The last thing I intended was for CinemATL to become “all Kickstarter, all the time” but lately the heat of the site is permeating every corner of the filmmaking spectrum. I went back to the site after reporting on the latest Afterlight Pictures project Pissed Off Clown and found many other Atlanta based filmmakers with current Kickstarter campaigns. The projects are so varied that I felt that I should highlight a couple of very different efforts. While I was there I found projects like Babeability which appears to be a comedically surreal series on feminity, I found Fishers of Men, a serious documentary about street preachers, as well as Vargas which bills itself as a next generation Blaxploitation movie. However, I also found two projects about as far apart from each other as I could imagine from Atlanta filmmakers who have been part of the scene for quite some time. Those projects are Othello: A Modern Adaptation and Lumber Baron: Season 3.
Othello: A Modern Adaptation tells the story of an Iraqi War vet fueled by jealousy and lies who throws aside honor and a promising political career in his pursuit of vengeance against former allies.
The Lumber Baron of Jasper County is a comedic web series that follows the adventures of the Lumber Baron and his employees as they try to survive the madness of the lumber business.
I took some time to speak with John Pruner who will be directing the Shakespeare adaptation as well as Dave Watkins who writes, produces and stars in the other Shakespeare adaptation set in Jasper County.
John Pruner, Othello: A Modern Adaptation:
We chose to do Shakespeare because everyone involved has such a strong connection to his work. Having all been brought up in the theater we've acted the words, studied the texts, really breathed and lived in the characters that Shakespeare created. From that we wanted a way to combine this classic text with relevant themes of modern times. Our adaptation focuses less on racial conflict and more so on the psychology of a group of men whose minds have been shattered by war; their bond of brotherhood unraveling. We see the transformation of a man of action struggling to become a politician and lose himself between both identities. That, I think, is something bold and unexamined in a time when adapting another work to the screen seems to mean adding superficiality and glitter instead of context.
2. What do you think Kickstarter brings to the table that traditional networking doesn't?
I think crowd funding in general, and Kickstarter in particular, is a marvelous new notion about how to fund the arts. It's not necessarily easier than traditional routes of funding a movie, but you can immediately engage and start building your audience, and through that discover whether or not your premise has traction. There's a lot of grey area right now in terms of accountability and return of investment, but what's amazing is that Kickstarter alone is set to surpass the N.E.H. for funding by a large margin and is continuing to gain popularity. I think it's something that can and should be coupled with the traditional networking for investment capital, but as a filmmaker you must be very explicit about doing so. That's where I think Zach Braff caught so much flack because he made it seem otherwise. His business model of funding his film in thirds: 1/3 crowd funding, 1/3 from himself, and 1/3 from private capital, is really interesting and indicative of where indie filmmaking is moving towards. It's a bold new model, still rough around the edges, but to me it's a continuation of the democratization of filmmaking that started over 30 years ago.
For more information on OTHELLO: a Modern Adaptation, check their Kickstarter Page here:
Dave Watkins, Lumber Baron: Season 3
1. This is your 3rd season of Lumber Baron, why turn to Kickstarter now?
I've been curious about raising funding from a kickstarter program since before season one, but have been skeptical as to if it would be successful. My main concern is the amount of time it takes to run the program and build the page; time I can use on the production of the series. But on the other hand it would be nice to have some extra funding as we've been coming out of pocket for the production expenses and over time that becomes more difficult to do. I decided not to do a Kickstarter for season 2 because I wanted to focus more on the production, but with season 3 I figured why not give it a shot and see what happens. Plus if anything it will help draw more attention to the series for viewership purposes, I justified the extra work I've had to put into it that way.
2. How different is the experience in making a web series than producing a short film or even a feature?
You get to spend more time with the characters and there's more room for growth since you don't have to stick as rigidly to a particular plot. Plus since it's told in episodes, you can tell a lot of different stories with the same characters, so you don't have to develop new main characters for each story. Also story wise, you can tell larger story arcs that can build slowly while spreading over several episodes or a whole season. I actually have enjoyed working in the format much more than any features or shorts I've previously produced.
3. What do you plan on doing after "Lumber Baron" has its run?
Even after we finish shooting it as a series, I would like to produce a Lumber Baron short here and there. Otherwise I don't have any current plans, just focusing on Season 3 production. Maybe I'll switch gears and do something different, maybe something in the horror or thriller genre.
For more information about The Lumber Baron of Jasper County check their Kickstarter page here: