Tag Archives: Kickstarter

Queens-based design studio surpasses $22K Kickstarter goal for Brick Lamp product


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of HCWD Studio

A Queens-based design studio is using Kickstarter to help turn a bright idea into a best-selling product.

HsinChun Wang and Ye Liu founded HCWD Studio in Sunnyside as a part-time venture in 2010, finally going full-time just over a year ago, with current plans to move to Astoria.

The design duo began making one-of-a-kind pieces, such as conceptual furniture, that they showcased in galleries and design shows, and have also done landscape and interior design work, but eventually they wanted to make more affordable, mass-produced products.

“Doing a conceptual project is fun, but it’s away from people’s everyday life,” Wang said.

As part of that effort, the studio has come up with several lighting products including its latest — Brick Lamp — and has turned to the fundraising site Kickstarter to help its production.

“The objective is to capture the moment of light — being concealed and revealed. This unique lighting design would turn a quotidian routine into an enriching experience, providing an unexpected, fun quality to a daily object,” a description of the product reads on its Kickstarter page.

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As its name suggests, the LED lamp is shaped somewhat like a brick, with beveled sides so it is easy to grab and handle. The light has no on or off switch and is activated when it’s on its side; it can also be flipped upside down to let the side with the light shine upward.

“It’s practical and has everyday function, but people can still play with it,” Wang said.

A prototype of the light charged via an electric socket, but Wang said they wanted to create a more modern product so they not only downsized the lamp but also decided to make it more portable. They put in a built-in battery, which charges using a USB plug and has up to five hours of usage.

In the last year, HCWD Studio showcased prototypes of the Brick Lamp at design shows and fairs around the world and on March 11 launched their Kickstarter campaign to help with the investment required to mass produce the product.

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Between word of mouth from friends and design contacts, and being selected as a Kickstarter staff pick, they were able to reach their $22,000 goal within about 10 days. The Kickstarter ends on April 22, and has raised just over $26,000 as of Monday morning. With the extra money, they are hoping to create a fabric cord and additional finishes for the lamp.

Those that pledge $99 to or more will receive a Brick Lamp, which comes in concrete, walnut and a special edition aluminum version.

The studio plans on selling the concrete lamp for $110, the walnut for $145 and the aluminum for $300, and hopes to get it into other stores soon, and one day open their own outlet.

Wang admits the lamp isn’t for everyone — it’s for those who appreciate high-end products, he said, and “like the shape and innovation behind it.”

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Kickstarter goal reached to fund Dennis Hopper’s final film


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of "The Last Film Festival"

The dream of one Queens native to finish up what will be known as the late Dennis Hopper’s last movie is closer to becoming a reality.

As of Monday morning, the Kickstarter campaign for the post-production of the film “The Last Film Festival,” by filmmaker and Forest Hills native Linda Yellen, surpassed its goal of $90,000, nine days before its deadline.

“I had tears in my eyes as well as smiling, I keep seeing Dennis smiling,” said Yellen about how she felt when she found out at 4 a.m. that the goal had been surpassed. “I have such immense gratitude. I have just fallen in love with people all over the world who are so open to making things possible. They changed our lives.”

According to Yellen, the online campaign was one of the hardest experiences she has gone through, but was amazing and gratifying because she said she felt she was making friends all around the world.

“[They’re] kind of saying, ‘We love you, Dennis,’” Yellen said. “People are saying, ‘We do remember and we want to see Dennis.’”

Linda Yellen on set directing "The Last Film Festival."

Linda Yellen on set directing “The Last Film Festival.”

The funds raised by the campaign will go toward all post-production aspects that are required to finish the film, including using movie clips to replace Hopper in remaining scenes.

“The Last Film Festival,” which was written by Yellen and Michael Leeds, began filming in 2009 with a cast including Hopper, Jacqueline Bisset, JoBeth Williams, Chris Kattan, Donnell Rawlings, Katrina Bowden, Joseph Cross and Leelee Sobieski.

The movie follows a Hollywood producer, played by Hopper, whose recent film was rejected by every festival except the small town festival called the O’Hi Film Festival.

