Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

May 4, 2013

Will Kickstarter help local make TV pilot?

Debbie Blank
The Herald-Tribune

— The clock is ticking.

Batesville native Tracy Weiler and Tim Drucker, a New York City-based writer/director, launched a Kickstarter site (www.kickstarter.com/projects/hotfailproject/hot-fail-pilot) April 14 to raise money to make a TV comedy pilot.

As of 5 p.m. May 1, 52 backers have pledged $4,708. The project will only be funded if at least $17,500 is pledged by May 14 at 3:15 p.m.

Weiler observes by e-mail from Los Angeles, “This is the new frontier of people taking content into their own hands so they don’t have to compromise anything.”

The duo wrote the half-hour show “based on the tragic failings of Tracy’s dating life,” according to Kickstarter. “Ever gone on a bad date? Ever had that date show up with a gift bag full of vampire teeth? Or turn out to be a criminal? If so, you and Tracy have a lot in common.”

Donations will go toward equipment, labor, parrots (“one of our characters is a wacky older lady who hoards birds”) and editing.

Contributors will be rewarded. The 2001 Batesville High School graduate notes, “With a finished product, we can get ‘Hot Fail’ off the ground. And one day, with your support, you can watch ‘Hot Fail’ at home and think, ‘Hey, I did that.’”

Each $10 donor will receive a personalized thank-you; each $350 donor will join Weiler in New York for drinks and firsthand dating accounts plus thanks in the credits; and each $2,500 contributor will get an associate producer on-screen credit, dinner with available cast and creators, tickets to a New York screening and a signed copy of the pilot (travel not included).

The idea sprouted when “I was having dinner with my friend Tim and I was telling him some of my hilarious dating stories and he couldn’t believe they were true, so he said, ‘We need to write a show about your life and call it ‘Hot Fail.’” She explains the pilot’s title: “A fail is a minor bad moment in time. A hot fail is a continuous circle of fails you can’t break away from and it is so ridiculous it makes you laugh.”

This is Weiler’s first venture into television writing. In the past, she has written sketch comedy and stand-up sets. After acting in a musical Drucker wrote, she realized he’d be a good partner. “Tim has co-written several shows. I know he is a great collaborator, he’s funny and has the experience I don’t necessarily bring to the writing table.”

Weiler’s life is imitating art. The daughter of Dave and Cindy Weiler, Batesville, portrayed a New York City model in “On Our Way,” the 2002 musical created for Batesville’s 150th. After she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in musical theater from Northern Kentucky University in 2005, Weiler earned paychecks as a model in the Big Apple before appearing in over 10 commercials. Half of the spots, starring Sofia Vergara, Eva Longoria and Chef Michael Symon, were nationally televised. She also appeared in several TV and film roles, including “Fugly,” a comedy with John Leguizamo, set for release this summer.

Weiler recalls, “I’ve been auditioning for years now (hoping to break through to Broadway), but I’m always learning. It’s like going to the gym. I have to keep my skills in shape.” The enthusiastic 29-year-old recently took a class on auditioning for the camera.

Now living on the Upper West Side, she loves the neighborhood’s “wonderful restaurants and shops. I’m blocks from Central Park to the east and the (Hudson) River to the west. I’m really close to the subway and a Trader Joe’s. If you lived in NYC, you would think that was top-notch.” Favorite pastimes are gardening, dog walking and exploring restaurants in different neighborhoods.

Back to Kickstarter: If they raise enough money, the pilot will be shot in Los Angeles in May over about three days. Starring as Charlie Kennedy, this will be Weiler’s third TV pilot.

According to her, “Our show is actually based in NYC, but we found he had more friends and connections in LA to make it happen .... All of our talented actors are offering their services for free. However, if we raise enough, we hope to pay them what they deserve.”

After the pilot is edited, the co-creators will submit it to festivals and shop it to networks and online platforms, such as Netflix.

If they get a green light, Weiler and Drucker will continue to write the series with the help of a staff plus serve as show-runners, “which means we oversee basically everything.”

Personally, Weiler’s romantic life is improving. For instance, she no longer has to investigate new dates online.

“Actually, I’m in a long-term relationship with my boyfriend ... but trust me, I have material for days.

OVER 40,000 PROJECTS FUNDED

• The Web site Kickstarter (www.kickstarter.com) contains film, game, music, art, design and technology projects “that are brought to life through the direct support of people like you. Since our launch in 2009, more than 3.9 million people have pledged over $588 million, funding more than 40,000 creative projects.”

• The Veronica Mars Movie Project, following the TV series, was 285 percent funded by its April 12 deadline with $5.7 million pledged thanks to the site.

• Closer to home, Indianapolis singer-songwriter Jennie DeVoe surpassed her $10,000 Kickstarter goal by the March 18 deadline, raising $26,416 from 188 donors to record her fifth studio CD. More Hoosier artists who have been backed or are looking for dollars live in 10 other cities.

• If a project is successfully funded, the New York City for-profit company gets a 5 percent fee.