On June 1, Southland native David Cameli and a few colleagues gave themselves a month to raise $7,000 through a crowdfunding campaign to help them cross the finish line on a short film project. Having never raised money this way, Cameli said they didn’t know what to expect.
They raised the $7,000 needed for their project and more, in just three days.
“It’s huge,” Cameli said. “Not only to have reached the amount we had set, but to have done it so quickly was really inspiring and made us feel really loved and supported by our friends and family and the people who encouraged us to achieve it. It meant a lot.
Cameli, 32, grew up in Tinley Park and Orland Park. He graduated from Sandburg High School in 2008, went to Indiana University, and then continued his acting career through plays and short films in Chicago.
“It felt like we got to a point in Chicago where we needed to take the next step we needed to move west,” Cameli said, so he and his wife made the jump to Los Angeles in 2019.
Jeremy Schaye, a friend from the Chicago acting community, came to visit. The two started talking about collaboration and ideas in the workshop, and they realized that they each had family members affected by multiple sclerosis.
It was the seed of their film, “Back Home,” which they began to explore “from time to time,” Cameli said. Schaye also moved to Los Angeles, as did a third friend, Bailey Castle.
“We thought it would be so fun to collaborate again, the three of us,” Cameli said. “We had never done it in this form.”
Last winter, they began to devote a lot of time to “Back Home”. The film tells the fictional story of two estranged siblings whose parent is chronically ill. When their other parent dies, the siblings are forced to deal with the situation. Cameli said having a personal connection to someone with a chronic illness makes it a “scary” story to write, but he hopes his experience will add truth to his work and allow viewers to relate. connect with “Back Home”.
The short was self-funded and shot in April, but they needed post-production money, said Cameli, who co-wrote and co-starred in the film with Schaye. Castle is the director of the film.
“Even if it’s a short film, it can add up – things like editors, sound, having music composed for the film,” he said. “Then there are the festival submissions.”
Festivals are one of the main outlets for short films once they’re over, but they come with admission fees and other costs. Cameli said many festivals only want films that have yet to be shown publicly, so the trio hope to exhaust those options before pursuing a wider release. The plan is to finish the film in August, and Cameli said he will continue to update backers and social media followers on its progress and how they can view it later.
Although fully funded, Cameli said people can continue donating until the campaign ends in early July. Any additional funds will help cover cost overruns and head towards a hopeful premiere in Los Angeles.
Making a short film on a low budget required the trio to wear many hats to pull it off. In Cameli’s case, that meant being an actor, producer, and writer all rolled into one. His degree from Indiana’s Kelley School of Business is in finance and he said he was “a bit entrepreneurial.”
Twice a week
News from the southern suburbs delivered every Monday and Wednesday
“The production aspect definitely interests me from that angle,” Cameli said. “I think of myself as an actor first and foremost. I’m a writer out of necessity, at least right now. It’s come out of this situation where actors come to where you’re looking for work, maybe you’re not offered a job. work, then you choose to create your own work.
Short films, which usually have smaller budgets, were also a necessity medium for the trio. But it’s also the one that Cameli liked to explore.
“Since that movie, I’ve really come to appreciate it as its own independent art form where I can see myself continuing to make short films, even if other opportunities arise,” Cameli said. “It forces you to be succinct because you don’t have a lot of time to tell your story. You have to be very determined in the dialogue you write or the scenes you include. It can really help you grow as an artist, actor.
While he hopes his future lies in filmmaking, Cameli said he could also explore live theater. The Los Angeles scene is “pretty lively” now that things are reopening, he said.
But for now, Cameli and her fellow transplant recipients are eager to complete “Back Home” on their own terms.
“We’re really proud of this movie,” Cameli said. “We worked very hard on it.”
Bill Jones is a freelance journalist for the Daily Southtown.