Ready Set Fund

Ready, Set, Fund: Visiting Seed&Spark


Love Land

Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

At South by Southwest this past March, I came across a new project funding platform called Seed&Spark, which was launched in December 2012. Founder Emily Best was inspired by her experience making her first feature, Like the Water, to team with other independent filmmakers to create this funding platform for filmmakers and their audience. The name comes from their philosophy that "films are not just art, they are business ventures. They require the seed of an idea and the sparks of human and capital investments to bring them to life."

To participate via Seed&Spark, a filmmaker posts his or her "wish list" of items and associated costs needed to complete a film project. Donors can choose to either donate funds or loan an item from the project list in exchange for perks or credits in the film. Once the filmmaker receives at least 80 percent of their budget, the funds are released.

Filmmakers can also upload completed films to the Seed&Spark site, where you can view the films for a fee. Viewers can earn site credits for viewing by engaging on the site and spreading the word about Seed&Spark projects. Filmmakers are encouraged to use other distribution methods as well including festivals, theatrical release, and other VOD platforms.

Ready, Set, Fund: Bubbles, Dirt and Sharks


Out of the Bubble still shot

Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

A new chapter in life in life is beginning for many Central Texas teens with graduation ceremonies taking place over the course of the next week. My words of advice to these graduates? Take some time out from college or work to travel and get out of your comfort zone, whether it's backpacking with friends in Big Bend National Park in West Texas or trekking across Europe. Better yet, find a service project in another country where you can experience different cultures and meet people from around the world.

Brothers Colin and Michael Harman are doing just that with their film Out of the Bubble, which is funding through Thursday, June 13 on Kickstarter. However, the Harmans are taking their travels to a whole other level. What was originally intended to simply be documentation of their explorations of the landscape and culture of Norway as they venture "out of their bubble" is now intended to be the foundation of a online movement. The Harmans hope to inspire others to step out of their familiar surroundings and document their stories. These travelogues will then serve to build a network connected through an online hub. See their inspiring pitch video after the jump.

Ready, Set, Fund: It's Not Just Production



When you hear "crowdfunding for film," you may automatically think about producers and directors raising money for a movie they want to make. Or perhaps even post-production costs to finish the film. But plenty of other fundraising endeavors cover film distribution, exhibition and other aspects of the film world.

For example, you might have seen local filmmaker Stephen Belyeu's drama Dig at Austin Film Festival a couple of years ago, where it won the Narrative Feature award. Texas Independent Film Network also screened the movie (which I moderated locally, which is why I remember). But one does not simply walk up to studio reps and magically land a distribution deal. Belyeu is ready to seek distribution for his film and there are costs involved: transferring the film into a high-resolution format, creating the materials to send to industry reps, paying legal fees.

So Belyeu has launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds to make Dig distribution-ready. The perks include DVDs of the movie, posters, sneak peeks at the filmmaker's new project ... and for enough money, an Executive Producer credit. The campaign has a little more than two weeks left and hasn't yet reached its goal.

Ready, Set, Fund: Avant-Garde Stunts


Gary Kent in 'One Hard Road'

Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

It's not often that biographical documentaries portray lesser-known behind-the-scenes movie professionals, but novelist and film journalist Joe O'Connell is capturing key player Gary Kent in his film project Love & Other Stunts, which is currently funding on Indiegogo through Wednesday, February 27. Kent has contributed to over 100 films in his 50-plus years in the film industry as a stuntman, actor, director, and writer. He's been a stunt double for Jack Nicholson and Robert Vaughan and was stunt coordinator for Richard Rush's Hell’s Angels On Wheels and Don Coscarelli's Bubba Ho-tep, as well as acting in noir Westerns such as The Shooting and Ride in the Whirlwind.

Love & Other Stunts covers not only Kent's film career, but his personal life from the release of his memoir Shadows and Light: Journeys with Outlaws in Revolutionary Hollywood through more personal challenges, including his wife's battle with alcoholism and death in 2005. Kent has struggled with the aftermath of physical damage from stuntwork and a bout with cancer. O'Connell's documentary aims the spotlight on a now local legendary icon deserving of public recognition.

