Funding Appeal: INSIDE SHAKESPEARE AT WINEDALE, A Feature Documentary


Join us in our journey as we create a major film honoring and celebrating the University of Texas's Shakespeare at Winedale program.

Shakespeare at Winedale is a renowned University of Texas program that is a model for teaching, learning, risk-taking and self-development for students studying Shakespeare through performance. Every summer, students move to the Texas countryside where they learn together, play together and work long and challenging days together, capping the summer performing for an enthusiastic audience in the famous Winedale barn-turned-theater. This film will explore the profound and transformational impact that this program -- founded by James “Doc” Ayres and currently led by Dr. James Loehlin -- has on its students. 


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Through interviews with alumni, use of archival material, and footage of this season’s programs as they unfold, the film will spotlight the deeply personal, formative experience students of Shakespeare at Winedale and its affiliate programs enjoy. The story reveals the challenges and rewards of mastering Shakespeare’s texts and the importance of play in the exploration of character and self. Winedale changes the lives of all its diverse participants, from elementary and middle school kids to college students and the lively audiences at every performance. 



Over the past six months, we’ve assembled a well-known and successful documentary team and have conducted more than 20 interviews- filming at Winedale, in Houston, Austin, Dallas and New York City. The roster of those already interviewed includes the founder of Shakespeare at Winedale, James “Doc” Ayres, and its current director, James Loehlin, as well as illustrious alumni John Rando, Michael Barker, Alice Gordon, Terry Galloway, Mary Collins, Lana Lesley, Madge Darlington, Liz Fisher, Robert Matney, Susan Todd, Jerald Head, Don Brode, Bruce Meyer, Robert Faires, Robin Grace Thompson, Robert Pees, and John Meyer. We have filmed Play’s the Thing, a Shakespeare children’s workshop at Dell Children’s Hospital. In late April, we had the pleasure to film the Outreach Program’s “Day of Play” and the UT Spring class performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream


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And yet, we have more to do! In order to capture the essence of Shakespeare at Winedale and watch Doc in action, we plan to film the Camp Shakespeare program this July, culminating in a multi-camera shoot for the final performance. Camp Shakespeare is Doc’s two-week Shakespeare-through-performance program for 11-16 year-olds. We need your support to fund this two-week shoot. Your donation will allow us to bring a film crew to Winedale for the entire two week session to film the magic! With this Kickstarter campaign, running through June 12, 2018, we seek to raise $30,000 to support this segment of our film production. 

This is our first round of public fundraising and we welcome donations of all amounts, no matter how small. Equally as important as donations, we seek your help in spreading word of this film ( and this campaign with anyone who might be interested in supporting it. We are devoted to sharing the extraordinary Shakespeare at Winedale program (which turns 50 in 2020), honoring Doc's vision, and celebrating the value of Shakespeare in our lives. We are just getting started!




After we film Camp Shakespeare in July, the film will go into post- production, editing hundreds of hours of film to weave performance, rehearsal and interview footage into a beautiful feature length documentary, worthy of the subject matter. Additional post-production work includes sound design, color correction, graphic design, and music composition. We plan several festival submissions, for which we will create promotional trailers and preview clips as we explore distribution options. 

Following the Kickstarter campaign, opportunities for tax-deductible financial support will be available during our second round of fundraising. Stay tuned, or contact 



The Shakespeare at Winedale film is being produced, filmed and edited by a very experienced and successful team whose most recent work The Secret Life of Lance Letscher, a feature-length documentary, premiered at SXSW 2017, received distribution from Filmrise, had its broadcast premiere on the Ovation Network and is currently available on Amazon Prime. See for an example of the team’s recent work.


  • Executive Producer – Dr. Celeste Sheppard is an Austin native who earned her undergraduate degree in art history from Wellesley College and graduated from UT Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. 
  • Co-Director, Producer – Kristi Frazier has produced numerous feature documentaries (including The Secret Life of Lance Letscher). Prior to producing documentaries, she was a commercial animation producer for many years, working on iconic national commercials and has her Master's degree in Mass Media.  
  • Co-Director, Cinematographer – Jason Gamble Harter works on a diverse collection of projects including commercials, narratives, documentaries (to include The Secret Life of Lance Letscher), shorts, and music videos. 
  • Consulting Producer - Oscar-nominated Sandra Adair, A.C.E. is an award-winning feature film editor and a documentary director with her debut, The Secret Life of Lance Letscher. Adair resides in Austin, Texas, and has enjoyed an ongoing artistic collaboration with film director Richard Linklater, having edited 18 films for him over the past 22 years. 
  • Consulting Producer - Michael Esposito
  • Assistant Editor - Nathan Berkowitz
  • Associate Producer - Michelle Voss



Risks and challenges

Making movies is an inherently risky business. Fortunately, our team is experienced, professional and adept at handling crises. We've all done this before, together. We are willing and able to bring this important story to life-- all we need is your help. Kickstarter's model requires for all projects to fully reach their goal to collect the donations. Thank you for your support!


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