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by Bryce J. Renninger
March 10, 2011 2:49 AM
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Four Productions iW is Rooting For: "3 Weeks to Daytona," Adam West Doc, "Dissent," "When I Die"

An image of Rip Torn on the set of Bret Stern's "3 Weeks to Daytona." [Image courtesy of the filmmaker.]

This week in indieWIRE's in production column, iW takes a look at a unique funding/distribution strategy for the car racing film "3 Weeks to Daytona." Also in the spotlight are a film begging for Adam West's rightful place on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, a doc about juvenile offenders who are sentenced with life without parole, and a doc profile of John Roemer, a trailblazing civil liberties activist.

"3 Weeks to Daytona"

Bret Stern will not be focusing on the festival circuit as the place to sell his recently finished stock car racing film "3 Weeks to Daytona." Instead, he will lug a stock car outside of a New York screening room, where potential investors and distributors will be able to see the first stock car fully dressed with stickers for his film.

"I was inspired to make the film after watching cars race at the Speedbowl in Waterford, Connecticut. I'd go Saturday night to see races. Sitting in the stands, watching the guys driving hte cars all night, possibly wrecking htem, and then scrambling together to get them ready to race the next time," Stern told indieWIRE. After the financial crisis hit, Stern had no work and was afraid to invest any of his money, so he took the modest chunk of change he had safely accumulated, saying "I'm going to make a movie or spend it on something else; might as well make a movie."

An image of a stock car covered with "3 Weeks to Daytona" stickers. [Photo courtesy of Bret Stern]

The film stars Scott Cohen ("The Other Woman") as an aspiring stock car racer, who is an airport limo driver during the day. He uses the money from his day job to fund his (expensive) racing habit. A local track runs a contest with the chance for the winner to qualify for the Daytona 500. Rip Torn and Jorja Fox ("CSI") co-star. "It's the story of a small town guy getting a shot at the big time, and all the hurdles and obstacles that go along with that," Stern told iW.

In order to reach the demographic of his film where he knows they'll be, Stern has arranged to have stickers sent to stock car racers across the country for those who want them. Any stock car who wins a race while wearing the "3 Weeks" sticker will get $50 from the film. The strategy, which already has drivers committed from speedways in Connecticut, Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Virginia, Tennessee, and more, is evidence of the production team laying the groundwork for their grassroots release strategy. Their hope for the New York screening will be to get a partner or partners for a unique release that could possibly include screening at some of the speedways on nights when there is not a race or hitting smaller markets with heavy pockets of NASCAR fans and branching out to the coasts from there.

Stern, who works on shoots in film and television, to fund his own filmmaking wrote the script for "3 Weeks to Daytona" mostly on flights all over the world for works. Excited to finally get his film out to its audience, he joked, "it's 25,000 air miles worth of work!"


More Projects:

"Starring Adam West"

Logline: What began as a personal documentary about television's original Batman, Adam West, and his relationship with celebrity, his fans and his family, has turned into a cause film. In "Starring Adam West" we're trying to right a grave injustice by helping an American Icon gain the recognition we all feel he deserves. Let's get Adam West a star on the Walk of Fame!

Production Team: Director/Executive Producer: James Tooley; Editor: Matt Johnston; Director of Photography: Blair Madigan; Additional Camera: David Solorzano

About the film: "Getting to know Adam on a personal level has been amazing. He's just such a character and a great example of a guy who does things his way. Doing things "his way" hasn't always been popular but he's stuck to his guns and now he's having a huge resurgence in popularity which I think is due to his authenticity. Making this film and working to get Adam the star is important because he deserves it. He's been working in Hollywood for more than 50 years, he's an American icon, and he is 82 years old and STILL relevant. How many other actors can you name who have accomplished that? There are very few." -- James Tooley

Current status: Roughly 80% of the footage is shot and the team is looking to wrap at the end of the year, hoping the ending will be a happy Hollywood ending with Adam receiving his star.

For more information and to support the film: Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $30,000 by the end of the campaign (April 7).


"Directing Dissent"

An image from Sophie Hamacher's "Directing Dissent." [Image courtesy of the filmmaker]

Logline: A film about the decisions of a teacher and activist – to either live within the law, or have a sound basis for civil disobedience.

Production Team: Director/Producer: Sophie Hamacher; Writer/Co-Producer: Sebastian Saam; Editor: Nat Munari; Original Music: Tommy Rouse

About the Film: "This documentary tells the story of John Roemer, American Civil Liberties Union director of the Maryland chapter from 1970 to 1978 and 1981- 1984, activist, runner and teacher in Baltimore, Maryland. It consists of different parts, which trace the protagonist’s struggle within the civil rights movement, his attitudes towards military service, and his decisions as a teacher and activist – to either live within the law, or have a sound basis for civil disobedience. The film not only shows his distinctive and unconventional style of teaching but also his stories about near death experiences and adventures with the ACLU in which he played a John Roemer has been described as a ‘gun toting pacifist,’ a cowboy, and a ‘crazy left winger.' In the conversations with Roemer he discusses significant personal and professional issues including Plessy v. Ferguson (1896, a Supreme Court decision upholding racial segregation in private businesses under the doctrine of "separate but equal"), the Gwynn Oak Park demonstrations, his golden retrievers, the races he’s won, integrating the ocean and why civil liberties are important. The film is a character study of a loved and respected rebel who helped change history and played a pivotal role in helping to integrate Maryland." -- Sophie Harnacher

Current Status: The team is working on their edit, the first of which will be done in Summer 2011.

For more information and to support the film: Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $9,000 by the end of the campaign (March 16).


"When I Die, Please Send Me Home"

An image from Joshua Rofé's "When I Die, Pleas Send Me Home." [Image courtesy of the filmmaker]

Logline: More than 2500 American juveniles are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole. Children coming of age in maximum security prison, and dying there. Some are innocent.

Production team: Director/Producer/Cinematographer: Joshua Rofé; Producer: Peter Landesman; Associate Producer: Julianna Brannum

About the film: "On October 10th, 2008 I went to a friend's birthday party in my neighborhood. I spent most of the party talking to her father, a judge. I asked which cases and trials have stayed with him throughout the years. He told me he was most haunted by a fifteen year old girl who shot a cab driver in the back of the head, killing him. On December 20th, 2008 I was standing on the dirt road where she killed him, camera in hand." -- Joshua Rofé

Current status: The team is looking to finish up some shooting with the film's subjects and to finish shooting by the end of summer and have a cut ready by the end of the year.

For more information and to support the film: Kickstarter page. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $15,000 by the end of the campaign (April 29).

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