All of the movie was filmed in Queens, with the majority of the scenes shot in parts of Forest Hills including Forest Hills High School, which Yellen attended as a teen.

Only a few scenes shy of finishing the project, Hopper became ill and later died of cancer at age 74 in 2010.

Although the actor’s passing left an emptiness and the film was set aside for a while, Yellen decided to pick it back up this year, which marks the fifth anniversary of Hopper’s death.

Yellen added that even though the goal has been surpassed she encourages people to keep donating because the additional funds will go into releasing the film earlier than anticipated and making it “as good as it possibly can be.”

“We would really like people to support it and be part of the little history we are making,” she said. “Every dollar truly means another person is a fan of Dennis Hopper and this movie.”

The Kickstarter’s deadline is on April 9. To donate, click here.

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Queens native starts campaign to fund Dennis Hopper’s final film


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of "The Last Film Festival"

One filmmaker is turning to Kickstarter and the Queens community she grew up in to help put the finishing touches on what will be known as the late Dennis Hopper’s last movie, filmed completely in the “World’s Borough.”

Linda Yellen is one of the creative minds behind the comedy “The Last Film Festival,” which began filming in 2009 with a cast including Hopper, known for the classic film “Easy Rider,” Golden Globe-winner Jacqueline Bisset, JoBeth Williams, Chris Kattan, Donnell Rawlings, Katrina Bowden, Joseph Cross and Leelee Sobieski.

The film, written by Yellen and Michael Leeds, follows a Hollywood producer, played by Hopper, whose recent film was rejected by every film festival except a small town festival named the O’Hi Film Festival.

Although the movie surrounds a small town, it was actually filmed in Queens, some parts in Astoria and others in Forest Hills, the neighborhood Yellen grew up in.

“I loved growing up in Queens. It was so accessible to Manhattan but it also had the feeling of small town and community. It was always so friendly,” Yellen said. “It was a wonderful thing to sort of return home.”

The majority of the film was shot in Forest Hills, with scenes taking place at Forest Hills High School, where Yellen attended school. During the 2009 spring break, the actors were housed in the high school classrooms, which replaced the use of dressing rooms and trailers.

“There was always a great appreciation for the arts and culture in Forest Hills,” Yellen said. “I learned about the art of filming and directing in Forest Hills.”

The cast of "The Last Film Festival."

The cast of “The Last Film Festival.”

Although Yellen no longer lives in the borough, she said she is constantly traveling back to visit her mother, who still lives in the same building Yellen grew up in and who had a small part in the film as a “biker chick.”

During the filming, Yellen recalls walking the streets of Forest Hills during lunch with Hopper, who would take pictures of everywhere he went in the borough.

“A lot of those early experiences helped shape my identity and it gave a special pleasure to Dennis Hopper. He got to learn a lot about me as we took a lot of those walks,” Yellen said. “He loved [Queens].”

Tragedy then struck when, just a few scenes short of finishing the film, Hopper became ill and later died of cancer at the age of 74 in May of 2010.

“He was a picture of health and vitality and he just gives a multilevel comedic act [in the film],” Yellen said. “He had no idea he was sick; we had no idea he was sick.”

Hopper’s passing left a hole in the hearts of the cast and crew, and the film was set aside for a while until Yellen decided to pick it back up this year, which will mark the fifth anniversary of Hopper’s death.

However, in order to finish the film, Yellen made the decision to turn to Kickstarter, with a goal of $90,000, because she felt it was a way to get to the fans directly. The crowdfunding site also followed Hopper’s idea of “always looking for ways to go around the system.” As of March 25, $64,174 had been pledged.

The funds raised by the campaign will go toward all post-production aspects that are required to finish the film, including using movie clips to replace Hopper in scenes.

“This is a way of [the fans] saying we want this and we want to say we support this film and this comedy,” Yellen said. “This picture was made as a labor of love. Just the pleasure of doing good work and wanting it out there and wanting people to laugh a lot.”

The Kickstarter’s deadline is on April 9. To donate click here.

