All posts by Stephen Pidgeon

A Crowd Funding Appeal From Middle West Movies

A Crowd Funding Appeal From Middle West Movies

Those from MCA and Script Mechanics/CinemaSpoke will remember that Chad Carpenter came to MCA meetings and networked with all of us and that he let us read his script at a Script Mechanics meeting a while back.

He is shooting now, and needs the support of the filmmaking community! So pitch in if you can!

Dear St. Louis Filmmakers,

As you may be aware, I’m involved in an exciting new project that has the potential to positively impact many lives here locally in the Midwest.

Below you can read about our non-profit motion picture company (Middle West Movies) and the first feature movie that is currently in production.

The reason I’m writing is to let you know our crowdsourcing campaign has officially launched.  To access the campaign, please go to:


What We Need & What You Get – Middle West Movies needs your support and contributions to provide the wages and experience for producing our first feature. All contributions to our campaign go towards, wages, food, transportation, lodging, and expenses to create the production. The only people getting paid for this project are the production crew. You get to be a part of a new movement in motion picture production, while stimulating the local economy of the Midwest.   There are also some very exciting prizes for various giving levels that may peak your interest.

If you decide to participate in the campaign, we ask that do so by August 28.  This gives the campaign  a great head start, showing it has legs.  Then when it’s launched to the broader public it will already be viewed as a success, worthy of support.  In fact, Indiegogo would consider listing this as a feature campaign on their home page if a certain percentage of its’ goal is achieved.  You can imagine the impact if we get this global exposure!

Thank you for considering supporting this campaign and please pass this email along to others as well.


Chad Carpenter


Middle West Movies is a 501(c)(3) non-profit motion picture company that provides Midwestern millennial movie makers experience producing features in the Midwest, rather than have them move to more competitive markets with a high cost of living.

Dog Days in the Heartland is the first feature project, giving an opportunity for our members to earn a living wage producing a feature picture, and the seed fund for future features of Middle West Movies. Dog Days is about a small Midwestern town the summer before big box corporations move in and fray the self-sustaining community. It is six short stories set in the same space and time, showing the struggles with progress and prosperity that is present in all ages and walks of life in a small town.!dog-days/c1xql


