It took Michelle Leigh three years to write the movie script for "More Than Only," which she also produced and directed. Now the Oregon City resident needs $12,000 and the help of 500 people to complete the film in time to submit it to several independent film festivals.
Luckily, Leigh found out about Seed & Spark, a Kickstarter-like organization dedicated to helping filmmakers finance their movies.
"A huge difference from Kickstarter is it also has a 'follow' element attached, meaning if I get 500 followers on my film they put my film into 'project greenlight' and promise distribution for electronic media," Leigh said.
"If I can get 500 followers, the company will give me 'featured status,' which puts my film on their homepage. [This will] attract people to my film who are looking for projects to support financially," she said.
Seed & Spark also will waive application fees to some of the film festivals, so the movie has the potential to be shown at a number of events.
The film's campaign went live on May 1 on the website morethanonly.com, and will run for only 30 days.
There are two buttons, contribute and follow, and the more followers she gets, the more notice the film gets, she said.
Leigh, the founder and director of Oregon City Children's Theatre, cast some of her OCCT performers in the movie, but hired local professional actors for the major roles, including her daughter, Beth Dodge.
She is planning for a January 2018 premiere of the movie at the Hollywood Theatre in Portland.
Calling the movie a "PG-13 LGBT romantic comedy," Leigh said that "More Than Only" is a "coming of age story about Justin, a young man whose father disapproves of him being gay."
Throughout the movie, Justin seeks his father's understanding and approval.
"Justin's relationship with his father is best summed up in the opening line of the film: 'My father only wanted two things — straights A's and a straight son,'" Leigh said.
Justin, played by Jonathan Miles, graduates from high school and goes on to college, "where he is basically free to act on his desires, but he is afraid to attach emotionally."
Then he meets Michael, a registered nurse played by Bjorn Anderson, and tries to woo him.
"But Michael thinks Justin is a hot mess and tries to dissuade him," Leigh said.
Finally, Michael tells Justin if he completes three tasks he will consent to go on a date.
"Michael perceives the tasks to be impossible, but Justin completes them and Michael comes to appreciate Justin's energy and sense of humor," Leigh said. In turn, "Justin realizes the value of taking care of someone else's needs and for the first time allows himself to fall in love."
Justin and Michael find more than a happily ever after and Justin realizes that he is "more than only," Leigh said.
"I call this a romantic comedy with a happy ending. Although the final sentence in the movie is 'You may not always get a happily ever after, but if we hang on, we can get a happily after everything else.'"
The film was made in 31 days, and filmed in 14 different locations all over the metro area, including at Mike's Drive-In, DJ's Treasures on the Hill, Abernethy Chapel and three private homes in Oregon City. The cast and crew also spent five days in Bandon, filming a crucial beach scene.
"We're in the final phases of production, including sound and sound mastering," Leigh said, noting that a composer from London found her on social media and is writing the original score for the movie.
Why should people go to her website and contribute to the movie?
"This is a high-quality film. The reason I wrote the film is because it is my way of supporting the [LGBT] community," Leigh said. "It is helping me give something back and gives them hope."
"More Than Only" is "a true romantic comedy that just happens to have a gay couple at the center, but it's more about normalizing [their relationship]," she said.
"Regardless of your bias, now is the time for all of us to open up and think outside the box. And I'm hoping the film can play a part in opening some of those conversations."
What: Local filmmaker Michelle Leigh needs 500 followers to gain featured status with Seed and Spark, in order to raise the last $12,000 that she needs to complete her film, "More Than Only."
Online: Visit morethanonly.com to contribute to the Seed & Spark campaign or to learn more, follow the progress of the movie, and see a complete cast list.