About this project
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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