Friday, December 23, 2016

The Boy with the Golden Pants (2014) - Foreign Film Friday


Number Rolled: 33
Movie Name/Year: The Boy with the Golden Pants (2014)
Tagline: None
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Family, Fantasy
Length: 99 minutes
Rating: TV-14
Production Companies: Cosmo Film, Tre Vanner Produktion AB
Producer: Jessica Ask, Annica Bellander, Lone Korslund, Åsa Sjöberg, Pontus Sjöman, Olof Spaak, Rasmus Thorsen, Fredrik Wikström
Director: Ella Lemhagen
Writer: Ella Lemhagen, Max Lundgren, Fredrik Wikström
Actors: Shanti Roney, Annika Hallin, Kurt Ravn, Nina Sand, Jimmy Lindström, Kola Krauze, Lotta Karlge, Mats Blomgren, Svante Ahman, Lukas Holgersson, Pontus Eklof, Olle Krantz, Mats Andersson, Stella Rauan Norrthon
Stunt Doubles: Carl Hansson, Rasmus Holmberg, Miranda Karnet, Einar Qvick

Languages
Speech Available: Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Swedish
Subtitles Available: German, Italian, Spanish, French, English

Blurb from Netflix: When I good-natured boy finds a pair of magical pants that produces a bottomless supply of cash, he soon finds himself being pursued by villains.

Selina’s Point of View:
This has been a phenomenal week for our movies here on Trust the Dice. All three of our films were family films. All three of them were magical or sci-fi in some way. All three of them were awesome.

Originally, I began to think that The Boy with the Golden Pants was pretty much a bit of a copy of Blank Check (1994), but it wound up taking some hard turns that made the entire story look and feel insanely different. Aside from the fact that it was incredibly dark for a family genre film, the story was really good with foreshadowing.

I’ll be honest, I wish this was the first film we had to review for the new Foreign Film Fridays because it was not only a great film, but I can actually see the differences between this movie and the kind that we would release here. No family film in the US would have naked butt in it.

The aforementioned American film, Blank Check, took a goofy look at what would happen if a kid got an unlimited amount of money. Even when the bad guys got involved, there were no jump scares and ‘dark’ is not a word anyone would use to describe any part of that film. The Boy with the Golden Pants definitely took a different spin.


I’m going to forget that I’m apparently a pre-teen boy at heart, (I would have bought the EXACT stuff he did if the same thing happened to me), and just go straight into the darkness. The bad guys were not clumsy, oafish, ha-ha villains; they were BAD. There was an actual jump scare in the film that caught me because who the fuck expects that in a family film? There was even some cursing – in fact, one of the few English lines in the film was ‘what the fuck’ and it took me a moment to realize I wasn’t just thinking the subtitles loudly. I went a little stupid for a moment there.

The differences in the movie-making culture were so apparent that it was a learning experience for me.

Moving on.

It’s going to take me a while to catch on to voice tones where foreign language acting is concerned, but visually the actors ranged from decent to great. I didn’t lose any of the emotional impact just because I had to rely on subtitles, I really appreciated that.

I have very little bad to say about The Boy with the Golden Pants. There were a couple of plot holes near the end that were a little jarring to me, but that wasn’t enough to fuck with my focus.

This is one of the first subtitled films, outside of the anime genre, that I would actually recommend and watch again.

Cat’s Point of View:
This movie is exactly what I was hoping for when we started Foreign Film Fridays. I’m going to forget that last Friday’s movie ever existed and this one is going to be my personal official kick-off film. Seriously.

I think one of the advantages to watching foreign films like this is that it deposits us squarely out of the comfort zone of recognized faces and places (for the most part). I spent a few minutes pondering if the actor playing Zeke was the same that portrays Tormund Giantsbane in Game of Thrones (2011-). (He’s not.) Other than that, everyone in the cast was a blank slate for me. My brain wasn’t busy making connections and having fangirl moments, and was more involved in experiencing the movie.


As far as the format of this film goes, I was very appreciative that the subtitles were easy to read and presented below the movie on the screen.

My eyes aren’t the best – even with very strong corrective lenses – so having to pick out fast-moving text against the backdrop of a film drives me absolutely crazy. I spend more time trying to read than I do getting to enjoy what I’m watching. That wasn’t the case here. It was easy to follow, and the text was presented at a good pace.

The story was a bit on the predictable side, once the premise was set up for you – but I didn’t care.