Hi, Script Mechanics folks.  On Saturday, July 11, we’ll read a feature comedy by Rick Majzun, titled STEALATHON.
Here’s Rick’s logline:  At his ten-year college reunion, a former party animal turned workaholic veterinarian battles his college nemesis in Stealathon, an all-night, over-the-top, winner-take-all stealing competition.  Tonally close to SUPERBAD and HANGOVER, with more heart
The reading will take place in the Buder Library downstairs meeting room, 1 p.m.  The library is on Hampton just south of Chippewa.
Also, Script Mechanics regular, actress Carol Sjelin is having a big birthday this week, and to celebrate we’re going to meet at Denny’s, 1515 S Hampton Ave., St. Louis, MO 63139 (just north of Manchester) at 11:30 a.m. before Script Mechanics.  Here’s a map, if you aren’t sure where that is.
If you can make it to both Denny’s and Buder, that’d be great.  Otherwise, just get to one or the other.
Many of you know Vanessa Roman and her work, and she’s got an Indie GoGo campaign underway to fund her next film.
Dear Sandy and Script Mechanics,
I want to tell you about my Indie GoGo campaign to raise money for the feature film The Importance of Doubting Tom.  I would love for you to take this journey with me and commit to making a donation.  Your support is crucial.  This project is putting local actors and crew to work and bringing attention to the wonderful community of dart league in the St. Louis area.
Here is what you need to know-
This screenplay was inspired by none other than Oscar Wilde and is a modern update of his incredible play, The Importance of Being Earnest. I’ve set it on a backdrop at dart league at Blueberry Hill in our own U City Loop.
This screwball comedy has won several screenwriting contests and has been steadily gaining support in the last few years.  Now, all that hard work is finally coming to fruition. Private equity investors have brought me this far in the process and now I need your help taking it all the way.
There are several exciting perks that I want YOU to pick from.  We are set to start shooting in late July and I want you to be involved.  Would you like to be an extra in the movie?  There’s a perk for that!  Would you like a signed picture?  A digital download of the finished movie? And many more…
And please, share with your friends.
Help me hit the bullseye with this campaign.  You can help all these dreams come true as we take this film from start to finish.
Donating is so easy.
Step One: Click on the link below
Step Two: Click on the CONTRIBUTE NOW link
Step Three: Choose your perk and enter your information!
You’re done!
Thanks so much for all of your support!
Every voice is welcome, and fewer roles than most films, but each has meat!
Script Mechanics’ monthly screenwriting workshop and script reading this Saturday, and we also discuss the writing life and the art of screenwriting.
Actors — Practice your Audition skills by participating in the COLD READING at Script Mechanics’ table reads!
WRITERS — We are currently looking for scripts to read this summer at Script Mechanics. If you have script that you would like coverage on, please contact Sandra Olmsted or Mary Schirmer.
Script Mechanics aims to assist screenwriters in polishing their scripts by having actors read the scripts aloud. The writer hears their dialogue and get fresh insights into their character from the actors’ take on the script. The actors and other writers in the organization offer suggestions and comments at the end of the reading.  The cold read provides the actors with the opportunity to practice an important auditioning skill.
Script Mechanics meets the second Saturday of the month at the Buder Library. The library is just south of the Chippewa and Hampton intersection; the address is 4401 Hampton Ave, 63109. It’s the brick building with turquoise and glass trim. We have a meeting room downstairs from 1:00 – 5:45; however, the reading may not take quite that long. Parking is available behind and south of the building and in the lot in front of the bank across the side street to the north.
The table read of an entire screenplay by one screenwriter or several scenes by different writers is followed by discussion of the script and the questions that the writer has or writers have about the readers’ interpretations and audience’s response to the script, story, and characters.  We assign roles at the reading, which provides an opportunity for actors to practice cold reading, which is an important audition skill.
If you have a script to read, we request have two requests: 1) that you make arrangements in advance and provide a logline and a brief break down of characters at least one week in advance of the reading so that the reading can be publicized and 2) that the script be properly formatted as a spec script and that complete scripts not exceed 125 pages, because it is difficult to read more than that and provide adequate coverage.  You will need to bring a minimum of 6 copies for an average size cast.  If the number of roles is large, you will need more copies of the script. You will also need a break down of which scenes each the character appears and which characters can be read by the same actor so that readers can be assigned multiple roles and get a chance to read a meaningful number of lines.
We also often get something to eat afterward, and anyone can join us.
Please contact Sandy Olmsted, at for more information, however, there is NO NEED to RSVP or to send head sheets.
Please DO NOT email headsheets or Resumes!

Summary of Film Financing MCA Meeting

St. Louis MCA Meeting
Written by Mary J. Schirmer

June 10, 2015


Srikant Chellapa, producer-actor-director-writer

Jay Kanzler, attorney-executive producer-director-writer-actor

Michael H. Ketcher, producer-casting director-actor-writer

Michael J. Sewell, attorney-MBA

The topic was film financing, and each panelist offered helpful suggestions and valuable insights into the filmmaking business.  Following are some of the highlights.

The Securities and Exchange Commission ( is a government agency that attempts to protect investors and maintain fair markets.  Filmmakers need to be aware of changing regulations regarding even speaking with investors before you have your own business in legal order and before you’ve vetted them in terms of their financial ability to do business with you.

Before you attempt crowdfunding, read about the SEC JOBS Act of 2012 (  This allows companies to sell stock, debt, or ownership interest in a film project online and allows film production companies to advertise for investors.  Better read it for yourself, and then discuss it with your entertainment attorney before you make a “huge, stupid mistake that tells an investor to run away,” Kanzler said.  You still have to find “rich people.”

