Punxsy grad Dominick seeks to begin shooting first budgeted film

PUNXSUTAWNEY — With the help of his hometown, a local college student may soon take his first footsteps toward the edge of Hollywood’s red carpet.

Punxsy native Charlie Dominick, a 2010 PAHS graduate and current Point Park University freshman, received the school’s Artistic Achievement Award scholarship for his independent production, “Dipper,” and is in the process of collecting funds for his upcoming film project.

“I’m very excited about it,” he said. “I probably haven’t been this motivated about anything before.”

The 18-year-old cinema student, in collaboration with a Point Park classmate, is currently creating his first budgeted film. He’s writing the screenplay and directing.

“We’re kind of aiming obnoxiously high,” he said.

“Explode” is a comedy-drama that, according to Dominick, “revolves around a man who disguises himself as Santa Claus” and “wreaks havoc on a small, suburban town.” The film will be shot this summer throughout Jefferson County and Buffalo, N.Y., with a tentative release date of Christmas 2011.

Dominick, in addition to the film’s producer Harry Lipsitz, planned a $10,000 budget, which will cover everything from effects to catering.

Of course, for a couple of college kids, coming up with that kind of cash is easier said than done. Thus, the Birdhome Productions duo are utilizing the help of Kickstarter, an online funding campaign for creativity, to generate at least half the budget.

The pledge-operated, fund-raising Web site facilitates the raising of revenue for the creative projects of innovators, from artists to explorers alike. Project creators craft an online profile and set a funding goal in addition to a one-to-90-day deadline. The site allows donators to pledge money to projects they wish to support.

The catch, of course, lies within Kickstarter’s “all or nothing” policy. The groups must meet their minimum funding goal within the alloted time limit, or they will not receive any money whatsoever. The company — which enforces the policy so that projects will not be executed with insufficient funds — returns unsuccessful pledges to rightful donors.

The heat is on for Birdhome Productions, as the group must hit its $5,000 minimum by Dec. 30, or face filming without funding.

The short film, Dominick said, features three main characters, in addition to 10 actors and extras. The pair will begin area auditions over an upcoming school break throughout December and January.

“We’re open to anyone,” he said.

After calling it a wrap, the production, Dominick said, hopes to showcase its motion picture at independent film festivals in addition to releasing “Explode” on DVD.

“We feel very confident,” he said. “This will be something that will be completed.”

After making his first movie in January 2009, Dominick wrote and directed five additional short films which he categorizes as “comedies with dramatic moments.” The earlier works of Dominick, including “Trail View Tonight” and “Digital Film,” can be viewed on YouTube.com.

Inspired by the likes of filmmakers Paul Thomas Anderson — director of “There Will Be Blood,” a Dominick favorite — and David Lynch, the aspiring director credits his drive to films such as “Synecdoche, New York” and “Ran.”

Even though aiming “obnoxiously high,” Dominick said he is neither oblivious to the obstacles he faces as a young filmmaker, nor unaware of the long road to the box office.

“I imagine a lot of people don’t take me seriously,” he said. “That’s a big challenge, too, because we are young. We just have to be professional. I think if you put the work into it, then people will take you seriously.”

Dominick, who names filmmaking as his sole passion and plans to make it his life’s mission, is banking on the notion, he said, that “hopefully, this works.”

“It feels like there’s a lot that hasn’t been done with film because it’s such a new art form,” he said. “Hopefully, this doesn’t sound arrogant, but I think the script is really strong. I think that it could be something special.”

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Want to help Charlie Dominick finance his film “Explode?” Those who are interested can help out by pledging donations, any amount beginning at $1, at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/524634610/explode.