Lawrence Feeney wants to make a movie. He also wants that movie to benefit the New Port Richey community.
Feeney lives in Trinity and is an independent filmmaker. He produces, writes and directs film and does so under the brand name Pasco Films.
Now, he is using an online tool to try to drum up funding to make a movie filmed in New Port Richey and other parts of Pasco County. He is pledging to donate half the profits to local civic organizations that serve New Port Richey.
He is trying to raise $36,000 to cover the costs of making a feature film.
People pitch projects on the Indiegogo website (Feeney's project page is here). If visitors like the project, they can pledge a donation to it on Indiegogo.
Feeney’s project has raised $1,300 so far and has 19 more days to raise the full $36,000. Incentives are awarded to people who donate certain amounts.
Lending a hand to a struggling area
Feeney, 46, has been reading the news about the city of New Port Richey’s widely publicized dire financial situation.
The city deficit is expected to reach $17 million over the next five years. The City Council is poised to take a final vote in a couple weeks on a budget that, if approved, will result in layoffs of about 10 city employees.
Feeney wants to donate some of the profit from his movie to Friends of the New Port Richey Library, Greater New Port Richey Main Street and also Cotee River Bike Fest and the Chasco Fiesta, which are backed by the West Pasco Chamber of Commerce.
“Over the summer, while reading about the budget issues the City of New Port Richey was having and the tough choices that have had to be made, the names of these organizations kept being mentioned as having to do more with less financial assistance,” Feeney said. “With the attention, tourists, services and income that each of these events and organizations provide to the city, I just wanted to show them some support.”
He says there are other organizations that serve New Port Richey and also the surrounding area that he would like to donate to but is not yet prepared to disclose.
The New Port Richey city government has been confronted with decisions on whether to retain employees who have worked for the government for years and whether to direct money toward marketing.
Marketing is one service the leaders of Chasco Fiesta and Greater New Port Richey Main Street say their events provide for the city.
At one point during budget negotiations, city leaders considered the idea of eliminating subsidies that support Chasco Fiesta, Cotee River Bike Fest and Main Street Blast. They eventually said they wanted to continue providing subsidies to those events in the coming fiscal year.
Friends of the New Port Richey Public Library, a nonprofit that supports the city library, has raised concerns about cuts to the library that will be made if the budget is approved. These include layoffs.
Profits from Feeney’s film could relieve some of the burden of costs to organizations or the city.
Finances are tight for everybody, Feeney said, and he just wants to take little bit off somebody's plate,
"That's all I want to do," he said.
He plans on shooting in places like Sims Park Sims Park, the Piithlachascotee River, Starkey Park, SunWest and Green Key. He also plans on investing in local businesses. He wants to buy local goods to help with production and feature some in the movie.
Feeney wants the film to be called Pharmboy and tell the story of a 16-year-old who was born addicted to prescription pills and goes to high school in a rural area. The story told is fictional, but the problem of prescription pill addiction is very real in Pasco.
Feeney wants to shoot films full time for a living some day and also wants to attract filmmakers to Pasco County. He has received attention from the Tampa Bay Times .
Feeney graduated from Hudson High in 1983, and he has family who lives throughout West Pasco. He moved to the Trinity area last year after living in New York and Los Angeles.
In the past, he's won roles playing parts in Nurse Jackie, Rescue Me and Law and Order.
Feeney said he's talked to city councilwoman Judy DeBella Thomas about his current project and found her supportive and has also talked to Susan Dillinger, director of the New Port Richey Public Library. Dillinger has donated money to the project.
Feeney's most recent productions were short films produced in 48 hours.
He wants this new film to be feature length, and is giving himself 60 days to make it.
He is going to need the full $36,000 to make a feature film, but if he doesn't get the full amount, he still wants to produce some film. It just wouldn't be feature length.
"The dollar amount is crucial to me pulling it off in the way that I want," he said.
Want to support the project or find out more about it? Visit the Save A City. Make A Movie Indiegogo page at http://www.indiegogo.com/saveacity.
You can also contact Feeney at email@example.com or at the Pasco Films Facebook page.