One of the many worlds that opened up to me when I started my twitter account was that of “Indie” or Independent films. The concept itself was not new to me, nor, I’m sure to any film fan (remember Juno people? Indie). But what I wasn’t aware of is the sheer effort the filmmakers make to see their movies through. For a number of these writers/directors/producers, this is art for art’s sake; their film careers are completely separate of their “real” jobs. Being able to manage two careers, while setting aside precious time for family, sleep, and sanity is a monumental task. And that’s not the least of the hurdles they face.
Indie filmmakers have the advantage of not needing to conform their vision to the production rules dictated by the film industry. On the other hand, as the name suggests, they have to finance their films independently usually without any backing of major studios. Their money usually comes from donations, loans, and piggy banks. But this age of social media finds money being raised via new methods. One of these is internet-based crowdfunding.
Using crowd-funding platforms such as IndieGoGo and Kickstarter, project heads are able to simultaneously advertise their films and gather support from anyone interested in their work. (Note: these platforms are not just limited to indie movies). The way it works is the project team will state the amount they need within a certain limited time frame (i.e. a month) on the site. They’ll place a video and/or description of their project on the website and people interested can then pledge whatever amount of money they want to donate to the film (usually by Paypal or credit card). The money is only withdrawn once the project gets enough pledges to meet the total it requires within the time period specified.
Through twitter, I was able to witness a number of crowdfunding campaigns. The most thrilling rides were Sabi’s Down and Dangerous and Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer’s music project. The latter raised over $104,336 and counting of its original $20,000 goal (these two people are very popular) Other successfully funded projects were Reversal (Coffee N Donuts) and Voice , (Hang the Pirate production).
But the campaign I found most influential was that of Summit to Nuthin’s short film Clowning Around. Following a tweet posted by Leilani Holmes (@momentsoffilm ), I was led to their IndieGoGo page where I was immediately attracted by the gorgeous quality of the photos there. Rich and colorful, they indicated a high level of skill involved in the project. And this was just the tip of the iceberg. From the uniquely creative perk level names, to the poster competition, to the “guess where this clown is” game, there was always something going on for this campaign. And the team ensured that word got out about it. Video updates were posted and advertised for through Facebook and twitter. The organization was staggering and level of thought and hard work that was put into making the campaign special was very obvious.
But what really cinched the project as a favorite was the collaboration it represented. From director Damien Cullen’s earnest desire for people’s involvement to Leilani’s endless tweets and generous re-tweeting of their backers, it seemed like everyone, no matter how small their contribution, became a member of the Clowning Around family. This inclusion ethic was so inspirational and seemed so innately ingrained that I was not surprised to learn that most of the cast and crew (professionals in their fields) are working completely for free. Their reward is simply to help bring a marvelously unique short film to life.
Surely it was this same spirit which compelled a group of authors to contribute their works to Farrago.
Farrago (edited by Jennifer Hudock) is an anthology of short stories collected with the purpose of raising funds for independent Writer/Director Michael Bekemeyer to create his films. I found the idea so generous and inspired that I felt compelled to purchase this book, if for nothing else, than to support a fellow creative.
I’ve had very little time to read for pleasure in the past few years. An anthology of short stories seemed like just the thing to get me back into my “bookworm” mode. Farrago did just that even as it took me completely out of my comfort zone. While a couple of the stories were just plain bizarre (Ten Minutes in particular was pretty bad; I have no idea what the point behind it was) I liked most of the others very much. What I found most surprising is that a few of the ones I enjoyed the most ( 7 minutes, Manticores and Mondays, Spirit Walkers) were science fiction and fantasy; a genre I never would have thought to read otherwise. This I think is Farrago’s greatest strength; the diversity of literature it offers. From horror to romantic fairy tales, there is something for everyone here. But please be advised that a number of the stories are not for children nor for the faint of heart.
I won’t rate any of them as I strongly believe personal preference plays a strong role here. But I must single out “Let Old Friends be Forgot” by Jack Bible. His is a sci-fi tale set in the future reminiscent in tone of the movie Pitch Black. As I dove deeper into the setting I became increasingly impressed…and nauseous (hint: do not read on a full stomach or while eating). The story (and nausea) remained with me for days. It was so completely different from anything I usually read and I found it morbidly fascinating and very creative-in a good way, not in a Lady Gaga video way.
I had purchased two copies of Farrago with the intent of giving one away. If you are an adult and are interested in reading it, let me know via a comment on this post and I’ll e-mail you a soft copy of the book. There’s only one extra book so first comment will get it. Everyone else, you can purchase a kindle copy at amazon for just $4.99. Non-kindle owners, other formats are available for the same price on Smashwords.
Now if have not been swept by the creative spirit yet, here are some sample projects to get you started (I tried to vary the choices). Else, you can always browse Kickstarter and IndieGoGo to find projects which strike your fancy. Please give generously. I find it a great first step to proactively pursue our own creativity. Best of luck 🙂
A summary of the different Crowdfunding platforms and their costs can be found here. The article is quite short, but it’s very useful as are the readers’ comments.
Here’s a transcript of #scriptchat’s hour with Leilani Holmes on Clowning Around’s campaign. Very useful for those thinking of starting their own campaign.