Funded! This project was successfully funded on May 14, 2012.

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A story of betrayal and murder in a struggling midwestern coal town.

Betrayal and murder in a struggling midwestern coal town.

The Story

More than 80 years after his death, Kelly Wagle is still the most notorious man in Western Illinois history. He was the top bootlegger of his day, a controversial figure in his hometown of Colchester, where Prohibition lasted for 27 years. Wagle's career was full of shrewd moves and close calls. He had an uncanny knack for getting out of trouble. It helped that half the town owed him a favor -- Wagle was known for his generosity and kind deeds. But the bootlegger also had a violent temper, and his personal life was full of dark secrets.

Kelly Wagle was shot and killed in 1929, only a few hundred feet from his front door. He had expected it, told everyone it was coming, but no one saw anything except a green Ford Roadster heading out of town. The murderer was never caught. But to the present day in tiny Colchester, as Kelly's widow used to say, "everyone knows who did it."

The Film

The film is based on "The Bootlegger" (1998), written by John E. Hallwas, which was nominated for the National Book Award for Nonfiction and the Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

It will be a documentary feature, filmed on location in Colchester, Macomb, Galesburg, Chicago, St. Louis, and Omaha. It will feature author John Hallwas, interviews with Colchester residents, and historical images from the Archives of Western Illinois University.

The Budget

$1000 - Travel for production
$400 - Backup hard drives
$250 - Food for production assistants
$1000 - Music composer
$1000 - Audio mix & master
$750 - Festival submission fees
$300 - Shipping
$1000 - Posters, handbills, stickers, buttons
$2500 - Theater rental for screenings
$1000 - DVD printing & duplication
$2175 - Film/television rights to "The Bootlegger"
$11,375 = TOTAL

"Multum in parvo" [much in little].
-- Colchester town motto, 1865

The Schedule

I will be gathering footage and editing over the course of the next year, or maybe two. Whenever the film is ready, I will submit it to 10-15 festivals. With lots of luck, it will have a nice festival run. With even more luck, it will find a distributor. One way or another, my goal is to release the film by June 2015.

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  • Pledge $10 or more
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    4 backers

    One signed small-size "Bootlegger" film poster, and Ryan will give you a big high-five next time he sees you.

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  • Pledge $25 or more
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    39 backers

    All of the above AND one signed copy of the completed "Bootlegger" film. Your choice of format: 1) DVD Video (720x480), playable on DVD players for homes & computers. 2) Data DVD (1920x1080), playable on computers.

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  • Pledge $100 or more
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    8 backers

    All of the above AND one signed full-size "Bootlegger" film poster AND one silk screened "Bootlegger" film T-shirt.

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  • Pledge $120 or more
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    2 backers

    All of the above, AND two General Admission tickets to the McDonough County premiere of the "Bootlegger" film. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with Ryan.

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  • Pledge $250 or more
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    2 backers

    All of the above, AND you will be listed in the "Bootlegger" film credits as an ASSOCIATE PRODUCER. Includes priority seating at the McDonough County premiere. Before the screening, Ryan will host a reception for Associate Producers only.

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    All of the above, AND Ryan will give you a guided tour of Kelly Wagle's Colchester. Includes a homemade meal at the Walker family house in Macomb.

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  • Pledge $2,500 or more
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    0 backers

    All of the above, AND Ryan will travel to your town (in the continental USA), give you a big hug, and take you out for dinner & drinks. You will be listed in the "Bootlegger" film credits as an EXECUTIVE PRODUCER.

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    1 backer

    All of the above, AND Ryan will make a 3-minute documentary about you or someone you know.

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Funding period

- (33 days)