Trailblazer Tuesday Crowdfunder of the Week: The Midnighters
by Haven Goldstein

This week’s crowdfunding pick of the week is The Midnighters: an emotional crime-drama that explores an aging ex-con’s struggle to assimilate back into the real world and shed his criminal past. Director Julian Fort helms the campaign on Kickstarter along with partner Adam Carl.

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The Midnighters tells the story of Victor Lustig, an old man who after three decades in prison must reconcile the life he once knew with the new world in which he finds himself immersed. It touches on themes of family, identity, hard choices and harder consequences. The film is the debut directing effort of Julian Fort, who has worked as a security guard at Paramount Studios for the last 12 years, pursuing his own creative projects on the side. Perhaps The Midnighters is the perfect intersection of Fort’s experience with law enforcement and his passion for moviemaking.

Although not yet finished in its entirety, the amount of work the filmmakers have completed is an impressive feat in itself. Fort and his crew have already shot 85% of the film on their shoestring budget. Even more astounding is the way in which they have utilized what little funding they’ve had until now. With costly and laborious sets to create (including a massive bank vault), these guys have given meaning to the cliché, “a little goes a long way.” The fruit of this labor is visible in the campaign video, which shows the vault set being constructed – a nice insight in the process – and the teaser of the film itself, which looks sleek and sharply shot.

One of the best things about the new wave of crowdfunded projects is that they are creating a new abundance of roles not just for up-and-coming talent, but for veteran actors – working-class artists of lesser fame but no less talent. The star of The Midnighters is actor Leon Russom, whose name isn’t as familiar as his face – having appeared in that whopper of a classic film, The Big Lebowski, as well as TV’s Prison Break. Although in showbiz for nearly half a century, The Midnighters has landed Russom, now in his 70s, his first leading role – after he  and director Fort met frequenting the same coffee house. Other notable faces include Gregory Sims (Real Steel), John Wesley (Remember The Titans), Larry Cedar (Deadwood), Maria Zyrianova (Entourage), and Charles Dierkop (Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid) – all of whom worked for The Midnighters under the SAG Ultra Low Budget Contract. We love when moviemakers can sustain a career, and any crowdfunder that can help grow new material is OK by us.

Synopsis: An aging safe-cracker recently released from prison is asked to put his old skills to use—and risk his freedom—to save his son’s life.

Campaigners: Julian Fort and Adam Carl

Target Amount: $ 30,000

Amount Currently Raised: $6,561

Funding Period: September 6 – October 13, 2013

Time Left: 32 Days

Funding Goes Toward: 85% of film has already been completed so the money will go towards finishing production (equipment and vehicle rentals; location fees; permits; insurance; props, set dressing, wardrobe, and makeup; SAG payroll; crew salaries; and, of course, food.)

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Donor Reward Highlights:

$30: A professionally authored DVD of The Midnighters and digital downloads of the film, the film’s soundtrack, and screenplay + shout out on Facebook page

$250: A one of a kind personalized video thank you from Leon Russom, the star of the film, where he insults you in character as the Malibu Police Chief from The Big Lebowski + the limited edition signed movie poster, hardcopy of signed screenplay, DVD signed by principle cast, digital downloads of the  film, the film’s soundtrack and cool continuity script

$500: Everything from previous levels plus a custom collector’s hardcover photo book with a few hundred high resolution behind the scenes pictures and movie stills, two tickets to the cast and crew premiere, and special thanks in the end credits and on IMDB

$5,000: Everything from previous donation levels plus credit of Co-Executive Producer to appear in the main titles, IMDB inclusion, and dinner with available cast members and producers

 

Visit The Midnighters‘ Kickstarter campaign page here.

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