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 .
I realize that my last post or two might have been sending some of you toward Downerville, so for this week’s blog—the last before this Sunday’s Oscars—I’ve decided to envision a happy future: It’s 2020, and three of the Best Picture Oscar nominees are crowdfunded. You may think it couldn’t happen, but the fact of the matter is that it’s not that far off.
Did you know that last year’s Oscars saw director Jennifer Redfearn’s Sun Come Up, a Kickstarter-funded documentary short about the relocation of the Carteret Islanders, pick up a nomination? The film met its funding goal of $14,000 in February 2010; then, a year later, the moviemakers were at the Oscars!
This year, crowdfunded documentaries Battle for Brooklyn (directed by Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley) and The Loving Story (directed by Nancy Buirski) were both on the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary Feature. The former, which chronicles the efforts of community activists to save their neighborhood from a massive real estate development, met its goal of $25,000 in December of 2009. The latter film—about an interracial couple who found themselves at the center of a groundbreaking Supreme Court case in 1950s Virginia—reached its $15,000 goal in January of last year.
It can happen! All of us out there struggling to put together every last nickel for our films can rest assured that the aforementioned moviemakers are blazing the way for small, crowdfunded projects to reach Oscar gold. But what about full-length narrative films, with their larger budgets and star prerequisite? Will a crowdfunded feature ever achieve Oscar glory?
Slumdog Millionaire and American Beauty, both Best Picture winners, were each made for $15 million. The Hurt Locker’s estimated budget is $11 million, and Crash was made for $6.5 million. Rocky was made for $1.1 million—of course, it won Best Picture back in 1977. Everyone loves to talk about Pulp Fiction, with its $8 million budget, being nominated. But all those numbers still seem way out of reach.
Once, the charming Irish love story/musical, is the sort of film that’s a natural fit for my fictional 2020 Oscar lineup. Made for only $160,000 using digital cameras, the film received an Academy Award in 2008 for stars Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová’s song “Falling Slowly.” If it were being made today, I could absolutely see Once getting its start on Kickstarter or IndieGoGo.
While it’s not possible quite yet, it’s getting there.
Without further ado, here are my three fictional crowdfunded nominees at the 2020 Oscars (drumroll, please):
• Goose, a charming love story between an older woman (Meryl Streep) and her pet goose, shot in 14 days on a farm in Kansas.
• Baltimore Song, in which a deaf inner city youth runs away from home, only to sneak onstage at the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and sign an aria of love and pain.
• Jumping Jax, a hilarious comedy about a recent college grad who travels around the country in his Volvo scamming hapless Americans by claiming to “green” their homes.
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 of which premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. To stay updated on his Tiny Dancer progress, follow @JayceBartok and @TICNYC on Twitter.