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Cupcake Kickstarter aims to open pastry shop in Bellerose


| ejankiewicz@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Dawn White

In the cupcake world, Queens is a good place to start a business, according to Dawn White.
She is trying to break into the New York City cake scene by raising money to open a cupcake and pastry shop in Bellerose.

She hopes to raise $8,000 in Kickstarter donations by October, when she plans on opening her business, which she calls Cake Music NY.

“Places like Brooklyn and Manhattan are already overcrowded with these kinds of things, but Queens is a perfect spot to make my dream a reality,” White, 41, said.

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She said she hopes to find a storefront on Hillside Avenue or Jamaica Avenue.

“Jamaica Avenue is my number one choice because of the high demand [for baked goods] in the area,” she said.

White has been making cupcakes for the last eight years but she’s never owned a commercial kitchen.

Instead, she jumps around communal kitchens in Astoria and Brooklyn, making not only cupcakes, but also custom cakes for any occasion.

Courtesy of Dawn White

She said she is also planning to take out a loan for about $80,000, hoping to turn her dream into a family business.

“I want to leave something to my daughter,” she said. “And this is my chance to do it.”
As for the business name, White said simply, “Everyone likes music.”

“It doesn’t actually have anything to do with music directly,” she said, “but there’s an appeal.”

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New Dutch Kills coffee shop looks to become community spot


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/ Photo by Angy Altamirano

One new shop owner hopes to bring the Dutch Kills community together over a cup of joe.

Beatrix Czagany will soon open Our Coffee Shop in the Long Island City neighborhood at 38-08 29th St. with plans to sell a variety of pastries, including Hungarian delicacies, coffees and teas.

The name of the spot comes from Czagany’s hope to become a coffee shop for the neighborhood.

“Personally owned coffee shops have more character than the coffee chains,” Czagany said. “I want to bring the people together again, like a community. I really want people to sit down, drink a coffee and have a normal conversation.”

The Astoria resident, who has been in the fitness and health business for 15 years, said she found the spot for her shop after passing by the vacant storefront while helping a friend move late last year.

Although she has no prior experience in owning a business, Czagany said her decision to open the coffee shop came from working at a friend’s pizza restaurant and realizing she enjoyed the interaction with customers better than at her current job.

She said she has also gone to numerous coffee shops throughout the city to get a taste of coffee types and an idea of site set-ups.

“I never ever thought I would be in the restaurant business. Many years ago I was thinking I would have my little own gym. And this is the opposite of that,” said Czagany, who immigrated to the United States from Hungary in 2002. “If someone told me, ‘You’re going to come to America and sell Hungarian stuff,” I would say, ‘Are you crazy?’”

Met with bills from having to fix up the site by herself and buying all equipment and items needed, Czagany has turned to Kickstarter to raise funds with hopes to open the shop by the end of September.

“I really just need a little backup,” she said. The goal of the campaign, which ends on Sept. 16, is set at $1,800.

For the time being, Our Coffee Shop will be selling pastries from Astoria bakeries as Czagany searches for local commercial kitchens where Hungarian delicacies could be handmade. She hopes to begin serving the Hungarian treats by December.

“I hope [customers] will get to know each other. It’s more like a little family spot. They are going to bring their own ideas here,” said Czagany, who hopes to hold community events at the shop. “It’s going to be shaped every month and every season there will be something new.”

Czagany plans to open Our Coffee Shop seven days a week starting at 6 a.m.

To donate to the Our Coffee Shop Kickstarter campaign, click here.

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Astoria friends raising money to get hot sauce in stores, restaurants


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Fez Production

A group of Astoria friends are turning to Kickstarter to help them bring the heat.

Matthew Konchan, Joe Muscente and James Nestor are the creators behind the artisanal all-natural, low-sodium and gluten-free hot sauce called Chi-Cho Sauce.

For the past two years, the trio, who have backgrounds in finance and marketing, have spent hours combining and testing flavors until they came up with the “spicy and sweet” flavor, which creators said is “the best hot sauce you’ll ever have.”