Where the last movie almost had me asleep in my chair, this one had me on the edge of my seat. There are some serious feels laced in with this adventure story, and some moral backbone behind it all.

This film left me with an uplifted feeling of warmth. I enjoyed it very much and would gladly recommend it.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – None
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – None

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 1.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 2/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

P.S. Based on a book by Max Lundgren.

Movie Trailer:

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Home (2015)


Number Rolled: 51
Movie Name/Year: Home (2015)
Tagline: Worlds collide.
Genre: Family, Comedy, Sci-Fi
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: DreamWorks Animation
Producer: Suzanne Buirgy, Christopher Jenkins, Mireille Soria
Director: Tim Johnson
Writer: Tom J. Astle, Matt Ember, Adam Rex
Actors: Jim Parsons, Rihanna, Steve Martin, Jennifer Lopez, Matt Jones, Brian Stepanek, April Lawrence, Stphen Kearin, Lisa Stewart, April Winchell, Nigel W. Tierney
Stunt Doubles: N/A

Languages
Speech Available: English, Spanish
Subtitles Available: English, Spanish

Blurb from Netflix: When a lovable misfit from another planet and a human girl form and unlikely friendship, they embark on an incredible journey that changed their lives.

Selina’s Point of View:
Home was absolutely nothing like what I expected. Nothing. Even the plot was completely different than I thought it would be from the trailer I saw (this film made my top 20 for the month it came out).

Despite that, my feelings on the film were… complicated.

For the majority of Home, I was running cold. My attention was wavering. I couldn’t help but feel like I had seen it before. The story might have been relatively newish, but the characters were tropes personified. In fact, this film really owes a debt of gratitude to Lilo and Stitch (2002). The characters would not exist without that predecessor.

It was very difficult for me to stay focused because the characters were not very unique. I’d rather have a recipe story with unique characters that give a different spin on it, than a new story with recipe characters that you can predict every step of.


However, now that the film is over, I find myself feeling fulfilled and remembering it fondly.

I imagine that makes no sense to someone that hasn’t seen it.

The fact is, once Home was a little more than half over, it picked up in speed so much that ‘roller coaster of emotions’ isn’t enough to aptly describe what I felt. I have officially been run over by the feels train and am trying to write all this with teary eyes.

I would likely recommend this film in the future, I just wish the rest of the film could have matched the awesomeness of the last portion.

Oh, one more thing. Hats off to the music department. What a phenomenal job those men and women did. Not just on the quality of the music chosen, but on the risks they took. Well done. They’re the true MVPs of this movie.

Cat’s Point of View:
We were a little bummed that we didn’t end up with a Christmas movie this week for one of our reviews prior to the holiday. Even so, we were both jazzed that we hit the animated jackpot this week.

I have good news for you, though, and am rather confident that this spoils nothing in the telling – Home is a Christmas movie. Of course, it’s rather subtle and along the same vein that makes Die Hard (1988) a Christmas Movie.  When you watch it, you’ll see. I started cackling when the realization hit me as I was watching with my daughter; and she looked at me like I was nuts. It was so worth it!

This movie is based on a book by Adam Rex (Almost Home, Home: Adventures with Tip & Oh) called The True Meaning of Smekday. I haven’t read the book (I may need to correct that in the future), but that sounds an awful lot like “the true meaning of Christmas” phrase that often gets bandied about this time of year.

The film was also originally scheduled for a November release, but then got flip-flopped with another movie that had an established franchise that would be more solid for holiday box-office numbers.


Back to the movie!

I love the alien-encounter sub-genre of sci-fi movies. It’s a question that burns in quite a lot of us – what would happen when or if we’re visited by beings from another world? This movie has an entertaining take on that answer. Beneath all the fun and shenanigans, there’s some pretty powerful messages and some parallels that could be drawn within our own history.

I also enjoy that the Boov have a unique and interesting technology. I am pretty sure that I haven’t seen anything like it used before.

Aside from her part in the music, I was surprisingly pleased with Rihanna’s (This Is the End, Annie, Bates Motel) performance here. This was definitely some redemption for her after that other alien invasion nautical-themed movie loosely inspired by a board game.

The pairing of Steve Martin (Shopgirl, The Pink Panther, It's Complicated) as Smek and Jim Parsons (Gardener of Eden, The Muppets, Hidden Figures) was also a stroke of brilliance. I don’t think I could imagine anyone else in either of those roles.

This wasn’t my first time watching Home, nor will it be my last.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 47%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 64%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score3.5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

P.S. There are cute ‘photos’ throughout part of the credits.

