Fund Me, Fund Me: 12 Crowdfunded Projects Shooting for Success

TheWrap picked 12 film-related projects that you may be seeing soon

Last Updated: August 22, 2012 @ 5:13 PM

No, question: When it comes to raising funds for film projects, crowd-sourcing is hot.

>> Bret Easton Ellis exceeded his $100,000 goal on Kickstarter for "The Canyons," starring Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen, by more than $59,000.

>> Russell Crowe donated $25,000 through Kickstarter to fund screenwriter Mark Staufer's "The Numinous Place," a transmedia, "cosmic detective story" that even, to its credit, features an app that induces lucid dreaming.

>> Even folk-punk starlet Amanda Palmer is financing her next album, tour and art book with the — are you sitting down? — $1.2 million she raised in a month on the site.

Also read: Kickstarter: the Indie Filmmaker's New Best Friend

Indeed, crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, which allow anyone to post a project or donate money to someone else's, have democratized the financial backing of all kinds of projects. From films to publication launches, the campaigns typically last a month and include donor rewards and fresh updates from the artists.

And after starting out as a means for indie and student ventures to get off the ground, the allure of cutting out the studio middlemen has drawn industry heavyweights, too.

TheWrap has curated a list of 12 film-related projects that we believe have a shot at success. Some are close to their fundraising goals, others have just begun their campaigns. 


Filmmaker: Michael Dorn
Where to Find It: Kickstarter
Goal: $750,000
What's the Deal?: Rallying his career post-"Star Trek" was no easy task for actor Dorn, whose been plagued by simple question of semantics: Was he Michael Dorn, the actor with 133 titles on his IMDb page? Or was he the Klingon Worf, a ridged-headed warrior aboard the Starship Enterprise?

Dorn hopes to document the experience in a memoir documentary starring a few of his fellow 'Star Trek" alumni, such as Marina Sirtis and Nana Visitor.

He has so far raised about $45,000 of the $750,000 goal since Aug. 6. It's a lofty target. But with big names and a loyal, if obsessive, fanbase to draw from, the documentary could really take off.


Filmmaker: Nguyen-Anh Nguyen
Where to Find It: Indiegogo
Goal: $7,500
What's the Deal?: In 2002, Warner Bros. acquired the rights to make a live-action film of the acclaimed Japanese Manga "Akira." They've made four attempts and turned up nothing. Most recently, in January 2011, they even shifted the story location from Neo-Tokyo to Neo-Manhattan. But the studio canned the project, set to star Garrett Hedlund, in January due to casting, scripting and budget issues.

Nguyen-Anh, a longtime "Akira" fanboy, is now leading a project separate from Warner's with his Montreal-based production company, CineGround. He told TheWrap that he believes the studio's copyright won't be violated, as he plans to release his fan film online for free.

And he hopes to create a film that is as true to the original source material as possible, he said.

So far, it has raised about $1,800 of its $7,500 goal. With two weeks left to go, it may be time to start posting links to the IndieGogo site on 4Chan's Manga message board.


Filmmaker: PalmDoorFilms' Susan Stahman and Howard S. Berger
Where to Find It: Kickstarter
Goal: $40,000

What's the Deal?: Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin, as shown in the Kickstarter video, thinks you should donate to this film, produced and directed by former MTV videographers Susan Stahman and Howard S. Berger.

That's because he, like many other British rock stars, was influenced by Joe Meek, one of the U.K.'s first independent music producers. 

An unsung hero of the British Invasion, Meek nurtured hundreds of artists' careers, including Page and Steve Howe of Yes.

It has only begun raising money — it has nearly two months to close the gap between its current $3,000 and its $40,000 goal.

Hopefully for the filmmakers, if audiences don't cough it up, the aging rock gods they interviewed might share some of their spoils.


Filmmaker: James Duke Mason
Where to Find It: Kickstarter

What's the Deal?: A young actor is about to get a "Twilight"-like (Twilike? Is that a thing yet?) role — then he gets blackmailed with a sex tape. 

James Duke Mason, an openly gay actor, hopes his fictional film can examine contemporary Hollywood through a noir prism, analyzing the effects of masking one's true identity.

Thanks in part to Mason's connections — his mother is Go-Go's singer Belinda Carlisle and his grandfather was the legendary British actor James Mason — the film has raised much of the money it needs: It's less than $5,000 away from its $25,000 with a week left to go. 

It remains to be seen if other LGBT activists (or tri-named Angelenos) in Hollywood — we're looking at you, Dustin Lance Black — will chip in.


Filmmaker: Brick Maier
Where to Find It: Kickstarter

What's the Deal?: Brick Maier, a Los Angeles-based designer, had a vision: What if film students could learn the 101 process on a shrunken-down mini-studio?

He took a cardboard box and designed it to easily assemble into a miniature stage.

Then, he included cut-out characters and props and handheld LED lights with color filters. The camera set is perfectly sized for iPad or iPhone cameras to capture a complete view.

The cardboard box studio works functions — albeit minimalistically — like a regular studio, providing a chance for a tactile youth to learn the basics of shooting a show.

