A great idea is just the beginning of bringing a television series to life. There’s so many other moving parts that have to happen before viewers can watch a story on their screens, and perhaps most importantly, there’s funding the project itself. After the team behind The Communist’s Daughter secured $150,000 of equity financing through the Independent Production Fund (IPF) and developed the concept throughWomen In the Directors Chair (WIDC) Story & Leadership Program last December,they are now seeking an additional $25,000 by March 11 through their kickstarter campaign.
Loosely based on creator, writer and director, Leah Cameron’s teenage years, The Communist’s Daughter is a comedic web series consisting of 8 episodes 12 to 15 minutes in length. Set at the height of the Reagan 80s era, it is a fish-out-of-water-story about the McDougalds, a family of died-in-the-wool Pinkos who approach just about everything in life from a distinct point-of-view. “The family is always trying, but not always succeeding at fitting in,” says producer Natalie Novak Remplakowski.
The series also won the CBC Originals Pitch Competition in July at Just For Laughs and recently Cameron and Novak gave The TV Junkies some more insight into the series and what the kickstarter campaign is all about. They also discuss the cool perks available to those that help out and donate, as well as how they are utilizing social media in a very fun and unique way for their campaign.
The TV Junkies: You’ve already received some funding through the IPF, but what will the funds you’re seeking here in this campaign allow you to do?
Leah Cameron: Yes, we received 75% of our financing from the IPF last year. Our Kickstarter campaign is our way of inviting friends, family and fans to be part of the show and to help us close our funding gap. Setting a show in 1980s Toronto costs a pretty penny, so we’ll be using the money to source everything from wicked-awesome Cindy Lauper hair and makeup (hello blue eyeshadow!) to hilarious archival footage from the period (e.g. Honest Ed’s, Speakers Corner) to retro cars, like the Soviet Lada Niva 4×4 the father drives.
Natalie Novak Remplakowski: The equity investment from the Independent Production Fund provided us with the largest portion of our financing to-date, but not all of it. The running time of our series is approximately 90 minutes which is the length of any feature film. That’s a lot of screen time for a low budget period piece. We are striving not only to do the 80s period justice both as historians and aesthetes, that our campaign gently touches upon, but mainly as storytellers! We are going to be moving through this story quickly with fantastic actors, in exciting scenarios covering a lot of ground. That is what is going to be running up the bills, and fast.
TTVJ: In looking over the campaign, you guys have some really awesome perks and prizes available. Are there any in particular you wanted to highlight?
NN: Currently, we are looking for some ‘big potato’ donours who really believe in the show to come on board as Associate Producers and Executive Producers (what we are calling “The Soviet Generalship Pledge” and “The Russian Oligarch Pledge.”) We’ve received an EP pledge from as far away as Switzerland who has asked us to just kindly send him a potato in the mail.
LC: We’re definitely having fun with our prizes, which are Cold War and 80s-themed. So we’re offering everything from downloads of our synthy-80s soundtrack, to shirts that say “I Love Lada” on the front. Another fun gift is the meat plate featuring the face of Vladimir Lenin which seems to the favourite so far.
TTVJ: Not only are the prizes pretty great, but you’re also very active on social media and using it to forward the campaign and thank backers. Why did you want to be sure to utilize it in this way?
NN: Ahh, yes, our 1980s PBS-telethon! For readers who don’t know, we are running our Kickstarter like a 1980s PBS Pledge-athon. The kind that would interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to beg for bucks. We thought if we were going to do a Kickstarter we should give fans something new and fun to latch onto, almost a show unto itself. The 1980s theme not only fits with the setting of our show, but is really fun to produce as a content creator. That’s a major facet of any digital content creation that has such a quick turnaround from creator to audience; it’s gotta be fun to make. We are pumping this stuff out consistently. You need to be able to trust that if you’re excited to wake up early and post something online people will probably enjoy watching it too.
LC: Natalie and my boyfriend Jim star in it as the telethon hosts. If you donate even $5 folks they will thank you on air! The other reason we are so active on social media is that we want to thank our fans and make them feel part of our show, because they are! A good friend of mine, Salimah Ebrahim, has started this amazing peer-to-peer platform called Artery, which is like an Air BnB that connects artists to people who want to host performances in their homes. And she said that for most ideas to turn into something real in the world you need a group of fervent supporters who really back you. They don’t have to be big but they have to be behind you and they are the ones who will help propel your idea forward. And I think Natalie, our EP Lauren Corber and I have really worked to build that feeling around this project. I’m truly grateful to anyone who has helped us along the way — from Carol Whiteman and Women In the Director’s Chair (WIDC), who selected this project for development through their Story and Leadership Program in 2017, to the cast, crew and writing team who have given their time, to everyone who has backed us so far.
I think that support deserves to be acknowledged! Publicly. And on social media!
TTVJ: If all goes well and you guys get the funding you’re asking for, when would filming happen and a release be expected?
NN: We are looking to to camera in the late Spring/Early Summer of 2019. Release will ultimately determined by our broadcaster but as our timeline has it, you will see Season 1 online in early 2020!
Intrigued by The Communist’s Daughter? Sound off below!
The Communist’s Daughter Kickstarter campaign can be found HERE.
Editor in Chief Bridget Liszewski comes from a long line of TV Junkies who fostered her love of television from a very young age. She's channeled that passion into covering both US and Canadian television shows, and is thankful everyday for the invention of the DVR. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, she loves college football and is a fan of sports in general. Bridget is always up for talking TV and you can follow her on twitter at @BridgetOnTV.