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A rare comedic documentary turns into a 27-year epic about a man so busy chasing his dreams, he risks missing what success truly means.
A rare comedic documentary turns into a 27-year epic about a man so busy chasing his dreams, he risks missing what success truly means.
A rare comedic documentary turns into a 27-year epic about a man so busy chasing his dreams, he risks missing what success truly means.
209 backers pledged $33,112 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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The Front Man - Searching for the Meaning of Success

$33,112

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WOW! The response to THE FRONT MAN has been AMAZING! The energy and enthusiasm from our backers has carried us to our goal and beyond! JOIN US! Every dollar that we raise above $30K will go toward promotion and distribution - an essential part of the filmmaking process. Please help us bring this project to as wide an audience as possible!

Twelve years ago, I tried to create a fictional character for a screenplay based on my friend Jim Wood. Dynamic and abrasively funny, Jim’s edgy personality and low-brow humor can be shocking, cleverly expressing those hidden thoughts we would never say out loud. But my attempt to convey his character in fictional form fell short. So I decided to start shooting him on video every time we got together. That made more sense anyway, given my background as a documentary filmmaker. Of course Jim loved the idea. 

Above: Jim & Christie Wood in The Front Man. Below: Jim steals Christie's heart as the Wedding Singer at her first wedding.
Above: Jim & Christie Wood in The Front Man. Below: Jim steals Christie's heart as the Wedding Singer at her first wedding.

While I continued making other films, I kept returning to the The Front Man. Soon, I got deeper into the lives of Jim and his wife Christie, as well as Jim's bandmates John Kayne and Dan Snyder. Story threads emerged that we could never have anticipated. Jim and Christie’s journey took us to the homes of famous musicians, inside a legendary recording studio, on set of a cult horror movie, onto the Howard Stern show and finally inside their very personal, but also hilarious debates about whether or not to have children. I added archival footage to the mix and an intimate portrait gradually took on epic proportions as I essentially captured Jim’s entire adulthood over a 27-year period. The Front Man supports the idea that any well-documented life can provide material for a compelling story. 

Jim Wood and his band Loaded Poets: Dan Snyder - keyboards, John Kayne - guitar
Jim Wood and his band Loaded Poets: Dan Snyder - keyboards, John Kayne - guitar

In the movie, Jim reveals surprising insight and intelligence as he and bandmates Dan and John grapple with the broken promise of Rock 'n Roll. Jim needs to reconcile his joy of creating music and Christie’s desire for a child with a culture in which anything short of celebrity is failure. Their pursuit of fame evolves into a rite of passage, transforming them in surprising ways. Perhaps success isn't at all what we expected it would be. The Front Man has become a serious, if satirical, commentary on middle class America and its obsession with celebrity. 

Video: A candid family planning session. Photos: Christie performs an outrageous stunt on the Howard Stern show - guess what she asked for as a reward...
Video: A candid family planning session. Photos: Christie performs an outrageous stunt on the Howard Stern show - guess what she asked for as a reward...

I've won Emmys for my television work, plus over a dozen film festival awards and an Independent Spirit Nomination for my movies. Now with my fifth feature-length project, I'm charting new territory by making a nonfiction comedy. It's been very challenging, but also a lot of fun. 

Jim meets his musical idols and learns some lessons about fame.
Jim meets his musical idols and learns some lessons about fame.

After twelve years of shooting and many months of editing over 150 hours of footage shot over decades, The Front Man has reached the fine cut stage. That means the project is ALMOST FINISHED! At a lean 76 minutes the story is captivating test audiences and getting lots of laughs. Many people have told us that the The Front Man sticks with them, and they continue to think about it long after they screen it. The time has come to get the movie ready for film festivals. We just need to complete a few more steps before we premiere.

A practical joke on one of Jim's heroes, cult horror movie director Don Dohler, goes much farther than expected.
A practical joke on one of Jim's heroes, cult horror movie director Don Dohler, goes much farther than expected.

