I funded my first film straight from the tip jar.

In the summer of 2010, fresh off the plane from my Midwestern college, with a diploma in my hand and a dream in my heart, I moved to New York to pursue a career in filmmaking. To support myself, I found a job as a hostess/ coat check girl at one of the most notoriously hard-to-get-into restaurants in the city. I quickly found myself spending all of my time there, developing calluses on my hands from carrying ten pound fur coats, working mostly for tips. It wasn’t long before this consumed my life, and the direct pursuit of filmmaking fell by the wayside.

On the outside, it would appear that my path in life was to be a coat fetcher. And for months, it was. But what kept me going was the notion all this hard work would soon pay off. Once coat check season was over, I gathered my hard-earned tips, assembled a crew, and with the modest amount of money I had earned that winter, I produced my first independent short film, Rain in Summer. The budget was tiny but the passion was immense, and we ended up with something that we were all extremely proud of. And we made it happen ourselves.

A few months later, I heard about an upcoming vote in North Carolina regarding marriage equality. I was overcome with a burst of inspiration to move down there and make a film about it. I had no money, no crew, and no go-ahead from any high-up permission-granter indicating that I was qualified or allowed to do something like this. But I knew I had to. So I set up a Kickstarter page for the project, which soon attracted hundreds of people who were just as passionate about this as I was. Some people gave one dollar, some gave hundreds. But what mattered was that we all came together for the sake of passion and the desire to bring this idea to life and share it with the world. I moved down to North Carolina weeks before I knew whether or not the film would reach its fundraising goal. But I knew that no matter what, I was going to find a way to make this happen. Somehow.

I soon realized that what matters is not the budget or who you are or what you start with. What matters is the drive, the passion, the love. It’s what motivates us to schlep coats up and down a seemingly abnormally steep restaurant staircase until 2 AM every night. Without the passion, there is nothing.

That’s what Tip Jar is all about.

Becca Roth, Founder

To donate to Tip Jar’s tip jar, click here.

Becca Roth