Besides and, some equity crowdfunding portals for film projects are:,,,,, and

The likelihood of finding millions of dollars in funding online are slim; however, name actors and directors have had success.

Kanzler suggested that crowdfunding works as an easy way to ask your friends and families for small donations.  The process is especially effective for a short film.

Successful projects are usually the result of lots of hard work on the part of the “askers,” who have a long list of rich friends and social media contacts.

Sewell suggested thinking big, asking for $25,000 rather than $500.

Chellapa, who himself has invested in crowdfunded projects, said your film needs to have a hook to interest investors.  Still, he said you’d be better off using your time on the telephone, calling friends, then friends of friends, and then their friends.

Ketcher, who has some experience launching a crowdfunding campaign, added that if you don’t meet your goal with some funds, you won’t get anything.

If you can find a tie-in with a not-for-profit agency, you might be able to make an arrangement with them to receive donations and pass them through to your company.  The donor gets a tax write-off because the money goes to a not-for-profit, the agency gets the opportunity to further its mission as a result of the content of your film, and you get funded.  You are allowed to make a profit on the film, either documentary or narrative.

The non-profit should provide a service to you as well, such as giving you access to its mailing list, who are part of your target niche audience, or they may help you write grants, Ketcher said.

Kanzler suggested you provide 2- 5 percent fee to the agency for its administrative assistance.  He said to examine the success of the movie FIREPROOF, as an example of building a niche audience.  (

The Midwest Artist Project Services ( is a new 501C3 agency designed to provide these types of services for filmmakers and other artists.  St. Louis Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts ( provide forms, seminars, and information about setting up your company.

Preparing your company to do business requires filing your business plan with the government.  You need a private placement memo.  Just remember that you can’t go public online or talk about your film project – even to friends and family – without all the legal paperwork.

Kanzler said that investors want to know one thing:  What’s in it for me?  They want to hear when they’re going to get their money back.  It’s show business, after all.

You might get the same investors for some of your projects, but you might not.  You might get distribution deals based on past success, but you might not.  It never hurts to have a “big name” attached when talking with investors and distributors.

Before you accept money from investors, have paperwork in place to explain how you’re going to divide up the money, once it starts to flow.  Legal obligations are one thing; moral obligations can keep you from sleeping peacefully.

Tax credits are one way to fund your project, if you can meet each State’s standards of minimum expenditure and residency requirements for crew.  Missouri has no film tax credit now, and the Illinois program is on hold.

Filmmakers shouldn’t count on money from product placement.  You might get in-kind services or gifts, though.  In fact, you have to get clearance to use a product on film, if that product will be visible.

Kanzler said some companies won’t want their products in certain films because they don’t want to be associated with the topic of the film.

If the company says OK but won’t put that in writing, you’ll run into problems when you go to distributors.  They’ll ask for the release.

While filmmakers might not be able to count on making a trailer to entice investors, you have to have something for a promotional website.

Sewell started a Meet-Up group, Equity Crowdfunding STL.  They’ll meet Tuesday, July 7, 6 p.m., at the Business Bank Building, 8000 Maryland Ave., 2nd Floor, in Clayton.  (


St. Louis MCA Meeting, this Wednesday, June 10

This month, we’ll focus on perhaps the biggest problem that filmmakers face: Raising Money.
At this Wednesday’s meeting you’ll learn about:
— The latest trend in crowdfunding: Equity & debt crowdfunding, which allows you to approach investors online.
— Crowdfunding successes and failures.
— Fiscal sponsorships: Even if you don’t have a 501(c)(3) non-profit, you can partner with one to funnel tax-free donations for your film.
— Developing a business plan for your film.
— How to find investors for your film (without getting into trouble with the law).
Hear from our panel of experts, including attorneys, filmmakers and others. Bring your questions, you ideas, your thoughts, and your stories.
3221 McKelvey Road, in the auditorium on the lower level
St. Louis, Missouri 63044 
Networking: 6:30
Meeting Begins: 7:00
Date: June 10, 2015
Come to our June 10 meeting, and GET YOUR EDGE!
STUDENTS GET IN FREE (Valid ID required)
$10 for Non-members
Free for MCA-I members and HEC-TV Employees


