February 28, 2013

Indie Film: Crowdsourcing helps filmmakers cut it

Aspiring moviemakers are hustling to finish scripts, arrange schedules and raise money for things like equipment rental, special effects, transportation and costumes.


The next generation of Maine filmmakers needs your help.

click image to enlarge

“The Six String Strangler” will be funded partly by a Kickstarter campaign and partly by a pudding wrestling event at an Old Orchard Beach restaurant.

Courtesy photo


FRONTIER, Brunswick


Sunday: "Death Watch." Bertrand Tavernier's prescient 1980 cult classic about an unscrupulous TV producer (Harvey Keitel) who convinces a dying woman (Romy Schneider) to have cameras implanted in her eyes so viewers can experience her last days. With a Q&A from author D.G. Compton, who wrote the novel on which the movie was based.

Meaning your money, of course.

As their final assignment, aspiring moviemakers in Southern Maine Community College's media studies program must complete a short film and submit it as part of the Maine Mayhem Film Festival in May.

Which means there are a handful of aspiring moviemakers hustling all over the Portland area finishing scripts, arranging schedules and raising money for things like equipment rental, special effects, transportation and costumes for 50 or so post-apocalyptic warriors.

Wait, what?

"Yeah, my main character's a prisoner at a labor camp in a post-apocalyptic sort of dog-eat-dog world," said SMCC student filmmaker Alan Dillingham about his upcoming film, "Bloody Solstice." "There's a huge battle in a clearing on a winter day. We're planning for about a six-hour day, shooting with seven to nine cameras to maximize what we can get."

To that end, Dillingham has turned to the increasingly popular "crowdsourcing" method of fundraising through the site Indiegogo.com (indiegogo.com/projects/bloody-solstice), where potential investors can chip in any amount toward the film's proposed $1,500 budget.

"It is an ambitious film," said Dillingham. "We're looking for that amount for special effects (mostly fake blood), camera, renting lighting equipment for a night shoot and enough food to feed those 50 people."

For film students, this financial component is yet one more obstacle to be overcome, and sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter.com have proven invaluable.

"Last semester, we did budgeting for another course," said student Sasha Brouillard about her film, the psychological thriller "Lost in the Woods." "Initially, we came up with a figure of $1,700 for food, props, wardrobe and location fees and permits. But when we decided to go with Kickstarter, we lowballed it to $600 so we'd have a better chance of reaching our goal." (Unlike Indiegogo, Kickstarter returns all donations if the target figure isn't reached.)

Luckily, according to Brouillard, both SMCC and the Maine film community have helped pick up the slack.

"This is our stepping stone into the film industry, and SMCC just has such an amazing program," she said. "With free equipment from them and with people I've connected with working on (upcoming Maine horror film) 'The Hanover House' volunteering, I'm excited for the opportunity." (Check out lostinthewoodsfilm.tumblr.com for details.)

"It's good to design small, but we can grow if our fundraising is successful," said Dawn Smith, whose documentary with partner Ryan Weed on the Kennebunk landmark "The Wedding Cake House: The Truth Behind the Myth" will be pursuing its planned $1,000 budget through Kickstarter. (Keep an eye on theweddingcakehouse.wordpress.com for details.)

For Andy Painter, whose thriller "Dead End Street" is about a cop chasing a hitchhiker-killing serial killer, his film's ambitions necessitate help for his estimated $2,500 budget.

"Most of the movie takes place in a car," Painter said, "so we need a tow rig and lights for a night shoot." (tinyurl.com/deadendstreetproject)

And sometimes you have to get a little more ... creative. In addition to an upcoming Kickstarter campaign, filmmaker Charlotte Warren has held a fundraising event for her film "The Six String Strangler" at an Old Orchard Beach restaurant -- a pudding wrestling fundraiser.

If you're a Maine moviemaker, you've gotta do what it takes.

Dennis Perkins is a Portland freelance writer.


“Bloody Solstice”

"Lost in the Woods"

"Dead End Street"


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