Monday, February 14, 2011

Victoria Westcott's Road to Filmmaking

Victoria Westcott, a budding film producer from Victoria (British Columbia), wants to convince you to finance her first film Locked in a Garage Band on Kickstarter.com, a web site that allows artists to get funds for their project. Between two breaths, Ms. Westcott took the time to talk to The Cultural Post.

For this film about a garage band on the cusp of a breakup that inadvertently gets locked in a garage for a day, Victoria Westcott participates as a producer while her sister, Jennifer, will direct and write the story. “My sister, Jennifer, is a professional photographer with an M.A. in History. Since she won the 2009 Praxis Screenwriting Competition, I trust someone who is much better than me in writing.”

The two sisters once tried to get a $25,000 investment from Brett Wilson, a judge/investor on the venture capitalist reality show Dragons’ Den: “It was a contest organized by CBC Vancouver”, explained Victoria Westcott. “Contestants had to convince Brett through a video pitch. In the end, it was some businesses that won the chance to pitch their idea to Brett in person.”

Although Ms Westcott’s approach is similar to that of American director Matthew Lessner, whose crowdfunded film (The Woods) made it to the latest Sundance Festival, she said that she heard about Kickstarter.com and crowdfunding at the Austin International Film Festival. Moreover, added Victoria Westcott, she considers herself lucky that she was at the right place at the right moment: “Crowdfunding is well known among many independent American filmmakers, but not in Canada.”

Therefore, the two sisters don’t intend to ask for public funds from Telefilm Canada and British Columbia Film, which are respectively a federal and a provincial cinematographic funding agencies. As for private funds, they won’t turn to Movie Central and The Movie Network, two Canadian premium cable networks which have a tradition to back films from the Great White North.

Why? Build a track record first, recommends Ms Westcott: “We’re not excluding the option to get public funds on future projects. However, speaking about Locked in a Garage Band, we didn’t ask Telefilm Canada and British Columbia Film to back us, because we’re new.” As for Movie Central, Victoria Westcott upholds that “they don’t know much about us (her sister and her)”.

If their film gets done, Ms Westcott isn’t afraid that Locked in a Garage Band would get a limited release in Canada. “We’re not really worried about that. We’re focused on making an outstanding film.” Moreover, Ms. Westcott believes that independent filmmakers ought to explore new avenues to make money: “We could sell the DVD directly on the film’s web site, sell the screening rights to cable networks, iTunes, Amazon or even NetFlix.”

While Victoria Westcott is confident that her film will get the $20,000 she needs before March 4, she says that she might postpone the filming of Locked in a Garage Band if that's not the case. So far, out of the required $20,000, the Westcott sisters has $3,671.

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