Saving Blue Like Jazz
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“The hero of this story is you.” — Don Miller, The Story of Blue Like Jazz the Movie
On September 16th, Don Miller, author of the bestselling novel Blue Like Jazz, announced on his blog that the film adaptation he had spent four years working on was dead. Funding had been lost, and the movie could not be finished.
Or could it?
A week later, two fans of the book, Jonathan Frazier and Zach Prichard, decided to take things into their own hands. They convinced Miller and director Steve Taylor to let them launch a Kickstarter project to raise $125,000 — the minimum needed to complete the film — with a bold campaign: Save Blue Like Jazz.
The project launched on September 24th. After three days they had a measly $300. On September 29th Miller blogged about the effort, and the internet woke up. Within a week the project had astonishingly raised its full $125,000 — Blue Like Jazz was saved.
In the two and a half weeks since, the project has gone on to double that total. It ends at midnight tonight, and it’s rapidly closing in on an astonishing $300,000 — the largest amount raised in Kickstarter’s history, and the largest crowdfunding total ever for a US film. Not bad for two fans with a crazy idea.
In the past fans have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars buying billboards, full-page ads, and other public pronouncements to save their favorite shows. The results have been mixed. Hapless executives are hardwired to value dollars over fans, and these fan-funding campaigns have traditionally fallen on intentionally deaf ears.
But to see fans use their voices and dollars to make the thing happen on their own is a whole other thing. If fans are willing to pony up for the production, what recourse do executives have? What’s there to say if fans declare they want to see the thing so badly that they will pay for it?
Where Hollywood has failed we fans can step in. We know what we want to see, we know what we want to exist. Blue Like Jazz spectacularly demonstrates that we can, in fact, do something about it. Congratulations to the filmmakers and — most of all — to the fans. Now what are we saving next?