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Making FUN!

In this day and age there are almost no arts and craft shows for kids. Children are much more focused on playing games with their phones, going on Facebook, and doing these twitting things I hear so much about.

What happened to doing things yourself? Where the heck did the creative kids go? What ever happened to making your own fun? Oh! What a coincidence! There is now an easy to follow DIY arts and crafts web series called Making FUN!

Dear Parents,
If you want your child to be self sufficient and not constantly nag you for art supplies, make sure they have access to the web series Making FUN! as well as clean recycled items. Now you won’t have to go to the store to buy them everything.

The first episode has been launched today! YouTube Preview Image

Show Specs
Target demographic: Ages 6-16
Length: 3-5 min segments
Style: Live action
Production Company: Making FUN!
First aired: Nov 19, 2014
Seasons: One so far!
Created by: Cat Scott
Starring: Grace Poltrack
DOP: Julia Tan Kozlowski (that’s me, btw)
Sound and Cam Op: Nolan MacDonald
Edit and Graphics: Patrick Barfoot
Logo Design: Kelsey Miner
Social Media: Tyler Cheese

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Grace Poltrack is a very versatile and talented actor. I first met her about five years ago when she acted in a play I wrote and directed called Terminal. Poltrack is very easy to work with, always enthusiastic, and an absolute darling. She is very familiar with the stage and is working her way into film!

I was able to have a little Q and A with my good friend and creator of the webseries, Cat Scott.

How long have you been working on developing this idea?

“I’ve been developing Making FUN for the past few years as a half hour kids show, but I didn’t want to wait around to pitch it – I wanted to see if I could make it on my own. I still haven’t decided who I want to pitch it to. If the series is a success maybe they will approach me!”

How did you get this project rolling?

“Luckily, creative minds think alike and my incredibly talented friends lent me their skills to help translate my insanity into a product that people will enjoy.”

Why a DIY show?

“Making things yourself today has a meaning behind it. It’s something to be proud of. Making your own toys (and making your own fun) is simply more valuable than store bought toys. If it breaks you don’t have to get a replacement, you can fix it yourself because you made it!”

Do you have plans for a second season?

“I plan on writing a second season in the spring pending Grace’s availability.”

What shows did you grow up on?

“I grew up with Debbie Travis and Neil Buchanan so naturally I love DIY, art, and silliness.”

And just like that you have a fun and silly show made by fun and silly people. (I can’t wait to see the blooper reel! I may or may not be making beautifully ugly faces in the background.)

Tomorrow we shoot episode five, the finale to the first season! So glad to be making fun!

making fun links If you like what you see then here’s more! Click on the links!
Facebook - YouTube Channel - Twitter

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Making A Short, Step 3: Look Sideways (Location and Funding)

Once we had our team together, we needed to find a place to shoot. Everything about the project felt tenuous, and trying to get everyone together around conflicting schedules seemed enough to tear it apart. Just the thought of it was daunting. Figuring out if we needed permits, and how they worked if we did, sat on everyone’s to do list for weeks.

We wrote for simple locations: interior of a house, interior of a store, backyard at night. We did everything we could to make it easy, and yet we still had an issue finding places in Toronto that worked. We asked storeowners along Ossington, and again in Kensington Market. They didn’t even laugh when they said no. Just flat out refusal, no hope for negotiation.

Really, what was in it for them? We couldn’t pay anything and we needed to be there after hours, which meant they needed to be there after hours too.

Do you know how long a convenience store owner’s day is? Why would anyone say yes?

Meanwhile, we piled on expected costs as we found them. We had no funding and didn’t think it was fair to ask our community to support us without having been ‘proven’ through past projects, so we were going to have to hustle and scramble if we wanted to make anything at all. Aside from the fictitious math of our budget, things were fairly simple to calculate. Accounting is easy when you’re working with zero and zero.

We started looking at the problem sideways in. The cost list was rising quickly and we still had to figure out how to get everyone together despite our different schedules, where we were going to shoot, and what locations would need permits… unless we bypassed all of that and hunkered down somewhere we had unlimited access to.

