From crop dusters to gospel churches, Grammy nominated DIR Chris Hicky's debut feature captures the heart & soul of the Arkansas delta.
“I was seldom able to see an opportunity until it had ceased to be one." Mark Twain
WE"VE REACHED OUR FUNDING GOAL, NOW WHAT??
Now it's time to see how far this thing can go! Any money over our initial 125k goal goes right back into the film. More pledges mean more shooting days, more crew, better gear, more production value.
Here are our stretch goals-
STRETCH GOAL #1 - 135k - SHOOT ON FILM - If we can reach the 135 mark we plan to shoot this movie on either super 16mm or 3 perf 35mm film. All movies were once shot on film, it's still in our opinion the best looking format. However, with the recent advance of HD video more and more feature films are shot on cameras such as the Alexa and the Epic. A lot of the movies you see in the theater are shot on HD video. The technology is amazing, however I still prefer the look and feel of film. One of the advantages of HD is that is costs less than film. There is no negative to buy, no processing in a darkroom, etc. If we can reach the 135k mark then our goal is to film this movie on good ole' Kodak or Fuji film stock!
STRETCH GOAL #1 - 145k - THREE EXTRA SHOOT DAYS - A movie production is built around a schedule based on shoot days. The lower budget the movie, the less shoot days. With fewer shoot days it means more pages of a script have to be shot per day. If we can add a few days it means we can take a little more time on each scene. If we reach the 145k mark our goal is to add 3 shoot days to The Grace of Jake!
STRETCH GOAL #1 - 155k - MUSIC RIGHTS - Our movie is all about music. A few of our actors are musicians who will bring their music to the soundtrack. That said, we still will need to use some outside music for a couple of scenes. There are two particular popular songs (one southern rock, one country) that we want to use in the movie. It's expensive to get the rights to these kinds of songs, but if we hit the 150k mark we will be able to do just that!
And now for some info about our project-
HELP US MAKE THE GRACE OF JAKE!
Grammy nominated music video and commercial director Chris Hicky is set to helm his debut feature film, The Grace of Jake. Written by Hicky, this delicious tale takes place in the Arkansas delta. It’s here amidst crop dusters and gospel churches where the story unfolds as wayward musician JAKE HAYES confronts a father he has never met. It's here in the middle of nowhere where Jake finds everything- life, love and a gospel record contract. This is a small movie by Hollywood definition, but our heart is big. So are our aspirations for this project.
Our goal is to film on location in Arkansas this September with a premier at a major film festival such as Sundance, South By Southwest, or Cannes. From there, we hope for a world-wide theatrical release thus bringing The Grace of Jake to a theater near you. A lot has to happen between now and then, and it all starts with you.
"This movie is the culmination of every good thing that has been a part of my life- family, movies, music, spirituality, farming, literature, and grace. I am so excited to be able to come home and direct my first feature film. I cannot wait to share with you all this world, these characters, this story." - Hicky
I'M INTRIGUED, TELL ME WHAT THE MOVIE IS ABOUT!
Fresh out of prison, drifter musician JAKE HAYES (38) steals a car and says goodbye to California. His destination is Palestine, Arkansas, population 678. It’s here amidst the cotton fields and gravel roads where his father HENRY HAYES lives and works as a crop duster pilot. Jake has never met his father, but holds him responsible for all of life's troubles- failure, jail, the death of his mother. Jake travels to the mid-south with the intention of revenge. However, once he gets to this small town, big things start to happen. It’s here amidst nothing that he finds everything - life, love, and a gospel record contract. The Grace of Jake is a movie about people, the characters just as important as the location. Jake soon becomes part of a colorful ensemble cast that is as authentic and soulful as it gets. And the situation he finds himself in are ripe with both opportunity and trouble. He sings at a gospel church, gets mixed up in a love triangle, records an album in a morgue, and learns to shoo skeet. And through it all Jake learns his momma may not have been quite so innocent. Seems as if she too had her own bit of trouble in the very same time years and years ago. This indigenous musical movie has the heart and feel of a foreign film, it’s country of origin just happens to be the Arkansas delta.
Character driven movies such as The Grace of Jake are often audience favorites. Void of any computer crafted effects, big explosions, or million dollar ad campaigns, these independent films tend to be the ones that leave lasting impressions. It’s hard to raise industry money for such projects though as the “suits” that write the checks seem to prefer the computer generated drama, the big expensive explosions, and the product placement. The Grace of Jake is not the kind of movie Hollywood studios will finance. We need your help so that heartfelt projects like ours don't fall through the cracks.
Yes we have an amazing script, yes we have incredible talent attached to the project, and yes we are super passionate about this story. However, that is not enough. We need you. We cannot do this alone. This is the kind of movie that requires creative financing. This is the kind of movie that comes together only because enough people believe in it and the team behind it. This is the kind of movie you watch and wonder why more movies are not as honest and life-affirming!
