CROWDFUND CORNER

If you feel a bit unheard or misunderstood, it turns out you are not alone. There are many that would listen given the chance, but they may be hearing things at different frequencies. One of the humans that wants to get us all listening a bit more to the planet and its outsiders is Actor / Activist Adrian Grenier, who is on a quest to find the Lonely Whale.  This lonely whale has been calling out for his whole life in the Pacific Ocean at a frequency that no other whales can receive.

I will admit that I was initially skeptical about the idea of supporting a famous actor in a quest for a whale that at first glance seemed a bit trivial in the grand scheme of the world’s problems. Also, as the most Independent of outfits, it is difficult for Indie Street to support a successful Hollywood Actor when there are so many other more “needy” artists out there raising funds.

But in this case, I am thankful that my experience with Adrian’s campaign did not end with me as a typical Indie hater. I decided to attend an event where he was scheduled to speak about his journey through the crowdfunding campaign. I mostly went because my friends Dani & Alex (Founders of Big Vision Empty Wallet) were throwing the event and those ladies are always doing awesome things to help foster independent creators.

adrian_grenier_big_vision

To keep this concise, I wanted to mention a few quotes from Adrian during the conversation, that not only swayed me and our support for the project, but also swayed my general opinion of this human being, well, as a human being.

1. The story touched his heart, and will touch yours.

Hollywood Actors have hearts too, and I know he is trained in a craft of persuasion, but I am skilled in poker and reading people, and I’d bet the house that he has a genuine care for this whale and the message it represents. In comparison to any other A-list Actor kickstarter campaigns that I have come across this is the most selfless I have come across.

Adrian: “A whale that is swimming in the pacific all alone calling out constantly and never once receiving a response…I have never come across a project that has so immediately captured my heart.”

2. It’s a relatable story.

Relatable is a word that is thrown around a lot in the realm of story telling, but it is a rare occasion that something in the real natural world (during present day life) can be so organically captivating and relatable. So, for this reason alone, we hope this film gets funded so the story can be told in almost real time.

Adrian: “Unless you are a robot or a sociopath, you are going to feel soemthing about this story, because we can all relate to what it must be like to be in the abyss, in the darkness with no friends…being misunderstood, being an outsider.

3. There are ACTUAL big picture implications.

This was where I was mostly apprehensive about the project going in.  The lonely whale, however, will not only bring to light concerns of ocean noise pollution, but may have an even larger positive sociological impact.  There are certainly many human beings in our society who feel like they are speaking at 52 hz when the rest of the world is only receiving signals at 15-20. Within this age of connectivity, our youth are growing more and more disconnected to each other, and it is a truly important problem that we should try to investigate through whatever means necessary. Hopefully through getting the youth excited about a lonely whale that they relate to, it can slowly begin a culture change toward acceptance of natural differences.

Adrian: “there is something deeper about that, having tolerance and understanding for otherness, putting yourself in the shoes, or fins, of someone else, so that we can start to listen to not only what the lonely whale is trying to say…but also what the planet is trying to say that we are ignoring or not listening too."

So the short of it is, Indie Street will be supporting Adrian and the project and you should to! After re-analysis, this Indie producer’s humble opinion is that the story of the lonely whale is a personal one, and one that is very personal to Adrian as well. It may be that Adrian has always spoken at 52 hz in the land of Hollywood, and none of the other actor trophy fish or executive whales really understood what he was trying to say. Through his budding career as a documentary producer, he is starting to be heard by the minnows like you and me, and that is probably who he was trying to reach in the first place.

- Jay Webb, Indie Street

Fund the Lonely Whale on kickstarter here.
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James Merendino returns with a long awaited sequel to the indie colt classic SLC Punk. We had this project queued up to feature it for the last week of its campaign (starts today), and they have already reached their goal! Congratulations and we are highlighting it anyway...because the perks are bad ass and creative, and shit, it is still our favorite indie film campaign this week. Donate for the cause of SLC Punk!!!

Sultana - Crowdfunding Campaign of the week.

In honor of memorial day, let's all support this film and the individuals who perished in the Sultana tragedy who never received their due recognition.  Greed and coverup have almost erased this tragic event from history, but this film to be produced by Mark Marshall and EP'd and narrated by Sean Astin aims to get the Sultana back into the history books.