Do you want to work in the entertainment industry?
Are you unsure where to begin?
Have you completed a film degree and are wondering, “Now what?”
Film Industry Training Seminars LLC (F.I.T.S.) is the answer you’ve been looking for! Kenny Chaplin  brings to you sixteen years in the trenches of the Hollywood film industry. With road weary tales from the field to augment the material, you’ll learn how to become an unforgettable film assistant on any size of production, from multi million dollar films, to photo shoots, and down to even the smallest budgeted student film.
He instructs participants in the day-to-day requirements of working as a film set assistant on location and in the studio. With an industry standard manual, examples, guest speakers and production forms, he presents the following:
Day 1:
•Pre-Production & Production
•The Directors Team
•Your First Day
•Set Protocol & Etiquette
•Walkie Talkie procedures
Day 2:
•Other PA jobs
•Background Performers
•Script Breakdown
•Production Paperwork
•Set Safety and Protocol
•Guilds, Unions, & Accounting
•Resume building, interview skills and Job search techniques
link to the workshop registration page:
“It was absolutely the most important thing that I have invested in to start my production career. I wish it lasted longer than 2 days because I couldn’t get enough of it, so detailed with every aspect of the set, Kenny gives you not only the understanding of how each position works, but the know how and the different ways to approach issues in conjunction with the rest of the team.”
Margot Carvallo Hernandez
“This was, without a doubt, an incredibly informative and entertaining seminar full of information on the production side of film making that you can’t get anywhere else. From learning about the important roles of production assistants, to the roles and duties of the 1st assistant director, through discussion, stories from the field to practical exercises; if you want a leg up on the competition to fill these roles, take this seminar with presenter Kenny Chaplin!!”
Randy Reese
This seminar has the best thing that I have ever done for myself. I learned so much and you stoked a fire inside me that is giving me purpose. Everything you talked about this weekend has been a suppressed dream of mine and it was put on my back burner to try to pursue a practical life. I am extremely grateful you, Kenny Chaplin, had a chance to present in Boise, it changed my life.”
Pete Schlesinger

Recap of the “Camera in Action” Workshop and Announcing the Upcoming “Writing for the Screen” Workshop.

Recap of the “Camera in Action” Workshop and Announcing the Upcoming “Writing for the Screen” Workshop.
The recent “Camera in Action” workshop hosted by and taught by Dave Rutherford and Dave Berliner, was a fantastic learning experience from two guys who are at the top of their fields. “The Daves”, as we lovingly call them, pulled out all the stops with all the filmmaking toys anyone could ask for. Here’s a clip of the guys in action.
On the heels of this program comes the “Writing for the Screen” Workshop with Tim Breitbach and Jeramy Corray of Coolfire Studios; once again, two guys who are teaching from experience in their daily jobs. This workshop promises to be a fantastic learning experience, as Tim and Jeramy both have substantial writing credits for feature film and TV. The workshop will be held at the drool-worthy Coolfire Studios in St. Louis on May 30th.
As if that’s not enough and we can’t believe our lucky stars, film commissioner Andrea Sporcic will pay a visit to the “ Writing for the Screen” workshop to speak about the “Missouri Stories Scriptwriting Fellowship” offered by the Missouri Film Office. If you’re a writer looking for an immersive experience with top industry professionals, it doesn’t get any better than this. For more information on the “Writing for the Screen” workshop, go to

