I’m making a film in less than two weeks. I’m directing a short film, Trip. It’s my first big set. I’m excited and yet I’m frustrated. When I started the process of pre-production my crew worked very hard at fundraising. We thought we’d put ourselves ahead, but circumstances beyond our control have made our ability to make our film that much more difficult.
Let me go back a few months. For those of you who don’t know me well or at all, I’m Dominick Evans. I’m 32, dark-haired, green-eyed and a Capricorn. I’m also in the highly awarded, highly competitive Wright State Motion Pictures Program. A few months ago I was going through incredibly difficult critiques. My classmates and I hunkered down in our ‘circle of truth’ to face the harsh realities of Junior Thesis filmmaking. At the end of critiques, I was one of three chosen to direct my piece.
Did I mention nobody believed I’d even make it through the program? I didn’t even believe I would. It’s tough enough being able-bodied so you can lug around heavy equipment and use cinema cameras like the K3. It’s downright difficult when you have limited mobility in your arms and legs and can barely lift anything above 1-2 lbs. I have done it, though and I was ready to show the world just what people with mobility impairments can do – with a lot of ingenuity and plenty of stubbornness, to boot.
Enter my producers. One of them made a deal with a local indoor football team, the Dayton Sharks. She had been emailing them about possibly getting some memorabilia to use in an auction fundraiser for our film. The owner suggested giving a $1,000 donation instead. It seemed almost too good to be true. He sent a contract with stipulations. We agreed to do what we could and told him what was out of our control.
Corwyn, the owner, asked that we get the Sharks in the Wright State newspaper and on the WSU website about the donation. We told him upfront that the newspaper we could probably do, but we have no control over the WSU website. He told my producer that was fine. We got it listed in the WSU paper, as he wanted. You can check it out by going to this URL.
He wanted us to advertise and help promote the Sharks, as well as help them expand their social media networks. My crew set out to like their page, share it with others (Eryn, Kasey, Ashtyn, myself and several others spread it across Facebook and they had 1300-1400 likes prior – they are over 1700 now) and we posted Sharks postcard style posters all over Wright State. We passed them around on tables on campus, put them all over bulletin boards, gave them out to some of our professors and talked to students about the team.
We posted some posters/postcards around Dayton in local restaurant hangouts. We even posted them in our film wing, at school. I posted about going to their game and liking their page to my over 2000 Twitter followers, multiple times. I also put stuff up on our Electric Marshmallow Productions Twitter and asked Charlie Sheen on Twitter to go to the game, because the Sharks asked people to do that.
Corwyn wanted videos made. Our cinematographer, Kyle, spent hours before a game, during it and after filming over 100 individual video files. Kyle gets paid a lot of money to do this for other people, but he did it for free so the Sharks would still donate to us. I sent all the files to them via Dropbox because they said we had to before we were paid. Below are just some, not all of the files!!!
Initially, my producer was told on the phone we had to come volunteer at the March 17, St. Patrick’s Day game. We did. Ash and I were there. My production designer and her boyfriend (Eryn and Patrick), two art assistants (Sam and Hannah), Kyle (who filmed everything) and my producer and her boyfriend (Kasey and Mike) all attended the game. I sat in the freezing cold greeting people for the game. My crew ran on the field collecting balls mid-game. They sold towels and programs. They got feedback from people at the game. They worked their butts off and only saw a small portion of the game (not that they cared). We received a call stating later on we were supposed to attend all of the games and volunteer, but no one told us that initially.
I was busy travelling cities auditioning actors. My producer, her boyfriend, two crew members and our son, Robert went to one game and volunteered. They sold towels, and did various other things for the Sharks. The final game they had when I had scheduled callbacks. This was before I was told we were obligated to go if we wanted our money. The written contract is vague in what it says on this (it mentions Game not GAMES). The final game, my producer’s boyfriend went to alone and volunteered, as we all had callbacks. Someone represented our film in almost every home game. We went above and beyond what was required.
Our film depends on this money. We need it to help feed our cast and crew during our shoot. We had counted this money as a part of our budget. The written contract the owner sent us CLEARLY states we would receive payment on May 11. When my producer recently called him up, she was told he is out of town and we can contact him at the end of May to receive payment. We shoot May 18. Making a film is very expensive, hence why we were so grateful for THEIR OFFER to donate money to us. We never asked for money. They volunteered it. Whenever they wanted to add on stipulations they were available to call all of us on the phone or text spam us. Now that they’ve been asked to pay us, they cannot be found to make a payment.
