Columbia filmmakers raise $1,000 in 10 days for web series

By Alexandra Yetter

Junior cinema art and science major Corbin Eaton had an idea for a web series when he was in high school. It was not until he pitched the idea to sophomore cinema art and science major Grant Osum while at a party that it was set in motion.

“It was one of those things where I doubted I’d ever make it,” Eaton said. “I got drunk and pitched it, woke up the next morning to a text and then we all got coffee and talked about it.”

“Movie Night” is an eight-part YouTube comedy web series following a group of friends whose lives are affected by a different movie genre each episode as they are “sucked into an alternate reality.” The pilot episode, set to release in June, will focus on film noir with movies such as “Casablanca” or “The Maltese Falcon.”

More than 10 Columbia students have signed onto the project, with Osum and Eaton currently in the process of locking down the on-screen cast. Osum will act as producer of the series, with Eaton as co-writer and co-director.

“It’s a little hard to juggle multiple projects. You’ve got to think about doing different things at the same time,” Osum said. “I definitely don’t want to take on too many projects to the point where I can’t commit to people.”

In the 10 days since the video announcement of “Movie Night,” they have raised $1,000 for the pilot episode from 16 backers. They hope to raise $1,500 total in the next 18 days. The money will be put toward transportation, filming locations, props, costumes and paying those involved.

A Tinder date of Eaton’s even donated $20 to the Kickstarter and gave him the idea of gifting $20 donors with personalized mixtapes, which Eaton is burning onto CDs and mailing out. $5 contributors will receive a link to the pilot episode when it airs; $10 contributors will receive a digital “Movie Night” poster; $100 contributors will receive associate producer credit; and $300 contributors will receive producer credit.

“Grant and I sat down and were like, ‘If we don’t raise a certain amount of money by this date … if it comes down to it, we’ll just have to pitch in our own money,’” Eaton said. “But I think we may survive this round.”

One anonymous contributor donated $300 and Eaton’s favorite Cinema and Television Arts Department Assistant Professor Paul Peditto donated as well, he said.

As Columbia students, they recognize the importance of creating outside of class. Osum has an independent short film lined up to work on during the summer about an old man and his teenage neighbor. Meanwhile, Eaton is working on a 19-episode radio show about Dick Dangerfield, a fictional detective in the 1970s.

“We’ve been writing [the radio show] for about a year now. It has been a lot,” Eaton said, “The voices are in my head all the time, and they won’t shut up.”

The two also recognize the importance of collaboration, something Columbia stresses its students to embrace. Without the rest of the “Movie Night” team, the project would have gone nowhere, they said.

“[Columbia] hounded me about collaboration. I felt I was sold a lie, but I realized … no one is going to make your movie for you. It’s super cliche, but it’s super true,” Eaton said. “You have to go and be passionate enough to tell a story through whatever your medium is.”

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