The following excerpt is from the press kit for The Newest Pledge:
A MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR The Newest Pledge was a passion project from the get-go, and that “passion” is what separates this film from other indie comedies. When we started pre-production on the film we had no clue what we were getting ourselves into. We were simply a bunch of film students trying to “break in” to the industry the only way we knew how: by making a film.
As pre-production progressed into production, the film began to take shape, consuming our lives and teaching us things that we could never learn in the classroom or by getting coffee for some producer. We learned how to handle adversity, deal with budget limitations, work with “name” talent, how to be resourceful, and how to collaborate as a team towards a single goal. What we created in The Newest Pledge was far more than a major motion picture on a shoestring budget. We proved that group of passionate young friends can band together and make a film.
The Newest Pledge is a film about growing up. What we didn’t initially realize was that through the process of making our first feature we would come of age ourselves as filmmakers. While making a feature seemed impossible at times, we found that passion triumphs the “impossible.”
– Jason Michael Brescia
I wrote that over the summer when my producer Bob Burton asked me to say a few words about the making of the film for our representatives as they worked towards distribution. I’m not sure how effective it will be, or if any distributors will take that into account, after all, the passion of a 25 year old isn’t going to put “butts in the seats,” but like with everything I do, I put my heart into that. I meant every word.
On Friday night, December 16th, The Newest Pledge screened at Cinema Village in New York City in front of a pretty nice sized crowd for midnight on a Friday night. I estimate that anywhere from about 55 to 75 people were in attendance and the laugh track that the audience provided was reminiscent of that of a classic Three’s Company episode. Maybe they laughed because most of the audience knew me, but the quantity of laughter was a little too high in volume to be “friend of the director” laughter. In fact, I’ve often found that my friends usually don’t support my stuff as much as strangers do. Frank Capra writes about why that could be in his autobiography The Name Above the Title, but that’s neither here nor there. My point is that the screening went great.
But it almost didn’t.
You see, at 8:30 PM we almost didn’t have a movie to show. Cinema Village did not have a copy of our film because to be completely honest, the film had just been finished a little over twenty four hours ago, and Bob and I were running into constant complications trying to get the film from Los Angeles to New York over the internet. It was a pretty large file, way too big to be emailed.
But by 10:00 PM, two hours before showtime, I arrived at Cinema Village with the help of my friends with a copy of the final version of The Newest Pledge. I tested it at 11:15, I answered a few ridiculous questions about Sammy Hagar, Kevin Nash, and Tim Tebow, and then screened the film.
The Tebow question I brought upon myself by proclaiming Bob’s and my ability to get the film to Cinema Village last minute to be “Tebow-esque.”
After the film, I met with a lot of the audience and tried to thank each of them individually for coming. I was not afraid to hug. It really meant a lot to me that that many people came, a lot of whom I knew took on “Tebow-like” tasks to get there, as well. When it was all said and done, I believe that the audience caught that “passion” that I wrote about in our press kit on the big screen.
And that’s what it’s all about. That’s why I’ve devoted my life to this. Not for glamor, because directors usually don’t get the glamor, they just get fat. Not for attention. Not for money. But because it’s what I’m passionate about. I like to make people laugh. That’s what God made me good at. That may be the thing that God made me best at, because he sure didn’t make me any good at sports, and I look more like Rodney Dangerfield than I look like George Clooney.
I remember being at a Bible Club meeting in middle school, where the leader was going around telling us that God gives each of us a gift. She barely knew me, she had maybe met me twice, but she said she believed my gift was the ability to make people laugh.
At that point in my life I was 13 and the only thing that making people laugh had done for me is get me detention and phone calls from my teachers to my parents, which inevitably lead to grounding, and less time to get better at sports, which I was already pretty bad at. In fact, being grounded so often lead to me watching more old sitcoms, which have undeniably stuck with me to this day, and helped me to have an understanding of situational comedy that has definitely given me a leg up when it comes to my writing.
And that’s sorta what Friday night was for me. A bit of confirmation that my Bible study leader was probably correct, my gift from God is the ability to make people laugh.
God gives all of us a gift, but He doesn’t do the work for us. We need to do that part. We’re also not the only one’s that He gives a certain gift to. It’s up to us to work harder than the others to master our gift, and bring that gift to the world.
I’m working hard. I’ve been working hard at it my entire life. Not by sitting around writing jokes, but by living life, being contemplative, and acknowledging my failures. I know that if I do not work hard enough, someone else will succeed at what I want to succeed at.
In his book Through My Eyes, the aforementioned Tim Tebow writes that his lifelong motto has been “Somewhere he is out there, training when I am not. One day, when we meet, he will win.” I believe that we all need to adapt this motto if there is something that we aspire to be great at. I’ve been living it my entire life.
Our gift is only the first step. That’s the part that God is happy to do for us. The rest is up to how hard we work, how committed we are to our gift, and to what extent we embrace life.
Friday night was not the finish line, not even for The Newest Pledge. It was just another step. More motivation. I’ve begun writing my follow up to The Newest Pledge with the bar set higher. I will continue to push myself, I will continue to become a better filmmaker, and I will continue to become a better person.
Because I know what I’m meant to do. And next time, I’ll have the file at the theater at least two hours earlier.
Jason Michael Brescia
December 20, 2011 1:24 Eastern Standard Time