We have it in our school paper promoting the Sharks and clearly stating they were making a $1000 donation. They required all of these things of us, which we did. They even altered the terms to suit their needs. We went along with it, and now they are not going to pay us. They may not pay us at all, but they certainly are breaking the terms of the contract THEY WROTE for US!
TO DONATE TO OUR INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN CLICK HERE!
TO DONATE TO PAYPAL DIRECTLY: GO TO THE ELECTRIC MARSHMALLOW WEBSITE or CLICK BELOW:
I set out to make a IndieGoGo (originally Kickstarter, but it was going to take a few days we do not have to set up) to help us make $1,000 extra dollars, since I am funding the film on my own. However, once I was told the Sharks were not paying us on May 11 (or probably ever), I realized we were $2,000 behind. I have an amazing, dedicated crew. They have worked so hard for our film. It is not their fault that the in town Indoor Football League Team went back on their contract. Please do not let them be punished because we lost that money. Help us raise the money we need to make the most awesome film possible!
I have never wanted anything other than to be creative. Being a filmmaker gives me such joy. My film will be a testament to the hard work of everyone on my crew. From my best friend and partner, Ashtyn, who has written all my screenplays since I first started making films, to the most awesome art department I could ever dream to work with – I ask you to help us alleviate this wrong thrust upon us! With your help, we can make art!
UPDATE as of MAY 8, 2013: My producer, Kasey, received the following email from Corwyn, the co-owner of the Dayton Sharks (after Jesse – the other co-owner contacted us and I told him about what was going on – he apparently had no idea, even about the agreement with us.)
I do not appreciate your film director/producer misrepresenting what you and I know to be true. I am not going to get into a “nasty” discussion with you or your team. You and I agreed that your team did not attend every game as volunteers and it was perhaps a misunderstanding of the agreement. You and I were in agreement on that, but when you or a member of your team prints “half truths of misstatements” about my organization, this only makes matters worse.
I told you that I would fund your film as promised, but as I stated I am out of town on a personal family matter. So, I would appreciate a retraction from your team member as well as something “nice” to say about the Dayton Sharks and I will have someone from my organization wire the money to account of your choice on May 11th.
I will not send the money until I see the above retraction. I really am committed to support your film initiatives, but that is not the way to go about getting funded…
What Corwyn doesn’t understand is that as a blogger with a monetized blog, the FTC could FINE me for ‘saying something nice’ about anyone in order to receive money. That is against the rules of online press. He also does not seem to get that I was exercising my freedom of the press, by telling the truth. I emailed him back personally and asked him to please point out what was a half-truth. I’ve taken everything from Corwyn’s own words and emails. I have also posted visual proof of us upholding our terms.
Let me further clarify on the attending games issues. we were approached prior to the March 17 game to attend. As that first email I posted above says, it told us “GAME DAY”. No one ever clarified that meant more than one game. Kasey stated on the phone, all Corwyn had talked about with her was the St. Patrick’s Day game.
The Sharks had four home games including the St. Patrick’s Day game. Michael Erb, Kasey Beggs, Hannah Churilla, Sam Shaw, Eryn Montgomery and her boyfriend Patrick, Ashtyn and I all attended and volunteered at that game. I sat outside a cold door for hours greeting people as they entered for the game and pre-game.
We did not attend the next home game as we did not know it was required. Kasey was contacted after the game (I think by Gianni who works for the Sharks) and was told we had to attend games if we wanted to uphold our agreement for the money. I was busy making a film, so the next home game: Kasey, Michael Erb, our friend, Jasmine, Hannah, and our son Robert went and volunteered. The last game of the season, we all had to be at callbacks, which were already scheduled prior to Gianni’s call, so Michael Erb, Kasey’s boyfriend, went alone and volunteered in our honor. We had someone at three of the four games and I explained above why it was not four of four games.
UPDATE AS OF MAY 8, 2013 – 11:31 PM: For full disclosure, let me show you my response to Corwyn’s email I listed above:
I spoke with your co-owner, Jesse, about all of this last night. I provided visual proof of us keeping up our end of the deal on my article. I also mentioned we didn’t attend every game. I explained why.
