These days, if you're trying to do something you don't know how to do, you can ask the all-knowing Google. Maybe you'll find step-by-step directions on wikiHow or a tutorial on YouTube.
But in the dark days before the Internet, you had to ask a friend, and for the characters in the colonial-set short film "All is Well," the question just might implicate someone in a crime she swears she didn't commit.
Bakersfield-native Elizabeth Reichelt is one half of the writing, producing and acting team behind the short film and is currently crowd-funding the project online with a plan to finish the film before the end of the summer.
"'All is Well' is a dark comedic short film about two women in colonial America who are trying to hide a body," Reichelt said. "Although Charlotte is convinced Abigail came to steal her butter recipe, Abigail reveals that her dead husband is behind a bush. Through trial and error, Charlotte and Abigail realize that they are strong women who can handle anything that comes their way."
Now living in Los Angeles and pursing comedy and writing, Reichelt wrote "All is Well" with her friend Alana Osborn-Lief. The two first wrote the story as a 10-minute play for Legitimate Goddamn Theatre at the Upright Citizens Brigade in March when its host asked Reichelt to put something together after one of the acts dropped out.
"I think this project really speaks to the idea of always saying yes, which is an improv principle," Reichelt said. "Without taking on the deadline of that show, I wouldn't be about to film something I'm really proud of."
Reichelt described the tone of the short as similar to "I Love Lucy" and Monty Python. Adding to its comedy cred is its director: Lauren Adams, best known for her role as fellow Mole Woman Gretchen on Netflix's "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt."
"I reached out to Lauren because a friend in the improv community recommended her, and after hearing the premise of 'All is Well,' Lauren immediately jumped on board as the director," Reichelt said. "Lauren is a force to be reckoned with, having a decade of comedic experience."
For a film all about the strength of women, it was important to Reichelt and Osborn-Lief to have an all-woman crew, as well as a diverse cast. After living in L.A. for five years, Reichelt has yet to work with an entirely female crew, but now she has the chance to change that.
"There's a difference between those who talk and those who do, and I wanted to be someone who at least started to tackle the lack of diversity we've all noticed in the film industry," she said. "Because this film is about women it was important for me and my co-writer Alana to be surrounded by female crew members. This project is also about building our network of women who we can hire for future projects and recommend to other filmmakers."
The film's art director is currently working on building the entire set on a soundstage that will, in time, look like 1770s Boston. After shooting in late July, the team will start post-production next month and distribute the finished film to festivals geared toward women filmmakers in September.
"I'd also love to screen the project in Bakersfield if any venues would like to reach out," Reichelt said.
But for those not able to see the film at a festival, there is one easy way to see it: contribute to the project's crowd-funding campaign at SeedAndSpark.com. There are different incentives depending on how much money is given. For $25, backers will receive a link with an advanced copy of the finished short before it's released to the public.
Other incentives include a personalized thank-you Tweet ($10), Abigail's butter recipe ($15), a video shout-out ($20), a handwritten letter ($50), your image photoshopped into colonial America ($100), an invitation to the wrap party ($250) and an associate producer credit ($1,000).
The filmmakers' goal for the project is $14,050, of which it currently has $4,760. Once they get 80 percent of the goal, the project is considered green lit and they can use those funds for the project, Reichelt explained. The deadline for the campaign is July 25.
"I wanted to crowd-fund for 'All is Well' because it was important for me to pay all of the necessary crew members their daily rates, go through all of the proper channels such as the Screen Actors Guild and to do a less rushed two-day shoot," she said.
While Reichelt now lives in Los Angeles, she still feels her ties to Bakersfield, where her family lives. She graduated from West High School before going to Point Park University in Pennsylvania to attend a dance conservatory. She later returned to Bakersfield and got her bachelor's in psychology and master's in social work at Cal State Bakersfield.
She got into comedy while working at Clinica Sierra Vista in Frazier Park, regularly traveling to L.A. for improv classes. She said she knew she wanted to do comedy from an early age.
"I had an older brother who had the magic skill of making anyone laugh, and I wanted in!" she said. "I saw my first improv show at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York and fell in love with the energy of the crowd and performers. While watching the show, I had one of those gut feelings that I would be on a similar stage one day."
With each new donation on the campaign, Reichelt can feel the support for her art, and she hopes some of that will be coming from her hometown.
"I wouldn't be where I am today without my Bakersfield community," she said. "I like to think that all the success that has come my way is because of the hard-working mentality I gained from growing up in Bakersfield."