This piece was a birthday present for my dear friend Robert Wagner 20 years ago. Now I'm re-gifting it to him. Rob was the singer for The Blasés, a band that was hugely popular in New Jersey in the '80s and '90s. This piece features some great tracks from Rob's solo work.
We went on a hike up Shrine Pass outside of Vail, Colorado, along with my mom, Nancy Devlin, and my girlfriend at the time, Shannon Stanczak. Of course, I brought a video camera and of course, Rob starting riffing.
Funky Clown Town was a short, humorous moment in SlamNation. The low scores and look of disappointment said it all. However, that moment catapulted this poem into cult celebrity in the slam poetry community. Everyone wanted more of Funky Clown Town. Here it is, in all its glory.
Two Freestyling legends go head-to-head, in the most important hip hop battle of last century!
The Making of Freestyle (continued)
The premiere of Freestyle in Park City was fantastic! Sundance and Slamdance were in full swing, we rented a house, and the entire team joined us – some from early stages of the movie, whom I hadn’t met yet, including Kevin’s sister, Executive Producer Tiara White. Lots of supporters joined us and the freestyler Wordsworth, came along as well and it was fun to get to know him. I was exhausted from the all-nighters getting ready, but it was still a great party and a packed house for the premiere. The audience LOVED the movie! De La Soul was playing during the festival and Henry managed negotiate a deal with a hip hop clothing sponsor to make that show the Freestyle After Party! Fantastic! Wordsworth performed with them, a great mix of generations. Such a fun time.
SlamNation producer Thom Poole shot this footage of Jessica Care Moore recording her album. These moments capture the beginnings of performance poetry branching out and “spoken word” becoming more recognizable as a commercial art form by the mainstream.
Thanks to all of you, dear backers, we exceeded the funding goal for The Front Man!
Kickstarter has turned out to be a truly energizing experience and your generous support has been exhilarating.
Now it's our turn to come through for you. We've already started working on putting together your rewards - Jim is picking out the 45RPM records, we're planning the Record Room night and deciding how Outrageous those Outtakes can be.
And of course, we'll be working on finishing The Front Man right away. I have already hired some very experienced, objective eyes to help me fine tune the cut. After that a Fair Use lawyer will make sure all the outside footage and music conforms to Best Practices in Fair Use. That will allow us to lock picture and move on to the online, color correction and audio sweetening.
We'll let you know when we finish up the movie. Keep an eye out for a survey from Kickstarter, so we can get the info we need to send out the special pre-release DVD of The Front Man as well as the other rewards.
And then we'll look forward to announcing the premiere! Very exciting!
"Look Your Customers in the Eye" is an article by Paul Devlin, published in Filmmaker Magazine.
Independent filmmaker Brian Paul is a man who lives his films. In that spirit, he has taken DIY film distribution to a whole new level. Street level, that is.
For the past two years, Paul has made a comfortable living by selling his hybrid fi lm Cure for the Crash…The Art of Train Hoppin’ directly from art market street stalls in New Orleans. His unique distribution strategy has proved remarkably successful. Paul claims to have sold thousands of DVDs of Cure for the Crash by personally engaging more than 100,000 people face-to-face.
“When I was a teenager in West Philly,” Paul explains, “I used to work in a pawn shop, where I learned how to help people make a decision.” Later, his aggressiveness evolved into charm as Paul took a job selling art at high-end galleries on Royal Street in New Orleans. Paul went on to use these sales skills to move DVDs of Cure for the Crash from his Vespa at historic Jackson Square in the Big Easy while simultaneously pushing hard with mailings and email blasts to attract a distribution deal.
As I take my Kickstarter campaign out into the world, I have encountered what may be a fairly common sentiment among filmmakers regarding crowdfunding. It’s paraphrased here:
“Hey your Kickstarter looks great! Here’s the problem: I get asked so often to join crowd-funding campaigns that I have made it a policy not to back any. But I wish you the best of luck with your project!”
Here is my open response to that response:
I understand that point of view completely! In fact that was my policy exactly for the longest time.
Until of course, I started my own Kickstarter campaign...
Now, I have a new appreciation for what a nervy, risky undertaking crowdfunding is. Not only is the life of the project at stake, but so is one’s self-esteem. As filmmaker Allison Bergsays, "It's like losing a popularity contest every day." The “ask” is so difficult – who wants to hassle family, friends and colleagues for money? And then what message does it send if the campaign ultimately fails? I have great respect for anyone who makes a serious effort. So I have dropped my rule and now evaluate crowdfunding requests I receive on their individual merits.
This is reinforced by the buzz at IFP Film Week a few days agothat crowdfunding for independents may have a limited window of effectiveness. Big players like Sony Pictures Classics and Disney are sniffing around crowdfunding as a potential tool to supplement their mega-marketing campaigns. Maybe there’s room for everyone. Or maybe independents will get crowded out of crowdfunding, as the whole world applies this policy to all but the loudest campaigns. It won’t be the first time artists get squeezed from the space we pioneered. So, I will embrace the moment while it lasts.
In the meantime, crowdfunding is rapidly becoming essential for independents. Not only is it the only funding option for many projects, but gatekeepers may soon be expecting it as the first step of a distribution strategy. They will be looking at the success of the campaign and the dollar figures, but also the number of backers. These will be used to evaluate the filmmaker’s social capital and the viability of his or her project. There may come a time when every independent film needs to start with a crowdfunding campaign.
As filmmakers, we may want to support the health of independent film generally by applying an alternative rule of thumb that increases backer numbers: Back every crowdfunding request with at least a single dollar.
So I encourage you to reconsider your policy and start your first crowdfunding campaign sooner rather than later.
What is your personal policy regarding requests to support crowdfunding? Are we approaching a point of saturation where filmmakers will start to withdraw from the funding process? Or will the necessity to create our own campaigns encourage us to back others more consistently?
Mr. E 'transcends' in this virtuoso improvisational performance excerpted from Freestyle - The Art of Rhyme.
The Making of Freestyle (continued)
Eventually, the hard work on the re-edit of Freestyle paid off and the movie was accepted into the Slamdance Film Festival in 2002. We had to work hard to finish, we recruited graffiti artist, EQ to do the titling work for the Chapter headings. (EQ was also a shooter and provided some priceless historical footage, including one of the angles of the Supernatural vs. Craig G battle. It took a lot of to convince him to give that up). I took EQ’s work to my edit room at CBS to trick it out with video and effects.