Filmmakers need money.

No matter how artistically pure or staunchly anti-commercial they are, every filmmaker needs money to make their dream film anything more than a carefully printed screenplay stuck in a dusty drawer.

The stories in indie film are legends: Robert Rodriguez selling his body (for medical experiments) to finance “El Mariachi”; Kevin Smith putting his financial future in dire jeopardy to pay for “Clerks” with credit cards; Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell schlepping their bloody short film to the office of every Michigan dentist with a checkbook to raise money for “The Evil Dead.”

Donnie Hiltz is using the Internet. And counting on the kindness of strangers.

Hiltz, whose first short film, “2Grand,” is in post-production, has set up an account at a site called “IndieGoGo” (www.indiegogo.com/2-Grand-short-film) seeking $2,000 in donations. From strangers.

It’s not that Hiltz is asking for those strangers to fund his movie themselves. “2Grand” completed principal photography (in New Hampshire and Maine) in November, and he estimates that he and his co-filmmakers are “out of pocket” some $1,000 so far.

So what’s with the $2,000 goal?

“The amount and the film’s title are just a coincidence, really,” said Hiltz. “We’re planning to use any money we raise to recoup some expenses, to do a really professional final edit on the movie, and to enter ‘2Grand’ in some film festivals (this) year.”

It’s a path many indie filmmakers are taking (I count more than 100 films seeking funding on IndieGoGo), and it’s emblematic of the important role the Web played in this film’s development.

Hiltz, a creative writing major at UNH, had been in Los Angeles trying out acting, screenwriting and directing. When he returned to New England, he answered a Craigslist ad from Maine filmmaker Keith Chick, who was looking for a collaborator. They hit it off and sent out a casting call via Facebook, where they met actor and Maine Studios founder John Seymore, who set up the fundraising site on IndieGoGo.

The Internet: It’s not just for porn anymore.

So why should anyone donate money to a short film from a first-time director?

“It’s a story of a con man, in a seedy bar in Boston, who gets conned,” says Hiltz, “and the cast (including local talent such as Seymore, Bill Mclean, Carrie Lachance, and others) just blew me away.”

Also, added Hiltz, “The film scene is growing in New England, there’s so much opportunity. Here, I’m excited to be part of the process. It’s not like L.A.; here, everyone is so excited to be working on a film. My hope is that it propels the careers of everyone involved.”

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.

 


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