We chat with Paola Sinisgalli about their latest Kickstarter success, The Color of the Sun, the values of classic French literature, and what it takes to launch a successful Kickstarter project.
What is the elevator pitch for The Color of the Sun?
The Color of the Sun is inspired by timeless classic The Little Prince (1943). The film is adapted to one of the world’s best known urban settings: New York City, uniting the classic sojourn of the little man through the rough and tumble urban jungle of NYC’s iconic boroughs. The coupling of this classic tale with New York City is not frivolous or gratuitous, but it is surprisingly authentic.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince is one of the great universal stories – why New York City?
After I had decided to set the film in NYC I found out to my greatest surprise whilst reading Stacy Schiff’s Biography of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, that our beloved aviator, poet and novelist Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote Le Petit Prince in 1942 while exiled in New York City.
As Antoine prepared to leave NYC and join the French airforce again, he knocked on his friend’s, Silvia Hamilton, door wearing his military uniform and said: “I’d like to give you something splendid, but this is all I have”. Thus, he gave her a package containing the manuscript and the drawings of “The Little Prince”, which the Morgan Library & Museum acquired from Silvia in 1968, which I held in my hands not long ago, whilst conducting research to work on the screenplay.
My conviction of setting my film in NYC strengthened and became natural… the setting of my adaptation would have been the very city in which the story was imagined, written and published for the first time.
New York City is a multi-faceted metropolis, each borough, each area, has its own strong personality, revealing the great diversity and richness of its inhabitants’ life styles. The boy embarks upon a journey that will change the pilot’s life forever.
The author may have loved this – adults helping to fund a story of the heart – what is the spirit of the story from your perspective?
Each Little-Prince-reader has his or her own theory about its meaning. What is so terribly beautiful about this latent story lies in the text’s own nature: that of a trip, physical and mental as it may be. When I began to travel with my fantasy. I began to write. It was as though I had become part of the book and transferring its meanings to present society in NYC became natural and organic. I was a flowing river. The script was finished in a short amount of time. What took longer were the edits. I read multiple times. I read it alone. I read it with an audience. I read it with friends who are not in the movie business and I read it with people who are in the film business. Everyone got emotional. Everyone was touched. But what mattered the most is that fans didn’t feel betrayed. Exceptional Little Prince expert Howard Scherry was satisfied — actually my silly pride nudges me to use the adjective enthusiastic about the screenplay and to me, this is key to a successful screenplay adaptation.
The lessons we will learn after watching The Color of the Sun are the ones we sometimes forget to ponder on while living in a “high energy” city, a ‘time is money’ par excellence environment, in which dedicating our existence to what is important is a concept we continuously forget to embrace. The film’s rhythm will reflect this concept. Like a child’s attention, it will fluctuate between an almost spastic curiosity, only to pause for breath when it is caught in awe, ready to receive the message. What I will be doing is behaving as though Antoine had taken [me] by the hand to guide me through. Never leaving me.
How do you plan to modernize The Little Prince?
Fable-like New York City will be teeming with surreal characters. The Latin King, the vain man, the Russian man, the old drunken Greek, Rose and Da Fox [sic], are all here, manifested in the numerous varying personalities of modern day NYC, their planets replaced by boroughs, all while respecting the book’s original intent.
Coming from a marketing background, you make a very compelling pitch, how has this influenced your vision for projects?
I think coming from an Economic and Marketing background has helped me think strategically about the project as a whole and not just from a direction’s point of view.
I think you must go beyond the will to make your own film. You need to surpass yourself and get fixated on the film you chose to direct, because it will accompany you for several years. If you have an idea, you must write the script or work with a writer to have it. After the script is complete, you can’t stop there in the hopes that someone will pay you to direct it. You need to have some kind of special way to present it to investors and potential producers: drawings, a proof of concept scene, some potential exceptional cast that you have approached yourself and why not try and raise some funds yourself. I am convinced all these actions give you credibility and show that you are your film. You’re putting everything into it and that it will eventually happen. I think demonstrating that you’re taking multiple (useful) actions to make your film is essential to actually find someone who will eventually jump in on the project with you.
What was your experience with your previous film, Without (2016)?
My short film, Without was successfully funded on Kickstarter, we delivered our pledges and most importantly, “Without” traveled the world participating to internationally renowned film festivals such as “Nastri D’argento”, the longest standing movie award in Europe, as well as numerous American and international Film Festivals.
It is this type of positive experience that pushed me to believe in this endeavor.
If you could fund any idea, free of license or restriction, what would it be?
I hope I am understanding this question correctly. The only idea I am thinking of funding right now is The Color of the Sun, which is inspired by The Little Prince which is one of the bestselling books in the world, ever! This intriguing work has been read, deconstructed and analyzed by millions of people who remain a passionate and devoted audience. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic novel has been translated into +250 languages and dialects. A remarkable 200 million books have been sold worldwide, since first published in 1943. After more than 75 years of continuous publication, the book is now in the public domain throughout the majority of the world. Not the entire world but the majority of it and this is good enough to make an amazing film which may be successfully made and distributed throughout the world.
If you’re asking me about another story, free of license and restriction, which I love and could potentially be a future project… well, for me… it is Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid. Alas! I wish I could split enough and do more projects at once… this will be possible only after I am done with The Color of the Sun!
The Color of the Sun is your second successful Kickstarter for a film, what is your advice for creators trying to make new projects?
I have not made the film yet and I am in full fundraising mode, so I don’t have the certainty or presumptuousness to offer advice on being successful. However I strongly believe that we should leave less as possible to fate and chance when working on your own independent film. Not everything will go as planned but backups and Plans B, C, D, E, F should all be there beforehand.
I personally used the following different strategies to promote the Kickstarter Campaign:
Friends, Family and acquaintance Contact Lists
Previous Kickstarter Campaign backer list
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter social media management which means editorial plans involving continuous daily exciting content. Social Media Management began 2 weeks before campaign launch thus creating a buzz
Paid Advertising (social media) targeting LITTLE PRINCE and FILM fans on 24 different countries
Influencer Marketing: we contacted influencers (book and film) in 24 different countries who tagged our profile and talked about the project
Public Relations campaigns: we obtained international press coverage in different countries by contacting journalists who talked about THE LITTLE PRINCE and film
Is there anything else you’d like our audience to know?
This film has been a roller-coaster of emotions. It has given me the chance to explore a thousand ways to take a couple of steps forward in a universe that is complex, in a process that is long and where usually there is no wrong or right path to follow. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I hear NO, other times I hear YES. And it is those YESSES one must listen to. I am looking ahead. I listen to those positive inputs that nudge me to push harder every day, to believe in the value of what I am doing.
It is through our own will power that we know we will achieve what we want and although the road to making and distributing a film is long and winding, I know I am collecting all puzzle pieces, day after day, slowly placing them into the right spots…