“YOU'VE REACHED YOUR GOAL, SO WHY SHOULD I STILL PLEDGE?"
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Almost eight years after his death, KURT VONNEGUT remains one of the most popular literary figures of the 20th and 21st Centuries. Readers from one generation to the next, the world over, continue to find their lives transformed by his comic and cosmic insights, on display in such bestselling books as Cat's Cradle, Slaughterhouse-Five, Breakfast of Champions, Mother Night, God Bless You Mr. Rosewater, and on and on. Amazingly, all of Vonnegut's works remain in print, and his popularity shows no sign of waning. Yet to-date, there has been no definitive film documentary covering his extraordinary life and work. ROBERT WEIDE has been trying to correct that oversight for 33 years. In 2015, with your help, it will finally happen.
HOW IT STARTED
In 1982, a young filmmaker wrote a letter to his literary idol, proposing a documentary on the author's life and work. Kurt Vonnegut (then 60) soon met with Robert Weide (22) and authorized the production. Weide thought it would take a few months to raise the needed financing, and figured a film could be completed within the year. That was 33 years ago.
Filming on the documentary finally commenced in 1988 and continued, on-and-off, through the years, taking the pair to several locations, including Vonnegut's hometown of Indianapolis (where the author reminisced through his boyhood homes, his grade school, his high school, and many landmarks of his youth), Iowa City, where Vonnegut taught at the famous Writer's Workshop in the mid-60's, and Buffalo, New York, where Vonnegut would attend the world premiere performance of a humanist Requiem he had authored. Weide's camera would follow the author to his 60th high school reunion, to several public speaking engagements, and on a promotional tour for his final novel, "Timequake."
AN UNEXPECTED FRIENDSHIP
As the years rolled by, something unexpected happened -- filmmaker and subject would become close friends. The upside to this was that Vonnegut would open up to Weide about his life and work in a personal way never before captured on camera. The downside was Weide's concern that he might be jeopardizing the "journalistic integrity" of the film. Despite his uncertainty, Weide kept filming Vonnegut (and principal people in his life) until shortly before the author's death in 2007.
After Vonnegut's passing, Weide faced big questions about how to continue with the project. What started out as a conventional documentary about an author, had now become a highly personal experience that suddenly felt exploitative to release publicly. And the years kept ticking by. (Incredibly, in 2015, Weide is just five years short of Vonnegut's age when he first approached the author.) Finally, it was a Vonnegut intimate, close to the project, who suggested full disclosure, citing that the evolving friendship between author and fan should be folded into the film -- in the same way that Vonnegut often interacts with characters in his own fictional narratives. This suggestion provided the incentive for Weide to dig out the old footage (dozens of hours of it), and carry on. Meanwhile, documentary filmmaker DON ARGOTT was recruited to document this new "meta" angle, while Weide carried on with Vonnegut's life story, as originally planned. Since Weide had already taken the film as far as he could on his own dime, it was now just a matter of financing.
That's where Kickstarter comes in.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
This is the perfect way to express your appreciation for all the enriching hours you've spent reading Kurt Vonnegut's books. This is a project authorized by Vonnegut, and one he very much hoped to see come to fruition. A successful Kickstarter campaign will resuscitate these efforts and finally make the completed film a reality after 33 years. We'll hit the ground running with more filming -- primarily interviews (with Vonnegut's friends, colleagues, family members) and pertinent locations, then back to the editing room to edit dozens of hours of footage, hundreds of photographs, never-seen home movies, etc., into a polished production that will be a worthy homage to one of America's most beloved writers. How proud will you be to know you helped make it happen? Please consider how much you can contribute, look over our rewards, and become part of Vonnegut's karass!
ABOUT THE FILMMAKERS
ROBERT WEIDE is the recipient of an Academy Award nomination, as well as a Golden Globe award, and the prestigious Director's Guild of America (DGA) Award. He has been nominated for fourteen Emmy awards -- winning three times, for producing, directing, and editing, respectively. His documentary films include THE MARX BROS. IN A NUTSHELL, THE GREAT STANDUPS, W.C. FIELDS STRAIGHT UP, MORT SAHL: THE LOYAL OPPOSITION, the Oscar-nominated LENNY BRUCE: SWEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH, and WOODY ALLEN: A DOCUMENTARY, an official selection of the Cannes Film Festival in 2012. His feature films include MOTHER NIGHT (writer/producer), based on the Kurt Vonnegut novel; HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE PEOPLE (director), starring Simon Pegg, Kirsten Dunst, Jeff Bridges and Megan Fox; and last year's screen adaptation of THE GIVER (co-writer) starring Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep.
