist: Jerome Wincek
Album: so low

Some of you will recognize Jerome. He contributed a song to GRAVIDA and did the score for BLANC DE BLANC. He's a good friend (we went to school together), but is also ridiculously talented. Like, I'm not just saying that. I wouldn't have someone score an entire film if I didn't think they were amazing.

He's also pretty prolific and if I'm not mistaken, all of his music (or nearly all) is free on Bandcamp (Yes, FREE!!!).

But about the song. I can't remember if Yoshi's is a real place or not. He lives in a rural part of PA that has a lot of bars that could be Yoshi's. But, I think he's talking about the Shamrock in Oil City, which is kind of a scary place, but the people who run it are really nice. I did my first shots of tequila there (ah...good memories). Just don't go on a major drinking holiday, like a Tuesday.

A couple of years ago I did some off the cuff music videos of Jerome and his band (he was looking for this really rough, almost home-made fan video look w/ the wild mic and everything). Check them out.

01 January 2011

Filmmaker Magazine

Well here's something...

We got a shout out today from Scott Macaulay in his article New Year's Resolutions for Filmmakers.

It's a really great list. I especially like the part about reading books, and about focusing on what you're watching and not trying to do 3 things at once. All good things to resolve. Of course, this is our favorite:

4. Work for a friend. Take a page from Lucas McNelly and his Kickstarter project — don’t just obsess about your own work, make yourself crew for someone you know. UPM, do locations, cast, take sound for a project of someone other than yourself. Commit to the level of your free time. If you’re not working and can manage it, work on a no-budget feature. Or, perhaps just do a weekend short. You’ll not only help another project make it out into the world, but you’ll also re-ground yourself in filmmaking basics while meeting new people who might assist you out at some point. (And while you decide who you’ll work for, consider supporting McNelly at Kickstarter in its final six days. He’s raising $12,000 to support himself while he spends a year working on other people’s projects. In his own words: “So my plan is to spend a year on the road, traveling around the country and working on indie film projects. I’ll explore the idea of mobility in a creative professional. Just how mobile does our digital lifestyle make us? Does it even matter where we live anymore? How can a creative professional thrive outside of NYC and LA?”

Wow. Just, wow.