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Fundraising event for filmmaker at Johnny’s

(Nov. 8, 2013) Johnny’s Pizza on 56th Street will host a fundraiser on Monday, Nov. 11, from 6-9:30 p.m. with free pizza, happy hour specials and a silent auction to help a filmmaker with Ocean City ties fund the second season of his series.

Matt Rocklin

“I think he’s going to go far,” said Johnny’s Owner John Hofman of his nephew, filmmaker and writer Matt Rocklin.

Rocklin got his start at the age of 13, folding pizza boxes at his uncle’s restaurant during summers in Ocean City. He’s always been a writer, he said, but a video project in 2003 piqued his interest in film. From there, Rocklin went on graduate from Columbia University with a film degree.

He moved to Los Angles in 2007 to pursue a career in acting, filmmaking and writing, he said. His next career move came on Mother’s Day of 2011, when he created a movie for his mother.

“In the video, my dogs tell me they’re sick and tired of me spending so much time talking to my mom,” he said. “Everyone was like ‘That’s so funny. I love the way you guys talk to each other… You should do more of it.’ And so my buddies who I work with at Inner Image Media helped.”

Rocklin set to work writing the first season of “Dogs & Me,” a series centered on Rocklin, an aspiring Hollywood actor, and his two talking dogs.

“They loved it,” he said. The series took home “Outstanding Comedy Series,” and “Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series” at the 2013 L.A. Web Series Festival, won “Best Web Series” at the 2013 Sunset International Film Festival and received an audience choice award for “Best Web Series” at the 2013 Chicago Comedy Film Festival.

After producing the first season, Rocklin hopes to bump the series to television-quality in its second season — a move that will cost $9,000.

“The funds will provide a new crew. A Crew that’s experienced with top-tier gear,” he said. “It will also allow us to shoot a longer period of time, which will add a more polished (outcome)… We’ll shoot in new locations that require funds.”

With the second season already written and shooting slated to start as early as February, “we’re going to definitely rely heavily on fundraising,” he said.

By Wednesday morning, the filmmaker was slightly more than $2,000 shy of his $9,000 goal on his fundraising website, Kickstarter. He needs to raise the entire sum by Friday, Nov. 15 or he won’t receive any of the funds.

That’s where his uncle comes in.

“He’s getting close,” Hofman said. “It’s how they get started, and he’s a lot further along than most people.”

The restaurateur will be collecting donations at the door during Monday’s fundraiser, with free pizza and happy hour prices to draw supporters.

Attendees can bid on T-shirts, a $200 jacket and other prizes during the event. The first season of Rocklin’s “Dogs & Me” will air during the fundraiser.

“This is my baby,” Rocklin said of his series. “This is what I want to succeed.”

To watch episodes and learn more about “Dogs & Me” visit www.dogsand

me.com. Donate to Rocklin at Monday’s fundraiser, or on Kickstarter at http://kck.st/GYnDnk.

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