Your contribution today is the only reason we will be able to move forward with this project. If you love movies, or if you love art, or if you love the south, or if you love blues and gospel music, or if you just love giving money to people who love entertaining others, this is the project for you! Our main goal is to make a movie that makes people feel good about life, to bring a sense of "anything is possible" into the daily grind. Some call it escapism, we call it a great movie. So please help us make THE GRACE OF JAKE.
WHO ARE WE?
CHRIS HICKY is a writer/director living in Los Angeles, California. An Arkansas native, Chris has grown up with a camera in hand. His grandfather introduced him to photography which soon led to a love of the cinema. Making movies has been Chris’ dream as far back as he can remember. Chris has made quite a name for himself in the music video and commercial world. He’s been Grammy nominated, has won various directing awards, and has a client list that includes Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Carrie Underwood, and Lady Antebellum just to name a few. Chris has been directing for over a decade now and feels it is time to devote his talents to his true love- feature length films. The Grace of Jake is his passion project. He’s been working on the script for years now, has directed a few short films along the way (along with dozens of music and commercial projects), and feels that the time is right for The Grace of Jake.
JAKE LA BOTZ is a true American musical icon. Jake grew up in Chicago where he learned to sing and play the blues from some of the legends of the genre- David ‘Honeyboy’ Edwards, Homesick James, and Maxwell Street Jimmy Davis. Jake moved to Los Angeles, and his boyish looks and gravelly sound proved to be a unique draw. He has become a legend in his own time thanks to his authentic blues sound and soul. Jake has a world wide fan base that includes celebrities, dignitaries, fans, and hard core music lovers. Jake’s music can be heard in both film and television. To top it off, Jake is one heck of an actor. He’s been in movies such as Ghost World, Animal Factory, and On The Road, holding his own right alongside some of Hollywood's most respected stars. Jake also plays the lead in the stage musical “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County” written by Stephen King and John Mellencamp with musical direction by T-Bone Burnett. Jake of course is slated to play JAKE in The Grace of Jake. His music will of course be the heart of the soundtrack.
AND OUR PRODUCERS ARE . . .
Michael Wiebler comes to us fresh off his work for Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me 1 and 2). Upon graduating from The University of Iowa with dual degrees in Cinema and Marketing, Michael was fortunate enough to cut his teeth in the film industry assisting the Chairman of Universal Pictures for 3 years. He then helped launch Universal’s animation division, Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me), working in various capacities across business development, marketing and operations. Always with his eye on the big picture and his dream of producing, Michael is currently pursuing his MBA at the USC Marshall School of Business in the Entertainment Management program. This is his first independent production. (www.linkedin.com/pub/michael-wiebler/1a/770/17a)
STEVEN BROWN -- Steven Brown’s producing career spans over 28 years of feature films and television credits for major studios and networks, including Universal, Showtime, HBO and Fox. He has worked on a string of critically acclaimed independent films, including actor/director Robert Duvall’s THE APOSTLE, which won many national and international awards, including three Spirit Awards and an Academy Award nomination. Browns’ past films include highly successful studio and independent pictures such as WILD THINGS, GROSSE POINTE BLANK, DAZED AND CONFUSED, BIG MOMMA’S HOUSE, DOWN WITH LOVE, and DOUBLE IMPACT.
The really cool thing about Kickstarter is that you get rewards for your donations! And we have put together some really fun categories depending upon your level of contribution. From a personal concert by Jake La Botz to a sweet trucker cap, from a director-for-the-day experience to an autographed copy of the script, we have lots of great stuff to choose from. You can also contribute without receiving any reward, but we suggest taking the prize! And please remember, even if you only give us $1 we could not make this movie without you. Our reward prizes may escalate in relation to value, but our appreciation is the same across the board!
Ok, so why 125k?
We've crunched the numbers and this is the bare bones amount we need to shoot and edit the movie. Could we use more? Of course, but this is the figure we need to go into production and come away with a completed project we are proud of. Chris has been directing for over a decade now and has learned the importance of running an effective set on limited budgets. He's made an art out of shooting high end projects for pennies on the dollar. To survive as a director in this competitive creative world a director has to be able to deliver the "wow" factor on time and on or under budget. Chris has proven himself more than capable of doing so time and again. The Grace of Jake will be his chance to put all he has learned to work towards the goal of making this small movie look like a million bucks!
To help him do just that, our plan is to hire the best cast and crew our budget allows. A movie is only as good as it's players, and Chris has developed amazing team relationships with some of the industry’s top craftspeople. For his feature debut you better believe Chris is going to work with the most talented peeps he can convince to come on board. Good thing is, it has not been that hard to convince. Everyone loves the script, especially the actors we have approached.
