Ready for their close-ups
Hollywood producers invite public to be a part of bringing Reporter editor’s novel to screen
by Ian Wenik
Reporter correspondent
Jun 30, 2013 | 5679 views | 0 0 comments | 207 207 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Three Hollywood producers want to bring Reporter editor Caren Lissner’s novel ‘Carrie Pilby’ to the big screen – but are hoping for a little crowdfunding support.
Three Hollywood producers want to bring Reporter editor Caren Lissner’s novel ‘Carrie Pilby’ to the big screen – but are hoping for a little crowdfunding support.

The top grossing movies last week had something in common: The superhero flick (“Man of Steel”), the ensemble apocalypse comedy (“This Is the End”), and the spy thriller (“Now You See Me”) were all predominantly male. But one group is fighting to make a movie that breaks that norm, without big-studio funding or bombastic special effects.

Thanks to a recently launched Kickstarter campaign, they just may succeed.

Director Susan Johnson and producers Suzanne Farwell and Susan Cartsonis are striving to bring Hoboken-based author (and Hudson Reporter Editor-in-Chief) Caren Lissner’s 2003 novel Carrie Pilby to the big screen.

There might be no novel more fitting for an all-female production. Described by Johnson as a “female Holden Caulfield,” the title character is fiercely self-assured and unafraid to make her own judgments about the world — even if that involves dismissing her fellow New Yorkers as unethical, nymphomaniacal charlatans.
Crowdsourcing a movie may seem unorthodox, but not anymore.
Addressing time-old questions about searching for one’s self in a big world and just wanting to fit in — Carrie Pilby seems to be the character-driven story that Hollywood would normally eat up.

But times have changed out West, and executives aren’t as willing as they were in years past to sink cash into projects that fall out of their comfort zone. A quirky teen novel is a far bigger risk than, say, “Iron Man 3.”

As a result, Johnson, Farwell, and Cartsonis are in the unusual position of using Kickstarter in an attempt to gain initial funding for the movie – a strategy also being used by big names such as Zach Braff.

They hope to make the independent film for $2.5 million.

Asking the public for help – or “crowdfunding” – a movie may seem unorthodox, but not anymore. The film’s creators have embraced the challenge.

Why this book?

“The three of us have a shared passion and enthusiasm for this very special story,” said Farwell, who co-produced the critically acclaimed “Something’s Gotta Give” in 2003 and “It’s Complicated” in 2009. “And I have so much confidence in us as a team to translate Carrie’s unique charm and wit to film.”

Johnson and Cartsonis have impressive credentials of their own right.

Johnson won two Independent Spirit Awards for her co-production of “Mean Creek” in 2004, while Cartsonis is best known for her 2000 co-production of “What Women Want,” which remains the second-highest grossing romantic comedy of all time.

The three represent a concentration of female power that is almost unheard of in an industry where women combined to total only 18 percent of the total directors, producers, writers, cinematographers and editors on the top 250 films of 2012.

But this unusual arrangement may just have the power to take Carrie Pilby to new heights.

After years of producing, Johnson was waiting for a project with which to make her directorial debut. She said she was impressed when she read Carrie Pilby.

“I've always wanted to find a female Holden Caulfield,” she said. “Carrie is brilliant, fragile, funny, conscious, inquisitive and brave enough to say the things we wouldn't dare. My primary goal is to make a movie about a female character that men AND women will want to see.”

On the Kickstarter page, Cartsonis said, “When Susan and Suzanne gave me Carrie Pilby to read I was supremely flattered, and then after I actually read it I was thrilled. You know when a writer has a voice that's like hearing your favorite song for the first time or meeting someone who's destined to be your best friend? I've gotten that feeling a few times before: as a kid reading ‘Harriet the Spy’ and as an exec reading the script of ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer.’ ”

Lissner said she is excited to see the team take her book to the next step.

“This is an independent film so they need any support they can get,” she said. “The Kickstarter page is interesting, and it even lets its supporters get involved in the film.”

To find out much more about the film, the process, and how you can be part of it, click on: Carrie Pilby - the Movie on Kickstarter or follow the links at

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