Rae Dawn Chong and The Celebrant

Rae Dawn Chong is an actor, writer and producer. As the eldest daughter of comedian Tommy Chong, she started acting at age 12 appearing in Disney’s “Whiz Kids of Riverton.” Years later she is still making movies appearing in the Duplass brothers film “Jeff who lives at home” which also starred Susan Sarandon and Jason Segal.

She is currently awaiting an edit on a teaser for a pilot she wrote called”The Celebrant” which she is crowd funding on Indiegogo.

She stopped by Filmmaking Stuff to share some of the filmmaking tips she is learning with her current project, The Celebrant.

Jason Brubaker
Who are you?

Rae Dawn Chong
Rae Dawn Chong last I checked.

Jason Brubaker
How did you get started in filmmaking?

Rae Dawn Chong
I directed and wrote a film in 2000 called “Cursed pt 3″ it wasn’t very good but I was hooked. a year later I directed a short film soon after called “Mary’s stigmata “which won a contest for crazy 8′s. I have been writing since 1993.my first script that was produced was called “Boulevard” it was a love story. I just wrote it and suffered the fate of all writers we are as a rule treated so badly it was like a polish joke. Meanwhile I have kept at writing and finally have quite a nice collection of good pilot scripts so the first to be produced is “The Celebrant” I will star in this…the other will not have me in them but I will be all over them in other ways…

Jason Brubaker
You’ve done some acting in the past…

Rae Dawn Chong
I started acting at 11 background in a Robert Downey sr film and then my first speaking role the role where I was made to be in SAG was a Disney film for TV. From there it has been a glorious journey. behind the camera officially started in 93. The motivation was to help my then boyfriend become a bonafide DP and we were successful. Funnily enough the DP and Director benefited more doing my first film than I did. I am getting a little bit better about that.

Jason Brubaker
What did you do before making The Celebrant?

Rae Dawn Chong
I sat and waited for a call to auditions far and few between and sad…really sad.

Jason Brubaker
What inspired you to make The Celebrant?

Rae Dawn Chong
I wanted to work on a series that was deep and complicated and fresh…different real yet not reality tv.

Jason Brubaker
What is your story about?

Rae Dawn Chong
A woman who is escaping a bad marriage who settles in the Seacoast. Xila is her name it is a fish out of water story showing the human condition Xila (Sheelah) whose job in New England is as a Celebrant in essence as a witness. Someone who helps people create ceremony and maybe together get closer to the Divine.

Jason Brubaker
Why did you choose crowdfunding to raise the money?

Rae Dawn Chong
I wanted to shoot the pilot it was my only alternative.

Jason Brubaker
What have you learned about crowdfunding?

Rae Dawn Chong
A lot…it is onerous and complex and satisfying and wonderful and you do lose sleep during the campaign and I have met great new friends. Also I have fulfilled some of my perks already and that was a hoot. I am very very happy with this opportunity and am looking forward to launching more. I also think weirdly it makes me want to work very hard to make a fabulous pilot. Money is energy and people have given me their love and energy and I feel touched by that in a way that is new and motivating. Crowdfunding is a lot harder than it looks.

Jason Brubaker
What are your next steps after your crowdfunding campaign?

Rae Dawn Chong
Crewing up and deciding our production schedule…in some ways the hardest part is making sure we get the very best for no money up front. But my intention is to defer payment and make a staggeringly successful show so that I can cycle back and pay my peeps all of them their rate or at least close to their rate. I will have transparency because i want to keep making shows and will need the love and support and LOYALTY of my cast and crew.;

Jason Brubaker
Outside of money, what is your biggest challenge?

Rae Dawn Chong
Crewing up both below and above the line…attracting the very best. So far we have been blessed but it is delicate the politics and I am now in the midst ask me when I have made my first distribution deal for the show to go on a network. I am certain if by some miracle I get that far I will have a longer list of what is hard. Oh and finally I wish I were cuter! LOL sometimes it is hard to look at myself…tough.

Jason Brubaker
What advice do you have for filmmakers who want to do what you’re doing?

Rae Dawn Chong
Get a great script surround yourself with smart people who are motivated and talented and who may be difficult but they have the goods and never give up…Yes it sucks but everything sucks until it doesn’t…just head down, sleeves rolled up and get to work!

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Rae Dawn Chong is excited about the prospect of filming and living in her adopted home state of New Hampshire. She has lived in the granite state for 7 years and calls it home. She is currently on the board of the New Hampshire Film Festival which begins Oct. 16 thru 20th The film festival is held in downtown Portsmouth. She has acted in numerous feature films and starred in two television series “Mysterious Ways” on NBC/PAX and Wild Card on Lifetime television. She has also guest starred in numerous TV shows.

She hopes to continue her success with writing and producing she has 4 more pilot scripts waiting in the wings to produce and she is excited to see how successful her crowdfunding will be…the future looks bright!

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