Movie Trailer:

Monday, December 19, 2016

Minions (2015)


Number Rolled: 13
Movie Name/Year: Minions (2015)
Tagline: Uh oh.
Genre: Family, Comedy
Length: 90 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Illumination Entertainment, Universal Pictures
Producer: Janet Healy, Brett Hoffman, Christopher Meledandri, Chris Renaud, Dave Rosenbaum, Robert Taylor
Director: Kyle Balda, Pierre Coffin
Writer: Brian Lynch
Actors: Sandra Bullock, Jon Hamm, Michael Keaton, Allison Janney, Steve Coogan, Jennifer Saunders, Geoffrey Rush, Steve Carell, Pierre Coffin, Katy Mixon, Michael Beattle, Dave Rosenbaum, Alex Dowding, Mindy Sterling, Tara Strong, Zachary Alexander Rice, Hiroyuki Sanada
Stunt Doubles: N/A

Languages
Speech Available: English
Subtitles Available: English

Blurb from Netflix: The banana-yellow, linguistically garbled henchmen of “Despicable Me” star in this prequel, recounting the story of their villain-worshipping history.

Selina’s Point of View:
I’ve been saving this film for the blog and it’s been KILLING me. I love the series it’s from and I’ve been dying to see it – but I wanted the blog to get my first reaction. A few more months and I would have given in.

I thought this film was absolutely adorable. I knew it would be, of course, that was never the question. The only questions that really mattered going into this film was whether or not the story would be decent and if it would work as the prequel it was meant to be.

Oh, and if anyone would be able to understand what the hell was going on. Minions don’t exactly come with subtitles.

I found that the film was actually really easy to follow, the storyline was good, and it was a hell of a prequel. In fact, as a prequel it definitely was one of the best I’ve seen. There weren’t any glaring errors or issues of continuity.


All that said, I did prefer the original Despicable Me (2010) and Despicable Me 2 (2013). I think both of those movies were highly creative and hilarious. I could watch them back-to-back on any given day.

There was a part of Minions, however, that was… eerie. Like the writers could see into the future. I know it was supposed to be an amusing/funny moment, but I found it relatively impossible to laugh at. It would have been much funnier before the election.

I don’t think I’ll wait to see Despicable Me 3 (2017). That may require a theater trip.

Cat’s Point of View:
This wasn’t my first time to watch this movie, though I was overjoyed when the dice landed on this one. I’d gladly watch it many more times. Needless to say, I loved the movie.

This is one of those that no matter how many times you watch it over again, you’re likely to find something new you didn’t notice in prior viewings. This film is jam-packed with little ‘hidden’ nuggets of geekdom via “cameos” and references to both the Despicable Me (2010/2014) movies, other cartoons (both print and animated), as well as actual tidbits from pop culture and ‘reality.’ For example, the carpet from the Overlook Hotel in The Shining (1980) makes an appearance; as well as a little teddy bear that would make Mr. Bean (1990-1995) jealous due to the fact it’s nearly identical to his own.

Aside from all the little bits that inspire an exclamation of ‘hey, wait, was that [insert aforementioned ‘nugget’ here],’ the movie was adorable, inventive, and hilarious. This movie answers the question that everyone had to be asking themselves after watching the Despicable Me movies – where did those Minions come from?!

One of the non-spoiler answers to that question is one of the directors of the movie - Pierre Coffin (Pat et Stanley, Despicable Me, Brad & Gary). He single-handedly voiced all of the Minions seen in the movie. Talk about a Herculean task and surely a labor of love. This film is said to boast over 800 of the little yellow guys.


Sandra Bullock (Two Weeks Notice, All About Steve, The Blind Side) and John Hamm (The A-Team, Friends with Kids, Shrek Forever After) were sensational in their roles and made a fabulous dastardly dynamic duo as Scarlett and Herb Overkill. This was Bullock’s first villain role. It will be interesting to see if she opts to join the dark side in future movies, now that she’s sampled the cookies.

I had a personal giggle over the role for Hiroyuki Sanada (Lost, 47 Ronin, Helix). He’s always in super serious projects – often samurai-type roles and sci-fi. It was great to see him in a role with a bit of humor to it as the sumo-wrestler.

My final note is for parents and those contemplating how appropriate this movie is for varying ages of kids. I remember that when the trailers were first running for this film, the selection of clips it showed were put together in such a way that it seemed like the movie would be full of innuendo and inappropriate content. I am pleased to say that is not the case. The MPAA gave it a PG rating for action and rude humor – but the ‘suggestive’ variety of humor is practically nonexistent.

