Season 2 of Kings County, our sketch comedy series about the inhabitants of Brooklyn and the unusual lives they lead. Kickstarter

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Season 2 of Kings County, our sketch comedy series about the inhabitants of Brooklyn and the unusual lives they lead.


Last year, I got together with some friends and made a few short comedy sketches for a series we called Kings County.  Now, I want to make six new comedy sketches to make up Season 2 of that series.  Kings County is about the eclectic, delusional, and down right strange inhabitants of Brooklyn, and the awkward encounters that follow them wherever they go in this crowded metropolis.  If you missed Season 1, you can view it here.  The budget was low, but as seasoned film professionals, we were able to make the best of what we had and produce some pretty good videos.  For Season 2, we want to continue the same style of humor, but increase the number of episodes, production values, laughs, and general awesomeness.  Because money may not buy happiness, but here on Kickstarter, it does buy awesomeness.


Kings County (Season 1)
After I collaborated with my friend Soren Miltich on zero-budget music video for a mutual friend of ours, she said she was impressed with my work and wanted to work together on another project.  I jumped at the chance and wrote four simple comedy sketches that we could shoot with minimal crew, actors, and money.  Which is convenient, as that was exactly what we had to work with.
My own personal style of writing is always very heavy on dialogue and (hopefully) witty banter, and I'm fascinated by characters who lack the most basic level of self-awareness, but slowly reveal their absurd natures to those around them.  (Write what you know, as they say.)  So the sketches I wrote were based on the idea of a strange character having a fleeting interaction with a stranger, revealing his odd character, and then both people moving on with their respective lives.  The idea was that these would be the sort of bizarre encounters you can fall into, and then turn into anecdotes to tell endlessly at parties or on awkward OkCupid dates.
The set of Kings County: Season 1
The set of Kings County: Season 1
The series, dubbed Kings County, was shot over the course of four days for a budget of just $250 per video (or, to put it another way, the contents of my savings account).  We had a ton of fun making them, and immediately started talking about what would come next.
Now On to Season 2!
Now that Season 1 is complete, we want to shoot six new sketches to make up Season 2 of Kings County.  They will be similar in style and tone to the first four videos, and each will revolve around one of six different characters:  Carla the Volunteer,Harold the Musician, and Brian the Artist-Entrepreneur will recur from the first series, and the cast will be rounded out by Sarah the Working Actress, Marv the Aspiring Businessman, and Thomas the Misanthrope.
The plan is to shoot each of these six sketches in August or September, and have them all finished by the end of 2014.
Why $6,500?
As with any Kickstarter campaign, we're asking for what we think is the bare minimum required to get the project done, and to produce a high quality product in the process.  But even at that bare minimum, it will be a significantly higher budget than we had for the first four videos.  Which begs the question, if we did it for basically no money before, why are we asking for so much now?
What Will Your Contributions Do?
By increasing the budget, I'm hoping to do two main things.  First, I want to compensate everyone who works on these videos much more fairly than I was able to previously.  You would never ask a doctor for free treatment by promising him that he'll be your go-to guy when your body starts breaking down and you need surgery every couple weeks.  But filmmakers tend to think nothing of repeatedly asking talented actors and crew members, without whom their projects would be impossible, to work for nothing more than a little free pizza, "great footage for your reel," and promises of fortunes to come "when this thing takes off."
I don't want to become that guy.  I was fortunate enough to find a group of dedicated professionals who were willing to volunteer their time on the first season for the sheer joy of doing it.  But if I'm going to ask more of them, it's only fair that I reward their talents and contributions, as well as the contributions of anyone who joins our team.
Just a few of the talented people who made Season 1 happen
Just a few of the talented people who made Season 1 happen
Second, the increased budget will allow us to significantly improve the production quality of the videos.  In Season 1, we did a pretty good job of working within the constraints of our budget, but we definitely felt those constraints.  We were able to rent almost no professional equipment, from lights to lenses.  We had to keep the crew as small as possible, omitting such important positions as a makeup artist (a job which is particularly crucial when shooting during the sweaty summer months).  We couldn't afford any location fees, and could only shoot sketches that took place in locations that were available for free (mostly street corners).  And we couldn't afford more than two actors with speaking roles per video, splurging on three actors for a single sketch.  While we were proud of what we managed to produce, these problems limited both the writing and production of the videos, and they show in the final products.
Your contributions will allow us to improve on all these areas and more.  By improving the overall quality of the finished videos, we will not only be making them better videos for the audience to enjoy, but we will also to make these videos into professional-quality samples that we can use to raise money for all of the projects that will come after them.  And we've already got a great project queued up next in the pipeline, which will be directly connected to these six sketches.
So, After These Sketches...What's Next?
I want to keep expanding the Kings County universe, and after this campaign is over and these six sketches are complete, my next goal will be to make a low-budget feature film that will further the story of these characters.  The movie will feature lots of similarly bizarre encounters, but with more of a central narrative tying them all together.  While still officially it's own sketch series, Season 2 of Kings County was designed specifically so that each sketch will revolve around a different main character that will later appear in our movie.
A first draft of the feature, just waiting to be made!
A first draft of the feature, just waiting to be made!
The plan is to release these sketches early next year as part of a second, larger Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the feature film.  The sketches will be released on YouTube for everyone to enjoy as usual, but they'll also be released on the movie's Kickstarter page as "Meet-The-Character" project updates.  That way, they can serve double-duty as both their own stand-alone sketches, and as high-quality proof-of-concept videos to raise wider interest in seeing the film happen.
But that's thinking ahead.
We have lots of plans for new and exciting content to bring to you, both within the universe of Kings County and beyond.  But it all starts with six new sketches, and those all start with you.  As most of you probably know already, Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing platform, so if we don't raise every dollar we need to make these sketches, we get nothing.  And if we come out of this with no money, we'll have to fall back on our alternative, zero-budget project: coming home from work and crying ourselves to sleep.  And while we could film that, it probably wouldn't be nearly as entertaining as the fun and funny sketches that we have planned.  If you like what we did with Season 1, I think you'll love what comes next.
Please give!
Please give!


