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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Will Kickstarter help Georgia's 'Pushin' Up Daisies' find a DVD afterlife?

FLOWER POWER: Art for Pushin Up Daisies
  • Courtesy of Patrick Franklin
  • FLOWER POWER: Art for 'Pushin' Up Daisies'
Tom Bernard, co-president and co-founder of indie distribution juggernaut Sony Pictures Classics, has declared “Empowered Filmmaker” the mantra for today’s indies. He warned filmmakers, “You can’t be dependent on somebody else to put your film into the marketplace.”

Bernard's proclamation coincided with an email received earlier this week from the team behind the Georgia-based zombie-comedy hybrid, Pushin’ Up Daisies, still in the throes of a festival run that includes an upcoming screening at DRAGON*CON. An interview with writer-director Patrick Franklink follows after the jump.

Hi everyone!
We are pleased to announce that we have just launched a fund-raising campaign to get "Pushin' Up Daisies" on DVD! This film has been a DIY adventure from the start, so why stop now? Using Kickstarter.com, (Editors' note: For those not in the know, Kickstarter is a Web site with the self proclaimed slogan "A new way to Fund & Follow Creativity" that allows filmmakers and other artists to crowd source projects by soliciting donations from the public.) we are raising funds via private contributions that at the most basic level rewards the backer of our project with a DVD copy of the film. And there are lots crazier rewards at lots crazier donation levels. Yes, people who support this cause will not go empty-handed.

Plus, there is no risk to backing the project: Donations will only be transacted if and when we achieve our goal. We have only until October 10, so act fast! Visit our Kickstarter page by clicking here or cut and paste the URL found below:

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/PushinUDaisies/pushin-up-daisies-on-dvd-family-flowers-and-zombie-0

You can also link to the page via our newly reformatted official website:

http://www.iamnotazombie.com/www/

Thanks to everyone for all your support. Exciting things are still on the horizon, including more screenings. More on that in a future email.

Best regards,
Patrick & Crew

What better time to reach out to Pushin' Up Daisies writer/director Patrick Franklin, a filmmaker taking Bernard's words, to heart and get this thoughts in the state of things in the DIY/Indie world?


Why Kickstarter and self-distribution?
The more I learn about self-distribution and all the resources out there to help people make their films available to the world, the more excited I get about it. It's very empowering to live in this age. I should think that anyone aspiring to make independent films today should feel much more encouraged than those who were setting out ten or twenty years ago. In those days, making films without a distribution deal already in place was like putting a message in a bottle: Who knew if it would ever be found and seen? Nowadays, there's always a way get your film seen. You might not make any money, but at least it can be seen. Worst-case-scenario, you can still just set up a website, put your film on it for free, and people anywhere in the world (mostly) can come to it if they want to. Maybe they don't want to, but that's still a lot better than just letting it sit on a shelf until Zahi Hawass's great great great grandchildren find it one day and put behind glass. Plus, you never know what can happen until you get out there. We put our trailer on a zombie-themed forum and somebody from Austria posted with countless exclamation points how eager he was to see the movie. And there's no reason why we can't make that happen for him.

Busking on the Street
  • Courtesy Icon
  • Busking on the Street

"Internet Busking" is a term I've come to like. The busker is somebody who shares their talent publicly and leaves it entirely up to the passer-bys whether they want to toss in a couple of coins or not. The internet allows for an artist to take that same concept to the world stage but with a little more anonymity for the passerby and with a little more respectability for the artist. Kickstarter has tapped into this phenomenon in a brilliant way with a very user-friendly system. Their vetting system also ensures that people's efforts are legit and that lends a certain respectability to the campaign. It's also nice to rub elbows (virtually that is) with so many different kinds of artists and projects.

Finally, I think that the industry has also changed enough (in attitude perhaps) that distributing a few DVD's here and there shouldn't necessarily make us less attractive to bigger distribution companies. Self-distribution isn't a pejorative; it's more a badge of honor. And as far as the market goes, we're probably only talking about getting a few thousand discs out there on our own, so that's not compromising anything. Distribution companies aim for millions, so I don't think our early efforts present any kind of threat to greater potential. In fact, if our DIY campaign is successful enough, maybe it simply makes us more attractive by proving the viability of our film on a small scale. Who knows? If a big company sees big potential and they want to supply the marketing to take our film to the next level, now we've got something to talk about. But, what's not a good idea anymore is just sitting on your thumbs and waiting on a phone call that's never going to come.

