For up-and-coming writers, directors and creators, funding passion projects can be challenging, possibly deflating, and quite frankly, a real bitch. Though not a new endeavor, Kickstarter has become a huge help for creative types to find new supporters from all over the country (and world!) to help raise money for movies, plays, comics, media upstarts, video games and more, changing the way projects are produced and incorporating a social media feel to their efforts. Thanks to a biting blond sleuth (Veronica Mars) and a former appletini-loving doctor (Zach Braff), Kickstarter is garnering even more attention as celebrities reach out to their fan bases and offer prizes, rewards, and even speaking roles to those who support them. Who needs a studio?
TLW digs Kickstarter and collaboration and creativity, so that’s why we’re spotlighting an upcoming project from writer Zoe Eisenberg and director Phillips Payson called: Courtesy Flush. The story revolves around James and Lexi, a young couple from New York City who accidentally became a fitness sensation when their YouTube series, a campy, comedic erotic exercise spoof titled “F*ck Fitness,” went viral. Riding the coattails of their Internet fame, they created a series of best-selling satirical workout DVDs, shot a pilot for a reality show parody that never got picked up, and spent a few years circulating their absurd fitness phenomenon. Now washed up in their late twenties, the couple has outgrown their former passion project. In an attempt to outrun their ridiculous image, they move from New York City to a small Hawaiian jungle town on the edge of an active volcano. And that’s when the crazy happens.
I asked Eisenberg a few questions to get the skinny on the film-in-the-making, Hawaii, and whether or not sitting next to her cubical would automatically score me a starring role.
TLW: Why are you and your project just as super awesome as Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and Zach Braff (Scrubs)?
ZE: My team and I are trying to make something big out of lots of small pieces. I think the idea of helping to create something is appealing to a lot of people. This is why some Kickstarter projects do so well. They are cool or unique or innovative, and people want to be a part of it. They want to look back at the finished product and say “I helped make that.” I think that’s why Thomas and Braff went the route they did, when it would have been easy(ish) for them to get traditional funding. They are getting people excited about something, before that something even exists.
TLW: Hawaii is a pretty excellent place to film a moviefilm. Please describe your feelings about Hawaii in single word adjectives.
ZE: Beautiful. Moody. Lush. VOLCANIC.
TLW: But no, seriously. Why Hawaii?
ZE: We chose the big island of Hawaii because it has two active volcanoes, and this energy contributes not only to the plot, but to the personalities of the characters. The island is completely unpredictable, and we treat it not only as a setting, but as an actual character with moods and agendas. Also, it’s unlike any other place in the U.S. in that you get every climate zone, and this makes it not only lovely to film, but really freakin’ interesting.
TLW: What makes Courtesy Flush so unique, and why should people Kickstart it?
ZE: Well Fuck Fitness in itself has been really fun, but the idea that the couple has moved out to Hawaii to escape this Internet identity they’re embarrassed of is identifiable. Who hasn’t looked back on something they did in their early twenties and gone “aw shit…” Then there is the theme of polyamory, which takes it in a fun and interesting direction, and then you have the murder. Oh yes, and Hawaii.
I’m all for collaborative creative efforts, and this is very much what Courtesy Flush has turned out to be. Not just collaborative between me and the director, but also with the cast. We created skeleton characters. They were an idea of what we wanted. They were fleshed out, yes, but we were looking for actors who could really give them some meat. And this is what happened. The actors we cast completely changed the characters we had mapped out—they made them better. Now, we are trying to encourage collaboration with our Kickstarter backers. Aside from traditional merch and DVDs, you can name a character, have your photo featured on set, and more. It’s pretty cool.
TLW: When will the shoot take place and when do you anticipate the film’s release?
ZE: We shoot in July and hope to release mid-2014.
TLW: What role are you going to cast me in?
ZE: If you back $150, you can name a character. That’s our “Island Baby” reward. Did that answer your question?
TLW: Will there be a sequel or a remake? And what part are you going to cast me in?
ZE: If we have a sequel, you can be the one who dies first.