The Sultana disaster is one of the most deadly events in U.S. history and yet few are aware that it even occurred.  A Mississippi steamboat that carried, the Sultana, exploded just north of Memphis, Tennessee in the early morning hours of April 27, 1865 killing over 1,800 souls.  Support the film here.

 

Have your story turned into a one page comic

The comic compilation project, "One", is a wonderfully unique and engaging crowd funding campaign. Comic Artist Markus Friese is creating a hard cover book of one page comic stories, and donors to his campaign can inspire one of the stories. His featured level gives you a copy of the book and a poster of the one page comic that you inspired. Get involved with his project on IndieGogo here.

There is no such thing as art without audience.  A motion picture does not even exist without its impact on human viewers. As an independent creator without established lines of distribution, how do you build an audience that yearns for your specific stories? How do you keep them excited about your stories of the future? In today’s market, your response to this question may be the difference between a “one & done” and having a long, sustainable career as a filmmaker. Rather than answer the question in hypotheticals, I will instead take look at a film that has been particularly innovative in their building of a core audience. Hopefully from this others will be inspired to create their own authentic KickStarter campaigns within their self distribution efforts.  Ownership equals accountability: DIY distribution and marketing liberates a filmmaker from an evil third party who might mis-package their film, deliver it to the wrong audience, or even worse not give their seedling the attention it deserves. While this ownership sounds grand in theory, there are 2 catches: (1) there will be no-one else to point the finger at if your film fails and (2) you are going to have to do much more work. Yes, at IndieStreet we champion a group mentality and “do it together”(DIT) over “do it yourself”(DIY), but even on IndieStreet if your film release does not meet your expectations, there is really only one person that is held accountable. Your sisters and uncles and cousins in the Indie Street family will help as much as they can, but this is your baby.  The two IndieStreet partner filmmakers we will feature probably couldn’t be any more different individuals or have more distinct films. The first, “Cam Girlz” directed by Sean Dunne, tackles selling sex on the Internet and emerging forms of human connection. The next, “Tanzania: A journey Within” directed by Sylvia Caminer, documents an African voyage and the resulting personal and societal inner reflection. One of their crowd building campaigns was in the middle of production and the other was leading up to a limited theatrical release. The differences between these two documentaries and their directors only strengthens my encouraging argument: No matter the stage of your career or the stage of your film, you have the ability to execute innovative & authentic strategies to build a sustainable audience.  Film 1: Cam Girlz Documentary (www.camgirlzdoc.com) Director: Sean Dunne – (Oxyana, winner of Best new Doc filmmaker at Tribeca 2013) Promotional Campaign: Crowdfunding campaign that doubled as an audience building promotion. Sean completed a $65,000 KickStarter campaign by partially targeting an untapped audience market. Stage of film during campaign: in Production  1. So Sean, After deciding on your subject matter for Cam Girlz, did you take time to figure out the core audience for your film? If so, how did this help in these early stage promotional efforts? The great mystery and challenge of being someone who makes films for an Internet audience is figuring out exactly who is watching your films. It’s really important for a director in my situation to understand their audience, so I can more effectively hone my message toward them during fundraising and marketing. It’s not always going to be the case but with Cam Girlz we have a bit of a double edged sword in terms of audience – film lovers who have followed my work through the years and the built in viewership that the women we are documenting bring to the table – with very little overlap. The Kickstarter campaign was the perfect opportunity to bring those audiences together. One of the strategies that really helped was launching the campaign after we had a good portion of the film shot and had teasers and trailers in the bag. We needed to show both audiences how we were going to treat this subject matter, not just imply it. In the end that’s what led to the film being successfully funded. 2. This was your second successful KickStarter campaign. What can you share about your experience to date with crowdfunding (as a community growth tool)? What we learned with the Kickstarter campaign for Oxyana was that it was about so much more than just raising money. The Kickstarter established a dialogue about the issues raised in the film and ultimately proved to be PR that we could have never otherwise afforded. Even if the dollars came up short, we were raising awareness about the social issue and attracting passionate supporters even before the film was made. That first campaign helped us identify our core audience and build a grassroots effort that led us to Tribeca, and eventually, to successful self-distribution. Without traditional resources at our disposal all we can do is absorb and assimilate, so when it came time to fund Cam Girlz it was a no brainer to go back to Kickstarter. This time around we really understood the power of crowdfunding and what it meant for growing our audience. 3.  The path for Cam Girlz is still unwritten, but can you discuss why you decided to jump into a self self distribution path with Oxyana so shortly after it won awards at the Tribeca film festival? The idea of taking Oxyana on the film festival circuit for a year or more seemed unnecessary given where my audience comes from in the first place…the Internet. Rather than chase something that others said we were supposed to, we decided to trust ourselves and what we knew. We knew we had the means to self distribute and some good buzz coming off our success at Tribeca, and we knew that all of the initial deals that were put in front of us were bullshit. Putting our film into the machine would have only slowed the process of getting it to a wide audience. So we stayed small, focused, and in the moment. Eventually we had an epiphany of the obvious…that the film should be available to audiences while it still had all this momentum. And the decision paid off. There are a lot of old guard ways of doing things that filmmakers blindly subscribe to when it comes to getting your work out there. We don’t have to be beholden to festival programmers or sales agents anymore. We need to take the opportunities in front of us, and not be afraid to start from scratch and make this more sustainable for ourselves. We have personally been lucky that Oxyana has been successful, but honestly, even if our means of distribution was an utter failure, I’d wear it as a badge of honor. I’d rather retain ownership and fail hard than buy into a system that never gave a fuck about me to begin with. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Sean’s final statements should hit home for all filmmakers. Do not be afraid of failure or of what someone will say if a big studio does not pick up your picture. With current technologies, by branding yourself as a filmmaker or group of filmmakers, you can become your own studio machine. This is of course only if you put out quality content and focus on building your audience in authentic ways like Sean and his wonderful producer, Cass Greener, have done. By tackling a unique subject matter, Sean and Cass have not only fed their craving for spelunking the caverns of human character, but they have also tapped into a whole new market. Probably half of the audience of Cam Girlz will be from the world of internet sex, not from the already saturated indie film community. In my opinion, at least a quarter of them will be so intrigued by the film’s non-boob storyline that they will start to follow the film’s director and his career.   Easily thousands of viewers that probably have 0 interest in indie film, but now they have an interest in Sean Dunne.   This new audience segment, on top of the fans from Oxyana, on top of the fans from IndieStreet and even this simple post will all roll Sean over into his next film and continue to grow his core audience even further. Uncovering an untapped market segment isn’t easy, but if you are a great storyteller and you focus on strategic audience building at the early stages of your film…you can create a sustainable filmmaking career and gain some invaluable Indie street cred like my man Sean Dunne. -Jay Webb

