Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Cheeky Beggar!

I'd like to thank the Alison Comyn and the Drogheda Independent for picking up on my call for funding. Always a proud moment when the local paper show an interest in your work and are prepared to make room to help. Especially when it comes to begging... I mean funding raising! Crowdfunding to be precise.

You see, crowdfunding has been around for a while and is growing in popularity and acceptance all the time. Kevin Smith, director of Clerks, Dogma, Chasing Amy and more, looked at doing this for his new film, a horror called Red State. He was facing difficulty with funding, the studio weren't willing to back him (the studios are in a bit of a mess at the moment) so a fan on twitter suggested crowdfunding, a bunch more fans jumped in and offered help and he began seriously considering it and looking into setting up a website.

As it happened funding came from elsewhere, but he was not adverse to the idea. Of course the internet bloggers got hold of the wrong end of the stick and in sweeping, generalising and condemning statements branded him a "beggar". Not really a nice thing to be called when you're just trying to do your best with what's available to you. And if what's available is good will and generosity, you're going to consider it.

I have no doubt he would have raised the money. Smith has a loyal following of fans who love his movies. So why not ask them, why not get them involved and make them part of something they love?! It's a direct connection for the fans and something they will always have. Forever they'll be able to say they helped their favourite filmmaker get his film made.

If you go to websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo you will see creative types pitching their projects for your donation. Things like book publication, art shows, albums recordings, photography trips and films. As The New York Times said "Kickstarter has become an unexpected influence on Indie culture, a new model for a D.I.Y generation".

It's working, because people have always supported those who are out there doing things, making a difference and creating something positive. It's inspiring, and it feels good to give a lift, to say "I like what you're doing, I want to help." I do it myself when I can, and I must admit, I love clicking that donate button, because I know what it feels like to receive. It's overwhelmingly humbling.

I raised $2,500 for 140 earlier this year. That money went toward festival entry fees, DVDs, screening tapes, postage, t-shirts, posters and postcards... a bunch of stuff to help get the film into the world. The people who donated were inspired by the idea and just wanted to support it and help me get it out. I put a year and half of my life into 140 and it's always difficult, as an independent filmmaker, on your own, trying to get something made. But even more so, after it's made, getting it out into the world. Because while you might be able to make a film for next to nothing, it's near impossible to promote it with no money, and that's important. Because what's the point of making a film if you don't show it to people?! There is no point!

I've funded all my films this way. 140 was the first time I used the internet to do it, and I'm continuing that with Derelict. But on Emily's Song I raised funding from donations from friends and family. Bill, For Short was no-budget, but time was donated by friends. Slán agus Beannacht the same, donations from friends and family and strangers, I held a fundraiser in McHughs, and again, friends gave their time to help: Jason Byrne, Robbie Bonham, Paddy McArdle and the external Sounds guys all pitched in to help me, for free! It's good will, and I'll be honest, I wouldn't be where I am today without good will, and I'm eternally grateful for it.

In saying that though I've always matched what I've received. I don't want you to think I'm walking around with my hat out and a cheeky grin and wink, paying what I have and pocketing the rest! I wont be making a penny from this and I wont have a wage either. I'd make sure everyone else involved was paid before I was, and even then any spare cash isn't spare, there's a whole bunch of stuff I can spend money on before it gets near me! And I will spend it on that stuff, because I want the film to be the best it can be.

At the moment I'm broke. I have no money. I'm in debt. Now I'm not saying that so you'll feel sorry for me! I mention it because I want to be transparent about this, because if I'm asking for your help and for your money, which I'm sure you have alot better things to be doing with, I want you to know I'm putting as much of my own in, if not more. Every time I make a film I spend thousands of my own money... usually personal loans from the credit union which I've been paying back for years!

On Emily's Song the budget was about €20,000, we raise about €2,500 from donations, I put about €6,000 in and Thomas Kennedy and his wife Tina put the rest in. Bill, for short, a couple of hundred euro (I should make more of those!) Slán agus Beannacht, €1000 raised, I put €1,250 in. 140 €2500 raised through kickstarter, so far I've put about the same, if not a bit more in, and I'm still spending on that one. And please don't tell my wife, but I have no doubt I'll be visiting the credit union before Derelict begins... that's if they let me in!!!

But I believe as an artist you should make that kind of sacrifice. I believe in what I do. I love what I do. And I think if you believe in something that much you should be willing to make those sacrifices. But sometimes it's not enough, the means just aren't there. I have tried going to the Irish Film Board, a government agency set up to help emerging filmmakers. I've approached them for help with almost every script I've written. But I've had no success there, so I just stopped asking. It hasn't deterred me from making the films I want to make though. I just have to be a little more creative in how I go about it. But sometimes I need help.

As artists have down through the centuries. Great artists, musicians, scientists, politicians have all needed patrons, people who were inspired by their work, wanted to see it come to fruition and had the means and desire to make that happen and were willing to do so. We may not have the great works of art we have now, the discoveries in science, the great leaders through time if it were not for the people who believed in them and stood behind them, holding them up, propelling them forward so others could feel the inspiration they too felt.

Now, I'm no Mozart, Obviously! But maybe I can make something that entertains and connects with people, and do it in Drogheda. I think I've done a pretty good job so far. My three short films, and now 140, have allowed me to show my hometown of Drogheda on the big screen at prestigious film festivals all around the world. So I want to keep making films here, in my hometown, because I love Drogheda and why not make feature films here? It's a great town! And I'm proud to represent it around the world as a filmmaker. So if you want to help me do that by all means click the yellow button on your right and be one of those people who stand behind something they believe in and give good work the support it needs to live.



John Morton said...

Inspiring stuff. Best of luck Frank!

Frank Kelly said...

Thanks John!