In 1999, Weide produced and directed the HBO comedy special, LARRY DAVID: CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM, which served as the springboard for the long-running series staring Larry David, which Weide directed and executive produced. Last year, Weide created, wrote and directed the British comedy/drama series MR. SLOANE for Sky Atlantic TV (UK) starring Nick Frost and Olivia Colman.
DON ARGOTT’s first feature documentary, ROCK SCHOOL, was an official selection at Sundance and SXSW in 2004. It would receive rave reviews and become a favorite on the festival circuit, prior to its theatrical release in 2005. TWO DAYS IN APRIL, which follows four college football players as they enter the NFL Draft, had its broadcast premiere on the Documentary Channel. THE ART OF THE STEAL, chronicling the long struggle for control over the $30 billion Barnes art collection, was named by Roger Ebert as one of the Best Documentaries of 2010. LAST DAYS HERE, acquired by IFC Films, tells the story of Bobby Liebling, lead singer of the cult heavy metal band Pentagram. Sequestered for decades in his parents’ basement, Bobby’s music is finally discovered by the heavy metal underground. This cult favorite portrays the unbelievable journey of a man at the crossroads of life and death.
THE ATOMIC STATES OF AMERICA, premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The film looks at the United States’ long and troubling relationship with nuclear power. Argott’s latest feature, AS THE PALACES BURN, set out to tell the story of the heavy metal band, Lamb of God. But during the filming process in 2012, the story took a dramatic turn, when lead singer Randy Blythe was arrested on charges of manslaughter, blamed for the death of one of their young fans in the Czech Republic. What followed was a heart-wrenching, Kafkaesque courtroom drama that had observers on the edge of their seats.
Because of Robert Weide's long association with Kurt Vonnegut, we are able to offer some unique Vonnegut-centric rewards at all different pledge levels. Many of these items (some of them autographed by Vonnegut) are pulled directly from Weide's personal collection. Additional items have been donated by others in Vonnegut's "karass" (including his daughter) who are extremely supportive of this project. In many cases, these are rare items and opportunities that you will find nowhere else.
Weide is also culling from his other productions. If you are a fan of "Curb Your Enthusiasm," or Weide's documentaries on Woody Allen or Lenny Bruce, there are collectibles here for you as well. Many of these items are offered in extremely limited quantities, so pledge early before you miss out!
- If you’re interested in a reward that’s not designated as deliverable to your country, email us at email@example.com, and tell us where you live. We’ll investigate whether we can ship it to you, and send you an email response.
- If you wish to receive two or more rewards that are not bundled together, simply pledge enough to cover the total number of rewards (including shipping), then include a message as to the specific rewards you desire. Do not attempt to make separate pledges for the individual rewards.
- Kickstarter limits donations to $10,000 each. If you would like to donate more to this production, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOLD OUT? MAYBE NOT:
If you are looking for a reward description for something you want, and it says “ALL GONE,” keep scrolling! In many cases, we ran out of that reward temporarily, had to re-stock, and then re-list -- sometimes multiple times. Also the pledge level may have changed. If the graphic below doesn't say "SOLD OUT" it means the reward is still available. Thanks!
For more details on the above Larry David reward, CLICK HERE.
To view all the available Vonnegut artwork, and for ordering instructions, CLICK HERE.
Risks and challenges
The respective track records of filmmakers Weide and Argott speak for themselves. Collectively, they have produced and/or directed a dozen documentary films, none of which have failed to find distribution or air as high-profile specials on PBS or HBO, resulting in Emmy awards, an Oscar nomination, and screenings at Cannes, Sundance, etc.There are distributors and broadcasters already eager to see the completed Vonnegut doc, so there is virtually no chance that the film would not find its way to the public.
The filmmakers are aiming for a completion date in late 2015. The only conceivable risk would be a delay in this date. It's possible that during the remaining production period, Weide or Argott could get called away for a short period of time to fulfill another work obligation. The most this would do is delay release for a short period of time. Since some of the rewards (film downloads, DVDs) can't be fulfilled until after completion, certain rewards might be delayed somewhat, but all reward obligations will be fulfilled as soon as possible.
The $250,000 raised by the Kickstarter campaign will not alone be enough to deliver a finished project, all-in. But it is enough to complete a final cut of the film, at which point we have other financing sources that will kick in and pay remaining costs of rights and clearances, and take us across the finish line. If we raise more than our Kickstarter goal, all the better, as it's that much less money we'll have to obtain from outside sources. The more free and clear we can be of outside financing, the better.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter