Category Archives: cerise

Read Me Up Before You (Indie)GoGo!

This past Saturday, I had the awesome privilege of speaking on a panel called How to Fund Your Project on IndieGoGo at the Apple Store in SoHo which was all about sharing thoughts and insights on successful crowdfunding. In case you missed the event, here’s a recap of some of the things I mentioned at the panel, which was part of Internet Week NY, based on questions asked by panel moderator and IndieGoGo co-founder Danae Ringelmann.

IndieGoGo Logo

Why IndieGoGo? This question frequently comes up. Here are the two most important reasons why I recommend crowdfunding with IndieGoGo over any other site. First, there’s no strict “all-or-nothing” deadline. So, if I want to raise $10K but end up raising only $6K, I still get the $6K, which means I’ll still be able to make a great film.

Second, during the campaign, I was able to not only reach out to IndieGoGo (via email, Facebook, and Twitter) when I had a question or comment or if I just wanted some advice, but also Slava Rubin and Danae as well. There are two faces to the frontispiece, and it’s great to know they are sending tweets and updating their statuses alongside IndieGoGo proper. I found this both helpful and human.

A third reason to do it with IndieGoGo is its recent addition of a unique kind of deadline, the “All-or-More” deadline. If you raise all your funds before your deadline, IndieGoGo gives you a 5% cash bonus; if you don’t make it by your deadline, you don’t get the 5% from IndieGoGo, but you still continue fundraising and collect what you earn. This is a wonderful incentive!

A Personal Touch The theme of the panel discussion quickly became clear: Make sure your IndieGoGo campaign is as personal as it can be. I went into detail on some of Cerise’s more unique, personalized perks (like crafting a poem for each and every backer, for instance) and stressed the idea that crowdfunding is not a one-way street. Sure, you want to make your movie, but what do your backers want (besides the promise of good content?)

Acrostic Poem

An example of Cerise's acrostic poem perk.

I posed an admittedly awkward metaphor about how I didn’t just give Cerise’s backers mass-manufactured McDonald’s fries, but 100% real potatoes (the silence that followed this metaphor was suffocating!) I explained that my team and I made sure we showed our backers some genuine attention, and they showed us some in return, most memorably in the form of the “I supported Cerise” collage.

Crowdfunding’s a Full-Time Job If you’re trying to rewrite your script, edit a DVD, draw up some storyboards, or produce the film while you’re crowdfunding––and you don’t have a kick-ass marketing sidekick like…oh, say Marinell Montales––you probably won’t get all your funds in by your deadline or at all. If normally I’d spend five hours tweeting and updating my FB status, during Cerise’s crowdfunding campaign I must have been online between 15–18 hours a day.

One of the tactics I used that took up a fair amount of time but proved successful both fiscally and personally was what I’ve termed “FB Friend Fawning.” Basically, I’d post a personal message to each of my FB friends’ walls (back then I had 300-something friends) when I saw their chat window had the green. I’d start with a quick “What’s up, Jack?” followed by something personal usually based on one of their status updates, and then hit ‘em up with the pitch. Simple, but time-consuming.

Early on I found out that mass messaging doesn’t initiate action; you can simply delete those. But if it’s posted on a person’s wall, you’re now initiating a dialog with that person, and that action will naturally have a reaction, either in the form of a contribution or at the very least, a response.

By committing to this tactic, I received a chunk of our contributions. But I also found myself genuinely enjoying being in touch with some FB friends I added simply because they had sent me a request. It’s very humbling, and now I’ve almost 600 friends with whom I more actively engage on a much more regular basis than I had done before.

No Passion = No Profit This I promise. Me? I just can’t hide the fact that I love Cerise! It’s the best script I’ve written to date, and it’s gradually turning into the best short film I’ve shot thus far. And yes, the exclamation point is my best friend at times like these, and I’m not afraid to use them because I mean every single one of ’em!

That said, you’ve gotta show your passion. Most importantly, though, you can’t be afraid to be yourself.

The Three Ps of Your Pitch Video A great pitch video needs three things, which I’ve labeled as the Three Ps: Personal Introduction, Perk Descriptions, and Prior Work.

