Costello’s diary of a director part 5 – an essay


Editor’s Note — Our contributor, Colin Costello, recently enjoyed personal growth by moving from beyond a writer’s traditional role to actually directing and producing his short film, The After Party. We asked Colin to chronicle is journey.

Crowdfunding for your own film may be the most draining part of filmmaking.

Strike that. It IS the most taxing, emotional beatdown you can ever do. It puts a strain on you and your relationships.

You are depending on everyone — from your family to friends to strangers — to believe in your project. Every single day you’re checking to see if you are closer to your goal. And if you’re not, you freak.

In my case, I was checking ohhhhh, almost every 30 minutes. Yeah, I’m that anal. Or is it psychotic?

So our campaign was on. Now we waited. The next forty-five days were a nerve-wracking hell. I chose forty-five, and recommend that for all campaigns, because it gives you fifteen days to adjust your campaign before the real clock starts ticking at thirty.

First contribution, never call it a “donation,” came from Rachel’s friend. $25. Or was it $10? We quickly got up to $40. We were on our way! Only $15,960 to meet our $16,000 goal!

Day Two came. We got $100! We were set! For a crowdfunding campaign to be successful, you MUST reach 30% of your goal in the first few days.

Day Three came. Nothing. Day Four a dribble. I was getting nervous. Strike that. I started going insane! Rachel and NJ talked me off the ledge. Emails, which are the battle-tested ways to crowdfund, went out. I received more, “I’m broke. Can’t right now.” I was getting depressed. I went back to the ledge. We weren’t going to make our goal.

Then Saturday came. I was slumping. I was going to make a public fool out of myself with this failure of a campaign. I know-I know we were only five days in. Then this conversation happened:

Deborah Zwayer and James Rhine



“Are you… drinking?”

“Yes.” (Giggle)

“Are… you drunk?”

“Noooooo.” (Giggle)

“Did you enter one too many zeroes?”

“Noooooooo. I believe in you, Colin. I want to see you fulfill your dream.”

This dialogue was with Chicago’s Deborah Zwayer who came on as Executive Producer of The After Party with her generous contribution of $5000. We were 30% funded! She is what we refer to as an “angel.” And Deb really is. She IS the woman who sent us on our way!

This fantastic feeling “I won a Golden ticket” lasted maybe two days? We hit more and more dry spells. The fear came back. Big. A few dollars dribbled in here and there. Ten here. Twenty there.

Then the thirty-day clock hit and I was now officially terrified. Rachel remained confident. Thank god for her. I also had the pressure of taking on a freelance job at RAPP. Actually it was a relief. I had hoped that working there would relieve some of the pressure.

It didn’t. As I would work on creating emails for Toyota Auto Shows, I would find myself peeking at lunch to see if we had any movement.

In early February, the freelance gig ended, leaving me only to focus on the crowdfunding again.

I found myself becoming bitter. Why didn’t my family give? Should I be surprised? They never gave before. It’s not the not contributing factor that frustrated me. It was the ignoring. I HATE being ignored. And many members of my family ignored me. And it hurt. Where were the words of support? I know they saw my Facebook posts. They liked every single one of them… except for my crowdfunding posts.

Quite frankly, it hurt. I didn’t need their money, but I did need their encouragement.

Then a funny thing happened about twenty days in. We were suddenly at 49% of our goal. Then we were at fifty. We were half way there. My BP lowered a little. Maybe. Then more days passed and we were sixty. Then seventy.

Then we hit 80%, which translated into $12,800 of our $16,000 goal. We were going to make our movie! But we really needed the other twenty percent.

So the entire After Party family hit the ground running. We banged on cyber doors. We sent emails. We begged. We sold our bodies. Okay, that’s a stretch. No one sold their bodies. I may or may not have tried and was rebuked.

And then it happened. My good friend and former Big Brother contestant, James Rhine, came on as a producer and got us the $800 we so desperately needed.

Forty-five days after we had launched our campaign, The After Party raised close to $17,000. A month later we would have raised over $18,000.

We were greenlit. And ready to go…

LA-Based Colin Costello writes for film, TV, advertising and of course, Reel Chicago. Follow him on Twitter @colincostello10.