Kickstarter: The Future of Independent Cinema

Artists are increasingly looking to pledge drives to fund their projects, a movement which signals that indie-film is becoming truly independent again
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Artists are increasingly looking to pledge drives to fund their projects, a movement which signals that indie-film is becoming truly independent again

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Film is in a period of transition. On the one hand, it’s easier than ever to make a movie. All you need is a cheap camera, some editing software and a group of like minded individuals willing to give up their free time. On the other hand, for independent film-makers, getting their films out there can be a gargantuan task.

Musicians have got around the fact that record labels are investing less in emerging talent by taking to the internet to find their fans, using SoundCloud, Youtube and Bandcamp as a marketplace for themselves before getting on the road and touring, already with an established fanbase.

So far, the internet hasn’t provided the same kind of platform for emerging film-makers. Ok, Youtube, and to a greater extent Vimeo, allow them to upload short films and share them easily and in high-definition, but getting massive numbers of views for a short film online is a real chore, especially when you’re competing with the Sneezing Panda or Fenton.

Kickstarter could be the answer for all indie film-makers, in terms of gaining early publicity and also getting more ambitious projects off the ground. The other advantages to using pledge-drives rather than getting studio funding is that the film-makers retains creative control and, more importantly, ownership of their product, and that’s worth its weight in gold.

Getting massive numbers of views for a short film online is a real chore, especially when you’re competing with the Sneezing Panda or Fenton.

There’s thousands of interesting projects on the website, but here’s a few of the best. If any of these films grab you, I strongly urge you to give what you can, as they won’t get made any other way:

The Hudson River Project

Directed by James Bowthorpe and Antony Brooke, and featuring an original soundtrack by Scottish post-rockers Mogwai, the idea of the Hudson River Project is simple: build a boat from the waste of New York City, take it high up into the beautiful Adirondack mountains, to the source of the Hudson, and row it back through the countryside, farms, towns and industry that all depend on the river. It’s a glorious conceit, not too dissimilar to Rudyard Kipling’s poem “The River’s Tale”, which tells the story of London from the point of view of the Thames. The teaser trailer on the website showcases two exceptionally visual film-makers, with the shots of the Adirondacks reminding me of Werner Herzog’s trips down the Amazon. Pledges start from $5, with the target being $100,000.

Pledge to The Hudson River Project

The Muslims Are Coming!

Faced with rampant Islamaphobia from all corners of the right-wing press in America, this film seeks to redress the balance by following a troupe of Muslim comedians into small towns and big cities across America, doing shows to counter the haters and make new friends. Most of the film has already been made, including contributions from stalwarts of American comedy like Jon Stewart and David Cross, but they are still looking for funding for editing, mixing, animating, and all those boring things that need to be done in order for a film to get made. They are half way to their $40,000 goal with a month left of their project.

Pledge to The Muslims Are Coming!

Chinafornia!

A web series set in America, 2018, where the financial crisis has become so bad that the government have sold California to China in order to pay off their ten-trillion dollar debt. The concept art is definitely in the spirit of Family Guy, whilst the animator and creator Ellie Lee cites The Daily Show and The Simpsons as her main inspirations, so expect a mix of anarchic humour and sharp social commentary. One of the perks for pledging includes a character drawn in your likeness to be included in the show, and the more money raised the more episodes that will be made. 20 have been written so far.

Pledge to Chinafornia

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