You sent us an agreement that said:
Game Day Event Staff
- Film Our Game
- Gather Fan Feedback
Sell Shark Merchandise
- Official Game Balls
- Mini Footballs
- Rally Towels
General Game Day Assistance
GAME DAY….not game days. You contacted us to first attend the March 17 game. We did that and did EVERYTHING listed above. It doesn’t say attend multiple games. It says game. Thus, we did not attend the next home game. HOWEVER, once called and you explained no money if we did not go to all future home games, we made sure people attended. My own son went to one of the games and sold a bunch of Sharks Merchandise, because I was off holding film auditions, which had long been scheduled.
After you called we had staff attend every home game thereafter. You wanted us at 4 games and we attended 3. It was clearly not listed to go to all future home games in the agreement, but we re-arranged crew schedules to accommodate that request when you called Casey.
Your first email clearly stated:
The Dayton Sharks will donate $1,000 on May 11th to go towards your film project.
Then you emailed on May 6:
I am currently out of the country on personal business..I will be back at the end of the month. We can discuss the final invest amount when I return.
We had worked your $1000 into our film budget. We shoot on May 18. You said for Kasey to contact you at the end of May to discuss the amount of investment. That sounds like you would be changing the amount, though I did not print that in my article. I also did not print that Gianni accused one of my volunteers of stealing money, when a cheerleader he was with took it (and probably turned it in) who she had him go around and sell stuff with. She also followed my crew around and many of them felt she was not very nice to them. In spite of that, most of them came back for two more games.
Also, by telling Kasey to contact you at the end of the month (the end of May) you were changing our agreement and we would be $1000 behind budget.
I don’t know if you understand freedom of the press, but the FTC requires that we tell the truth, which is exactly what I did. I provided screenshots proving everything I said! Do you dispute the fact that you said any of the things above or that we didn’t send you files upon files of game and pre-game footage?
Do you dispute:
-The agreement above said May 11
-You told Kasey to contact you at the end of May thereby eradicating a budget we need by May 18 of $1000 dollars?
-we volunteered at 3 games (of 4)
-it said game day staff not game days in the agreement
-we got you in the WSU newspaper
-Kasey called you and told you she couldn’t guarantee we could get you on WSU’s website from the get go
Do I need to take pictures of locations where we posted Dayton Sharks posters/postcards around Wright State, because I’m sure some of them are still up.
You are now demanding we print a retraction of what I believe is the truth. Can you please post what isn’t truth, because I’ve outlined the majority of what I wrote. You demand we do it or you won’t pay us. There is a thing called freedom of the press. We had said many nice things about the Sharks, but imagine how you would feel if you were told you’d have $1000 to take care of your team, for a game and you’d have that money before the game, only to be told the investment needed to be negotiated at the end of the month after that game occurred? You’d be pretty upset, especially for your team.
If you can show me what is half-truth, and it is indeed half-truth, I will rectify the post. However, I do stand by what I say as truth.
P.S. I am more than willing to print something saying you came through with the donation after all if we receive the funds. You already received all the film files in Dropbox, which would have cost you a lot of money for the quality and for the cinematographer who did it, had we not done it to uphold our agreement (by doing it for free). Forgive me if I am not willing to be blackmailed into printing a retraction on what I know to be true.
Furthermore, if we do not receive any payment, those files belong to us. We retain the intellectual and creative rights to them. They are essentially Kyle’s property as he recorded them on equipment we brought from Wright State.
Corwyn responded again. His email is as follows:
I dont like your tone, speech pattern, and choice of words regarding this situation. So, print what you want. I was willing to compromise and make a payment toward the project, but you have taken this in a direction that I dont appreciate. So, you remember, when you print whatever you print, you make sure that you are “accurate”.
You should have emailed me back instead of taking the course that you have chosen with Facebook and whatever else…
I, personally, feel he was trying to intimidate me, but it won’t work. I am done talking to him. He went from, paying on the 11th to discussing the investment at the end of the month to I’ll pay you on the 11th via wire transfer if you post a retraction AND say something nice about the Sharks to I don’t like your tone, so I was going to negotiate payment, but now I’m not. I honestly think the facts speak for themselves. The truth of what is going on is clearly outlined. I don’t have time for such negativity. I have a film to make and I need your help in funding it now more than ever.
Please pass our story on to everyone you know! Please if you can spare a few dollars, we’d appreciate it. I just don’t want to let my crew down.