Crowdfunder Pick: Be Natural

MovieMaker’s Trailblazer Tuesday Crowdfunder of the Week is Be Natural, a revelatory documentary on Alice Guy-Blaché, the woman who filmed one of the first narrative films in 1896 (some say before Georges Méliès) before history forgot her.

Be Natural, so named after the verbal direction Guy-Blaché gave her actors, is by far the largest, most celebrity-driven Kickstarter campaign we’ve spotlighted, especially with the significant request total of $200,000. With Robert Redford executive producing and Jodi Foster narrating, and a gamut of Hollywood mainstays appearing in interviews (Sir Ben Kingsley, Julie Taymor, Julie Delpy, to name a few), Be Natural is the celebrity-studded exception to MovieMaker’s usual independent crowdfunding spotlight. So why this one? Simply put, because we are moved by its mission to explode film history – especially a female history that will inspire women artists everywhere.

While we found ourselves taken with the story of Guy-Blaché, a mother, one-time wife, filmmaker, studio head, and creator of over 1,000 films, we were equally impressed with the gargantuan amount of research used to carefully document every aspect of her life. Pamela Green and Jarik van Sluijs, the filmmakers responsible for this massive project, have traveled the world for two years, finding and preserving Guy-Blaché’s filmic legacy. (When Guy-Blaché died in 1968 she thought that only three of her films had survived; Green and Sluijs have found over 130!)

The Be Natural funds have diminished with the extensive amount travel needed to locate the films and the skillful, often difficult preservation of these forgotten and partially disintegrated films. With this in mind, Green and Sluijs have appealed to the film-loving community to help expose an important feminist truth, rightfully placing Guy-Blaché where she belongs—with Edison, Méliès, and the Lumière Brothers and the rest of the big boys of cinema. As the trailer states, “history is written by men.” Guy-Blaché’s success as a woman in the early 1900s is astounding for a time where women did not have the right to vote yet, “but it will always be more interesting that there was a great artist who didn’t get remembered.” Well, better late than never.

Synopsis: A documentary searching for Alice Guy-Blaché, who at 23 was the first female director, became a powerful figure in film, then vanished from history.

Campaigners: Pamela Green and Jarik van Sluijs

Target Amount: $200,000

Amount Currently Raised: $66,558

Campaign Opening Date: July 27, 2013

Campaign Closing Date: August 27, 2013 (31 days)

Funding Goes Toward: Funds are being raised to complete research—specifically to see all of Guy-Blaché’s existing films. Her films are in archives spread all over the world, from all over Europe to Australia and the United States. They are in all different formats from nitrate to film to video. The money raised will go to finding the right footage, preserving and or copying it, and then obtaining the rights, so they can be included in the documentary. Other funds will also go to the shooting, editorial, and VFX needed to recreate Guy-Blaché’s world from the 1890s to the 1920s.

Donor Reward Highlights:

$29$: Did you ever wonder what a silent film script would look like? It’s your lucky day because a donation of this amount will get you a copy of one of Guy-Blaché’s scripts.

$35: A digital download of the final cut of Be Natural (included in all donor rewards above this tier).

$59: A framed poster copy of one of Guy-Blaché’s films.

$750: A Skype call with the Be Natural filmmakers.

$1500: Two tickets to the Family and Friends screening and after party in New York or Los Angeles.

$5,000: Want to help look for Alice? Spend a day looking at the research into Guy-Blaché.

$10,000: An invite to the premiere in New York or Los Angeles for you and a guest plus a guest book signed by all who come to the event. Need we remind you who appears in this film?

To check out Be Natural’s Kickstarter page, click here.

Moviemakers, keep them coming! We welcome any crowdfunder campaign submissions for spotlighting consideration in our Trailblazer Tuesday series. Email info@moviemaker.com with your pitch! Help us to help you get your films made.

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