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A heartwarming story about movie piracy. Join a Sundance Lab alum to make a flashback comedy set in 1998 China, when DVD was king.
A heartwarming story about movie piracy. Join a Sundance Lab alum to make a flashback comedy set in 1998 China, when DVD was king.
334 backers pledged $51,778 to help bring this project to life.

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Set in 1998, King of Peking follows a traveling film projectionist who, with the advent of DVD, starts a small pirated movie business from home in order to keep custody of his son.

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I spent most of my 20s with my head down, hungrily pursuing goals that were squarely for my own self-interest. I’m now in my mid-30s and am about to be a first time dad. Coming to terms with impending fatherhood, I realized that from now on I’ll need to try and set a good example for my daughter. I need to shift my life from “what can I get away with” to whether it’s actually a good example for her. Sure, I might fail in my efforts, but at least I have to give it a go.

And so several months back I started writing this story about fatherhood, piracy, and learning to be a responsible adult. There’s a Chinese phrase, “有其父必有其子”, which means “like father, like son”. This is an exploration of how the paths we choose as adults can affect our kids, and how sometimes it’s not just the child who has to do the growing up.

– Sam (the guy who wrote the screenplay)

Until recently, villagers in China had to rely on traveling picture shows to watch new movies. In the countryside, there were no cinemas. Projectionists would travel from town to town and screen dubbed Hollywood movies in town squares. But when video hit the market, the traveling picture shows had to either go extinct, or find a new way to survive.

Our entire film crew was raised in Beijing and many of us are parents of young kids. The capital has changed heaps since we ourselves were kids in this city, and this is a chance for us to capture some of the Beijing we remember from our youth. Hopefully one day our own kids will get to watch the film and say, "You really grew up in Beijing when it was like that?" It sounds hard to believe now, but many of us spent weekends as kids attending outdoor screenings of Hollywood movies in Chinese parks and outdoor basketball courts.

Sam has been working on the screenplay for nearly two years. Our plan is to release the film as a Wei Dianying (Internet movie) in China, then take it on the road overseas, in many ways ourselves going back to the old traveling picture show days. Here's our projected schedule*:

NOW: Pre-production.
AUGUST: Shoot.
SEPTEMBER - DECEMBER: Post-production.
EARLY 2016: Festival submissions.
LATE 2016: Completion of all rewards to backers, including movie.
* estimates only, but we'll do our damndest!

We're a small dedicated team, but we need your help and support to make this happen. Whether it's tweets, buying a perk, or shouting out from your bedroom window, it all helps.

And while we can't predict which cities and festivals King of Peking will eventually play in, here are a couple of places our last movie played:

We all know the Berlin Wall, but there’s another wall that separates East and West. It’s called The Great Firewall of China, and it’s a cyber barrier. The Great Firewall is like the Sphinx Gate in “The NeverEnding Story”, it controls everything that passes in or out of the universe. No really, we’re not kidding. In 2015 The Great Firewall has grown even taller. Kickstarter, for example, is intermittently blocked throughout Mainland China. Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), which act as ladders to climb over The Great Firewall, have recently been scrambled. So we’ve had to think of a creative way to reach those in China who simply can’t access Kickstarter.

Solution? We’re taking the International Co-Production film financing model and bringing it to the crowdfunding space. We call it a “Crowd-Funding Co-Pro”. Immediately following this Western campaign we'll have a Chinese language campaign taking place behind The Great Firewall. This separate campaign, we hope, will contribute about 15% to our total budget.

Good question! Check out the trailer below!

SAM VOUTAS (Writer / Director) An Australian, Sam was raised in Beijing. His films and documentaries have screened on TV channels such as The Biography Channel, NHK (Japan), KBS (Korea), CCTV (China) and PTS (Taiwan). Red Light Revolution, an independent Chinese feature film Sam wrote and directed, was released theatrically in Canada, the U.K and Singapore. It became a viral sensation in China when it was purchased by Tudou (China’s equivalent to YouTube), racking up over 6 million views. Sam has also acted in movies such as City of Life and Death and the upcoming historical epic Lady of the Dynasty.

MELANIE ANSLEY (Producer) Half Chinese and half Canadian, Melanie grew up in China and has always had a soft spot for films about moral integrity and the resilience of the human spirit. She started her producing career in documentaries exploring Chinese social issues. She completed her MFA in Producing at the USC Peter Stark program, where she was awarded the 2014 Women in Film scholarship. She recently co-wrote Don Quixote: The Ingenious Gentleman of La Mancha, starring Horatio Sanz and James Franco, which premiered at the 2015 Palm Springs Film Festival.

