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An update on “Good Thing”

My newest feature film is titled Good Thing: A Documentary About Landfill Dogs. It’s currently in production.

The film features Meredith College professor Shannon Johnstone, the photographer behind Landfill Dogs, a series of images featuring adoptable dogs in Raleigh, N.C., from the Wake County Animal Shelter.

If you’ve been a long-time reader here, you’ve heard me talk about Shannon and her project a lot.

In May 2013, I shared Shannon’s project on the blog. That post got some incredible traffic, which led to some awesome coverage in major news outlets. It had me jumping for joy! (Read that post here.)

In February 2014, I shared an iPhone documentary about Shannon’s project to keep spreading the word about the good work she’s doing with Landfill Dogs. It was titled Landfill Dogs: Behind the Scenes. I wanted to continue exploring the subject in a really low-risk way, while also prove a point that you can use what you’ve got to make a movie today. (Read that post and watch the short doc here.)

In November 2016, after we’d wrapped up Brewconomy and our self-distribution of the film, I finally announced me next project: Good Thing! (Read that post here.)

What’s happened since that announcement? Quite a bit. Here’s an update for you.

Funding Efforts

For years, I’ve been applying for grants to support the making of the film.

Those efforts have been time-consuming and exhausting, but really educational. I’ve learned a LOT about the grant application process, small pool of funds available to documentarians, and how to write the film before you’ve finished shooting it.

During the application process for one grant in particular last year, I finally found the clarity I needed on this version of the story. I kept trying to make it a short, partly so that we could get funding and share it with the world rapidly. (I’m really keen on short docs for a long list of reasons.) But by making this a short film, I was omitting a significant part of the story.

The film needed to be a feature and I finally came to terms with that. With that newfound clarity, I’ve been rewriting my budget and production schedule. I’m going to regroup and continue to seek funding from grant organizations.

Yes, I’ve also been thinking about crowdfunding. But I don’t want to jump into that too soon. I want to have a few things set up before starting a campaign because they can be quite time consuming.

Production Progress

So far, I’ve shot a lot of footage.

That footage has been edited into a trailer and the 10-minute version of the film. The 10-minute version is called a work sample, which is what I share with gatekeepers when seeking funding.

Since announcing the project in November, however, I’ve had a few more shoot days. They’ve been really productive, and I am ready to start adding that footage to the timeline, so I can continue to piece together the story.

To date, I’ve been shooting and editing everything myself. It’s a big switch from Brewconomy, but familiar territory thanks to Abandoned Allies.

Everything has been captured on two cameras, one of which is my Canon 5D Mark III. Boy, do I have the bad wants for a C300 and all of the accessories.

Or, you know, a sweet budget to get my crew together to capture it just the way I have dreamed about this film for years.

But I digress.

Shannon Johnstone, the photographer featured in my new documentary Good Thing, stops to take a photo of a dog.

What’s next?

Funding is key, so I’m still working on that.

Editing a rough cut of the film is at the top of my list. I want to get the new footage on the timeline so I can see what is lacking, and make plans to capture more footage. I have a list of things I’d like to shoot, and the rough cut will help prioritize those production days.

There are also some short clips I want to release to continue building interest in the documentary, and simultaneously share more info about Shannon’s photo series.

There are about a thousand other things on my list, and it’s tough to tackle with so few resources.

My dog, Louie, who was adopted from the Wake County Animal Shelter in 2007.

How can you help?

If you’re interested in helping with Good Thing, there are a few things you can do right now that’d be really awesome:

  1. Sign up for email updates here
  2. Follow along on social media (@goodthingdoc on IG, goodthingdoc on FB, @goodthingdoc on TW, camdenwatts on FB, @cammicam on TW, @camdenwatts on IG)
  3. Share the film or posts with your friends

Thank you all for following along! I really appreciate it.

More updates coming soon!

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