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Filmmakers hope to document "Allston Christmas" for web series

Posted by Matt Rocheleau  August 5, 2013 11:21 AM

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A group of local filmmakers plans to use footage from “Allston Christmas” this year to create an online video series documenting the neighborhood’s annual, unofficial holiday.

Celebrated around September 1st, "Allston Christmas" is the neighborhood's massive, informal gift swap in which countless household items – from TVs to furniture – are discarded outside by one person and often claimed quickly by another at a time of the year when thousands of apartments simultaneously change hands.

The “Allston Xmas” web series will be an “anthology of twelve interconnected episodes,” that “follows a group of young people as they strain under the weight of their friendships, relationships, and attachment to material things,” the filmmakers described on Kickstarter.com, where they hope to raise at least $6,000 by the end of August in order to fund the project.

“The majority of leases in Boston begin and end on the First of September,” the filmmakers wrote. “That means that entire neighborhoods are moving on the same day. Tens of thousands of people are navigating narrow streets at odd angles, old buildings with no elevators, and Boston's late summer heat and humidity. It's a truly miserable ritual.”

The series will record select a cast to follow around on move-in day. Casting for the series is ongoing, but the filmmakers offered some examples of what their project will include.

“Shane and Bekah can't agree on which of their many possessions have sentimental value and which are trash. Hartley is moving in with Brendan despite his mother's accusation that he's ‘slumming it.’ Jason is giving up and moving back in with his folks, but isn't getting far because his friends refuse to help him pack. Jim entertains his nephew. Talli and Marshall avoid the chaos.”

The show will also feature music from neighborhood-based artists.

The episodes will be released online later this fall. And, “in the spirit of Allston Christmas,” the series will be free to watch, according to filmmakers.

The crew behind the series will be led by director Jared Vincenti, producer Kenice Mobley, cinematographer Fred Young, and music supervisor Perry Eaton.

As of Monday morning, 28 backers had given a combined $937 to the project’s Kickstarter.com fundraising campaign.

Vincenti recently directed his first feature film, “Day of Youth,” a projected funded by a $7,000 campaign on Kickstarter.com.

“We have a rockstar team that has worked on everything from major movies to no-budget indies,” the filmmakers wrote. “We know that we can deliver this project on a budget of $6,000 – we've worked on enough no-budget film and web projects to know how to do it.”

Still, they noted they will likely deal with many of the same challenges that plague city residents on the first of September.

“Boston is a city of great ideas. Making everybody move on the same day is not one of them,” the filmmakers said.

“Let's be honest, trying to do anything on the First of September in Boston is a challenge. Trying to shoot a film – even just the outdoor scenes that need to be shot with the background of moving day – is like deciding to go out and photograph a tornado. All the reasons why moving is hard are also going to make shooting hard – traffic, heat, fatigue, etc.”

But the crew said they are confident that they can get the job done – even if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

“The most disruptive thing that could happen is that it could rain on moving day. In this case, we'd need a lot more props and a lot more crew to stage moving day as we need it for the film,” the filmmakers said. “We'll have a contingency plan for rain in place, and just hope we don't need to use it.”

And, if the group can raise $12,000 through Kickstarter.com, they said they will be able to shoot more footage, including enough to make an extra behind-the-scenes episode. If they can collect $24,000, the filmmakers plan to set aside half of the money the project nets and will later find another team of Boston filmmakers and will pass on the money, websites and “Allston Xmas” name so another season of the show can be produced.

“We know that this is an ambitious goal, but can't think of a new tradition that would be a better fit for this neighborhood's artistic spirit,” the filmmakers wrote.

The group plans to give various incentives to those who donate to their Kickstarter.com campaign. Based on the amount given, donors can receive prizes including: public thanks via Facebook, Twitter and on episode credits; stickers; tank tops; attending a pizza party with the cast and crew; being credited as an episode producer and even being listed as an executive producer of the series.

To read and see more from Allston Christmas of yore, click here.

E-mail Matt Rocheleau at mjrochele@gmail.com.
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