IFW: “BEST KEPT SECRET”
A year ago, I was banging my head against the wall of my Brooklyn apartment asking myself “Why?” Why another documentary film I knew would consume my entire life and prevent me from financial stability? Why a film made in the grittiest part of Newark, New Jersey, one of the country’s most problematic urban areas? Why not a film about Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris or cheese making in Rome? The answer was, of course — because I had to tell THIS story.
Best Kept Secret is the story of a Newark public high school teacher who struggles to prepare her students with autism to survive in the brutal world that awaits them once they graduate.
After 9 months of knocking on doors to get access, 10 months of filming, two school districts, one car accident, and countless meals at the local Newark Subway, Best Kept Secret is coming out at this year’s Independent Film Week.
Though it has been a struggle, it has also been an incredible, unprecedented documentary experience. Because the producer and I literally don’t HAVE credit cards to max out, we have avoided debt, by funding the entire production thus far via 80% tax-deductible donations (shout out to our fiscal sponsor Arts Engine), one small grant, and one medium-sized investment from our kick-ass Associate Producers, Tom and Nancy DiGiacomo. In addition, the support and help of our Executive Producer, Scott Mosier (Kevin Smith’s career producer and an amazing cheerleader for the film) has proved invaluable. I mean, Elizabeth Banks tweeting to her fans to support a non-fiction film about poor young men who are severely autistic in Newark? Enough said.
As we embark on Film Week, armed with postcards, enthusiasm, iced coffees, and Vitamin Water Zeros, here is what we are looking for:
We have finished 85% of the shooting, have two amazing editors on board, and now need finishing funds. This is my second doc and my expectations are realistic. In 2007, when I was at IFP with my first film, 21 Below, the economic landscape was dim but still better than our current situation. Thanks to people I met at IFP, I was able to secure finishing funds. Times have changed a bit. We will feel like The Market will be a success for us if we raise awareness about the film in the documentary community and gain support from the industry. We will meet the people who will eventually help get this important and timely story out into the world. The relationships I formed with fellow filmmakers and industry in 2007 remain invaluable. Some of these people have been instrumental in my film career. For example: Danielle DiGiacomo, the producer of Best Kept Secret.
Independent Film Week is crazy, hectic, amazing, and over in a flash. You have to push to get your film noticed and support your fellow filmmakers. We’re in this together and will be seeing each other for years to come. I am excited to share Best kept Secret with the doc community and see all the unknown projects on the horizon. I look forward to sitting at small tables in a big room surrounded by filmmakers passionately and loudly selling their stories.