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Crowdfunding: Beating the Odds

A while back, I talked about SSDD, a movie made by a filmmaker I've respected and admired for a long time. Like a lot of directors, Greg Hall has since become a good friend by proxy of this crazy little business.

Greg is a heavyweight of the micro-budget feature film, and one quick skip across a Google search will show you that this guy is not only the real deal, but also on the rise.

Of course, whenever you talk about other filmmakers, it's easy to get a twinge of jealousy, especially if you're a fan of what they're doing. But I've always been compelled to the side of pride when it comes to independent cinema. This is one of the reasons why I kick-started the Bootleg Film Festival - so that I could be the ultimate number-one-fan of all these talented people by putting their work in front of a great crowd. I'm extremely lucky to count some of the hottest writers, actors and musicians working today amongst my circle, so I'm always seeing new projects coming up.

Right now, Greg's on a fresh wave of creativity, cooking up his latest feature film through his Broke But Making Films (BBMF) outfit. Anybody that has seen Bruised, will realise that he's making this shit look easy. I'll admit, when a film is as solid as Bruised, it's okay to get the green eyed envy, because who wouldn't want to be the guy behind it?

But what really makes Bruised stand out is the striking central performances by Clare McNamara and Paul Marlon as the literal punch drunk lovers in the middle of a chaotic and destructive social underbelly. If you haven't seen it already, it is crucial watching.

Of course, I need to circle back on my point about the talent behind the picture - this was a collaborative effort between Hall and Marlon, as the guys plowed through the concept and script side-by-side, each taking their respective director and actor spots when the cameras rolled. The power of this link-up is easy to see, and of course, it's not only a natural conclusion that they would get to work on a feature project, it's also an exciting one.

Communion is the new piece the guys are shaping, and from the slim plot details they've put out, it already sounds as though it's going to have a hell-of-a verve running through it. Alongside producer Becky Finlay-Hall (who also worked on SSDD), they've assembled themselves into a focused, killer team.

Of course, having a script and a squad is only half the battle. They now have to make the film. And as any filmmaker knows, raising the finances to grease the wheels is tough (and the price of grease seems to always be going up). But the cats have got a plan - they're pre-selling DVD's of the movie at fifteen-quid a pop in order to finance the film. They’ve got a few other options (starting from as little as a fiver), and all are associated to a series of benefits when it comes to the end product.

Crowdfunding is very much the pulse-strategy right now for everything from producing watches to crafting an album. Selling direct to you, the audience, means that not only do you get a great, non-committee-saturated product, but you also get to be a part of its success. And it feels good. It almost seems, well, obvious.

There’s a whole trend of buying local, of supporting the independent butcher, baker and candlestick maker, and now, filmmaker too. But is it really going to change anything?

I know I’m taking a pessimistic side-turn here, but let me drum this one out: So many of us support the principal, just not the act.

We want to buy organic from the local farms and markets, but the big fat supermarkets make it easy for us to trade our inner-morals for reward points. And I get it. Life is hectic, and having to make conscious choices for where our cash goes is, whilst admirable, fucken brain taxing.

But that’s where crowdfunding sticks it to the man. You directly pump a project into existence, and it's as simple as shopping at Amazon. You select your product, you pay for it, they deliver. Okay, it'll take a little longer than over night shipping, but when it arrives, you've got bragging rights - you took an active part in getting it made.

When me and the guys went to crowdfunding on Nina Nobody, it was exhausting stuff. You never realise how intensive and stressful it is to know you have a deadline to hit and a pot of money to make. And you're essentially asking people to invest their hard earned cash into something that doesn't yet exist. And it can't if you don't get the numbers.

As it ended up, we missed our target, and lack of finances was one of the reasons why Nina Nobody has been delayed. But that's not to say that crowdfunding can't work, it's just a fresh concept, and we're all too used to being passive consumers. Somebody makes it, we buy it. End of story. Crowdfunding flips the concept on its head - you buy it, they make it.

We've all seen The Apprentice, and we all know the buzz and the hustle that goes into getting something off the ground. Making any product is a labour of love, but in the arts, the feeling goes to the bone.

So this post is meant as much as a call to arms for the indie kids to keep up the good fight and to push crowdfunding forward, as it is for all film and music fans (so everybody, basically) to get on the train. As creatives, we pitch directly to you because we want to keep our projects clear of the mud-water that occurs when a certain kind of 'industry' face gets involved.

We are determined to cut out the middle man (and the BS) so we can deliver films that you'll love - not just say 'meh' to.

And though this is no attack on the Hollywood system, they can afford to take the occasional pass on your cash as you directly support an upcoming filmmaker. Trust me, I've been in the LA offices of Lionsgate - if things get lean, they can just shill the gold plating from their door handles.

So when you see a shout out, take a look. If you think it's rock n roll, show the love with a 'share' or even a few bucks. We will love you for it.

But most importantly, take pride that you're helping somebody defy the odds in getting out their dreams.

Find out more about Communion here:

The guys will be posting fresh videos and details every Friday throughout the campaign, and you can also get hooked into their tweets by following @CommunionFilm and searching the hash tag #TeamBBMF