Christopher Mertic Lewis: The Man Behind the Giraffe
I've been obsessed with comedy for as long as I can remember. I've always been fascinated by it's ability to shed light on the world around us, make serious subjects approachable, and just flat out fill our lives with joy. From Carlin to The Marx Brothers, from Mel Brooks to Bugs Bunny, I grew up on a wide array of classic comedy, and my only ambition has been to make people laugh, be it with me, at me, or behind my back.
In elementary school, I started keeping notebooks filed with ideas for standup routines and novels.  Like most kids, I wasn't anywhere near as clever as I thought I was, and fortunately, those early works have been lost to time and occupy a quiet space in a large landfill.  But I began studying film in my sophomore year of college, and that's when I discovered my love of screenwriting.  For me, writing for film is the perfect blend of well-crafted language, the immediacy of the visual image, and the nuance of well-executed timing. Plus, film making is an inherently collaborative process, and you get to work with no end of incredibly talented people who you can blame if the critics pan your masterpiece.  The first screenplay I ever wrote was called For the Grace of You, and it was an awkwardly romantic comedy about a middle-aged mattress salesman who starts stalking a younger woman.  While never produced, I learned a lot from writing that script, and it was a great step towards developing my unique voice.
Performing standup at The Stand in NYC
Performing standup at The Stand in NYC
Two years ago, I started doing standup, and I found myself energized by the wonderfully supportive responses I got. Friends and family were kind, of course. That's why I still count them as friends and family. But after every show I do, someone will always come up to me and tell me how much they enjoyed my set, even when my own assessment of my performance makes that response seem nothing short of mystifying. It's one thing to think that you're funny, but it's another thing to have strangers approach you and second the opinion. (You can see a few short samples of my standup here, and decide for yourself if it's an opinion that you'd second.)  These responses were deeply encouraging, and as my confidence built, I began to revisit my love of screenwriting.  And from there, Kings County was born.  In Season 2, I'll continue to serve as WriterEditorExecutive Producer, and Occasional Background Extra.
Soren Miltich, Director/Producer Soren has been living in New York for long enough to have an enviable rent-stabilized apartment in one of the hippest neighborhoods in the city.  (She quite literally moved there before it was cool.)  Since moving to New York, she has crewed on comedies such as Woody Allen's Whatever Works, The Devil Wears Prada, and Bored to Death, as well as a brand new sketch comedy TV series filming now.  Other credits include Black Swan, Project Runway, and Law & Order.
Richard Platzman, Co-Producer Richard Platzman is a native of Douglassville GA. After studying film at Marlboro College and a brief stint in California, he settled in Brooklyn to be with his fellow hipsters.  Richard's work includes producer credits for two feature films and several shorts.  Equally comfortable on set, he's done sound for broadcast clients including France24, MTV, and Clearchannel. He enjoys long walks on the beach, helping lost tourists with subway directions, and head butting goats.
Mick Andrews Mick is one of my favorite up-and-coming comedians that I've met on the stand-up circuit.  While only performing standup for a short time, he's quickly becoming a fixture of local open mics and bar shows, and is one of the hardest working comics I know.  He has hosted shows at clubs all over New York, including The Stand Comedy Club, Eastville Comedy Club, and The Village Lantern. He is currently developing a webseries, and working on his first novel, 'The Life of the Party.'
Bridget Burke Bridget is an actor both in and from New York (increasingly rare these days). She can be seen on HBO's Mildred Pierce, Comedy Central's Inside Amy Schumer, and holding a man's shoe in an Ikea commercial. She also voiced the role of Lacey Jonas in Grand Theft Auto V, a character that Lindsay Lohan claims was based on her likeness and used without permission. Bridget has no official comment regarding this pending investigation.  Unofficial comments from the Hovering Giraffe team include, "Lohan be trippin'" and "aren't we all a little jealous of Bridget's style?"  She loves street art, live music, kitty cats, and the New York Yankees, who she tells me are a local sporting club.
Casey Regan Casey is an actor, filmmaker, and stand up comedian. He wrote and directed the short comedy, "Meat Me in Plainville," which has been seen in film festivals across the world. After studying at Emerson College in Boston, he moved down to Brooklyn in a way that absolutely no one in their early twenties does anymore, he's pretty sure.

