Recently, I was fortunate enough to work as 1st Assistant Director on a trailer to help promote the Kickstarter campaign for a new interactive web-based children’s show, “Garden of Tomorrow.” The campaign seeks to raise $50,000 to produce the very first half-hour episode of what is to be a fun, educational series in the vain of “Sesame Street” for kids aged 3-7.
Ronald Shattuck, owner of the Fallbrook Film Factory (and producer of my short film, My Necklace, Myself), came up with the idea of “Garden of Tomorrow” along with the show’s star and inspiration, Arlene Yates (known to her fans as Lady Arlene), who has been writing and performing music for over forty years and has spent most of her career writing for and entertaining children. Together, they came up with an idea that wouldn’t just present fun, educational entertainment to the kids, but actually allow them to interact with the series, encouraging viewers of all ages to help to write skits, play games and participate in contests through the website (for which will separate pages for kids and their parents to navigate and enjoy) that will present “Garden of Tomorrow” in all of its clean, wholesome glory.
When I was first approached to join the project, I loved the idea of joining a terrific production with who I knew (from experience) would include a professional, collaborative team for a great purpose. I’ve always wanted to be a part of something like this and to volunteer my time to help bring this to life was the first step; I jumped at the chance. I believe in what Ronald and Arlene are trying to accomplish with this project—basically a series for kids and parents to participate in and enjoy together, and help them become engaged in something that is fun and educational without being pretentious or vulgar—and wanted to support them in any way I could.
The first skit I worked on for the campaign was a skit called “Jaxon: The Kid Magician,” which wasn’t without its troubles. The cast and crew were only beginning to get used to each other (as artists and crew), so the process was slow, but no less educational. The footage we got ended up being the perfect test for us, and after having to unfortunately recast the original magician, the team worked like a well-oiled machine, re-shooting the skit without a hitch. As 1st Assistant Director, I was tasked with keeping the production moving and making sure that Ronald (director, as well as producer and editor), was getting what he needed from the cameras and the actors alike. It was definitely fun getting to know the new crew—so much so, I asked them back to work on my own Kickstarter video, which is still in the works and will be revealed in a couple of months.
I returned the next weekend to help film the rest of the pieces needed for the video. This included filming outside for over six hours with a lot of young kids from ages 3-17. It was a little frustrating at times (especially when the kids got tired and cranky), but we all took it in stride and it all worked out great. We got to film at a beautiful pond in the backyard of a friend of the Fallbrook Film Factory. While my job was mostly to keep everything moving, I did direct a sequence in which Ronald was on camera, and was tasked with getting a few pick-up shots (which actually hit the cutting room floor, but hey, it happens).
We also filmed a few other scenes, including Lady Arlene teaching the kids to make some veggie-wraps, and the talking heads portion of the video that actually explains the show and the campaign in detail. )If you look close enough, you’ll see my ugly mug in a couple of shots—and, oh look! There’s my arm!) I believe we got a lot of really good stuff, and you can see the entire video at the official Garden of Tomorrow Kickstarter Page.
And speaking of which, now that filming is over—and the Kickstarter Campaign has gone live—the hard part (aka raising the finances) has just begun. Like any Kickstarter campaign, there are rewards for those who pledge. For “Garden of Tomorrow,” contributors can receive DVD’s of the first episode, CD’s of Lady Arlene’s professionally-produced music, “Garden of Tomorrow” T-Shirts, posters and even the chance to participate—either in front of or behind the camera—in the first episode.
To make a pledge and help get this fantastic web-series off the ground, head over to the official Garden of Tomorrow Kickstarter Page, where you can learn everything you need to know about the project and check out all of the great rewards. The campaign runs now through December 8. Any donation helps, so even if you can only throw a dollar at it, it at least gets us one stepping stone closer to the ultimate goal.
It’s all up to us. Let’s all help a great team of professional artists create and develop a wonderful, wholesome, entertaining web-based television series that kids can enjoy anytime they want.