Kickstarter and Indiegogo are websites that help get ideas off the ground through independent public funding. A spectrum which ranges from the Pebble Smartwatches to that guy who needed some potato salad. Seriously. He raised $55 492 for some potato salad and threw a party for all his backers, I hear it got turnt. But filmmakers have also been jumping on this potato filled bandwagon to help ease the process and, while I’m still not entirely compatible with this notion, there have been some very decent films as a result. All of the following movies have either been entirely, or at least partially, funded by public backing through these sites, with many other projects still searching for backers if you want to get your feet wet. Apart from the potato salad guy, that ship’s long gone.
Wish I Was Here (2014)
Directed by Zach Braff
Featuring Zach Braff, Josh Gad & Kate Hudson
Arguably the most publicised of the Kickstarter backed projects is Zach Braff’s. To many people Zach Braff is J.D, the doctor from Scrubs with the voices in his head, but to me he is Garden State. Teenage me resonated with that movie, much like when teenage me read The Perks of Being a Wallflower, first heard Nirvana or paused that scene in Basic Instinct. Wish I Was Here chooses to follow Garden State’s blueprint. In 2004 Braff played a twenty something struggling actor trying to make sense of the world, ten years on, he plays a thirty something struggling actor trying to make sense of the world. With kids. And a hot wife. This path towards self discovery is a pretty well trod one for Braff as a director. That being said, Wish I Was Here is a decent movie, and it’s not without charm. Or old school Jewish zingers. But I’m going to let the similarities to Garden State slide. Mostly because I love that movie. And mostly because it introduced me to The Shins.
Keep The Lights On (2012)
Directed by Ira Sachs
Featuring Thure Lindhardt, Zachary Booth & Julianne Nicholson
God this one breaks your heart. In fact, it dips it in liquid nitrogen and shatters it against the wall. Ira Sachs’ highly personal, semi-autobiographical picture follows the relationship of Paul and Erik, two men who in reality probably shouldn’t have begun one in the first place. Spanning a decent chunk of time, Sachs cherry picks the only parts of a relationship you really remember; the good and the bad. They suffer the same problems every couple deals with at some point; expenses, wandering eyes and, well, crack cocaine. But all at an intensity and ferocity that turns the setting of New York City into nothing more than a screensaver backdrop. It proves that there is stark difference between what someone loves, and what they need and as this picture develops you realise that the title begins to change with it; from a house light, to a lighthouse.
Blue Ruin (2014)
Directed by Jeremy Saulnier
Featuring Macon Blair, Devin Ratray & Amy Hargreaves
Alright, here’s a list of awards this movie has won: All the Awards. And if I had to recommend one film from this list, it would be this one. It’s a blue collar, back woods noir, and apparently they’re the best kind. Saulnier’s work has drawn comparisons to the Coen Brothers, but I’ll go a step further and say it’s borderline Hitchcockian. Plus it is so good to have the antihero back. After the influx of Walter Mittys and Hectors hunting happiness, it’s refreshingly distressing to have a beardy man running around with a shiv back on the screen. I don’t want to say too much about the plot or characters in fear of spoiling it, but I will say that the ruin is in the details. Beautifully so.
Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014)
Directed by Spike Lee
Featuring Stephen Tyrone Williams, Zaraah Abrahams & Felicia Pearson
Spike Lee. You know, that guy who got into it with Reggie Miller at Madison Square Garden. The Wealdstone Raider of NYC. Makes movies from time to time on the side. Well he dropped a joint earlier this year which he called a Romantic-Horror-Comedy, but I’m going to call it a bloody blood film with blood. That being said, it is a stylish dapper blood with a Rolls, silk underwear and a turtleneck-suit-jacket combo Sterling Archer would be proud of. This film is slick arthouse with a jazz feel and some more blood, and I promise it’s not as bad as it sounds. Besides the music in this joint is awesome and the whole picture oozes style like Courvoisier. Like Blue Ruin, I’m not going to talk about the plot, but that’s mostly because there sort of isn’t one. Ultimately it’s another Kickstarter movie fixated with addiction, something I find rather aptly fitting. Ya Dig.
Little Feet (2013)
Directed by Alexandre Rockwell
Featuring Lana Rockwell, Nico Rockwell & Rene Cuante-Bautista
OK, let me just get out the Indie movie check list here. Shot in black and white. Check. Sigur Ros soundtrack. Double Check. Director’s kids feature. That’s a Full House. Honestly, this is starting to read like one of Wes Anderson’s wet dreams. But this, to me at least, really feels like how a Kickstarter backed project should. It’s poignant, emotive, innocent and all the other synonyms. Childish exuberance mingles with brief glimpses of cartharsis. It’s kids coming to terms with the death of their mother and the death of their goldfish, and while, technically, it may not be a full feature film, it is a film full of pleasing features. And I’ll bet that full house that Wes Anderson agrees.
Obvious Child (2014)
Directed by Gillian Robespierre
Featuring Jenny Slate, Jake Lacy & Gaby Hoffman
Obvious Child is a Rom-Com which involves an abortion. Not one about an abortion. So remove the immediate Juno parallels you may have instantly flicked your brain to. For one, she actually goes through with the procedure, in no way validating it, but rather grounding and normalising it. But it isn’t about abortion. So, Jenny Slate, who you should recognise from Bob’s Burgers, and if you don’t, then go watch Bob’s Burgers, is a goofy, aloof, woman in New York. Gloofy if you will. But not like Zooey Deschanel, more like Louie, with two X chromosones. Unlike the other movies listed, it’s not mesmerising with cinematography, or filled with blood, and shivs, and crack, but it’s rather sweet, fizzy and as honest as a cold shower. It’s a good Rom-Com, subverted a little.
Lazer Team (2015)
Directed by Matt Hullum
Featuring Alan Ritchson, Allie DeBerry & Gavin Free
One of the reasons I’m still slightly sceptical of Kickstarter/Indiegogo movies is because the majority of the time you need a dedicated fan base already established before you can go anyway. Zach Braff had one. So did Veronica Mars. And Rooster Teeth most definitely have one. The Youtube conglomerate and RvB behemoth managed to raise just under $2.5 million. $2.5 million! The Potato Salad guy only managed 55 grand. Money aside though, the jury is still out on this one. Principal photography on this sci-fi comedy is already underway and my biggest worry is what it always is; when youtubers branch out, it tends to get formulaic and this has the possibility to follow suit. That being said I really want this film to be good. I like Rooster Teeth. I like what they stand for. And I like that they’re always experimenting. Still, with everything taken into account, it can’t be worse than any of the Fred movies.