08/21/13

Fundraising Event

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog and I apologize for that – but I have had a lot on my plate.

Many of my fundraising and filmmaking contacts have suggested hosting an event to not only raise funds for the film, but also to raise awareness that we’re making it.

My first attempt at getting a fundraiser off the ground was earlier this year – in the spring. I knew that the first steps were to lock down the location and caterer – and then go from there with a location and date intact! Since the movie is Japanese, my inclination was to hold the event at a Japanese garden in the Los Angeles area. I already knew where all the Japanese gardens were located in Los Angeles since I had done location scouting in the area. So I felt ahead of the game!

I found a lovely garden in the heart of Little Tokyo – easy to get to but still quiet and off the beaten path a bit. I met with the event coordinator for the space, compared calendars, and went home to crunch numbers. It all looked good so far! Getting the event catered, however, was another story. Once I started down that path I found that caterers all wanted to charge at least $50/head! That was way out of my price range – especially if I wanted to make any money at the event. With our ideal event date quickly approaching and the lack of my signature on the location contract glaringly empty, I felt I had to pull the plug and find an alternative space for the gala. I really liked the space, but it seemed I needed an ‘in’ with a caterer to get a better price – and that just hadn’t surfaced yet.

It was time to regroup.

A couple of months later my friend told me about an article she read in the Los Angeles Times about a Japanese garden that was part of a private residence. The garden had been extensively renovated and landscaped, and it was just opening for filming and events! I immediately called and made a reservation to see the garden.

The garden completely exceeded my expectations with a pond, a teahouse and wooden entry gate. The residence was also beautiful, private and peaceful. I was thrilled to find that the fee for this location was a bit lower than the location in Little Tokyo. But the biggest incentive to host the gala here was the freedom I had with number of attendees and vendors. They even had connections for rentals with a discount!

With the location settled I had to find a caterer that I could afford. Just in time, using some connections, we found a caterer that would give us amazing food for the price that we wanted – at about $30/head. Much better!

A big expense that we were able to dodge was the purchase of wine. We needed wine for the Wine & Cheese portion of the event as well as the Formal Dinner later in the evening. That came to many, many bottles of wine. I am extremely fortunate and grateful that I have the support of family members who are willing to donate to the cause – and offered to donate the wine. Thank you so much ET and DG!!

The days and weeks leading up to the event were certainly stressful, full of drama and unending problems. We had issues in almost every aspect of the planning that stemmed from inexperience, ego, and the lack of a crystal ball. With the end in sight, taking it day by day, we were able to pull it together – just in time.  (Never mind that I was changing into my dress in the back room as guests were arriving at the garden.)

In the end, all the silent auction items sold, the food and wine were amazing, no one was hurt, we made a little money – and only one wine glass got broken!

Click here for gala photos!