A personal introduction orients your potential backers as to who you are, why your raising these funds, and what you plan to do with them. Perk descriptions should be an integral part of your pitch video. Yes, they’re listed nice and neatly in the green bar on your IndieGoGo page, but people will not read everything in that green bar if it’s too long. So say it in your pitch. And if you can show it like I did in Cerise’s pitch, even better. Prior work should conclude your pitch video, like trailer clips to show people that you know your way around a camera, ’cause let’s face it, unless you’re Martin Scorsese or are related to Ivan Reitman, you need to build up your credibility for your potential backers so they won’t remain potential.

Most importantly, you need to appear in your pitch video. Think about it: You’re asking random strangers for money. You owe it to them to ask them to their faces. In this way, you can also showcase not only the three Ps, but the fourth one (which should go without saying): Passion!

What I’d Have Done Differently Upped my goal slightly. Being that I was a newbie to the whole crowdfunding phenomenon, I wasn’t sure if it would really work. During the first week of fund-raising, my team and I raised a sweet chunk of money. Then there was a three-day dark age where no contributions came in. I hit the panic button! I started coming up with ideas for physical events (who knows where I was gonna get the money for them!) Then, just as I was ready to start selling off the rest of my comic book collection on Craigslist, BAM! A slew of high-roller contributions came in. That’s when I kicked into crowdfunding full-time for two months.

The Bottom Line Crowdfunding is partly about you, mostly about your film, but all about your backers. Show them your project and your passion and they will help make it happen. And keep them engaged even after the credit cards have cleared and the perks have all been mailed away.


My favorite part of the Cerise IndieGoGo campaign.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m no expert at this. There are no experts, only experimenters. Everything my team and I did to raise funds for Cerise was done with a simple premise: Treat others how you would want to be treated. Once you do that, you’re on the road to a successful IndieGoGo campaign.

For more tidbits of crowdfunding goodness, check out the post I cowrote with Marinell on her blog “Look Who’s Talking.”

Overstuffed with Projects & Ideas

It’s hard to believe it’s been two weeks since my team and I wrapped production on Cerise. And as I spend my mornings off from the university cutting and shaping the initial edit of what I hope to be my greatest short film yet, I have been flooded by new ideas that are demanding attention.

Here’s a quick glimpse of what’s swimming the horizon line of my mind’s eye:

Café Mnemosyne – Because of the poet in me, I’m doomed to think in terms of brevity all the time; short poems, short spurts of written insights, and short films. There are a multitude of short film ideas taking up kilobytes on my iPhone’s Notes, but one of them has made it out of its electronic appworld and found its way onto index cards: Café Mnemosyne. Ancient Greek mythology and the Twilight Zone blur their remote landscapes in this very strange vignette.

Scene from Trigonis's Titus Andronicus; 2003

A bloody scene from my controversial rendition of Titus Andronicus; 2003 (Photo: Hudson Shakespeare Company)

I’m hoping to start on a first draft sometime in the next month or so when Cerise gets a little more put together.

Caput – I’ve also cooked up a brand new premise for a feature-length screenplay, an action movie in the vein of Hudson Hawk which I hope will simmer into a full-flavored broth reminiscent of the darkly comedic horror of Takashi Miike’s Ichi the Killer and Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. This is of course a long-term project, but I’ve already got a few pages of notes and a pretty involved story on my hands.

Remember this flick? Good fun, huh? (Photo: Google)

And, of course, I’ll be working on my hyper reality post-post modern retelling of the first and grandest epic of all time––Gilgamesh.

Okay, I’m not really working on anything Gilgamesh-related, but I’m still boggled that no one’s thought of adapting this to film. I mean, they made Beowulf, and…actually, nevermind. Let’s move on, shall we?

Update: Cerise – The (very) rough cut of Cerise is about 80% finished, but of course, it’ll needs much more work on it before it’s even in the same ballpark of the cut I have in my head. So far, though, I’m extremely pleased with the story that’s visually unfolding on my monitor. By this week I should have a full cut of the film, which will then need to be trimmed down to get it into the vicinity of a 20-minute short at most (that will no doubt prove the toughest challenge yet!) But I’m game, and I’ll keep you all updated with the progress.

Josh (David Arkema) in his apartment.

To whet your appetites, the first teaser for Cerise should be up and running very soon. It’s a 30-second taste of the main conflict of the film. I’m currently looking for some music to lay over it, so if anyone’s got a little Jon Brion-esque medley (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, I Huckabees) I could borrow for this teaser, feel free to send it over to me.