48 Hour Film Project — $15 Discount through May 28th!

Great Opportunity: The 48 Hour Film Project takes place May 29-31 and is offering a $15 discount on registration through this Thursday, May 28th!
The 48 Hour Film Project is a wild and sleepless weekend in which you and your team have a blast making a movie. All writing, shooting, editing and scoring must be completed in just 48 hours.
On Friday night, you are assigned a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a genre that must be included in your movie. 48 hours later, you submit your film. Next? Your masterpiece will show on the big screen at the Tivoli Theatre!
To take advantage of this Special Rate:
1. Go to:
2. If you are new the 48HFP, click the “New User” link at the bottom to register. If you’ve signed up for the project before, login using the user name and password that you created the previous time you signed up. (There is a reminder if needed.)
3. Enter the code: EXT2015STL
Come make a film in 48 hours on the weekend of May 29-31. ALL completed films are seen up on the BIG SCREEN June 2-4 at the gorgeous Tivoli Theatre in the Loop.
But be sure to register at the link above so that you receive the discounted price!

Script Mechanics Screenwriting Workshop

Script Mechanics Screenwriting Workshop Sat May 9, 1-6 pm

Script Mechanics FREE Screenplay Workshop and Table Read — Actors Needed, Writers Wanted!
May 9, 1-6 pm

When: Sat May 9, 1-6 pm

Where: Buder Library 4401 Hampton Ave, 63109

What: Screenplay Table Reading and Workshop

This month we will read Jamie’s Koogler’s “The Perfect Price,” a family film designed for low budget, high quality production. When Mr. Price unearths an odd silver object in their yard, the family quickly discovers that it has the power to make everything turn out perfectly, but only for the one person who has it in his or her possession.

Jamie Koogler is a ex-pat of St. Louis who now lives in LA. Koogler, who has some acting credits, also makes films and has had several films in the St. Louis Showcase over the years. She won’t be present for the reading, but notes and maybe a recording will be done for her.

Every voice is welcome, and fewer roles than most films, but each has meat!

Script Mechanics’ monthly screenwriting workshop and script reading this Saturday, and we also discuss the writing life and the art of screenwriting.

ACTORS — Practice your Audition skills by participating in the COLD READING at Script Mechanics’ table reads!

WRITERS — We are currently looking for scripts to read this summer at Script Mechanics. If you have script that you would like coverage on, please contact Sandra Olmsted or Mary Schirmer.

MCA-I/NATAS Meeting Wednesday, May 13


Coming Wednesday, May 13, from MCA-I and NATAS.  Whether You Attended NAB This Year or Not, You’ll Want To Attend This Meeting

The best way to get up-to-speed on the latest trends, technologies, and industry toys is to attend the annual NAB extravaganza in Las Vegas. The second best way is to attend our annual post-NAB meeting, which features a panel discussion with those who have attended this year’s NAB. This year’s meeting will be the first-ever joint event between the local chapter of the Media Communications Association International (MCA-I) and the local chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (NATAS), which produces the Mid-America Emmy Awards.

We’ve got a great line-up of speakers (see bios below!), so you’re sure to have your favorite topics covered.

DATE: Wednesday, May 13th

TIME: Networking at 6:30 pm, meeting starts at 7:00 pm

and NATAS members = FREE!
non-members = $10
students = $5


Bad Dog Pictures, Inc.

1501 S. Kingshighway
St. Louis, MO 63110

From Highway 40/64, take the Kingshighway exit and head south.
From I-44, take the Kingshighway exit and head north

AFTERGLOW:  O’Connell’s Pub,  4652 Shaw Ave.,  which is only two blocks away, after the meeting.

Bios of Panelists, so far:

Eric Tutskey: He is the Rental & Sales Manager at Bad Dog Pictures since 2008 and handles the day-to-day operations of booking rental equipment, preparing it for the job, making recommendations on equipment, and equipment repairs. Six years prior to Bad Dog, he was a Front of House Live Sound Engineer for national and regional touring acts, such as Eddie Money, Alan Parsons Project, Dave Mason, Percy Sledge, and many others. On the side, he is a musician, writing primarily sound bed/instrumental music.

