A number of years ago I was lucky enough to meet Dennis at the legendary Sundance Film Festival. We spent a lot of time laughing at the excitement, extravagance, and chaos of it all. Sundance is simply one of the best film festivals in the world, and I wondered what the worst would be like? Dennis turned to me and said "that's a great idea kid, you write the script and I'll do it." And he did!
Dennis Hopper has long been a hero of mine. He changed the face of independent filmmaking for generations to come with his groundbreaking and wildly successful film, Easy Rider, and gave fearless performances whether playing rebels in Apocalypse Now, Rebel Without A Cause and Giant, or villains in True Romance, Blue Velvet and Speed. He was always convincing and unforgettable.
Check out the teaser trailer below:
The Last Film Festival is a feature length comedy starring Dennis Hopper, written by myself and Michael Leeds. Dennis plays Nick Twain, a big-time Hollywood Producer whose latest flop of a film has been rejected by every film festival in the world except the O'Hi Film Festival.
O'Hi is a small town with big dreams, whose film-loving Undertaker has persuaded the Mayor to host the event in the local high school. But Nick Twain will do anything to get his film distributed, so in a last-ditch effort for publicity Twain and his dysfunctional cast and crew descend on the town.
Hollywood egos collide with small town politics and by the time the award for Best Picture is announced, long-held secrets have been revealed, unexpected romances ignited and the answer to the big mystery solved.
The making of The Last Film Festival was a group effort by cast and crew. Everyone had busy schedules and the only way we could do it was if we all got together and worked for little, well actually at times, no money at all.
We were able to recruit a very talented cast including Jacqueline Bisset, Joseph Cross, JoBeth Williams, Donnell Rawlings, Chris Kattan, Katrina Bowden and Leelee Sobieski and the film just took off! While the film was written for Dennis, it is very much an ensemble piece, and the actors were involved in creating and developing their characters and improvised a number of scenes. Not only did this make working on set incredibly fun, it also made the film natural, spontaneous, and full of wonderful chemistry, which we are so excited for you to see.
We shot in a local high school and, in lieu of expensive star trailers, everyone had their own classroom to use as a dressing room. The community pitched in serving as extras, buttressing the meager catering with homemade specialties, basically doing whatever they could to help us make the tight shooting schedule. It was truly a case of life imitating art, the unexpected challenges and struggles we faced were just like those Dennis’ character experiences in the film.
You can feel the energy when something is going to work and all of us felt that. It just worked: the chemistry between Jackie and Dennis during their funny yet poignant fights; the sharp edge Joe brought to his character of the Young Agent and the sexual pull between him and Katrina's sexy, smart Starlet; Chris and Donnell's hysterical improvisations; and JoBeth's repressed Mayor unable to restrain herself when Dennis' character seduces her - on the high school principal's desk! Throughout the shoot, Dennis was just like his character in the film, a father figure inspiring everyone to get the job done no matter what it takes.
Filming on the picture came to a halt almost five years ago when Dennis tragically died at age 74 from cancer. He was just a few scenes short of completing work on the film, and had already seen a rough cut and loved it.
The grief we felt, paired with certain creative and financial issues that remained unsolved with his passing, prompted us to put completion of the project on hold.
As May 2015 will mark the fifth anniversary of Dennis' death, we want to release the movie to the public this year. With so many people continuing to write and ask us how and when they can see the film, we've decided now is the time to kick post-production into overdrive so we can finish the film once and for all - but we need your support!
We're reaching out to film fans here on Kickstarter as other investment offers have come with a number of unwelcome demands, including cutting certain scenes, altering the film’s score, and even changing Dennis Hopper’s voice!
We decided that the best way to finance the remaining work on the film, while still maintaining the creative vision we and Dennis shared, was to enlist your help. We feel a Kickstarter campaign is a great way to include Dennis’ fans in the process of finishing the film and to reach our goal of bringing this iconic performance to the big screen.
We want everyone to see the same film that Dennis and I envisioned and hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it. The funds raised to finish the movie will pay for post-production costs including, among other things, obtaining the rights to use footage from other motion pictures that Dennis talks about in the film, color correction, SFX - and most importantly editing the movie so we can complete the film’s narrative without any new actors needed. We are already so close to finalizing the film and having it ready for Dennis' fans, we just need a little bit of help with post-production and distribution of the film.
This is an opportunity for fans of Dennis Hopper, fans of independent cinema, and fans of comedy to help get this film over the finish line. We feel it's our duty to present Dennis’ last artistic project to the public in a way that does justice to his illustrious career and pays homage to the brilliant artist he was.
For all his successes, Dennis was a true independent spirit. He would have loved the concept of Kickstarter to join forces with the people. There's just one piece of the puzzle missing - you!
If we reach our goal, the funding will set our post-production process into motion very quickly. We have a six-week plan for finishing the film that would allow us to get the film to festivals in 2015.
The amount of money we receive will determine how fast the movie will get out to theaters and have worldwide premieres on big and small screens. The goal we are hoping to reach will allow us to finish The Last Film Festival and go directly to film festivals where we'll be seen by audiences and potential distributors alike.
We will update our Kickstarter supporters to let them know when The Last Film Festival will be at a festival and where it is being shown. Although a number of distributors in different countries have expressed interest in the film, without the finished product we can’t say with certainty at this time where or when it will be released beyond the film festivals. We will let our Kickstarter backers know when distribution deals are being made and when The Last Film Festival will be released in your area.
I am an American director, writer and producer best known for my work in television and independent film. My projects have won numerous awards, including two Peabodys, seven Emmys, one Luminas, one Silver Nymph and two Christophers. They have been screened at the Sundance, Cannes, Toronto, New York, Aspen, Palm Springs, Hamptons, Nashville, Banff and Deauville film festivals.
The Last Film Festival is blessed with an amazing cast and crew who worked hard to make this the best film possible. Below are some of the talented actors who were involved in filming the movie.
The rewards we've chosen are unique and special to this project and we think there's something in there for everyone. Whether you are a fan of Dennis Hopper, a fan of independent cinema, or even a fan of Hollywood, art, fashion, or filmmaking, there's something in there for you! For the more adventurous Dennis fans, there are also a couple of curveballs in there, so look out for these as well.
Most importantly, we are giving people the opportunity to see The Last Film Festival. Sharing Dennis' last film is dear to our hearts and what drew us to Kickstarter to begin with.
Risks and challenges
Our goal is to bring The Last Film Festival to the public the way it was meant to be seen when we filmed it. We want you to see the film that Dennis and the rest of us had so much fun making. Although we could go down the traditional route in pursuit of funding, that would involve compromises we aren't willing to make. We want to preserve the original vision of the film and begin showing it at film festivals in 2015.
Since we are so far along in completing the film, we face fewer risks than many films seeking funding on Kickstarter. Once the money is raised we will be able to move full-speed ahead to complete the post-production work and head straight for the film festivals.
One of our challenges will be reaching older Dennis Hopper fans who might not be as media savvy as many Kickstarter users, so we are relying on your help to spread the word to them!
We also face the challenge that many other projects face of delivering rewards on time. While we are confident that we have built in enough time including delivery, we realize that some unforeseen delays could arise. If that happened, we would let people know and hope for their understanding, but with your support, we see clear skies ahead!
- (30 days)