Drive Your Own Career: Producers of ‘The Kids Menu’ Talk Collaboration

imagePhoto credit: Shane Maritch.

A common frustration for many actors is the constant grind of looking for work, auditioning, and then waiting for the phone to ring (or the email to appear). So, ten women and myself decided to take our careers into our own hands and independently produce projects together. Our first collaboration is the film The Kids Menu.

This comedic short is all about old school Brooklyn vs. new school Brooklyn. The laughter begins with a clash over a children’s menu in a local restaurant between Italian pizzeria owner (Vincent Pastore, The Sopranos) and a headstrong young mom with innovative ideas, played by Nyle Lynn (Comedy Central). We say it’s Do the Right Thing meets Baby Mama. Written by Richard Vetere and directed by Paul Borghese, The Kids Menu is produced by Maayan Schneider, Amelie McKendry, Johanna Tolentino, Michelle F. Hartley, Karen Meurer Bacellar, Helene Galek, Massiel Hernandez, Alicia Priya, Emily FortunatoTeresa Hui, and Lynn, who heads up our dynamic team at Collaborative Media Productions.

Lynn and I met because we are both repped by the same talent agency, and it wasn’t long before we started working on a web series together with other actors from the agency. When the series went on hiatus for the summer, she contacted me to suggest another project: producing a short film. I was all in! That conversation was the first of many that got me involved as Associate Producer for The Kids Menu. I recently sat down with Lynn to ask her about how the short came to be. 

How did you get involved in The Kids Menu?
I attended a reading at The Indies Film Lab here in the city (where writers, actors, and directors get together, read scripts, and workshop projects), and I heard this terrific, funny, very New York play by Richard Vetere (The Third Miracle) being read. I had no idea who Richard was at the time, but I thought the script was great. So, afterwards, I walked up to him, saying, “I love your script, and I’ve been looking for a project to produce; we should talk.”

Richard was very enthusiastic and brought producer Al Messina (Dough Boys) and director Paul Borghese (Once Upon a Time in Brooklyn) on board, and Paul brought on actor Vincent Pastore (Big Pussy on The Sopranos).

How did you present the idea to Vetere?
Richard, Paul and Al are all longtime filmmakers familiar with each other and with the Hollywood investor system. I proposed a new way of funding it ourselves: crowdfunding. Just like our film is about old school vs. new school, crowdfunding is a new way for these Hollywood vets to work, and a new generation of producers is leading the way.

Who else is involved in the project?
After joining forces with you, Maayan, I recruited nine more amazing producers to work together on this project through my LLC, Collaborative Media Productions. All of us actresses have experience in producing, be it short films, web series, etc. This, however, is the largest project—and at $50K, the largest budget—we’ve taken on so far. We have all been learning and laughing and helping each other. Sarit Schneider [Maayan’s sister] is assisting with public relations, and my cousin Mim Paquin is coming on as a consultant. It’s been a joyful, empowering experience so far. We can’t wait to get to work on this film!

//player.vimeo.com/video/102157126?title=0&byline=0&portrait=0

The film’s Indiegogo campaign runs until October 4.

The Kids Menu begins filming in Brooklyn in mid-October. For more information on the film, Collaborative Media Productions, or joining the production team or crew, email here.

— MAAYAN SCHNEIDER

Maayan is a producing actress, currently Associate Producing the comedic short The Kids Menu, and a member of NYWIFT.

(Edited on Aug. 28, 2014, at 2:45pm EST.)

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