Minions has fun for the whole family to enjoy again and again.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 56%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 49%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score4/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 4.5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

P.S. There are small scenes throughout the credits and one long scene after.

Movie Trailer:

Sunday, December 18, 2016

This Week in Crowdfunding (12/18)

By: Selina


Through “This Week in Crowdfunding,” you’ll find five of the best projects Trust the Dice found hosted on crowdfunding sights this week. These are Films/Web Series’/Shows of varying lengths and genres that we believe in. If you like any of the projects you see here, donate to them, tell your friends, and/or post it on social media.

These projects don’t just need money, they need people to care and spread the word that they exist.

Support creativity. Support indie artists.

Remember that every actor, director, writer, and movie you have ever fallen in love with had to start somewhere.

Trust the Dice does not, and will not, accept payment from project creators for
Appearance on this list. Projects are chosen solely on the merit of the idea,
proposal, and people involved.


Trust the Dice will be going on vacation starting December 24. We will return on January 2 with our Top 20 Movies to Look Out For in January.


5 – OddySee


Crowdsource Platform: KICKSTARTER
Director: Unknown
Writer: Unknown
Other Staff: Unknown
Amount Requested: $3,500
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $1,310 raised by 9 backers.
Type of Goal: All or Nothing – This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by the deadline.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little hesitant to add this project to the list at all. However, it was the only other film I found that would fit in this fifth spot. It does have a cute plot idea and their Kickstarter page is well laid out, which makes it easy to see where your money is going. On top of that, their introductory film is engaging and funny.

My hesitance does not come from the fact that OddySee is being created by a student club, most of the films I find for this list are being made by students. My issue is that there doesn’t seem to be much information on who’s in, or working on, this film.

In the introductory video, you see the faces of people working on OddySee, but only get first names. I can’t tell you the full name of the writer, director, or anyone else. I attempted to get in touch with them to fill in the information gaps, but no one ever got back to me. Unfortunately, all I can tell you is speculation at this point.

The negatives out of the way, the plot does look interesting. It’s not the most unique idea, but they put a spin on it that makes it much more interesting in general. I know that, if this were a film coming out in theaters, it might very well be something I would want to pay to see.

Lowest Fund Reward: $5 – Pledge $5 or More – Shout Out/Thank You on the Production Club at UWM Facebook page and access to all behind the scenes footage and pictures.
Highest Fund Reward: $1,000 – Pledge $1,000 or More – A date night on the location with the producers, directors, and writer, and all previous rewards.

4 – Minds at War

Crowdsource Platform: INDIEGOGO
Director: Dom Tugby
Writer: Carl Bradshaw
Other Staff: Jamie Lee-Hill (Cast), Sean Pogmore (Cast), Ewen Macintosh (Cast), Jack Gover (Cast), Chad Echakowitz (Cast), Solomon Taiwo Justified (Cast), Steve McCarten (Cast)
Amount Requested: $6,244
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $662 raised by 6 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible – The campaign will receive all funds raised even if it does not reach its goal.

There will never be too many entertainment projects based in World War II. The lessons the world learned from the atrocities of that time should never be forgotten. That being said, a subject alone does not make or break a project.

Although the writer and director are both on the new side, according to IMDB, the majority of the main cast have a great deal more experience. That means they’ll be prepared with the knowledge they need to represent their given characters in a way that is sure to evoke emotions.

Perhaps the most important thing about this film is that it’s not just looking at the time of World War II in general, but about the way people interacted with each other during that time.

Minds at War tackles pressing issues such as racism, starvation, and illness at war,” the Indiegogo site explains. At the very least, the first issue listed there is something that is very prevalent in today’s society. The more light shined on it, the better.

As for the web series, you can see exactly how well it’s laid out on the Indiegogo page. The creators are very specific as to what money will go where and their charity connections – something Trust the Dice always likes to support. They’ve also been featured in Digital Film Maker Magazine.

Although it seems like just a nice little tidbit, the real reason the magazine’s interest means anything is that people who know what they’re talking about have taken an interest in Minds at War. When you combine that with the experience of the cast and the intrigue of the plot, you have a recipe for success.

Lowest Fund Reward: $6 – A Special Thank You – You’re receive a special thank you from the team at ‘Minds at War’ across our social media channels, e.g. Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Highest Fund Reward: $1,249 – Become an Executive Producer – Become an Executive Producer on the Production of Minds at War. Join the team on set and become part of the action sharing your input on vital series moments. You will receive an official IMDB credit. This will also include all of the previous perks stated.