Risks and challengesLearn about accountability on Kickstarter

In the first season, the single biggest challenge was scheduling. I found a great cast and crew who were all excited about being involved with the project, and who were willing to volunteer their time for little compensation. However, the problem with not paying people fair, professional wages is that they then have to prioritize taking jobs that will pay their bills. As a result, we had a lot of schedules we needed to accommodate, and we encountered many inevitable delays. However, the increased budget of Season 2 will help alleviate this problem by providing everyone with something closer to professional compensation, making it easier for the people we want involved to prioritize our shoot and commit their time. And while some scheduling issues will no doubt continue to arise, the important takeaway from the first season is that they can be overcome with patience and persistence.
Even so, when you're making a film at any level, things will go wrong. They always do. But we've done this dance many times before, and we can roll with the punches. If an actor drops out, we will recast the best possible replacement that we can find. If a prop breaks the day before the shoot, we'll find another, or write around it. If it rains and we can't shoot outside one day, we will try to get an indoor scene shot instead. If editing takes longer than anticipated, we will update you regularly on the progress of the project, and apologize profusely for the delays. If the main hard drive dies, we will have a backup of all the footage ready to go. If a tsunami wipes New York City and all existing copies of the footage off the face of the earth...well, at that point I'll probably have bigger things to worry about than mailing out t-shirts. But short of that eventuality, filmmakers need to be able to adapt to and overcome circumstances. We've all done it before, and we'll do it again. Even if those challenges make your baby come out differently than how you'd imagined, they don't make you love it any less. And if this campaign is successful, we get get all the videos shot, and do everything within our power to make them the best possible videos they can be.