Update: The Little Vampire Feature that Could – I’m looking forward to working on my vampire feature A Beautiful Unlife again. While I work on this final polish based on suggestions from my trusted script analyst Michael Ray Brown, I’ve also decided to pull a Cohen Brothers and begin work (writing and planning, that is) on a trailer for the film since the better part of 2008 – 2009 was spent submitting to just about every studio in Hollywood. The script was also pitched at the 2009 Screenwriting Expo, and a former draft even landed on the desk of William Morris Agency. The feedback was mixed, as is to be expected (after all, in Hollywood, “nobody knows anything”) but some concerns were the same, like “the script needs to be genre specific” and this, the concluding lines of the WMA rep’s epic email:

In order for this to connect solidly with audiences, more focus needs to be placed on the comedy and less on the vampire elements.

Naturally, I agree with both of these points, from a business standpoint. However, I’m pretty certain I’ve got a semi-original tale here, and while I’m hard at work validating the love story between my vamp protagonist and the cynical young woman he loves and architecting a brand new finale that’s a bit more cathartic than my current one, I think it would behoove me to make a trailer in the vein of Fede Alvarez’s Ataque de Pánico ($500 & lots of green screen) to better showcase the possibilities of this film as is and prove that there’s a demand for it despite it running the gamut between five genres and being only darkly comedic when Hollywood apparently would like this film to be the next Once Bitten or worse (gulp) another Twilight! How ’bout you? If you’re a writer or filmmaker, how have you handled this sort of criticism of your own work?

That’s all for now. More updates as they burst out from the innards of my manvelope! Oh, and as you may have noticed, I’ve officially made the switch from Blogger to WordPress as the main host for this little brown extension of my brain. Admittedly, I’m not the most technologically adept guy on the planet, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to respond to the wonderful comments my posts were receiving on Blogger. That, coupled with the fact that I’d lost about two posts in their entirety made my decision all the more swift.

So please, if you like what you read, subscribe to my blog at

Oh, and look out for my upcoming post on short films that have impacted me the most, as well as a post I’m currently co-writing with Marinell Montales offering up tips on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign.

CERISE Casting: Character Specs/Descriptions

Welcome to the Cerise Casting Call! What follows is a list of characters, specifications, and descriptions of the characters I’m currently seeking for my off-beat short screenplay.


Please read the descriptions and send an email to with (1) your headshot, (2) your resume, (3) a link to your reel, and (4) which character(s) you would like to audition for.

I will contact you to have you come to the auditions; they will be help outdoors, most likely at Washington Square Park, NYC. Date and time TBA.


Josh Kermes (Caucasian male, 28 – 35) The protagonist of Cerise. He feels that he has all he wants in life, though everything in his life boxes him in. Josh has become complacent in his job as sole writing tutor at the Tutoring Center of N.E. Given University. For years he’s been okay with this, until recently, when that which kept him down all these years rears its ugly head once more.


Shivam Shah (Indian/Middle Eastern male, 28 – 35) The antagonist for the first half of Cerise. Very “Mac Guy” in personality, Shivam is cool, calm, collected. To him, a job is just that; whereas Josh is a great writing tutor, Shivam simply plays the part of a great writing tutor (and gets away with the charade). He throws Josh’s world into disorder because he is also the person who cost Josh his seventh National Spelling Bee championship.

Other Characters

Sam White (Caucasian male, 30 – 40) Josh’s other coworker and math tutor. (Speaking)

Young Josh (Caucasian male, 15) Josh as a young boy. (Speaking)

(NOTE: Because Young Josh needs to look somewhat like the actor playing Josh, I must cast Josh before I can cast Young Josh, so please be patient in waiting for a reply to audition. Thank you.)

Josh’s Mother (Caucasian female, 35 – 40) A brief role. (Speaking)

Tweedle Dee & Tweedle Dum (Any, 28 – 32) Two brief comic characters. (Speaking)

Little Girl (Any, 12 – 15 years) A girl in a spelling bee. (Speaking)

(NOTE: This role will be shot prior to principle photography on Cerise.)

Man (Any, 30 – 35) A masked samurai figure that haunts Josh’s dreams. (Non-speaking)

(NOTE: Samurai sword skills and/or experience in samurai films preferred.)

Barista (Any, 22 – 28) A brief role. (Speaking)

Receptionist (Caucasian, 40 – 50) A brief comic character. (Speaking)

Students (Ages 18 – 22; speaking)

Sascha (Hispanic)

Cory (African-American)

Kwame (African-American)

Student #1 (Brief)

Student #2 (Brief)

Update: The Rewrite and One More Bite

Man, it’s been quite a week!

