The Thomas Chapin Film Project will begin shooting this summer;
filmmaker will complete her research and scripting, and lining up her film crew.
THOMAS CHAPIN FILM PROJECT — EMMY-winning Filmmaker Stephanie J. Castillo is celebrating a successful finish at Kickstarter.com, an online fundraising site, that will now allow her to begin planning her shoot this summer for NIGHT BIRD SONG, her documentary film about the late jazz master Thomas Chapin.
224 backers, pledging an average of $232, put Stephanie beyond her $50,000 goal. When the 45-day campaign ended, her total funding came to $51,552. “We ran out of time, unfortunately, because others were still trying to get in and back the film. The clock stopped at 11:45 a.m. New York time, and that was it,” Castillo said.
Castillo described the finish as a “white-knuckle, nail-biting morning.” With just two hours before our deadline, we were still $8,300 short of our goal,” said the filmmaker, who is making her 10th documentary with NIGHT BIRD SONG. “My sister Terri, working from her home in Jackson Hts., NYC while I worked from Hawaii, was helping me pull out all the stops — emailing, phoning . . . . She was relentless, knowing that success meant we had a shot at getting this film off the ground.” Terri Castillo Chapin is Thomas widow and the keeper of his legacy. “I owe her so much for this final push and believing with me we could do it!”
In the last hour, some big pledges came in and a slew of smaller ones, which put Castillo ather goal. With a half hour to go on the Kickstarter clock, another $1,552 came when time ended for the filmmaker. “It was a wild ending to a 45-day wild ride, but so worth it,” said Castillo, who admitted there were dark days for her when so few were coming to pledge.
Castillo says she owes her greatest gratitude to NYC restauranteur and founder of the old Knitting Factory, who pledged $10,000 when the campaign was in its last two days and in the duldroms with only $26,000 pledged. “I knew we were flagging badly and people watching us weren’t sure we were going to make it. I knew their ‘why bother’ attitude would be a killer. So I emailed Michael and asked if he had any ideas to help us.” Dorf was a good friend of Thomas Chapin’s who had put the jazz artist on stage at his downtown NYC club, the Knitting Factory, in the 80’s and 90’s. He also had put Chapin on his record label and on tour throughout Europe. After throwing some ideas around, Michael came through with a$10,000 pledge and a challenge: ‘Email everyone,’ he told me. ‘Tell them to do the rest, and let’s get this film made!’ I know this is what added the heat at Kickstarter that we need to get the pledges rolling in with urgency.”
Many, if not most, of the 224 backers knew Thomas Chapin or had some connection to him, said Castillo. “Every name I did not recognize, I emailed and got these amazing stories back. Thomas’ friends and fellow musicians were showing up, along with his family and my friends and Terri’s friends. I saw the great reservoir of will, the great desire to get this film made, and it has inspired me to get it done.”
Among her backers was the Dillard High School Jazz Ensemble of Ft. Lauderdale, FL. who wrote to Castillo after the successful campaign ended: ” We all aspire to be as passionate and inspiring as Thomas was. It would have been great to meet him, but seeing him on film and being able to hear his story through your film is something we look forward to. We’re proud to be a part of your work, wish you great success and look forward to seeing your film.”
Castillo’s plans to finish up her research interviews, to begin conceptualizing the 90-minute documentary, and writing a treatment for a shooting script. “This will tell me where I will be shooting, who and what. It’s going to get very exciting, and if all goes well we will have some great footage to show to bigger backers who will provide the big funds needed to complete the film.” She will also be selecting her film crew and editor.
Locations for her shoots will include New York City, the home-base where Chapin lived and played the uptown and downtown scenes for all of his jazz career; the Hartford, Conn. area where Chapin was from and where he continuously visited, joining local musician friends at major jazz clubs; Massachusetts at Phillips Academy Andover, where Chapin attended high school and was introduced to jazz, setting him on his career path in music; and New Jersey’s Rutgers University where Chapin completed his jazz studies with mentor and saxophone master Paul Jeffrey. She also is planning to film on location in Europe this summer where Chapin and his trio and other bands he played with performed.
“I knew if I could succeed at Kickstarter, I would make all this possible, and be on track for a late 2014 finish,” said Castillo.
For those who missed the Kickstarter campaign and want to contribute, Castillo says tax-deductible donations for the film are being received by Akasha Inc., a nonprofit organization furthering music education and the musical legacy of Thomas Chapin. Go towww.thomaschapin.com/donate to donate with a credit card.
Checks or U.S. money orders should be made out to “Akasha Inc.”
Send to: Akasha Inc. P. O. Box 721032 Jackson Heights, NY 11372 USA