Stephen Pidgeon:  He owns Pulse Media Technology, a one-man firm, which offers 3D animation using Autodesk Maya and a suite of Autodesk and Adobe tools to produce motion and graphic media. Currently, Steve is focused on animated content for Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality. In the 1970s and 80s, Steve owned and operated Pulse Productions, Inc. There he operated a Marron Carroll animation stand upon which he designed and built a five-axis motion control system that was controlled by an Apple 2 computer. This allowed him to shoot open shutter motion graphics, such as zooms, without doing the conventional step and repeat method. When the graphics field went digital in 1983, Steve sold his business and returned to school at Washington University to study computer science. He then entered the field of software development and remained there until 2014.

Christine Du Vall:  She is the Production and Post-Production Engineer at First Rule Film & Broadcast in Richmond Heights. First Rule is a full service production facility with capabilities to produce live video and radio programming as well as scripted films and commercials. Christine maintains a full broadcast and post production facility including edit suites, studios, servers, archives, broadcast equipment, and flux capacitors. Before coming to First Rule, Christine worked at Modern Communications designing, installing, and troubleshooting systems all over St. Louis.



By Mary J. Schirmer

At the March 2015 MCA meeting, hosted by Patrick Barlow of Barlow Productions, experts on costumes and props took time from their busy schedules to offer insights on providing these services for stage and film productions. These panelists, noted below, have worked on major theatrical and film productions in Missouri and elsewhere, including the George Clooney-starrer UP IN THE AIR filmed in St. Louis, the Ben Affleck vehicle GONE GIRL filmed in Cape Girardeau, and the recent MARSHALL THE MIRACLE DOG filmed in St. Louis starring Lauren Holly and St. Louis native-gone-Hollywood Bill Chott.

The most successful props and costume crew members are able to think on their feet and improvise to solve unforeseen problems. Even so, the more notice a production can give them, the better.

Like many other professions, the best way to learn is to jump into the trenches.

Their motto: “Be Prepared for Anything.”


Property masters haunt resale and antique shops, props warehouses, college theater departments, and the basements and attics of family and friends.

They’re trying to build a look with accessories and props. The more comfortable the actor is, the better the performance will be.

For long shoots, the props masters might live onsite to be available for last-minute needs and to duplicate items that “walked away” or broke. In fact, on big budget movies, the crew keeps duplicate props along with a catalog of these items.

For both props and costumes, items that would have to appear perfect in a camera close-up don’t have to be in immaculate condition on stage. The 10-foot rule for stage productions says that the audience will be at least 10 feet away, so you might get away with a quick fix with duct tape or with nicked furniture.

If the script calls for weapons, even fake weapons, check regulations before putting these items into actors’ hands.


A costume often begins as a drawing or photo of what the client wants. The costumer works to locate or sew the costumes, as opposed to the wardrobe crew who work with the actors on set.

If you’re the actor, tell the costumer if you have allergies — for example, to wool — or if you perspire a lot. Kindly wear underwear to a fitting. Tell the costumer if you’ve lost or gained weight since your measurements were reported. Sometimes actresses have a baby between the time they’re measured and production begins.

Also, if you have to hide props in your costume, such as a weapon, tell the costumer so appropriate adjustments in fabric seams can be made.

If you’re the costumer, take your “tools” to the set. You might have to sew on a button that pops off the lead actor’s trousers — while he’s wearing them. You might have to “fix” fabric folds with your all-purpose knife while an actress is suspended from rigging.

The costume defines the character, not only for the audience but also for the actor. Costume colors, fabrics, and accessories often change as a story progresses.

Panelists were:

Sandi Blair, costume (unable to attend) robert schmidt costumes

Kathleen Gratz, costume

Sheila Lenkman, costume

Bruce Mai, costume

Megan Power, costume

Tim Stephens, props

Jim Tudor, props

Cathy Wilke, costume (unable to attend)

Clark Woodman, props