Call it what you will, film fate or a mere coincidence, but before I began this article, I had a meeting already set up with Amanda Frederick. I’ll let you in on a secret: I am not a psychic. I am, however, in the midst of preproduction of my own flick, and it was Frederick’s production company, Shoestring Gold, that answered my call for help. Now, Shoestring Gold’s first feature film is debuting at the 2019 Philadelphia Independent Film Festival (PIFF).
Frederick wants to make movies. For those living in Philadelphia, this may come as a surprise, as moviemaking usually isn’t associated with the City of Brotherly Love (unless you’re talking Rocky or whatever M. Night Shyamalan is working on). But if you keep your ear to the ground, you’ll find there are quite a number of Philly peeps with an interest in filmmaking. What sets Shoestring Gold apart from the rest is dedication to accessibility. Frederick and her crew want to prove that, even with limited resources, your movie dreams can still come true.
An accidental start
Shoestring Gold is a Philadelphia-based motion-picture production company that Amanda has co-run with fellow local Ian Kimble since 2013. According to Frederick, the company started by accident when the duo, along with other Philly film pals, started producing short films. She will be the first to tell you she doesn’t offer technical knowledge but is not short on other skills to bring to the table. “Ian knew of my background in script reading,” she explains.
That’s the time she spent during her college years as an intern at the London office of Focus Features. After that, Frederick knew she needed to be involved with filmmaking. She started partnering on projects with Ian and the gang on their short films. Later, they hosted film screenings in the city that invited other local filmmakers to showcase their work. After working for a few years, the group decided it was ready for a bigger challenge—a feature film. For this project they would revisit their previous short film, Dead Giveaway (2015). With Ian’s expanded draft, production of the film started in February 2017.
Filming in Fishtown
Dead Giveaway, starring local actors, was shot in a Fishtown in just a little over two weeks. On May 10, it will finally get its world premiere at PIFF, and will run at the Gershman Y May 8 through 11. With a 67-minute runtime, the dark comedy tells a story that is entertaining and quirky. It may even leave you questioning whether you need just one more shot the next time you visit your local watering hole.
The plot follows twentysomething Jill (Elena Camp). After a heavy Saturday night of partying, Jill’s only mission when she wakes up is to brunch. There’s just one problem—she didn’t wake up alone. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), the person next to her is dead. So, of course, she texts her best friend. When Lia (Kristin Foreman-Spence) shows up, they attempt to piece together the previous night’s events while trying to decide the best way to ditch their newfound friend. It’s a morbid yet humorous story.
It has been a long road to the premiere. Many of the crew’s family and friends supported the film through crowdsourcing and have yet to see it. Frederick is especially thrilled that it will be shown in Philadelphia first.
“It feels right. Everyone we know and love can be there,” she says. “Feels perfect at home. This movie being seen isn’t just for Ian and me, but for the actors and everyone involved.”
Frederick is credited as a producer on the film, which, for an indie flick, means that you need to be multifaceted: “Advertising, marketing, production assistance—I am the organized one and will help with whatever needs to get done.” Independent filmmaking is a stress-inducing venture. The word “daunting” does not really begin to describe it, especially when you are attempting to juggle the production with a full-time job that actually pays the bills.
It kind of makes you wonder why anyone would want to get involved in the motion-picture business. For Frederick, it was the moments she had with her dad watching movies. He saw movies as a way to escape—especially his work life—and this later resonated with her. Frederick sees film as something special: “If a film is good, it could affect generations and have a cultural impact.”
After announcing online that I was seeking reliable hands to assist with my own film, Pizzaman, the folks at Shoestring Gold were among the first to respond. I did not know these people. But film school teaches you that if someone is offering to help you make your movie, you don’t let them get away. Soon I found myself invited to Frederick’s home: not for dinner, but to scout her house as a possible location for my film. All it took was a tweet, and now I’ve now found myself with some new film pals and the perfect dining room to shoot my pizza-centric slasher flick.
I have a feeling this is the beginning of a beautiful film friendship.
What, When, Where
The Philadelphia Independent Film Festival runs May 8 through 11, 2019, at the Gershman Y, 401 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia. (267) 228-0333 or philadelphiaindependentfilmfestival.com. Shoestring Gold’s Dead Giveaway, written and directed by Ian Kimble, screens on Friday, May 10, in a block of films starting at 6:35pm.