100 percent of the money we raise on Kickstarter will go into the movie. We (Chris and Jake) are not paying ourselves a dime. In fact we're putting our own money into the project as well. For us, being a part of this project is our reward. We want to put every dollar we can onto the screen. From travel and lodging, to gear rental and insurance, to catering and craft service, to airplane fuel and props, to casting and crew - every dollar we raise goes right back into our film.
We set the mark at 125k, but if we can reach double that then all the better. In the world of making movies you work with what you have. If you have a dollar then you put that dollar to work, stretch it, pull it, make it last. If you have two dollars, well you work just as hard, stretch and pull just as much to make it work.
Every dollar over our funding goal just means we get a little more production value, a little more breathing room. One of our first bonus expenditures would be an extra day or two of shooting. As of now we are budgeted for 18 days of filming- 18 days to cover 100 pages of script. That's not a lot of time. Typical bigger budget films have 2-3 month long shoots for those same 100 pages. Another bonus expenditure would be to pay more money to the local people helping us out- the owner's of the locations we will film in, the stunt pilots we will use, the caterers bringing us hot meals, etc. This project is going to bring in some money to the local economies. We'd like to bring more. We'd like to help out those helping us as much as we're able :)
If you have read this far, you truly are one of us. We cannot thank you enough for your help and support. Without each and every one of you The Grace of Jake would not see the light of day. Thank you for helping us make THE GRACE OF JAKE . . .
EXCITING NEW CASTING ANNOUNCEMENT!
We're excited to announce the addition three super talented members of our cast of The Grace of Jake.
JORDIN SPARKS - to play the role of NICOLE LOVELY, the preacher's daughter who dreams of a life outside of the delta. It's not until JAKE comes to town that NICOLE realizes home may be where the heart is. Jordin won the sixth season of American Idol in 2007 and her debut album sold over 2 million copies worldwide. Jordin expanded her career into acting, performing in various tv shows, debuting on Broadway and getting her first feature film role in Sparkle.
ROY LEE JONES- to play the role of REVEREND LOVELY, the local gospel preacher who has a secret from his past that threatens not only his congregation, but also his faith. Roy is an accomplished actor who can be seen in movies such as True Grit, Daredevil, and Harlem NIghts. Roy is also a talented blues and gospel singer which makes him the perfect fit to play Reverend Lovely, the local gospel preacher who is in danger of losing his congregation.
CHRIS BAUER - Chris Bauer of True Blood has joined our movie! Chris will be playing BRIAN, the prison official who sends Jake on his way. We are super excited to have Chris on board. He's been in movies such as High Fidelity, 8mm, and Face Off. Now he will be in The Grace of Jake!
It costs a lot to make a movie. Though our production is considered low budget when compared to other films, 125k is still a lot of dough. So where does it all go? The following is a rough breakdown for our 18 day schedule for you to see how your generous contributions will come into play. And remember, we're also getting a lot of favors and discounts from friends. Our budget would be double what it is without such kindness!
5k - Location, Prop Vehicles, and Transportation - This includes our shooting locations, prop cars, and gas for our crop duster scenes! Also includes transportation to and from set.
10K - Insurance, Legal and Union Signatory Fees - We want to make sure we sign on the dotted line! We also want to make sure we have production insurance to protect our people as well as our gear!
10k - Production Design and Wardrobe - We'll be using existing locations for this movie. Most of these places are ready to be filmed, however some of them will need a little art direction including construction, paint, decoration, and props. We'll also need appropriate wardrobe for our actors which includes multiple outfits per role.
15k - Craft Service and Catering - We want our cast and crew to have delicious treats and food on this journey. Great food is one of the most important must-haves during production. We'll be working very hard, long days, so we want those with us to be well fed! Throughout the shoot we'll be hiring catering from some of the area's delicious establishments serving BBQ, fried catfish, and lots of sweet tea!
15k - Travel and Lodging - As part of our goal to be as much of an Arkansas production as we can, we'll be using a lot of local cast and crew, but we'll also be flying a few people in. Being that we are shooting on location in and near Forrest City, we will need lodging for our cast and crew as well.
20k - Gear Rental - Making movies requires a lot of expensive gear from camera packages, to lenses, to lights, to grip gear, to dollies, etc. We plan to make the a small movie look and feel a lot bigger than it's budget. We will be using state of the art cameras and lenses to achieve this. Our goal is ultimate production value at minimal cost. We'll be using the same type of equipment used on major motion pictures.
25k - Cast and Crew Pay - No one working on this movie is going to get rich. Both cast and crew will be working at reduced rates because they love and believe in the project. That said though, we still need to pay our peeps so they can pay their light bills :) And we want the best cast and crew we can afford. A movie is only as good as it's players.
