Creator Q&A: Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time

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Ben Hicks is a young filmmaker currently living in Japan, where he’s been at work on his film Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time. His previous short, an exceptionally well-made montage of a young hipster couple, earned him plaudits and attention. He hopes Kids Go Free can be a worthy follow-up.

Ben’s been keeping backers in the loop with updates (like this one where he’s wasted) and he’s very cleverly structured his rewards (there’s the “Uncomfortable Hug Level” and the one that promises a shark). We recently sent Ben some questions about his project.  Read our exchange below. Support his project here

This is a really ambitious project! Where did you come up with it?

The ending of this film has been clear in my head for close to five years now but the beginning of the film started out much less ambitious. I knew I wanted a couple going to the woods to escape from everyone and everything but I had a really tough time imagining what the characters did before they made this decision to go. Then in 2007 I started dating Rene Jermal who is also the producer of the film. She asked me if I wanted to teach abroad and travel around the world with her for a few years and it was at that moment everything clicked. It sounded like an amazing/exciting/terrifying way to spend the next few years of my life but I also realized that the characters in this film had to be globetrotters who were always on the lookout for the next new experience.

Why do you think it’s so important to live in each place before you make a portion of your film based around it?

Part of it is simply for logistical and financial reasons. I am 100% sure there is no way I could ever afford to make this film if I was still living in Chicago. To fly cast and crew all over the world, shoot on film, work in a place we are completely unfamiliar, where we don’t know the language and don’t know the locals… it just sounds impossible. I could,however, rationalize making a short film every few years by living in the country, getting to know the people, the area, a bit of the language THEN have the crew fly in and shoot the section. Once we’ve done that with all four sections, we’ll have a feature film! I also realized that since this story is about a couple traveling over a series of years, not only would it be doable to take breaks between each section as we raise money and get to know the area but it would also add so much more to the film because we will see the characters physically get older.

But the other, more important reason is because it’s crucial for me to represent each culture truthfully and respectfully. I don’t want to make a film that puts a spotlight on all the differences between each culture; my goal is to really point out our similarities. Initially each new country feels very foreign but if you stick around long enough, you stop noticing the differences and start to understand exactly how similar we all are.

Many Japanese friends who read the script seem very excited because most western films that take place in Tokyo always seem to shoot in either Shinjuku or Shibuya. These are obvious places to shoot because they are quite impressive but in my experience I go to those areas about as often as I went down to the Loop in Chicago or I imagine, how often people in New York go to Times Square. It’s a great place to shoot but I wanted to show another side of Tokyo. The Tokyo most Westerners haven’t seen before, the Tokyo that might remind you of home.

Any favorite places you’ve been so far? What about places you can’t wait to go?

Funding this film mostly by myself has prevented me from traveling as much as I would like to but some highlights include: climbing Mt. Fuji, cherry blossom season in Ueno Park, the beautiful town of Beppu, the Nagasaki and Hiroshima atomic bomb museums and hiking through the jungles of Thailand and then sleeping in a tribal village and drinking their moonshine.

I really want to check out Cambodia and go horseback riding in Mongolia. I hear that Mongolia is so dark at night that you can see stars across the horizon.

How have people responded to your use of Kickstarter so far?

I tried to make my kickstarter videos very personal, almost like a video that I would only show my friends but I think it might be a little much for people who don’t know me. So I’m working on another video, a more professional video to really show how serious I am about this film. My friends and family know how important this is to me and they know how serious I am about this film but for the people who don’t know me…I think I might be coming off as just a goof.

So to answer your question, I’m getting lots of support from my friends and family and a little help from people I’ve never met but I want to assure everyone out there that I don’t take anything in life more seriously than filmmaking. We’re not just trying to make a film; with technology today, a film takes little more than a cheap camera, some friends and a bucket of blood. We’re trying to make a film to express some ideas that we all feel very strongly about, ideas we feel are worth sacrificing probably what will amount to 6 years of our lives trying to pursue.

Closing thoughts?

I just want to give a shout-out to everyone who has already donated and is helping spread the word and an extra special thanks to all you folks at Kickstarter. This idea is so pure, so simple, so beautiful and I know it’s only the beginning of things to come. More and more people are starting to realize that the way we have been consuming over the past 100 years has been so impersonal. How beautiful would each day feel if you knew every dollar you spent was helping someone achieve their dream?

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