“We wanted to do something different, something that isn’t going to kill you,” Konchan said. “It’s not a novelty. It looks presentable.”

After selling and giving away more than 1,000 bottles of the sauce for free at local markets, including the LIC Flea & Food, and receiving positive feedback, the Astoria residents started a Kickstarter campaign to help continue making the sauce and selling it online, as well as launch the product in stores and restaurants.

“We want something that is nice that you can put out on the table of a nice restaurant,” Konchan said.

The goal of the campaign, which ends on Sept. 12, is $8,003 and the funds will go towards manufacturing, operating, distribution and marketing costs.

Chi-Cho Sauce — the name comes from a college friend’s slang name — is created using local ingredients and cooked at a commercial kitchen in Flushing. Every bottle of the sauce is individually stamped with a batch number and “born on” date.

You can purchase a 6 oz. bottle of Chi-Cho Sauce for $9 on chichosauce.com and also find recipes and food pairings for the sauce.

“We want to maintain the brand,” Konchan said. “A fun and young company.”

To donate to the Kickstarter campaign, click here.

 

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Queens Silk Road food tour reaches Kickstarter goal


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Image Courtesy of Adam Edwards


Foodies, get ready: a two-day international Queens food tour is coming to the borough thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Astoria resident Adam Edwards turned to the online crowdfunding site last month in hopes of raising enough money to turn his project called “The Silk Road & Spice Route of Queens” into a reality, The Queens Courier first reported.

“I always wanted to do something with food that really connects with people, and Queens is a unique food destination in itself,” Edwards previously told The Courier.

Edwards’ campaign came to an end on July 15 and raised a total of $2,175, surpassing his goal of $2,000.

The idea came to Edwards, originally from Pittsburgh, upon exploring Astoria and seeing the different restaurants featuring international cuisines, such as Mombar located at 25-22 Steinway St.

During the food tour, which will take place on August 10 and 17, Edwards said he hopes to highlight the borough’s diversity and modern versions of food that could be found along the ancient Silk Road and spice routes that connected Europe, Asia and Africa.

Participants will be able to ride a trolley from midtown Manhattan, at 8th Avenue between 54th and 55th streets, into Queens.

“Learn about the history of Queens and the lands where people immigrated from to call New York City home as we try authentic food from the old world right in our backyard,” said Edwards on the food tour’s official website.

The first Sunday, August 10, starting at noon, the tour will focus on the Spice Route of Queens dining at restaurants specializing in Italian, Egyptian, South Indian, Malaysian and Cantonese cuisines.

The following week, participants will explore the Silk Road tasting food from Greece, the Middle East, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and Central/Western China.

Tickets are currently on sale for $150 as an early-bird special, up to 10 days before the events, and the full price of the tickets is $200 per day.

All proceeds from the food tour will go toward supporting the nonprofit Upwardly Global, for which Edwards has organized fundraisers over the past few years.

For more information click here.

 

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LIC nonprofit reaches Kickstarter goal


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy Local Project

One Long Island City nonprofit will be able to keep its home after a successful online campaign.

Local Project, a nonprofit arts organization, started the fundraising on Kickstarter last month with a goal of raising $6,100 in order to help pay two months of rent. As of Tuesday, June 8, with three days still left in the campaign, the group surpassed the goal.

“I feel extremely accomplished. I’m extremely happy and super hopeful that everything is going to continue to go great,” said Carolina Peñafiel, founder and director of Local Project. “This is just a great thing for people to feel empowered and driven to continue working on our plan. It feels safe for a little bit.”

After having to move from its headquarters located at 45-10 Davis St. in Long Island City inside the warehouse of 5Pointz building, the group faced a 50 percent rent increase when making the move to a new site at 11-27 44th Rd.

Now with having met the goal, the organization will have time to move to its next step in creating a strategic plan and put it into place to ensure it thrives for more years to come, Peñafiel said.

Even with the Kickstarter campaign coming to an end on July 12, the group will still continue to collect money through fundraising and also an “El Hot Dog Boogie Rent Party” on Friday, July 11, starting at 7 p.m.

