Many independent filmmakers face difficulty in raising funds to begin their projects, but few have been as bold as Gary King with his 21st century approach to passing the hat.  King has taken to the Internet to raise funds for a proposed feature film, and he is working against the clock (in this case, April 18) to get his funding into place.

Film Threat visited with King at his New York office to discuss his intriguing approach to financing his next film.

What is your proposed film about?
“How Do You Write a Joe Schermann Song” is about an aspiring Broadway songwriter who jeopardizes his relationships and budding career after he begins working with a talented singer.  It primarily centers around the theater and Broadway realm of New York City.

Its themes deal with the struggle of artistic integrity vs. doing what others want you do to in order to be successful and examines how careers can affect personal relationships through unspoken competition.  The song and dance numbers will be a mixture of both reality and fantasy sequences.

Very few indie filmmakers are making musicals. Why are you deciding to buck the trend?
I’m a filmmaker who enjoys moving from genre to genre.  I grew up loving musicals and always knew in my heart that I wanted to make one eventually.

But they are definitely a dying breed.  I believe many filmmakers and audiences have grown to be more sophisticated and sometimes can’t accept some of the more traditional musical conventions — for example characters breaking out into song and dance from out of nowhere.  But this is where I plan for my film to be different.  “Joe Schermann Song” will blend older conventions with a new modern styling in a way I believe today’s audiences would enjoy and be able to accept.

Most indie musicals I see are comedies with tongue firmly planted in cheek…which frankly I’m a bit tired of.  “Shermann Song” aims to tell a more intimate story within the Broadway realm while incorporating most of its numbers from practical situations.  Having said that, I’m excited to say that we will have some great show-stopping sequences as well featuring some amazing singing and dancing.  That’s part of the fun and challenge for this project — creating a hybrid of the new and old to engage today’s audiences.

What is the genesis of your online fund raising campaign?
I decided to launch my Kickstarter campaign for two main reasons.  The first is that I produced and self-financed my two previous films (“New York Lately” and “What’s Up Lovely”) and the well has run dry so to speak.  Even though I’m able to keep costs low with my DIY approach, the musical has a few more elements that take this production to another level.  I plan to use my own money for this film — but not nearly as much as it needs.  The “crowdfunding” approach allows everyone to donate various amounts (small or big) so that the end result is huge (full funding).

The second reason is that Kickstarter helps give this project greater public awareness and confidence to contribute.  There have been many successful projects funded this way which helps give the campaign a sense of legitimacy and attainability.  There is also an added fun factor in that pledging towards the film earns the contributor various “thank you gifts” such as a copy of the film, the musical soundtrack or even coming over to my place in New York for test screenings and dinner with the actors.  From the very beginning stages, I want this film to be a different kind of experience for the people who are contributing.

How have you been spreading the word for this campaign, and what are the results to date?
A huge part of the campaign’s success so far has been directly due to the many supporters in my Facebook and Twitter network.  I’m truly humbled by their outpouring of generosity and belief in me.  Social networking is key — as with the lack of any marketing dollars at the moment I’m relying on word of mouth for this campaign.

There have been several web articles written about “Joe Schermann Song” covering the film and the new trend in “crowdfunding” which have also helped.  I’ve hit the internet airwaves with a guest spot on Movie Addict Headquarters where the sweet host Betty Jo Tucker interviewed me about our shared love for the musical.  After my appearance on the show, she actually contributed to the campaign which was amazing and very touching.  The lead actress Christina Rose and I are scheduled to appear on LA Talk Radio’s Film Courage.  The hosts David Branin and Karen Worden have been doing some great things for the indie film community so it’ll be great to be able to connect with their audience.

As of March 30th, we are 54% funded with the deadline of April 18th to raise our target goal of $30,000.

What happens if you don’t reach your goal by the April 18th deadline?
The project on Kickstarter is an All-or-Nothing fundraising campaign.  If we don’t raise the full $30,000 by April 18th, we don’t collect a penny from anyone’s pledge.  I’m extremely excited to be more than half way towards our goal.

The funding outcome is yet to be determined, but I really believe in this project for various reasons.  The first being my complete adoration for the genre.  I think it will be very interesting to explore the hybrid of intimate storytelling within the musical realm.  And second, these types are films are rarely made at the indie level and people are hungry for them.  People contact me telling me how excited they are and can’t wait to see it.  And I tell them, believe me… I’m excited to make it!

Posted on April 5, 2010 in Interviews by

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