Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!: Grant Me a Wish


Welcome to Just Crowdfund the $&*# Movie!, where indie moviemaker Jayce Bartok talks about the dos and don’ts of crowdfunding from the trenches of his own crowdfunding campaign. Have a question for Jayce about his movie, Tiny Dancer, or just crowdfunding in general? Ask away at .

The first movie of 2012 that I saw in theaters was Pina, a stunning 3-D documentary tribute to famed German choreographer Pina Bausch, directed by an idol of mine, Wim Wenders. The poster for Pina reads “Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost,” so Tiffany, Tiny Dancer’s DP Kate Phelan and I figured it was mandatory viewing. Wenders’ lyrical films, like Wings of Desire, The American Friend and Paris, Texas, were my film-school-on-VHS, a result of my older brothers and sister watching art films in our living room while they attended NYU. I may never be able to shake the full-frontal “poop” scene in Kings of the Road—shocking and strangely natural.

While I waited in line at the IFC Center screening in New York City to meet Mr. Wenders, who was on hand sign his photo books and participate in a Q&A, I held a handful of poster cards for Tiny Dancer. It was my hope that he would go to our site and watch our trailer, especially since he’s been quoted in interviews about Pina as saying he’s finally cracked the solution to filming dance in its truest, most visceral form… by using 3-D cameras. I wanted to say to him: “Hey, Wim, we used this GoPro camera and had our lead dancer, Katherine Crockett, hold it in her hand, and it’s pret-ty cool, Wim!” (You can see some of this on our new production reel.)

I did not say any of this. I muttered something about actor Frederic Forrest (Apocalypse Now, The Rose), who starred in Wenders’ Hammett and was also the best man at my wedding. Long story. Anyway, he took my card for Tiny Dancer, studied it in a poetic German film maestro way and say: “Good, so now I have this, I will check it out.”

I then scurried into the theater to behold a wonderful, beautiful tribute to the late Pina Bausch. The film juxtaposes scenes of her choreography—in a theater, outside in both urban and rugged settings and even on a tram—with interviews with her grief-stricken yet empowered company members. Did it reinvent how moviemakers should film dance? I hope Wenders isn’t reading… yes and no. I mean, he hasn’t seen Tiny Dancer yet!

I’m not sure how Wenders funded Pina—probably through some amazing German government film subsidy (they do those kinds of things everywhere but in the U.S.!)—but if he’d made it in this country, it’s the type of project that would have been ideal for grant funding. It’s grant season over here, and Tiffany and I are busy applying for the scant few narrative production grants around. I’ll name a few, and you can Google to your heart’s content: Creative Capital, The Fledgling Fund, NYSCA, NEH and The Jerome Foundation.

All of the above require an application that feels like a term paper. You have to provide a project narrative, a complete budget, résumés for the team, work samples and answers to specific questions pertinent to each individual grant, like “Is your vision for the film in keeping with our mission to educate communities, and how will you use your project to create and develop outreach?” Time to break out the Red Bull and the NoDoz. (Is that still legal?)

If you’re lucky enough to get one of these grants, you can get a large boost to your budget (sometimes up to $50,000) and amazing mentor support. Our goal is to land one of these and use it to fill out the missing piece of Tiny Dancer’s budget, which would be, um, like $75,000.

Stay tuned for more tales from the front as we get ready for Sundance 2012!

Jayce Bartok is an actor/producer/writer/director who runs Vinyl Foote Productions from Brooklyn with his wife Tiffany. He wrote, co-produced and starred in The Cake Eaters and can currently be seen in USA’s “White Collar” and in the upcoming feature films Predisposed, opposite Melissa Leo, and Price Check, both premiering at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. To stay updated on his Tiny Dancer progress, follow @JayceBartok and @TICNYC on Twitter.

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