“Anything that comes in is extra and it helps us even more. It’s not over, that money will go to a safe place and keep us safe for a little longer,” Peñafiel said.

The party will feature music by local DJs, hot dogs and sauces by Pao & Cha Cha restaurant located at 23-03 Astoria Blvd., bread from Tom Cat Bakery located at 43-05 10th St., and beer from Lagunitas Brewing Company. There will be a $20 deal for two hot dogs and unlimited beer.

“It’s a way of celebrating to say thank you to people and celebrate. It’s part of the summer season at Local Project,” Peñafiel said.

Local Project also has a brand-new shared office/studio/co-working space for rent. The space was built using recycled materials and created by Long Island City artist Cristian Torres. For more information on the space click here.

Since starting in 2003, Local Project has offered exhibitions, mentoring programs, classes, co-working space, residencies for artists and much more.

Future plans for Local Project includes year-long exhibitions, events, a co-working space, mentorship for new curators and artists, a continuing partnership and student internships with the Information Technology High School in Long Island City and MoMA, and affordable creative workshops.

To donate to the Kickstarter until July 12, click here.

 

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Astoria resident looks to fund Queens Silk Road food tour


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images Courtesy of Adam Edwards

Adam Edwards is turning to Kickstarter to make his idea of bringing a two-day international food tour to Queens a reality.

Edwards’ project, called “The Silk Road & Spice Route of Queens,” hopes to highlight the borough’s diversity and modern versions of the foods that could be found along the ancient Silk Road and spice routes that connected Europe, Asia and Africa.

“I always wanted to do something with food that really connects with people, and Queens is a unique food destination in itself,” said Edwards, who calls himself a “history buff.”

The idea came to him upon exploring Astoria and seeing the different restaurants featuring international cuisines, such as Mombar located at 25-22 Steinway St.

“Walking through the beautiful entrance and tasting the amazing food by Chef Moustafa El Sayed really transported me back to ancient times and I want to share that feeling with others,” he said.

The Astoria resident, originally from Pittsburgh, said the biggest challenge is getting people to support his campaign without knowing an exact date of the tour.

The money donated to the Kickstarter will go toward a shuttle bus, which will serve as transportation between restaurants, and for prizes and reservations at the restaurants.

If he reaches the Kickstarter campaign’s goal of $2,000 by July 15, Edwards said, the two-day tour, slated to happen the second weekend of August, will cover five restaurants per day. The estimated price per day is $200.

The Saturday of the tour would be dedicated to the spice route, concentrating on Malaysian, Southern Indian and Egyptian cuisines. On Sunday, participants will go down the Silk Road, tasting food from Uzbekistan, western China and more.

“Queens is the most diverse place on earth,” Edwards said. “Certainly in the United States it’s the most diverse. I hope people can travel a little bit in their own backyard.”

Additional funds will also go toward supporting the nonprofit Upwardly Global, for which Edwards has organized fundraisers over the past few years.

To donate to the Kickstater, click here.

 

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Fan filming 1986 World Series Mets movie, running Kickstarter campaign


| lguerre@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy Heather Quinlan

It’s been nearly three decades since the Mets won a World Series championship. So why not make a movie?

A movie on the 1986 World Series Mets team is long overdue, according to long-time fan and filmmaker Heather Quinlan. That’s why she’s begun working on the project, hoping to have the documentary of the legendary team completed by fall of 2015 in time for the 30th anniversary the following year.

Quinlan, who has already spoken to key members of the team including Darryl Strawberry, Lenny “Nails” Dykstra, Dwight “Doc” Gooden, and people from the era such as former mayor Rudy Giuliani, is pitching it as the movie “Every Mets fan on Earth wants,” although the organization isn’t as thrilled about the 1986 team.

“The organization doesn’t celebrate that team,” she said. “As a fan, I don’t understand why. One of the reasons why I wanted to do this [documentary] is to show the Mets and MLB that this is a team that the fans still love.”