25k - Post Production and Finishing Costs - Shooting the movie is only half the battle. The footage will need to be edited. This process usually takes 4-6 weeks and involves not only picture but sound. We're lucky enough to have a lot of this service donated, but we will still need about 25k to make up for the rest. Like we said, it's expensive to make a movie.
Again these are rough estimates, but this covers most of the production and post-production. We'll be using our own personal money to make up the difference after Kickstarter and Amazon fees, and reward fulfillment costs. Again, without the favors and reduced rates we're getting, our budget would be double if not triple. Being that we are filming in Chris Hicky's home-town the production value is going to far exceed our expenses. His family and friends are rallying around this project in grand fashion. This is going to be a collaboration of the heart and soul of north east Arkansas!
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
There are many challenges we face when making a feature film. Financing, schedules, weather, production logistics, the list goes on and on. If it were easy there would probably be a lot more people doing it! Being that we do not have distribution as of yet and we are not tied to one financier... well both of these things are our blessing in disguise. We are the decision makers which means we get to make our movie the way we want to make it, when we want to make it. With your funding and blessings our cameras will roll in Arkansas this September.
Our goal is to make it into major film festivals with the desired result of being bought for distribution. The competition will be fierce, but we feel confident that our little movie is going to make big waves. Once we are funded (fingers crossed) we will start pre-production immediately. Our first day of shooting will be late August/early September. We will wrap before the end of September, and because we are editing along the way, we should have a rough cut of the movie by mid October. Some of our reward categories will be fulfilled prior to then, others will obviously have to wait, e.g. the screenings of the movie, etc. For those of you who are attending an event or joining us on set, we will keep you in the loop on our schedule. Movies are a tricky business. Things happen that will be completely out of our control (sort of like life), but we have every intention of seeing this project all the way into a theater near you!
THE FINE PRINT -
• If you become an extra ($750 reward) or receive a cast credit ($3500 reward), you must be a US citizen or have a US work visa, and not be a member of SAG/AFTRA. If you do have a line in the film, we cannot guarantee it will make it into the final edit. A lot of times things are filmed but do not make the final cut. That's just part of the creative process.
• You must be over 18 or accompanied by a parent or legal guardian (who will count as your plus one) to attend the screenings or visit the set. Extras and actors must also be over 18.
• Some rewards may require additional paperwork. If you are appearing in the film, you will have to sign a release.
• Chris Hicky reserves the right to say what he is and what he is not comfortable filming through the grand prize reward category (10,000k). In other words, no porn :) Same goes for Jake's private concert. The setting and venue has to be pre-approved by Jake. He's an easy going guy, but we want to make sure he's not playing in an offensive or dangerous environment.
• This fundraising campaign is all subject to applicable Kickstarter rules/regulations, movie guild rules and applicable law. If any of this conflicts, we will work with you in good faith to give you a substitute reward.
Movie making is a crazy business, with a lot of unknown factors. We are starting with a script we are really proud of. From there we will assemble the best possible cast and crew. It's impossible to guarantee everything will come together exactly as planned, but in the end, we will have created a movie that hopefully all of us can be proud of. Thank you so much for supporting us. We could not do this without each and every one of you. Looking forward to sharing this journey with you!
Kickstarter is an all or nothing platform. If we do not reach our funding goal then zero dollars are taken in, thus no movie made, no rewards sent out :( If however we do reach our goal, then you will be billed for the amount you pledged, we can make the movie, and the rewards will be yours!
Great question. Your contributions go directly into our LLC account for the movie. Every dollar we raise from this drive goes into the movie (minus Kickstarter and Amazon fees and rewards fulfillment) From cast and crew, to food and lodging, travel, props, gear rental, gas, wardrobe- you name it. Your hard earned dollars are the only reason we can make this movie!
If a project is funded then Kickstarter takes a 5% fee which is more than fair being that they are the only reason you are reading this! We are more than glad to pay Kickstarter for bringing this source of crowd funding to life, and their small fee is very fair for the amount of support they provide. Amazon takes a small fee as well for handling all the payments, again another fair trade.
Reward fulfillment will be paid out of the final amount we raise. So for example, if we raise 125k then 5-8% percent goes to fees, another percentage goes to reward fulfillment, and the rest goes directly into our movie.
Absolutely. In order to reach our 125k budget we will need more money than 125k due to the fees and rewards. This is where our director/producer steps in and contributes as well. This is a passion project for Chris and he would never ask you to do something he is not willing to do, so yes he will be kicking in as well!
Yes! And it would be great if we did.
Right back into the movie. You can never have enough money for a low-budget feature film.