Sophie On: Funding, Promoting, 1 Stinky T-Shirt & 2 Amazing Women!

Hi Everybody!

    First thing, my latest video diary is up, so please give it a watch:

    That video says lots of things I want to say about funding - including information about what I'll send you in exchange for your donations. But, with just over TEN DAYS left on the funding campaign, myself and the crew are working rediculously hard to pull everything together, so there's plenty to tell you about.

    Although the campaign has been a bit of a slow-starter, last time I blogged we had stopped on £10, and since then we've raised more than £300, so that's definitely something to be thankful for! If you have any spare pennies you want to chuck my way in exchange for exclusive merchandise, then you can do so here:

    But back to what the crew's been up to. And speaking of crew, we have a few new members. I had a great response after I posted on here that I needed a Sound Man. I now have three; wicked DJ Cmore Trix will be composing the Ashes score (you can hear his work on the trailer), and we'll have Adam P McCready and Chris Stanley on set as Sound Designers. On top of this, I can confirm - with delight - that I have a 1st Assistant Director in the form of Chris Newman. I've worked with him on my costume advert as well as Wasteland, and he always makes me smile, so hopefully he'll keep me sane on set!

   On top of the usual things such as breakdowns, prop-buying and pre-visualisation (check out Carl Cropley's awesome sample in the video above), there have been lots of acts of pre-production which I couldn't fit into my latest diary. I've been emailing/ringing round anyone I can to promote the film, including local councils and radio stations. I also went around handing out flyers (which a few Midlands Theatres and Cinemas have proudly displayed):

     These flyers led to my next hair-brained scheme; I was at a Sound Design meeting with Adam McCready, with the flyers in my bag, and I joked that I should carry one with me all the time as a walking advertisement. I did this for a few hours before I realised I could turn myself into a walking advertisment. I have transfer papers, and I have fabric pens. All I needed to do was buy a £2 white strappy top... and viola!

    As soon as the top was finished, I put it on, and declared online that wouldn't stop wearing it until my film was funded (although I'll admit that I don't sleep in it). The plus side of this was the £200+ that subsequently got donated. The down side?

    I am naturally very clumsy. I can't make a cup of coffee without spilling at least a little, so I am probably the worst person to wear white. Within hours of wearing the shirt, I had a little incident with tomatoes. That following evening I had a little bit too much red wine and not only did some of that end up on the shirt, but some pizza did as well. I hadn't even taken it out into town by that point!

    Since then the main problem has been chocolate crumbs but, needless to say, stain-remover and febreeze are wonderful things. So the shirt is still in one piece, and I am still wearing it as I type this, even though I am seriously sick of it already.

   So what else have we been up to? Well, after a series of pre-production meetings with the crew, and one visit to the (possible) location, the shots were planned, which meant I could get on and do the storyboards:

    When I took that photo I was down one page with 17 more to go. Since then I have completed 4 pages and they're looking pretty good, so far. If you're reading this and you love storyboards (a little bit strange, but I won't judge) then I'm happy to give you the complete set once we've shot the film. I'm willing to sign them and everything. Just let me know how much you're willing to donate to Ashes and we'll come to an arrangement.

   In fact, as I've said in my latest video diary, I am willing to do/give pretty much anything to get this film funded. Just comment below, say how much you'd donate, and I'll see what I can do. As long as it doesn't involve me being nude, or any kind of animal violence/death, I'll probably do it. Even if that thing might be don a leotard, film myself dancing to Gina G's "Ooh Aah", and post it on Youtube (which I will do for £1000 without a moment's hesitation!).

   Although I have figured out a lower, worst-case-scenario budget for the film, I'm still going to try and get as much as I can so that we can do it well. One of the things that we will get if we raise all of the money is our dream location, the Rose Room at Stanford House, Nottingham:

    Not only is this room a beautiful and believable flat for our characters, it also has all the practical features that we need, such as natural light sources, furniture, many power outlets, and a green room/ off set space included in the quote. A good chunk of the crew filmed at Stanford House before (it was one of the main locations for Jar of Angels) so we have a good working relationship with the owners, too. 

   I did another recce of the Rose Room yesterday, so I managed to get this little 360 on my Powershot to show you guys:

    So that's all the pre-production news for now. My amazing actors, Sarah Lamesch and Adam Lannon, are having their first improv session tonight, so my next post will probably be about them. But now I need to tell you about another, slightly more serious area of this film.

    Ashes has a dark subject nature at its heart. There's no denying it, and we certainly shouldn't fear it, but we do need to tackle it well. Sexual abuse - and the darker areas of sex in general - are still relatively taboo subjects in the media but, if we can do them justice, that shouldn't put us off. Certainly with the release of Sleeping Beauty, Shame and even the new anti-rape advert on television, our timing is good, and Ashes could even be seen as topical.

    Myself and the crew are going to lengths to nurse the subject matter through careful planning. In particular, I've been talking to the cast to develop their back-stories and their mentalities (this is most important in the case of Adam's character, Mark, who could be at risk of coming across as a one-dimmensional villain in other people's hands). Also, since the beginning of this project I've tried to work in collaberation with a sexual abuse charity so that we won't offend anyone unwittingly, and also so that they can help to promote the film.

   Today I had a meeting which sealed a charity collaberation:

(Meeting with the Wan2Talk ladies - photo taken by Rei Bennett at her studio).

    Wan2Talk is a new charity which acts as a listening ear for victims of sexual abuse in any form. Much more than that, they also go on to help their victims wherever they can. Although the charity is still in the development stages, their website will go live this summer, around the same time when Ashes is scheduled to be finished. So, basically, we will be launching together.

   Wan2Talk has been set up by Dominique Ciupek and her mother, a lady who is beyond incredible. Because of her, the rape law was changed to also help those who weren't penetrated by male genitalia. What happened to her was terrible but it's helped to change lives and make the world that one step better. She carries this knowledge with a dignity that I couldn't help but be inspired by. She was strong enough to say that what happened to her was meant to happen because it helped to improve the lives of so many women. And it will continue to do so! After that, how could I not make this film in collaberation with Wan2Talk?

(Myself with Domnique - right - and her incredible, inspirational mother. Photo by Rei Bennett.)

   So, ten days left on the Crowdfunder campaign, and over £1000 to raise before I can make this film properly. That sounds like impossible odds but nothing good in life comes easy. The best things are worth fighting for, and nothing's over until the dietly-challenged woman sings!

    I'm going to keep fighting until the last minute. Please stand beside me by donating just a few pounds to my project. Generosity will recieve generosity in turn.

Sophie x


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