ZOMBIE PITCURE
  • Photo by Joe Hart
  • Zombies ruin Darren's shot and thwart his efforts to capture "truth" and "reality."

What does the DIY moniker mean to you?
DIY's a far-reaching term. Traditionally, it has meant having to call up the contractor after you tried to fix the sink yourself and ruined your parquet floor. But with low-budget, first-time films, we don't just have the luxury of calling up Magnolia or Paramount and saying, "Yeah, can you guys come in tomorrow and took a look at this indie-film I got. It might need a new trailer; I'm not sure. I'll leave the key under the door mat." There's nobody out there taking those calls. That means for most of us, we gotta figure out how to do it ourselves, for better or for worse. We made the film. We made the trailer. We made the website. We made the poster. We're making the DVD's and we'll be the ones selling them. Now that doesn't mean that I personally programmed the HTML for the website or that I'll be burning the discs or drawing the poster. We have a close network of people sharing the responsibilities and we'll be looking to fulfillment services to get the discs made and shipped. But, I think you can still call us DIY. I mean, Oscar Micheaux probably made all of us for all time unworthy of the DIY moniker, but by today's standards we're about as close as you get. And it doesn't hurt that DIY has a certain cache. It connotes self-reliance and anti-establishment, which the kids always seem to like.

Store owner Phil finds that, despite a zombie uprising, humans remain the primary source of all his problems.
  • Photo by Tom Pritchard
  • Store owner Phil finds that, despite a zombie uprising, humans remain the primary source of all his problems.

Does the deconstruction/fusion of the zombie genre help or hurt the film? How do you think of it?
I used to think it was a DEstruction of the zombie genre rather than DECONstruction, but in all seriousness, I worried quite a bit about how people were going to perceive this film, especially before they actually saw it. The last thing I wanted was to get lumped in with the countless efforts out there just riding the zombie fad. I was never interested in the fad and got antsy every time a new zombie hit broke through before, during, or after the making of our film. For us, although we had fun with the zombies no doubt, the zombies were an intentionally arbitrary implement for making a broader statement about movies, about genre, about convention, about reality, and about perception. My fear was that people would hear the concept or see the trailer and automatically dismiss us as a second-rate wannabe or maybe come see the movie expecting a big splatterfest and simply be disappointed.

So why choose zombies then? For one, perhaps the prevalence of zombies in contemporary cinema only emphasizes our statement about things like genre and convention. Secondly, once I started experimenting with the zombie theme, the story took on a "life" of its own and just really came together. Zombies also presented a lot of great visual possibilities that could be achieved on a small scale. So far, people from all persuasions have been very receptive to and very pleased with this film. Some real hardcore zombie fans have responded very enthusiastically to the film. People watch the trailer and seem to get what it's about and after they've seen it they're still pleasantly surprised by some of the twists and turns it takes. Our real test will come with our upcoming Dragon*Con screening; it's a genre-oriented convention where I'm sure people will have precise expectations and uninhibited opinions.

Mr. T pities the fool who doesn’t KickStart this movie!
  • Take the picture, fool!
  • Mr. T pities the fool who doesn’t KickStart this movie!

If you were in an elevator with George Clooney, Drew Barrymore, Tom Savini, Edward Norton, Mr. T, Michael Phelps, Chad McQueen, Don Swayze, Mike Morris and /or Soulja Boy, and you only had one DVD, who gets it?
Mr. T. Always Mr. T.

Zombie Walk
  • Courtesy AWC New's
  • Zombie Walk

Tell me something else interesting or unexpected.
We're having our first out-of-state public screening at the Modern Film Fest in Kannapolis, NC during the weekend of Oct. 1-3. We've been selected as the opening film and I am told that they will be organizing a "zombie walk" to kick off the screening. How cool is that?

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