I would like an outside editor with a fresh eye to put the finishing touches on the narrative so we can lock picture. At the moment the video quality is low-resolution (that allows me to edit on my laptop wherever I go - ideal for a long-term project like this). Also the audio mix is rough. The Kickstarter funding will pay for the final offline edit, the online edit and color correction as well as the audio mix and sweetening. It will also cover the cost of music and footage rights clearances for film festival screenings. With a completely finished product, the movie is much more likely to be accepted at important film festivals, which will bring the attention it needs on the road to reaching the widest audience possible.

$30,000 will allow us to complete the movie for film festivals. Additional funds will be used for publicity and distribution. Having the resources to create buzz at film festivals will help us attract broadcasters and distributors.
$30,000 will allow us to complete the movie for film festivals. Additional funds will be used for publicity and distribution. Having the resources to create buzz at film festivals will help us attract broadcasters and distributors.

Over the course of our Kickstarter campaign, we will be updating you with scenes from the offline fine cut of the movie. My intention is to make The Front Man as entertaining and funny as possible, while still conveying an important message. You’ll enjoy it!

Risks and challenges

The biggest risks are behind us: THE FRONT MAN is shot and edited. We have a 76-minute off-line cut that, like life itself, is funny, poignant and deep.

The next hurdle is to clear the rights. THE FRONT MAN has appearances and music by Elvis Costello, Joe Jackson, Styx, Natalie Merchant, Glen Burtnik, Graham Maby among others. There are photo images of John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez and more, all relevant to the story. Jim's wife Christie appears on the Howard Stern Show during a major turning point in the film. The right to use this material will have to be addressed.

This will be done in two ways: First by applying Fair Use Best Practices through a Fair Use lawyer. Material that falls under Fair Use will not require payment to be cleared. We have experienced lawyers on standby ready to complete this process with us.

Any outside material that does not fall under Fair Use will have to have rights cleared. We have already been in touch with experts who provide this service and are waiting for us to complete the Kickstarter Campaign to get started. At this stage, WE WILL BE PAYING FOR FILM FESTIVAL CLEARANCES ONLY (which is much less expensive than full rights). A successful Kickstarter campaign will cover these costs.

It is unlikely, but possible that some rights will be too expensive to clear. In that case we will have to re-edit the film to revise these sections.

Once rights are cleared we can begin the online edit, color correction, and audio mix. We have experienced professionals in New York City, with whom we have worked with before, ready to provide these services. Final post-production always has bumps in the road but there is no doubt that they will do a great job.

If the Kickstarter campaign is successful, there is very little risk that the project will not be completed.

After the movie is in the can of course, a whole new set of distribution challenges emerges, the first of which will be gaining acceptance into a worthwhile film festival. It has become incredibly competitive in the film festival world, especially now that new technology has made filmmaking so accessible that there is a glut of product.

Once we are accepted into a film festival, the next risk is not getting noticed. Any additional funds over and above $30K will be used for publicity for the movie to make sure this is not a problem. With the proper resources, I believe THE FRONT MAN’s unique merits will ensure that it attracts the attention it deserves.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    SHOUT OUT. Feel the warm GLOW of participating in a fun, worthwhile project! We'll make our Thank You official by including your name on the movie's website.

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    Pledge $30 or more About $30

    DVD OR DOWNLOAD. The GLOW is getting warmer! Web SHOUT OUT, plus a special pre-release DVD (or download link) of THE FRONT MAN, the movie that you helped complete!