3 – The Night Cleaner


Crowdsource Platform: INDIEGOGO
Director: Zoe Ward
Writer: Zoe Ward
Other Staff: Pratik Shah (Cinematographer), Arkesh Ajay (Producer), Annie Pace (Producer), Gayatri Bajpai (Assistant Director), Jien Sun (Costume Designer), Naomi Gonzalez Kahn (Production Designer)
Amount Requested: $24,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $4,315 raised by 35 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible – The campaign will receive all funds raised even if it does not reach its goal.

I was immediately attracted to this film. It actually took me all week to decide if I was personally attracted to it, or if I truly believed the film could be successful. In the end, I realized it was both.

The story really speaks to me on a deeper level, even though it seems to lean toward drama as a genre, which is not my favorite. That look at the connection of two people spurned by society feels like home for me where entertainment is concerned.

What strikes me as the most important thing I learned from the Indiegogo page and the introductory video, is that the entire crew of The Night Cleaner seems to have a significant and unarguable faith in the writer/director, Zoe Ward. It helps to raise faith in a project when everyone involved believes so heavily in the person in charge.

As for the page itself, it’s highly informative. You know where your money’s going and the perks are eye-catching.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to reach Ward for an interview, and I truly regret that. I wish I had something more to say on her project than just what you can learn on her page. It seems like this film could become something amazing.

Lowest Fund Reward: $10 – Heartwarmer – You are now part of the Night Cleaner family. You’ll get a shout-out on Facebook and regular updates from the production team.
Highest Fund Reward: $5,000 – Executive Producer – The name says it all! Receive an Executive Producer credit, come visit us on set and receive all other perks on offer.

2 – Silicon Beach


Crowdsource Platform: INDIEGOGO
Director: Max Gold
Writer: Max Gold
Other Staff: Stephen Tringali (Cinematographer), Max Silver (Producer)
Amount Requested: $20,000
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $50 raised by 3 backers.
Type of Goal: Flexible – The campaign will receive all funds raised even if it does not reach its goal.

Originally, Silicon Beach was a little lower on my list, but after getting to speak with writer/director Max Gold, I knew it needed to be higher.

This feature film is a thriller that takes a look at the anxieties of a group of young professionals as they attempt to build their startup business. The plot alone sounds interesting, but it’s difficult to really look deeper into it until you watch the introductory video.


The video on the Indiegogo page is a great teaser for the film and it supports the simple idea mentioned in the overview enough that it makes everything that much easier to picture.

One of the facts about this film that make it seem like it is such a small risk for investors, is that it is already complete. All the money being raised through crowdfunding is going directly to post-production; things like editing and composing.

I was able to get a phone call with Max Gold on Saturday afternoon. He seemed happy to be discussing this film and, after only a few moments it was easy to tell why.

Gold has a significant amount of passion for Silicon Beach and, from everything he told me, even more faith in his cast and crew.

“I just want to underline the fact that this film was made by a community,” Gold told me. “Every single person involved was committed and excited to bring this to life.”


One of the things I asked Gold was about his inspiration for the film.

He told me a story about how he worked side tech jobs while making films for over a decade, which allowed him to understand the startup world very well. He took that knowledge and combined it with his own personal experiences. The anxiety he drew from to create Silicon Beach was from knowing that he was working those tech jobs, but was unable to really commit to them. He was, essentially, leading two lives.

Every morning, he was spending several hours writing his scripts, then he would have to go to work exhausted and try to do what he was supposed to. All the while, making any real work friends was difficult for him, because he wasn’t there for the career, he was there only because he wasn’t able to exist solely on his film work yet.

Anyone with any kind of creative ambition probably relates to that story on a very deep level. I know I do.


He went on to explain about a previous project, one that he had to rely on others for. It was a larger budget film that got delayed because the people financing it weren’t as helpful as they should have been. When creativity is stifled by a lack of funds, it easily fuels rage and rebellion. Silicon Beach is the manifestation of that rebellion. Proof that Gold and his crew were capable of putting together something spectacular without having to rely on a giant budget to get through it.

We all know how I feel about the importance of rebellion, so I’ll just add here that learning the inspiration for Silicon Beach was another reason why I knew it needed to be higher on this list.