Ready, Set, Fund: Love and History in Texas


Phil Collins and the Wild Frontier

Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

At first glance it might seem rather odd to feature English music icon Phil Collins in this month's column, but Collins has quite a personal connection to Texas history. Due to his interest in the Battle of the Alamo of 1836, his personal collection of artifacts related to the Alamo numbers in the hundreds, and he's narrated at a sound and light show about the Alamo. While on a publicity tour across Texas to promote his new book, The Alamo and Beyond: A Collector's Journey, Collins was interviewed by Texas Filmmakers Production Fund recipient filmmaker Ben Powell about his obscure collection as well as his retirement from music.

Phil Collins and the Wild Frontier, which is currently funding on Kickstarter through Sunday, January 20, focuses on Collins' attempt "to redefine his public persona." Powell further states that "observing the impact his music career has on his life and the more painful realities of being a celebrity, what unfolds is an examination of mankind's obsession with artifacts. Mr. Collins, a man absorbed in a collection of objects from a bygone era, is himself a relic of 80s pop culture and objectified by his stardom."

Awardwinning filmmaker and local film instructor Steve Mims (Incendiary: The Willingham Case) is seeking funding on Kickstarter through Wednesday, January 23, for his feature-length comedy Alex & Ash, which he wrote specifically for the humorously talented Alex Dobrenko (Hearts of Napalm) and Ashley Spillers (The Bounceback, Saturday Morning Massacre). The pair portray a couple so obsessed with a puzzle that they become not only disconnected from the real world but also from one another.

Ready, Set, Fund: Winter Heroes


Chosin ArtworkReady, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

Winter has finally arrived in Austin and with the holiday season upon us, it's easy to get wrapped up in the hectic shopping and festivities. It's also a great time to give back to community and to reflect on sacrifices made by others during winters past.

One major event that took place this time of year and is often forgotten is the Battle of Chosin Reservoir, an epic and decisive battle of the Korean War that took place between November 27 and December 13, 1950. In a freezing winter, thousands of United Nations troops -- "The Chosin Few" -- including U.S. Marines were outnumbered and trapped by Chinese forces in the mountains of North Korea. Despite the odds, the Marines refused to surrender and fought their way 78 miles to the sea and rescued 98,000 civilians. Seventeen Medals of Honor, 73 Navy Crosses, and 23 Distinguished Service Crosses were awarded, making Chosin one of the most decorated battles in American history.

Brian Iglesias and Anton Sattler produced and released an award-winning documentary film titled Chosin that has screened across the US and South Korea -- and is now available on EPIX, Netflix, Amazon Video, DVD, and iTunes. The team is currently funding CHOSIN: An Animated War Film through Tuesday, December 25, on Kickstarter, co-directed by Austinite Richard Meyer with animation by local artist Stephanie Hogue.

Ready, Set, Fund: Hipsters, Huey Long and Small-Town Texas


Loves Her Gun still photo

Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

Local director Geoff Marslett (Mars) has wrapped filming in Austin and New York City for his first live-action feature film, Loves Her Gun (pictured at top), which stars several familiar Austin actors including Chris Doubek, John Merriman, Ashley Rae Spillers (Saturday Morning Massacre), and Heather Kafka (Lovers of Hate). It's about a Brooklyn hipster who flees to Austin after she's been attacked. Funding for post-production work is still needed, so the filmmakers are running an Indiegogo campaign through Wednesday, December 5. Currently the only way to get DVDs of Marslett's film Mars is as a perk at the $25 backer level or higher. Marslett says that if the campaign meets its fundraising goal then Loves Her Gun is expected to screen in early 2013.

61 Bullets is a historical documentary project that centers around a famous assassination in 1935. U.S. Senator Huey P. Long, Louisiana's most powerful and influential governor, was shot by Dr. Carl Weiss in the Louisiana State Capitol. Director David Modigliani's previous documentary, Crawford, debuted at SXSW in 2008 and won the Austin Film Critics Association award for Best Austin Film that year. The production is a Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund recipient; however, the filmmakers still need money to finish production and meet post-production costs. They're wrapping up a Kickstarter campaign that is close to meeting its goal by this Friday, November 16.

