(D)Riven

Writer & Director Brian Ramage is crowd funding his project and if you're reading this I want you to consider contributing. I'm not recommending this because Brian is a friend. He is; but he's a friend because he's an intelligent, passionate, and respectful filmmaker and a deeply sincere person. This is a project he's been working on for a long time now and, tired of struggling through the gauntlet of Hollywood, he's decided to go his own way. In my opinion (for what it's worth) he's gone the right way with this. He's chosen the right crowd-funding site and attached a talented and popular cinematographer (Philip Bloom) to the project. Brian (@reubal on twitter) is a capable director and Riven is a project that ought to be made a reality

A couple of weeks ago I shot out the following tweet: "Dear indie producers: I've seen many indieGoGo projects I'd have contributed to were they on on Kickstarter. Just sayin." I actually tweeted this in relief that Riven was trying to be funded through Kickstarter. I'm not saying this to belittle any filmmaker who is funding or trying to fund through indieGoGo - I have friends who have done so and they have my full respect - however a Kickstarter project suggests to me a higher degree of professionalism. I followed that tweet with: "In other words I'd put $100 toward a $1k movie made for $1k before putting $10 toward a $10k movie made for $1k."

Making a movie is a business venture. Once you want to move past, or do something besides, making zero-budget shorts (don't get me wrong, I love independent cinema on all scales), you're talking about investing large sums of money and you need to be serious about not throwing that money away. indieGoGo allows you to set a budget target for a film; but if you don't hit that target, you walk away with the money and can make the movie anyway. As a prospective investor I have a huge problem with this. The $1,000 movie you make isn't the movie I paid to get made - I paid for the $10,000 version of that move (and hopefully something even better). I understand that the contributions aren't exactly investments and that there are incentives for contributors, but let's get real - unless I'm contributing at a high level, I'm not contributing so much to get a signed DVD copy as I am to see a movie I'd like to see and to see something I believe in come to fruition.

On the other hand, if someone has set up to attempt funding through Kickstarter I know that they've given careful thought to what their budget should be. They've had to plan to pay what it takes to get the movie made, not less and not more. Well, maybe less if they're creative with their financing, but you get the point. If you don't hit your target you don't get to use my money to make a half-ass version of the movie. And your target is probably a reasonably low bid at production cost without being too much of a compromise. And, coming back to the topic of incentive packages, you can actually budget for them because you know how much money they will cost IF you need to fulfill them.

I'm sure that Indiegogo has its perks too, and, as I said, I don't want to criticize filmmakers too harshly that go that route. It just seems to me that in order to properly execute a movie you have to have your shit together. Having the confidence to effectively say, "I will not make this movie unless I can get my shit together," will part my cash from my wallet far faster than otherwise. It did with Riven