One of the other interesting aspects of Silicon Beach is the method Gold decided to use for perks. I noticed that the films Indiegogo page split the perks into two different categories: for the audience and for fellow movie makers.

According to Gold, he’s noticed in the past that sometimes people would donate money to his project and want something other than the perk offered – like direction and advice from someone more experienced than them. On the other hand, there were just as many laymen that only wanted to put some money toward helping along a film they thought looked pretty cool.

After seeing this method, I think it’s something more creators should look into.

In the end, I can’t wait to see what Gold and his team do with this film. I’m betting it’s going to be phenomenal.

Lowest Fund Reward: $10 – Thank You Tweet – A thank you tweet. Tweeted to 35,000+ followers by director Max Gold (@blindhummingbrd)
Highest Fund Reward: $5,000 – Executive Producer Credit – An ‘Executive Producer’ credit on the film. This perk includes: -IMDB credit –invitation to cast and crew screenings –invitation to visit the editing suite during post-production –invitation to the LA premiere (flight and accommodations not included.) Congratulations and welcome to our team!

1 – Focus


Crowdsource Platform: KICKSTARTER
Director: AJ Winters
Writer: AJ Winters, Stephen Fletcher
Other Staff: Kelly Renata (Line Producer), Jacob Abercromby (Director of Photography), Mark Flanders (Music), Shannon Rogers (Cast), Mabel Foong (Cast), Reece Bagrowski (Cast), Mike Moshos (Cast), Keegan Zykowski (Cast), Flavia Marini (Cast), Teddy O’Hearn (Production Assistant), John Reid (Production Assistant), Stephen Fletcher (Production Assistant), Jonathan Giles (Production Assistant), Ashleigh Barrow (Production Assistant), Biance Roose (Costume Designer), Alex Roussel (Costume Designer), Justine Hinz (Script Supervisor), Mitchell McKenna (Editor), Philip Healey (SFX), Amelia Robinson (Graphic Designer), Robin Cook (Graphic Designer), Karlien Kemp (Graphic Designer)
Amount Requested: $1,460
Current Standing (as of Saturday night): $74.52 raised by 3 backers.
Type of Goal: All or Nothing – This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by the deadline.

This web series immediately caught my eye. It has a solid plot and its introductory video was an interesting teaser trailer. I had no idea that between the moment when I chose this project and when I’d write the article, they would release the actual pilot on YouTube.

I watched the pilot the moment I finished talking to the director, AJ Winters.

The first thing I can comment on is the quality of the pilot. I’ve seen original pilots for popular TV shows that didn’t exhibit the kind of quality Focus had. I’ll avoid the obvious pun here, but I will say I was very impressed. At the end of the episode, I wanted to see more, I wanted to know more. It was such an understated video, but it served its purpose well.

What makes the quality of that pilot even more incredible is that the cast and crew of Focus are all on the young side. Winters told me that the majority of people working on the film are between 16 and 30 years old.

Trust the Dice loves to support indie projects and we love to support youth in creating entertainment even more. The future of films, series’, and everything else, comes from youth and people willing to take the chances that mainstream entertainment doesn’t encourage. In this case, Focus meets both those requirements.


I believe that web series’, like those based on YouTube, are going the way of Netflix. There are so many unique, interesting projects being created on the platform that it is impossible to ignore completely.

I’m aware that it might be a little scary to offer funding to a project run primarily by younger, less experienced people, but I’ll say it again: everyone starts somewhere. You can choose to only support people with greater levels of experience, but I believe that’s a mistake that keeps the entertainment world from growing.

When I asked Winters if she had anything she wanted you to know, she said:

“We are 100% dedicated to making this show possible and I will continue to strive to make it so. This Kickstarter is just the beginning for us, and hopefully, with the help of sponsors and pledge donations, we will be able to film Season 1 of FOCUS next year. I want to facilitate and make the dreams of my cast and crew a reality and therefore I won't stop until this succeeds.”

I know their perks don’t start until a relatively high number, but you can make smaller pledges that will garner a thank you from the series creators.

Lowest Fund Reward: $200 – Skype call with the cast – If you pledge over $200 we would like to thank you personally with a Skype call with our leading cast. You’ll get to meet them and ask them any of your questions about the filming process!

Highest Fund Reward: $1,000 – Be a part of Focus – If you pledge over $1,000 we would love to get you on board with our show! Always wanted to do a little acting? How about spending a day behind the scenes? Or maybe you’re a bit of a creative writer yourself and want to contribute to the script writing process? We want to give you the opportunity to be involved in the creative process!