First, I want to once more offer my deepest gratitude to all those who contributed to Cerise, my next short film project about a former spelling bee champion who, 24 years later, is still haunted by the word that took him down.

Thank you once more:

  • Larry (Dean) Wilson
  • David L. Ulery (@davidlulery)
  • Alain Aguilar (@Alain_Aguilar)
  • Gary King (@grking)
  • Cielito Pascual (@cielitopascual)
  • Sheri Candler (@Shericand)
  • Walter Enders
  • Lucy Ann Philips
  • Larry Goodman
  • Frank Guzman Jr.
  • Jessica King &
  • Julie Keck (@kingisafink)
  • Chrissy Zurawski
  • Jon Crefeld
  • Daniel Arol Jahns
  • Pamela Craig
  • Ray Addas
  • Mohamed Elmaksoud
  • CineKink (@Cinekink)

Your support and contributions are going to make Cerise the best it can be!

Cerise Pitch from John Trigonis on Vimeo.

Cerise Sees Red: The Rewrite
Regarding my rewrite for Cerise, I’ve been working on tweaking the first act so that I know how to play my second act to its utmost potential. Today I made some excellent progress, and I should be moving on to finish up the polishing of acts two and three sometime next week. I’ll keep you posted.

A Beautiful Unlife: One More Bite!
I got my feature-length script A Beautiful Unlife back from my script analyst Michael Ray Brown (@MichaelRayBrown) and it looks like my timeless vampire movie is one last polish away from being ready to hit the studios one more time.

More Ideas, But Where Does the Time Go?
Time is always the thing there never seems to be enough of in a single day. I’ve got so many ideas, some stashed away in the leather folds of my manvelope, others plugged not-so-neatly into the Notes of my iPhone, and still others that I’ve lost touch with; they live in the lines of retired writing tablets, journals that are overstuffed, and random Dunkin’ Donuts napkins that have managed to avoid the trash can.

I’ve managed to pull one short film idea out of my phone this past weekend and I started brainstorming. I’ve got a very loose storyline, but one with lots of promise. There are some interesting characters, too, and soon I’ll write up a basic screenplay for this intriguing little Twilight Zonish tale about a small place called the Mnemosyne Café.

That’s it for now. Check back next time for another peek inside my manvelope! In the meantime, please check out Cerise on IndieGoGo and show your support.

So Just What IS in My Manvelope?

The question is frequently asked:

“What’s in the bag?” (it’s so not a bag) or “…folder?” (it folds but it’s not a folder) or “…manpurse?” (really?)

I prefer the term “manvelope” and yes, there are tons of things squirming about inside my manvelope just aching for release (so much, in fact, that it warranted the title of this blog.)

This particular manvelope started out as a caravan for fresh photocopies of my poetry which would be recited at spoken word and open mic events back in my Bukowski days when you could find me curled up on the #2 piecing together my master’s thesis. Now it’s home to ideas inked out on Starbucks napkins, script pages reddened by the scars of revision, film reviews still in the fetal stage, random copies of CREATIVE SCREENWRITING or THE NEW YORKER, a Moleskine notebook (of course), and a surfeit of other concepts fresher than most of the food in my fridge, from short film blurbs and one-minute sketches to feature-length script ideas.

The latest projects to emerge from the innards of my manvelope are CERISE, a short film about a former spelling bee champ haunted by the word that took him down, and A BEAUTIFUL UNLIFE, a feature about a vampire from the future who travels back in time to 2010 hoping to find a cure for his ills and during his stay gets a job answering a suicide prevention hotline (all the better to find fresh blood) and falls in love with a cynical young actress whom he eventually learns is his own mother.

CERISE now has a project profile on IndieGoGo where I’m hoping to raise an extra $5,000 from fans like you to add to the $10,000 I’ve saved up myself so that I can make CERISE the best it can be.

A BEAUTIFUL UNLIFE (currently in its sixth draft) is currently on the desk of noted script analyst Michael Ray Brown. Once I receive the new coverage, it’ll be time to begin the resubmission process and hopefully snag a nice one-step deal and save the world from the shimmery of the Twi-Hards!

As my days change, so do the contents of my manvelope, so be sure to subscribe and keep up with what white rabbits and sacred dragons I pull from my magic hat!

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