On May 18th, 2014 Trichster successfully completed our third crowdfunding campaign. This means that to date, we’ve raised a little over $30,000 for our documentary. Considering how this project started, that figure is incredible. It shows us that we’re not alone in our desire to raise awareness of trichotillomania (a hair-pulling disorder). It shows us that people all over the world are in support of our project and the hard work that we have all put in to create this film. It has made us forever thankful to the hundreds of individuals who are making this film possible by their continued support.
It’s really incredible what we’ve been able to accomplish on such a small budget with five first-time independent filmmakers. We found amazing people who were willing to share their stories with the world, flew across the country and even to London to film with them, and made incredible life-long friends in the process. We still have a ways to go in order to finish the film, but it’s a bit surreal knowing that the production process has come and gone; I never imagined the film would garner as much attention as it has.
Trichster started as a simple idea. For years I had wanted to make a film about Trichotillomania after watching a childhood friend live with it. A few years ago I met my friend Amanda (at the time a writer/producer for VH1) for a drink in the Lower East Side and told her I had been contemplating shooting some interviews about trich. I was surprised at how interested she was in helping and before I knew it the two of us were in Union Square asking people what they knew and thought about trich. We had two cameras and a microphone. Embarrassingly, we were fairly new to our equipment and didn’t really know what we were doing but I think we both had a pretty good time figuring it out. As it turned out, almost no one knew the word Trichotillomania, but most people knew someone who pulled out their hair. We were on to something.
We enlisted the help of three other friends in the industry and just like that we had a team of creative professionals who were all invested in this single idea. Ultimately, it was pretty incredible how we came together- two producers, two camera gurus, and a director, all with a shared passion. It was difficult trying to schedule shoots; we all worked full time and often worked late hours, making it tough for the five of us to be in one place at the same time. When we were able to get together, however, we collaborated well and really pushed each other to explore all of our options as novice, zero budget filmmakers.
The first step was raising some money so that we could rent extra equipment and cars to go to New Jersey (where some of our cast lives), and travel to the Trichotillomania retreat. I was completely petrified. We really needed $10,000 to get started. Who was going to give us this money? Where was this all going to come from? After a leap of faith, we launched a Kickstarter campaign in hopes that complete strangers would care enough about our project to help fund it. Donations came pouring in. By the end of the first day we were 20% funded and receiving large donations from people all over the world who we had never even met. My confidence soared.
This new support came with a plethora of new responsibilities. I was no longer only obligated to myself to make the film, but to the 169 backers who believed in me and our team. Suddenly our “little side project” was not so little. I had to finish the film and do my best lest I let people down. We started getting press. People wanted to be involved. Emails from our website filled my inbox and I rushed to answer all of them. We branched out and started to shoot in higher-profile locations which cost extra money and time. We ran another crowdfunding campaign, this time with the startup company Seed&Spark. The release of our first trailer got us a bunch of new hits and to date has over 30,000 views on Youtube.
In April of 2013 I experienced one of the proudest moments of my life. With the money that we raised we were able to book 5 hotel rooms, hire 5 new crew members, and bring four cast members together for the Trichotillomania Learning Center conference in New Jersey. I rented a giant van and bravely faced the streets of Manhattan to pick up hundreds of pounds of rental equipment and drive a car full of people through the Lincoln Tunnel towards Newark airport. For three days we shot in three places at once with two full camera crews and a hallway “confessional” booth. I never sat down. My nerves were high. What if people were upset we were shooting? What if we couldn’t get the needed releases? How do you negotiate a location agreement with a hotel that requires a million dollar insurance policy for film crews? Thankfully, our team was able to pull it off. On the last day of the conference, the crew was upstairs making sure we had all of our equipment together and checking out of the rooms while I said goodbye to some of the new friends I had made in the trichotillomania community. Though I had only known them a short time, I felt this incredible connection to them and really struggled leaving them. We drove two cars of crew back to the city and dropped off all the equipment. When I got back to my apartment I broke down in tears. The realization that my dream was coming true was overwhelming. We had done it! Months of planning and a year of shooting had panned out well and we had really been able to accomplish this, all while having full time jobs. I was so grateful for the team that made it happen and for the people of the trich community who had let us into their lives and accepted us. Rebecca Brown, one of the cast members in our film, was staying with me at the time. She quietly approached me and asked me if I was alright, if I needed a hug. I started laughing.
Having just completed our third crowdfunding campaign, that overwhelming feeling is back. Everything we’ve done over the past three years has been steadily building and I can feel the finish line approaching. We are so close to being finished with the edit of the film. I’ve spent the last 10 months editing the footage and crafting it to tell an honest story about people who I’ve grown to really care for. I can’t wait to finally watch it on a big screen.
So what’s next? Talented friends I’ve made in New York are generously donating much of their time to help finish the film. We have an incredible composer who is at this very moment writing music to match our picture. Our graphic designer and brilliant color corrector will be working nights and weekends to make Trichster look incredible. Our talented audio mixer will bring the sound and music together and make it sound awesome. Once all these elements come together, we’ll have a finished film!
The next thing the Trichster team is tackling: film festivals. None of us have much experience with film festivals, so there’s a learning curve. We’ll be budgeting the remaining funds to go towards applications and deliverables. As soon as we figure out when and where we’ll be screening, you’ll be the first to know! Words cannot express how thankful I am to everyone who has followed us, contributed to our campaign and supported out film. You are all a huge part of Trichster. I so look forward to sharing our “little film” with all of you, and look forward to seeing what the future holds for us.
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