Writer Bret Easton Ellis (American Psycho) has teamed up with writer-director Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver), and producer Braxton Pope to create a film titled, The Canyons. And guess what? They are using Kickstarter to crowdfund it online! Yep, Hollywood types are encroaching on the crowdfunding craze. Click “play” to the left and check out the insightful and comedic interview by the fast-talking female voice of indie film, Laura Zinger, owner of Chicago based 20K Films.
If you’ve never heard of Kickstarter or crowdfunding, get with the program! Here’s a great primer on Kickstarter compliments of Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies. Also check out The Canyons Kickstarter Page. And here’s a great infographic explaining crowdfunding. If you are going to be a modern moviemaker, then you need to get used to the fact that you will, at some point in your filmmaking career, be using crowdfunding (Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc) as part of your fundraising strategy. Not only that, but you’re going to have to sell yourself just as much as you will have to sell your film. That topic, however is for another post.
For everyone else already familiar with crowdfunding, check out The Canyons Kickstarter Page. It’s well worth it–if only for seeing the rewards being offered. I’ve looked at a lot of Kickstarter Campaigns over the past year, and this one is one of my favorites in terms of the rewards it offers. Everything from Producer’s coffee with Braxton Pope (only 2 out of 15 are remaining) to a money clip autographed and given to Paul Schrader by Robert De Niro on the set of Taxi Driver many a moon ago. Price tag? $10,000. Sold? You better believe it.
Bret and Braxton feel that crowdfunding is allowing them this kind of transparency and openness with their audience. In line with their belief in transparency, The Canyons’ team has offered a $10 Kickstarter reward in which you can “Help us cast the film! You will be given access to a private link on www.LetItCast.com that will allow you to vote on our casting finalists.” Oddly, only 83 backers have signed onto this reward, but the implication of being allowed to have an opinion in the casting of a feature film is game-changing. Will this crowdfunding, the-fan-is-all mentality combined with the transparency philosophy that Bret, Braxton, and Ted Hope all subscribe to turn modern filmmaking into a loose execution of the popular Choose Your Own Adventure novels? Will this make modern films better or worse? Is this the only way that crowdfunding can actually work? At what point does fan engagement with crowdfunding lead to pandering to your audience, which is the supreme philosophy of the Studio System? These are definitely questions worth asking, that modern moviemakers should ask themselves as they navigate the seemingly wonderful, dolphin and sprite-filled waters that are crowdfunding. (Sprites are a race of fairies with green skin and wings for those of you not in the know. And if you don’t know what a dolphin is, god bless you, Google it.)
You can listen to the hour long phone interview between Bret, Braxton, and myself if you’d like by clicking “play” above. I highly recommend you do listen to the interview in its entirety, because Bret Easton Ellis is so funny and insightful, I would definitely venture to call him comedic. In the interview, he claims that there is humor in all of his stories, and if you have never read his novel, American Psycho, nor seen the excellent film adaptation of it, his claim might not completely blow your mind the way it should.
Enjoy and good luck, Modern Moviemakers!
LINKS TO FOLLOW: