Crowdfunding has become an invaluable tool for the indie filmmaker seeking funds for the start or completion of a project.

And here at MovieMaker, we applaud and champion workman-like campaign efforts. To raise awareness of great ideas and future talents, we will be highlighting a unique project every month during its funding campaign. If you have a project you’d like us to consider, drop us a line at: [email protected].

We hope you’ll share, support and be inspired by their stories.

This week’s Crowdfunder Pick is not a film itself, but rather a champion of film. For over 30 years, Vidiots in Santa Monica, California has functioned as more than just a video rental house; it has functioned as a film school of sorts, by making the most important aspect of cinematic education cheap and accessible: the films themselves.

Vidiots has remained open while the ghosts of closed video stores haunt strip malls across the nation, but it needs help. Re-formed as a nonprofit in 2012, the always ambitious organization is looking to continue ramping up its public programming and events via an Indiegogo campaign. Their impressive catalog of films (which, The Black List founder Franklin Leonard claims on the campaign page, is more than twice the amount of film titles available on other major streaming services combined) need preservation as well.

Out of Vidiots’ 50,000 titles, 11,000 are in the analog VHS format. Many of these VHS tapes never received a proper DVD release and don’t exist online, so without proper preservation and digitization, they stand to be lost forever (This echoes the early days of celluloid where most silent era films are gone forever).

With its prime industry-friendly location in downtown Santa Monica, Vidiots has no shortage of fans in the form of celebrity actors, directors and cinephiles (Annapurna head Megan Ellison famously became a benefactor a few years back), and their fingerprints can be felt everywhere about the space.

Frances McDormand and Joel Coen thank a fellow Vidiots patron for his film suggestion

Donor rewards are tops for cinephiles of all levels. The space’s intimate Annex screening room is available to host your weekday or weekend party needs, depending on your contribution level. If you contribute $2,000, you can even host a sleepover in the store, screening movies with up to 25 of your closest friends into the wee hours of the morning.

If you often find yourself daydreaming about programming that perfect retrospective of [insert your favorite unknown director], then Vidiots has a whole range of rewards to satisfy those desires as well. With $110, donors can join the company of Ira Sachs and Laura Dern by curating your own “Pix” shelf: a entire shelf of your own film picks. For $150, moviemakers can even get their own films added on a shelf alongside their heroes of cinema. On a smaller scale, $60 will let you dedicate a film you love with a personal note included with the film other Vidiots patrons take home.

Founders Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber understand that to compete with the convenience of home theater streaming services, they must set themselves apart. Vidiots offers something unique and more personal than watching titles suggested to viewers based solely on algorithms and watch history. The importance of community and active engagement in the film world cannot be understated, so help lend a hand in ensuring that gift is carried forth—all the while enjoying some sweet rewards!


Campaigners: Executive Director Maggie Mackay; Founders Patty Polinger and Cathy Tauber (above)Target Amount: $65,000

Amount Currently Raised: $26,651

Campaign Closing Date: October 19, 2016

Donor Reward Highlights, from the Campaign Page:

$50: A Vidiots T-Shirt with that iconic logo

$50: A one-of-a kind postcard from their famous postcard rack, hand selected and signed by one of Vidiots’ celebrity supporters.

$110: You-Pix-It Personal shelf. Get your own shelf for one month and share your favorite films with our extensive filmmaking/film loving communities.

$300: Your own weekday Annex event. Enjoy the use of their incredible, recently upgraded 48 seat micro-cinema, The Annex, for a private screening, workshop, or party.

$600: Let us send you movies. Do you live outside of Los Angeles? A Vidiots staff member will talk to you about your cinema taste, and then send you two packs of four films during the year, along with a Thank You note, a sticker, a celeb postcard, and a Tee.

$1,000: Harry Dean Stanton Tribute. Two VIP tickets to Vidiots’ tribute to the iconic actor at the Historic theatre at the Ace Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles. Tributes and performances from Kris Kristofferson, Father John Misty, Karen O, Jack Huston, Inara George, John C. Reilly ensure a night not be missed. Tickets include an after party at a private loft in downtown Los Angeles. Includes sticker, Thank You note, postcard signed by one of their celeb supporters, and your choice of tote or tee.

$2,000: Video Store Sleepover Party. Grab 25 of your closest film-loving friends for an overnight movie marathon in Vidiots’ Annex microcinema. Pick your favorites from their library of over 50,000 titles. Dinner and all the booze you can handle on Vidiots. Includes thank you note, and special surprise sleepover swag for your party. MM

To donate to Vidiots’ Indiegogo campaign, visit the page here.