’86 Mets: Lords of Flushing, as the film is called on its trailer, has already collected more than $2,500 on crowd funding site Kickstarter. She hopes to collect $50,000 to fund travel, editing and production and rights to certain footage.

Quinlan grew up a Mets fan in Staten Island and was just 12 years old when the 1986 team won the franchise’s second World Series championship. But she believes it resonated with her more because she wasn’t an adult.

“When it happens to you when you’re a kid it’s like the greatest thing in the world,” she said.

Her hope is not only to tell the story of how the team won its second crown, but also catch up on players’ lives today and compare the 80’s to the modern game.

For example, Strawberry’s life as a pastor, Dykstra as a convicted felon, and even personal notes such as “Bill Buckner saying he would call Mookie Wilson if he didn’t see him for a while because he really missed him,” she said.

During the era comparison portion of the film, fans can expect to see how baseball itself has evolved, which Quinlan believes has changed the focus away from the game.

“Baseball has changed tremendously since 86,” she said.  “What I don’t love is now the spectacle that’s being made of the game. Let’s get back to the game.”

 

 

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LIC nonprofit Local Project turns to Kickstarter to survive


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Images courtesy of Local Project

After having to move out of the building that housed 5Pointz, one nonprofit is turning to Kickstarter to help stay at the site it has called home for the past few months.

Local Project, a nonprofit arts organization, has offered exhibitions, mentoring programs, classes, co-working space, residencies for artists and much more since starting in 2003. It previously had its headquarters and gallery at 45-10 Davis St. in Long Island City inside the warehouse of the graffiti mecca.

After the property’s owners decided to sell the location to construct two high-rise apartment buildings, members of Local Project were left wondering where to go and were excited when they found a new location at 11-27 44th Rd.


Local Project’s new location at 11-27 44th Rd. (Photo by Carolina Peñafiel)

However, after having to deal with a 50 percent rent increase, the nonprofit needs help raising money to pay two months of rent in order to continue being part of the community.

“It’s a New York problem, paying rent,” said Carolina Peñafiel, founder and director of Local Project. “We’re hoping to be able to breathe. We didn’t expect it to be so hard to get back on track. ”

The organization started a Kickstarter “Buy a Brick” campaign Thursday with a goal to raise $6,100 by July 12. As of Friday afternoon, $1,045 has been raised.

Supporters will receive gifts after donating on Kickstarter including a personalized brick on Local Project’s supporters’ wall, with a $25 pledge or more.

“It’s a new location, it’s a different crowd, there’s no 5Pointz in here that can back us up,” Peñafiel said. “Now we’re building this up again. Everyone that comes in lives in the area and they appreciate what we are doing.”

Once Local Project meets their goal Peñafiel said the organization would then be able to have time to create a strategic plan and put it into place to ensure it thrives for more years to come.

Future plans for Local Project include year-long exhibitions, events, a co-working space, mentoring for new curators and artists, a continuing partnership and student internships with the Information Technology High School in Long Island City and MoMA, and creative affordable workshops.

“We’re looking at this very positive,” Peñafiel said. “The horizon looks awesome and there are all of these opportunity and all of these great things we want to get back to work on.”

To donate to the Kickstarter, click here.

 

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‘Daily Show’ inspired Middle Eastern newscast turns to Kickstarter


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photo by Clarke Leo Michael Smith


Laughter is the basis of a new Kickstarter campaign looking to bring Western attention to Middle Eastern headlines.

Based on the structure of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” a satirical newscast all about the Middle East called “The Mideast Show” was dreamed up by Brooklyn resident Kayvon Afshari earlier this year.

“I thought there was a need to create a space, create a platform where people with a sense of humor could laugh together,” Afshari said.

At first Afshari was going to shoot the show from his apartment using an iPhone, but after receiving strong, positive feedback on the idea he began reaching out to friends and colleagues in Brooklyn and Queens to help create the first episode.

The pilot episode, partially written by Jackson Heights resident Serhan Ayhan, features Afshari as the host of the show reviewing headlines out of the Middle East, a special guest, on-scene reporting and much more.

However, the big challenge for the show is funding. The pilot episode cost about $15,000 to create.