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We’d thought of our old family cottage a few times, but never in earnest. It was two hours away. The drive was just long enough that we would all have to stay over together for a weekend, and most of us had just met. The septic tank could be on the fritz, leaving us in a literal shitstorm for the weekend. Even if the septic tank worked, the bathroom was a little small and a little dank, and we still didn’t know if we’d gotten any glammy diva wienies on our team (spoiler alert – we didn’t).

Or maybe we were looking at it the wrong way – from a different perspective, the cottage could be the perfect solution! We could get to know our new compadres on a fabulous two-hour countryside drive. We were talking about a place where we could all stay together, hang out and have fun while we filmed, where we could get out of the city and the burdens of over-cleanliness, and where we could get to know the upper limits of a septic tank at the end of the summer season. OK, so it was impossible to sell that last one as a positive. But once we started flipping our perceived strengths and weaknesses, shooting at the cottage seemed an obvious choice.

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We found a store in the area too. The owners were so nonchalant that we thought they’d misunderstood what we’d asked them for. But there they were on the night of the shoot, smiling on the sidelines as we tore their place apart and put it back together again. We tried to give them 50 bucks to say thanks but they refused, so we shoved our fives and tens back into our pockets and drove off into the sunset, our little caravan of non-glammy diva wienies in tow.

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And that’s how an unused family cottage, a road trip, and lots of bulk groceries later we had ourselves a solid set and could comfortably shoot on a near-zero budget.

- Brit Kewin, Co-Director / Jillian Gora, Producer
Burn The Tapes is the story of a young woman whose new life is threatened when a stack of cassette tapes reveals a haunting truth about her husband.

Read more from this series each Monday in November!

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Making A Short, Step 2: Start Already!

When we decided we wanted to make a short film with no money and no experience, one of the most daunting challenges we faced was how to get a team together. Jillian Googled ‘Toronto Director of Photography’ and sent an email to the first guy in the search results saying who we were and what we wanted to make. She asked him for advice, because beyond a Google search we didn’t even know where to look. Skill shares? Indie film forums? Actual in-person meet-ups of some sort? We pictured speed dating with a whole crowd dressed in black t-shirts and berets, having entire conversations made of movie quotes.

After that first message we moved on to other things because our list was, after all, exhaustive. We figured that was just one in a number of queries we would send out into the ether before we would hear a response.

But then, we got lucky.

The cinematographer responded that he had been looking for a dramatic short to put on his reel and that he’d be able to contribute for free. We couldn’t believe it. Did he know that we didn’t know anything? That we couldn’t pay him? That we had no equipment and no guarantees about where it would go? He did, and he was still down. Having just one person on board made it easier to proceed.

BurnTheTapes_CastNext up: casting. Jillian read casting calls on Mandy.com to get a feel for how they should go and posted one that sounded legit but not overly promise-y. For some things we tried to follow a semblance of industry standard, for others we didn’t care. When it came to casting, we wanted people to know we were sincere but learning. There wasn’t much more we could offer than that, so we wrote emails to every single person who responded to the ad, whether it was to invite them to the audition or not. After the auditions, we sent individual emails thanking everyone who had read and mentioned one thing we thought they did well. Maybe that’s cheesy camp counselor stuff, and it was certainly time consuming to do, but who were we to say who was good? We could only say who was right for this one small thing that we’d made up in our heads, and dream crushing wasn’t on the list of things to learn.

We were excited to have gotten great people on board so we talked about the project to the people in our lives. They say that beggars can’t be choosers, but one thing we always kept in mind was how everyone would get along. If someone had skills but we got the sense that they wouldn’t follow through or keep things fun, we kept looking. There was a snowball sort of momentum to building our team. Suddenly there was a friend who could help with audio engineering, and another who offered to animate our title build. Even an artist who could help with makeup on set. It wasn’t long before we had all of the major roles filled. We realized that the city is teeming with skilled creatives looking for the next fun project to sharpen and show their skills, and all we had to do was start.

- Brit Kewin, Co-Director / Jillian Gora, Producer
Burn The Tapes is the story of a young woman whose new life is threatened when a stack of cassette tapes reveals a haunting truth about her husband.

Read more from this series each Monday in November!

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