Five years ago, Jonathan Gribbin, Robert Louis Love III and Zachary Lyons were studying at The Los Angeles Film School and working on projects late into the night.
These days, they're back in that same routine as they work on their latest short film, a psychological thriller entitled "Exposures."
The movie tells the story of Harper, a former award-winning photojournalist, who has been reduced to blackmailing his neighbors. The lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur when Harper goes too far with his extortion, causing the ghosts of past subjects to come back to haunt him.
The crew has been working on the film's script since October, and now they're ready to get into the production stages.
Gribbin, 23, a Churchill resident and Woodland Hills High School graduate, and the rest of the team need a little help from the community to bring the movie to life. The team launched an Indiegogo campaign this week to raise the funds needed to make the film. Indiegogo is an international crowdfunding platform that enables filmmakers and others to raise funds to finance projects. The campaign can be found at www.indiegogo.com/projects/exposures-short-film.
Swissvale resident Chris Wildeman serves as narrator for the Indiegogo promo video.
Gribbin, the film's director and co-writer, said crowd sourcing platforms have become really popular in the film industry. Just last week, writer-director Rob Thomas raised $3.6 million on his Kickstarter campaign for a Veronica Mars movie, which will be based on the TV show starring Kristen Bell.
The "Exposures" crew is hoping to raise $10,000 by April 8 to enable them to rent equipment, create their own special effects and provide other needed components to take this film to festivals around the country.
“Exposures” has a number of incentives for different donation levels, including a walk-on role, executive producer credit, product placement opportunities for businesses, a private screening party and more. Incentives begin at the $5 level.
They've made about $1,300 so far.
"For most people, this money serves as a buffer," Gribbin said. "For us, it's going to fund the whole project.
"We're going to make the movie no matter what. We already have a list of compromises we are ready to make if we don't reach our goal."
But the team is confident in their project. Alex Mahon, CEO of Shine Group ("The Office" and "The Biggest Loser"), has donated to the project, as well as some other key supporters.
"It's really a vote of confidence that she took the time to help out," said Love, the film's producer. "My 10-year-old niece gave me $5 from her allowance for the campaign. Everything helps.
"The money isn't the end of the process. It's just the start. We want to interact with everyone, and we want to get the movie out there to give our supporters the best film possible."
Gribbin said he's been pleased with the community's response.
"I'm surprised at how many supporters we have," he said. "It really does take an entire community to make a film. The more you open up the process to the public, the better the experience is. It's nice knowing we have a little built in audience.
"We're doing something we love to do and sharing it with other people."
That makes it all worth it.
"I have other jobs, but filmmaking is what I really love to do," Lyons, the film's production designer and editor, said. "In the past, I've worked double shifts and then spent the entire night editing. You have to make the time for what you love."
The entire "Exposures" team consists of Gribbin, Love, Lyons, Jonathan Blackwell (producer, co-writer and unit production manager), Cliff Ngwafon (producer and first assistant), Anthony Alanis (cinematographer), and Stephen Branagan (camera operator).
The movie will be filmed in the East End and Oakland in the spring and will be complete by June.
"I love Pittsburgh because it's my home and it lends itself to a diversity of locations," Gribbin said. "It's more affordable, and we're able to take advantage of the opportunities that the Pittsburgh film community offers."