With the hopes of producing five more episodes for the first season, Afshari has turned to Kickstarter to raise a goal of $85,000. The money would go into renting a studio, camera and equipment, hire a professional crew involving camera operators, director, audio engineer and graphic designers, and post-production work.

The funds would also help purchase props for the show and pay members of the creative team, most of whom are currently volunteering their time.

The mission of “The Mideast Show” is to create a newscast for people who have a sense of humor about the Middle East and want to laugh together, regardless of nationality, religion or ethnicity, according to the show’s Kickstarter website.

“There is a lack of information on the Middle East that Americans have and among some people there is not even an interest,” said Afshari. “We are embedded in this region. However, [people] don’t know about it.”

The team behind the show is mixed with various Middle Eastern roots, including Afshari who is Persian-American.

Ayhan, who is half Turkish and half Kurdish and one of the writers for the show, came up with the segment on the pilot episode where reporter Rex Huckstable takes a trip to the Little Egypt community in Astoria and speaks to residents about recent elections in Egypt.

In future episodes, Ayhan said he hopes to have the chance to continue doing segments on local Middle Eastern communities.

“The goal is to entertain but also educate. We’re not trying to make fun of people from the Middle East,” Ayhan said. “We want to be that bridge to educate people.”

To donate to the Kickstarter campaign click here. For more information on “The Mideast Show” and to watch the pilot episode click here.

 

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Kickstarter campaign aims to bring ‘glamping’ to Rockaway Beach


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Camp Rockaway

Luxury will meet camping on Rockaway Beach if a Kickstarter campaign can help fund the project.

Inspired by the tent colonies of the 1900s, the idea to bring “glamping” — a mash-up of glamour and camping — to the shores of Queens is the brainchild of New York-based designer and founder of Milktrout LLC, Kent Johnson.

Camp Rockaway, a chic “tent-hotel,” combines “beach camping heritage with modern amenities,” according to the project’s Kickstarter website.

It will feature safari-style canvas tents on a landscaped campground overlooking Jamaica Bay and just a short walk from the beach. Each tent is fully furnished, with real beds, crisp, white linen sheets and summer-weight blankets. Amenities include private fire pits, outdoor showers and hot tubs overlooking the bay.
Johnson hopes Camp Rockaway will aid in the community’s efforts to restore the beach following Superstorm Sandy.

That vision includes a team of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified and proficient installers of green-building strategies, which aims to help restore and protect the site’s native environment.

The team has been researching, designing and trying to find support for the project for more than a year, and Johnson has just set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise $50,000 to make Camp Rockaway a reality.

Those who pledge $25 or more will receive a gift, ranging from a Camp Rockaway friendship bracelet to a private stay for 20 friends during the soft-launch phase.

A portion of pledges will also go toward sponsoring a kid participating in STOKED, a mentoring program that for almost a decade has been teaching low-income kids in New York City and Los Angeles to surf and skateboard, for a one-night stay at Camp Rockaway.

 

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Jackson Heights filmmaker turns to Kickstarter for new flick


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos Courtesy of Alex Webb

Actor Alex Webb has gone behind the camera to write, direct and produce award-winning films. Now, he is turning to Kickstarter to get his new film rolling.

The Jackson Heights resident has worked with actors such Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey and Ben Affleck and has appeared in the Netflix series “House of Cards” and HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”

Aside from acting, Webb began working on film production with his first picture “The Girl in 2C,” which received a silver medal at WorldFest, an international indie film festival in Houston. His most recent short film “Hove (The Wind)” received the Panavision New Filmmaker Award and was selected for several international film festivals.

“The interesting thing I didn’t realize is that all along I had writing and directing right in my pocket,” Webb said. “I was much happier when those times came to be creative and start creating your own work.”

Webb decided the next step in his production career would be to create a full-length feature and came up with his newest thriller and dark comedy flick called “To The Flame.”

“[I wanted to] try to make a story that is super intriguing, weird and surprising and — on the production end — simple,” Webb said. “Make [a film] that would really lend itself to a micro-budget.”