Ready, Set, Fund: A Convergence of Mediums


Black and Write

Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

The first anniversary of the "Ready, Set Fund" monthly feature was a few weeks ago, and reflecting over the past year I'm pleased by the personal connections I've made with local filmmakers whose projects have been featured. Several filmmakers have reached out often with invitations to set visits or simply to provide progress reports.

Last week I was invited to moderate a Q&A at a local fundraising event for Shane Hazen's movie Here/There/Now/Year Ago, which was featured in August's column. Funding on Indiegogo was extended through today (ends Wednesday, September 12, at 1:59 am CST), and last week's party at Club Deville featured live music as well as several stand-up comedians including lead actress Ashley Barnhill. Taking the stage after comedy talent was slightly intimidating, but Hazen and Barnhill were relaxed and receptive to my questions about their upcoming film project. I was impressed to witness the collaboration between the local comedy and film communities in the audience for this film project.

The documentary Black and Write, which is funding through September 30 on Indiegogo, also exemplifies a convergence between media. In this film, Author C. Mikki portrays the challenges of black authors and the publishing business. Find out more about this and other film projects currently funding after the jump.

Ready, Set, Fund: Texas Two-Step


James Hand

Ready, Set, Fund is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

This month is full of worthy film projects that are fundraising for all stages of production, with last month's Ready, Set, Fund spotlight project and documentary Merch Girl exceeding its goal of $30K before it ends on Thursday. A couple other upcoming film productions also portray Austin's diverse musical culture, including Thank You A Lot, which was featured in a recent Slackerwood photo essay. This film, which is funding through Wednesday, August 29, features local and legendary artists including James "Slim" Hand in the tale of a two-bit music agent whose job depends on being able to sign his reclusive, legendary father.

Another film project that embraces music is Dance Like No One's Watching from former Austin filmmaker Jenn Garrison (Prize Whores, Greg). While writing a feature script (Quick Quick Slow) that's set in a gay country western bar in Texas, Garrision discovered The International Association of Gay/Lesbian Country Western Dance Clubs (IAGLCWDC, or "Iggle Wiggle" as they call themselves). Garrison traveled back to Austin from Los Angeles to film research footage for her feature at the annual International Dance Competition. Her extra footage is the basis for this documentary portraying the dynamic and enthusiastic community that participates in same-sex dance competitions, and the freedom and independence this culture evokes.

Check out the teaser for Dance Like No One's Watching after the jump.

Ready, Set, Fund: Bienvenido a Tejas


Still photo from Merch Girl

"Ready, Set, Fund," is a column about crowdfunding and related fundraising endeavors for Austin and Texas independent film projects.

As the "Live Music Capital of the World," Austin has no shortage of musicians onstage nightly in live music venues, whether it be a jazz lounge, rock club or country/western bar. Often bands can make as much if not more on merchandise sales than on the take from the door, especially if they have extra help behind the merch table. Texas honky-tonk musician John Evans relies on his 18-year-old daughter Abbie (seen above) to fill that role, especially on the road -- despite the challenges as Abbie suffers from the incurable and often painful skin disease epidermolysis bullosa. 

Director/producer Cary Bell and editor/producer Jessica Miller document Abbie's coming of age as a self-confident and passionate young woman in Merch Girl, which is currently funding through Thursday, August 23 on Kickstarter. Abbie treats EB as just another hurdle, with support from her family including constant care from her mother. Funds were raised in a previous campaign for the production phase of this film project, but additional contributions are needed for post-production including editing, color correction, audio mixing, and mastering.

The ATX Television Festival had a successful first year last month, and is already working on funding for 2012 with their ATX Television Festival: Year 2 Kickoff campaign on Kickstarter. The project has met their initial goal well in advance of their Wednesday, July 25 deadline, but has set a new goal. For those unfamiliar with ATX, this festival provides an opportunity for attendees to interact with actors, writers, directors, music supervisors and several other industry professionals involved in all stages of bringing their favorite series to the small screen.

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