To sate my hunger for all things documentary, I trekked to NYC last week to work the kickoff of Docuweeks on the east coast. In two weeks I’ll be wrapping up Docuweeks in its third & final week in LA.
Once the tingles wore off from meeting the amazing, ambitious & gifted filmmakers (& often their families), interacting with the crew of enthusiastic volunteers & working out of the IFC Centre Theatres, I had a chance to learn about the business of fundraising, filmmaking & distribution (& more importantly Oscar nomination eligibility).
The International Documentary Association has been holding Docuweeks for 14 years, ensuring that the world’s top documentarians have the requisite number of screenings in the City of Los Angeles & the borough of Manhattan to contend for an Oscar nomination. The 2009 IDA ‘Finishing Fund’ grant-recipient, Summer Pasture, is one of the screenings this year; a success story reminiscent of the many talented musicians who’ve benefitted from Austin Music Foundation‘s career-changing ‘Incubator’ fund, which ensured that artists could take their projects to the next level without mortgaging their lives away.
My personal favourite thus far (until I see a new batch in L.A., & handicapping the Finnish flick ‘Steam of Life‘ from my admitted bias for all things Suomi) was ‘Louder than a Bomb‘, a Spellbound-esque tale of rival slam-poetry teams facing off at the Chicago finals. Strongly encourage you to keep this film on your radar, because it very well may tug at the proper Oscar judge heartstrings & sweep the world in a couple months.
Unfortunately I can’t embed the trailer, but if you check out their website: http://louderthanabombfilm.com/ you can watch 8+minute teaser for the film & get a sense of how compelling these kids’ stories are.
If you’re completely smitted by the pick, the filmmakers are savvy enough to link to a Pay-Pal-enabled donation prompt on their website & are offering tax receipts through a 501(c)3 NGO based in Chicago. Smart cookies.
Another avenue for film funding came across my interwebs through Kickstarter’s heads up on the in-progress Bob Dorough doc, which is almost done & has a fantastic tiered donation scheme…I chipped in & so should you if you enjoyed School House Rock clips in your yoof &/or are a fan of Charlie Parker & Miles Davis collabs. The filmmakers have been fantastic at pumping out email updates to the funders, explaining the process, being completely transparent about their financing & licensing challenges.
As documentaries become less of a niche market & more filmmakers start, ahem, documenting the filmmaking process itself, how can artists better use social media, digital video & online funding models to get into more film-loving homes & theatres? Feel free to comment on your fav doc/fiction film case studies that’ve shown gusto in their business models online.