David Cross wants you to pay what you want to see his upcoming film Hits—but he needs $100,000 from Kickstarter supporters first. Cross took the film to Sundance but was unimpressed with offers from distributors, so he decided to take it into his own hands: The Hits team will be distributing the film themselves both in theaters and on BitTorrent, where viewers will be able to download the film for however much money they please. The $100,000 they’re asking for will go toward “theater rental fees” and “marketing and publicity efforts,” according to the Kickstarter. Rewards for donating include a mix CD made by Cross himself ($200) and Cross’ beard ($500).

A movie about a kleptomaniac, trying to control an uncontrollable world. Brought to you by Jack Lawrence Mayer who, co-wrote and directed, Single Long, a HBO GO digital comedy. Jack's hopes are high for his latest crowd-funded film "This short will be my first attempt to execute a fluid, free-flowing narrative that jumps back and forth in time, and in and out of reality, day dream, fantasy, and memory, and does so without any delineation of style. The film flows at one pace, in one voice, with the scenes bleeding and meshing into one another. The goal is to create a sense of being immersed in one person's present-tense psychological state -- to replicate the feeling of thinking aimlessly while taking a walk. I am hoping to develop this style further with a feature screenplay in the coming year(s), so a short film is the best place to start trying to push the boundaries of how I formally tell stories," he said. Help this movie cover its production costs, click here.