On May 7, Webb created a 30-day Kickstarter project to help raise $25,000 in funds to make his feature film a reality. The money raised would go toward production equipment and hiring the remaining cast and crew members, as well as helping to keep location and travel needs to a minimum.

“The great thing about Kickstarter is you are raising awareness about your project before even starting it,” Webb said. “You get these people already hooked on the project and you’re getting an audience before it even starts.”

The film, which already has Oscar-winning actress Olympia Dukakis and actor Bob Balaban slotted for cameos, was inspired by the works of directors Alfred Hitchcock and David Lynch. It follows two college students, Kyle and Penny, and their interaction with two neighbors, played by Webb and his wife Shirleyann Kaladjian, for a school assignment. The project then takes the students into the couple’s “dark and twisted world,” Webb said.

Shooting for the film is expected to begin in early July, with some scenes possibly shot in Queens, and a release date is slated for late this year or early 2015.

To watch a teaser for “To The Flame” and donate to the Kickstarter, which ends June 6, click here.

 

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Former consultant launches handcrafted cocktail mixer line in LIC


| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Alexander Abbott Boyd

As you take your first sip of a drink made with a Cocktail Crate mixer, you enter a world of fresh ingredients, one-of-a-kind combinations and hours of dedication that bring the term “hand-crafted” to a new extreme.

Cocktail Crate is the creation of 24-year-old Queens native Alexander Abbott Boyd, who started off working as a management consultant, yet after one year decided that life was not for him.

“I was absolutely not enjoying it,” said Abbott Boyd, who then took his love for beverages and knowledge of the industry and came up with the Long Island City handcrafted mixers.

For Abbott Boyd, the secret to great mixers is sourcing the best ingredients.

“When I get really passionate about a beverage, I love taking trips to meet the people and production methods behind it,” he said. “During college, I rode my bike from Chicago to Kalamazoo, Michigan just to visit one of my favorite breweries and see how they were making such great beer. Last year, I visited Darjeeling, India so I could learn more about tea cultivation and production as well as organic farming. These trips gave me a real appreciation for good ingredients, and now I incorporate both teas and hops into my mixers.”

After deciding to leave his consulting position, Abbott Boyd took to Kickstarter last November, a crowd funding website that connects creative and entrepreneurial projects with potential backers.

“Kickstarter allowed me to test how others would react to my vision for cocktail mixers handmade with fresh ingredients,” he said. “After getting positive feedback from about 80 people, I decided to go for it and start turning Cocktail Crate into a real company.”

By February, Cocktail Crate was on the move and mixers were being produced, bottled and sold. The line of mixers are made by Abbott Boyd and his roommate Louis Songor at the Organic Food Incubator, a Long Island City based kitchen that hosts close to 30 developing and established food companies.

Coming up with flavors involves spending hours in the kitchen surrounded by all possible ideas, inviting friends to come over and give feedback and then fine tuning the ratios of different ingredients. Once a recipe is perfect, Abbott Boyd heads to the incubator where after a day of dicing, boiling, bottling, and hand labeling the mixers are ready to be carried to store shelves.

“I think it’s a lot of where the good flavor comes from,” said Abbott Boyd about the hand-crafted method. “The flavors are original and reflect my personal interests. And knowing that they were a part of someone’s fun night with friends is wonderful. It’s a really rewarding job!”

Presently, Cocktail Crate features three distinct flavors: the honey and ginger combination of “Ginger Bee;” the pine smoked tea with floral citrus of “Smoky Hops;” and the cinnamon and orange peel of “Holiday Old Fashioned.”

With spring in bloom, Abbott Boyd will be replacing “Holiday Old Fashioned” with a zest more in tune with the season. He hopes to have the new flavor available in the weeks to come that will include jasmine tea along with fresh lavender from the Brooklyn Grange, a rooftop farm in Long Island City.

Cocktail Crate is available at about 20 different stores in New York City, including Food Cellar and Communitea in Long Island City, and Astoria Beer and Cheese. You can also shop for these innovative mixers at cocktailcrate.com.

 

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