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    ALL ABOUT THE MUSIC. You'll receive everything from the $30 Pledge, plus the original motion picture sound track CD (or digital download link) of all the music from THE FRONT MAN, written and performed by Jim Wood and his band Loaded Poets. PLUS Loaded Poets' first CD "Seeing Things" (featured in THE FRONT MAN) as well as Jim Wood's solo project as 1-$tring Woody, "Vinyl Mind," a rocking nod to Jim’s 5000+ vinyl record collection - think of every track as it's own 45RPM single.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    ALL ABOUT THE MOVIES. You'll receive everything from the $30 Pledge, PLUS DVDs of three of director Paul Devlin's, feature-length, award winning movies, "SlamNation," "Power Trip," and "BLAST!" (More info about these movies here: http://www.devlinpix.com/press )

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    ALL THE LOOT. This one is for those who want the MUSIC and the MOVIES. Combine everything from the $50 and $75 Rewards into one big package.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    OUTRAGEOUS OUTTAKES. OK let's face it, there are times when Jim Wood (the main character in THE FRONT MAN) just goes over the top. Or crosses the line. Or jumps off the ledge. Or all three at once. This reward offers a DVD of some of these hilarious moments and others that just didn't fit the narrative.

    PLUS you also get ALL THE LOOT from the $100 Pledge

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    1950s STARTER VINYL RECORD COLLECTION. Jim Wood's famous 5000 vinyl record collection is featured in THE FRONT MAN. An aficionado of popular music from the 40s, 50s and 60s. Jim will get you started on your own vinyl collection, SUPPLYING YOU WITH TEN 45RPM SINGLES from the '50s - rhythm & blues, doo-wop and rock 'n roll. He'll also write you a personal Thank You, detailing the special significance of each record. (Learn more about Jim's expert take on how Rhythm & Blues evolved into Rock 'n Roll in this special podcast, "Field Hollers Yield Dollars" http://bit.ly/iSuf2s ). You will also received everything from the $30 Pledge.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    A NIGHT IN THE RECORD ROOM. Jim Wood's fabulous record room is featured in THE FRONT MAN (http://bit.ly/mNjtGG). Now it's been revamped - 4 times the size, with billiard table and of course access to Jim collection of 5000 Rhythm & Blues 78 & 45RPM vinyl records. A lucky few will spend a night with Jim at his home in Central New Jersey as he spins from his amazing collection, exclusively for you and your fellow pledgers. (Over 21 only. Must provide your own transportation to New Jersey and accommodation. Or add an extra $100 and we'll book a nearby hotel and arrange transport from there.) You will also receive everything from the $30 Pledge.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    ASSOCIATE PRODUCER CREDIT. Your name will appear as Associate Producer in the credits of THE FRONT MAN, which means you will also receive a credit on Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb.com), the go-to site for those who want to know who's done what in the movie business. As a producer, you will receive an invitation to the Film Festival Premiere of the movie. (Must provide your own transportation and accommodation.) You will also receive the pre-release DVD of the THE FRONT MAN

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    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    ORIGINAL LOADED POETS SONG FOR YOU. Jim Wood and his band Loaded Poets will write and record a song that will incorporated your name into the lyrics. The song will appear on the end credits of THE FRONT MAN as well as on the Soundtrack CD.

    As Jim commented on this one, "I love the idea of a single song with everybody’s name in it. The only condition is that their last name has to rhyme with something. A riveting musical tale we will craft."

    You will receive a download of the song, the pre-release DVD of the THE FRONT MAN and and a CD of the soundtrack of the movie.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    APPEARANCE IN THE MOVIE. You get to be in an improv skit or mock interview with The Front Man himself, Jim Wood, that we will shoot, edit and incorporate as an outtake sequence in the end credits of the film. You will receive a Cast credit in the movie, which will also give you a credit on IMDb. You will also receive an invitation to the FIlm Festival Premiere of THE FRONT MAN. (Must provide your own transportation and accommodation for these).

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CREDIT. The EP is the top dog, the one who makes things happen, especially when it comes to the money side. Make it happen for THE FRONT MAN, and your prestigious credit will be published on the Internet Movie Data Base (IMDb.com). We will be honored to invite you to the Film Festival Premiere of THE FRONT MAN. (Must provide own transportation and accommodation). You will also receive the pre-release DVD of the THE FRONT MAN

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Funding period

- (30 days)