And, as a reward for backers, Maier is offering package deals for educators who want to help fund him with a week left to spare. That way, if a school or afterschool program chooses to invest in the project, it can also serve as a fresh set of guinea pigs. 


Filmmaker: Frank H. Woodward
Where to Find It: Kickstarter

Goal: $8,500
What's the Deal?: Chewbacca, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, Godzilla — each one had a man behind the mask. Here, filmmaker Frank H. Woodward unveils the unsung heroes of many an action movie, interviewing "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Hellboy" beast Doug Jones, "Predator" Brian Steele and "Men in Black" actor John Alexander, among others.

The documentary will likely attract industry wonks and monster-movie fans and has so far raised about $2,800, but it has a month left.

7. "BFFs

Filmmaker: Tara Karsian and Andrea Grano
Where to Find It: Indiegogo
Goal: $45,000
What's the Deal?: Character actress Tara Karsian ("The Mentalist," "The Number 23," "ER") teams up for a feature film with her BFF, Andrea Grano.

The duo, in a giggle-filled explanatory video on their Indiegogo fundraiser, describe the feature they're working on — half buddy project, half road-trip film, all analyzing female best-friendships.

Movies about male pals abound, but "BFF" could come at an ideal time. Thanks to the recent blockbuster "Bridesmaids," and buzz on the upcoming "Bachelorette," more than ever, audiences want to see the relationships between girls dissected.

With a little over a week left to go, they've raised about $14,000. 


Filmmaker: Lorne Hiltser
Where to Find It: Kickstarter
Goal: $19,000
What's the Deal?: Imagine if, in the movie "Holes," Shia LaBeouf was locked in a cafe. On a beach. With no water.

The trailer for "Incident(s) at Paradise Bay" shows a haggard-looking teenager, Marcus, in a cage on a beach. He is underfed, overworked and sits in the sun all day without water.

It's part of a film fictionalizing the true experiences at a tough-love reform camp in the 1990s, when middle-class parents once fashionably sent their rowdy children for a little attitude correction.

The project's reception has been lukewarm so far — it has raised a little over $4,000 — but it has another 20 days to pull it off.


Filmmaker: Daniel Frei
Where to Find It: Kickstarter
Goal: $10,000
What's the Deal?: Filmmaker Daniel Frei is sick of young Americans' monolithic view of Beijing.

The city of 1980s movies — often replicated in U.S. Chinatowns — is a thing of the past, he argues. The booming Chinese capital is like any modern metropolis — gritty, artsy, chic.

His multimedia project — led by a team of filmmakers, designers and reporters to cover make the guide comprehensive and attractive — the documentary explores the city in ways tour guides and their befannypacked clients fail to, taking viewers from the hippest clubs to the places locals go for grub.

The project has already exceeded its goal and will be granted its money on Thursday.


Filmmaker: Saman Giraud
Where to Find It: Indiegogo
Goal: $25,000
What's the Deal?: Sounds salacious, eh? More like ambitious, if not alluringly alliterative.

Vienna-born, New York City-based filmmaker Saman Giraud pitches herself as an indefatigable artist, determined to create her film about a Parisian painter turned New Yorker who fails — four times, in fact — to score a guy who isn't hiding the ring on his left hand.

She has raised about $6,500, and she has a little more than a week left on her campaign.

Of course, if it doesn't work this time, Giraud should try and try and try again. If her film is right, the fourth time's a charm.


Filmmaker: Alex J. Mann and David Monk
Where to Find It: Kickstarter
Goal: $1,500
What's the Deal?: New York City. 2012. The city is in the middle of a tech boom, as Silicon Alley flexes its East Coast muscle at the titans in Silicon Valley.

While mortgages and pensions seemed to dry up with old, industrial jobs, venture capital is streaming through startups and into the pockets of people with job titles like "social media ninja" and "marketing guru" and "tech sherpa."

This web series about two hapless wannabe entrepreneurs looking to break into the industry. Trouble is, they have no ideas for a company before they pitch themselves to some VCs. Their mission to raise money for their amorphous company has just begun, as has their goal of raising cash for the series — about $200 of the total it hopes to raise in under a month.

The concept isn't new. Besides harping on pretty widely laughed-at startup culture tropes, the characters harken back to the gibberish-talking duo in College Humor's short "Hardly Working: Startup Guys."

But, hey, anything to tickle a Mashable reader's fancy.

12. "NEKKO"

Filmmaker: Mishka Kornai
Where to Find It: Kickstarter
Goal: $10,000
What's the Deal?: The Orange County-based filmmakers seem to have envisioned "Pan's Labyrinth" with an Akira Kurosawa flair.

The film follows a little girl and her single mother in feudal Japan. The mother works her to the bone as they struggle to survive. Then one day, a slowly closing, root-bound crevice appears in the family's backyard — and the mother is gone. The girl crawls underground and discovers a suspicious little boy with thousands of animated origami creatures.

As yet, they've raised nearly half the $10,000 goal, with a little more than two weeks left.


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