False Profit: A Mockumentary Indie Film about the Financial Crisis, the Bailout, and Occupy Wall Street

“Finally,” CNBC declared about the mockumentary False Profit. “A comedy movie about the financial crisis.” I met one of the producers on this film, Dan Abrams, because we’d both been fans of and guests on a podcast called asymco. It’s host is Horace Dediu and Horace studies Apple and its competitors. It’s an example of the ways in which stories, digital media, and Apple are coming together for me. Dan’s current project is a mockumentary called False Profit, and it’s an indie film project in that he is seeking his own financing, partially done through a website called Kickstarter. To read more about that and potentially help fund the project (and pick up some swag in the process) you can click here.

William Torgerson Dan Abrams False Profit asymco Horace Dediu

False Profit from Kickstarter

When I asked Dan about his process for writing the story for False Profit, he said he wrote collaboratively, something that comes from his connections to the Second City comedy theater. He talked about a way of writing (and maybe it’s an improv technique too) called the “Yes And” method. I couldn’t figure out what he was saying on the podcast until I later saw it in writing. His example of the technique went something like this:

“It’s raining frogs.”

As the fellow writer, I am to accept that it is raining by thinking yes and and then going with it. “Finally,” I might say, “we’ve been having a terrible drought of frogs this summer.”

On the audio podcast, Dan and I debated the social merits of Will Ferrell movies. I thought mostly funny but also usually just silly and maybe even homophobic, and Dan mounted a satire-themed defense. From there, we discussed the Bailout, Chekhov, George Bush, and whether or not Republicans and Democrats alike might enjoy the film False Profit.

Dan is using Kickstarter to help finance his film and he explained how that works. I asked about Vimeo or YouTube for the sort of work I’m doing, and I had a lot of questions about copyright when it comes to news footage, the legal contracts in securing images and music, and all sorts of questions when it comes to film festivals and indie film distribution.

If you take the time to give the podcast a listen, I hope you’ll help me learn about some of this. I’m almost done with my documentary film For the Love of Books and I’m sensing that there’s more work ahead than completed when it comes to actually getting the film in front of audiences to where they can view it.

On iTunes, the podcast is called the “Read, Write, and Teach Digital Book Club.” If you look down the right side of this page, you can click on the file for download. I’d love to just have it ready for streaming play, maybe one of you can tell me how to set that up. Is it possible to do it while paying to go ad free on WordPress or do I need to run my own site? Thanks in advance for the help!

Two Indie Film Documentary Projects: Morel Mushrooms and Pulpwood Queens

First I thought I wanted to make a documentary film.  Now it looks like there might be two.  The original idea was to be about my dad and his buddies’ morel mushroom hunting obsession.  A second film has jumped out and seemed to be demanded to be made about my recent trip to the Pulpwood Queens Girlfriend weekend.  My impulse to try the films probably comes from what my students and I have been up to in the classroom and also the trip I took last summer to Providence for the Rhode Island International Film Festival.

William Torgerson documentary film Pulpwood Queens Kathy Patrick Morel Mushroom Hunters

The Mushroom Hunters

In the classroom, my students write a documentary-style research paper we call a scholarly personal narrative.  They tell a personal story, weave in scholarly research, and then “write” a short documentary film as a culminating writing project.  This seems something along the lines of Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking.  It’s a story of personal grief with research layered in.

Working with film is a craft I find can take me away.  In other words, what should be an hour of fiddling with iMovie or Windows Moviemaker turns into several hours and staying up half the night to finish a project so that my family can see it the next morning.

As for the festival last summer, I had a great time, went to films with my sis, films with my wife, and also met lots of indie filmmakers who I peppered with questions about their work. I enjoyed a lot of the films (Sailcloth, The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore) but there was one funny and clever documentary short called Two’s a Crowd  that acted as the catalyst that caused my sister and I to think, maybe we can do this.

Some Pulpwood Queens at Girlfriend Weekend

It’s my thinking that I’m going to write here about how these projects are coming along with hopes that some of you will join in and set me back on course when my thinking goes astray.