JANE ZHENG (Producer) Jane worked in radio and television for many years before studying TV journalism at Goldsmiths College, University of London. She was an associate producer for the 2009 theatrical feature film Gasp, starring John Savage and Ge You. Jane was also the executive producer of Red Light Revolution. Jane is the founder and owner of Seesaw Entertainment, a Beijing based production house.

YIFAN WANG (Cinematographer) Though Red Light Revolution was Yifan’s debut feature film as cinematographer, his previous credits run like a who’s who of Chinese blockbusters, such as Curse of the Golden Flower by Zhang Yimou, and Children of Huangshi directed by Roger Spotiswoode. He graduated from the Beijing Film Academy with a degree in cinematography.

Risks and challenges

As this will be released as a "Wei Dianying" (Internet movie) in China, the process of clearance for screening there will be simpler than traditional made-for-cinema releases. That said, no one can predict whether current regulations will change during production.

Another challenge we face is time. Like the protagonists in the movie, we're a tiny DIY team, meaning that it can take us longer to complete, say, post production, than a larger production company. We'll work like crazy to get our perks to you ASAP, but please bear in mind that independent filmmaking is a slow process.

But the most exciting challenge is finding an area that looks like Beijing as it was in 1998. While the capital has completely transformed since that time, we're confident that in the outer areas and neighboring cities, we'll find that retro Beijing flavor as it was in the late nineties.

A BIG THANKS FOR SUPPORTING OUR PROJECT!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $2 or more About $2.00

    COFFEE BOOST. Film productions need coffee. It's what keeps the engine running. Your contribution will go to providing hot cups of coffee for the cast and crew, keeping us energetic and on our toes from pre-production all the way through post. Plus you'll get a Thank You email from us!

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    CHECK OUT OUR LAST FILM. We spent five years working on it and we think it's a fine, fun film. We'll send you a HD digital download of RED LIGHT REVOLUTION, China's first sex shop comedy. Plus you'll get a Thank You email from us!

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    A POSTCARD FROM SET. Get international mail from Beijing! One of our cast or crew will mail you a post card from the shoot! Plus the HD digital download of RED LIGHT REVOLUTION and a Thank You email!

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    OWN KING OF PEKING. Let's get right to it! HD download of KING OF PEKING as soon as it's available on digital platforms. Plus the HD download of RED LIGHT REVOLUTION!

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    GOIN' OLD SCHOOL. Notice how LPs have made a comeback? By the time this movie is out, DVDs might be in again! Get the DVD of KING OF PEKING signed by the filmmakers. Plus get the HD digital download of RED LIGHT REVOLUTION!

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    YOUR NAME IN LIGHTS! Thank You in the end credits of KING OF PEKING. Wherever the film screens, your name will be there! We're talking film fests, cinemas, tablets, the works! Plus get the HD digital downloads!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    KING OF PEKING T-SHIRT! We'll be making a limited number of T-shirts with awesome artwork and you could own one! Plus the HD digital downloads!

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    20 MINUTES DISCUSSING YOUR FUTURE EDUCATION! What do the USC Peter Stark Producing Program, the UCLA Professional Program in Producing, the Sundance Screenwriters Lab, the Toronto Film Festival Talent Lab, Berlinale Talents, and the Victorian College of the Arts have in common? Many things, but one of them is that at least one of us has attended each of these programs. In this 20 minute Skype call we'll talk to you about film education! Plus all the great HD digital downloads!

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    BONUS REWARD: FILMMAKER MEET AND GREET. Sam Voutas and/or Melanie Ansley will meet you at their favorite local watering hole. Choose between L.A, Vancouver, Melbourne, Canberra, Beijing or Shanghai (travel and accommodation not included). Plus all the great digital downloads!

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    OWN THE SHOOTING SCRIPT. The actual printed shooting script we will take to set during filming. PLUS did we mention it is signed by the cast and crew? You can choose an English or Chinese copy. And you get the HD digital downloads to boot!

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    KING OF PEKING POSTER! Signed by Sam Voutas and one of our leads! Plus you get both the HD digital downloads!

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    BONUS REWARD: YOUR COMPANY LOGO IN THE END CREDITS. Our last film was seen by roughly 10 million people. Have your company’s logo featured in the end credits of KING OF PEKING, along with the words “Proudly Supported By”. Please keep all company logos something you don't mind your grandma seeing. Plus all the digital downloads!

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    VISIT THE SET! Based in China? If you're in town during the shoot then you'll get a front row seat for a day to see us filming (travel and accommodation costs not included). Plus all the HD digital downloads!

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    Pledge $350 or more About $350

    INTERESTED IN FILMING IN CHINA? We've worked in Chinese film, TV and new media since 2001. Our projects have screened on some of the biggest media platforms in the country, including CCTV and Tudou. Get the inside scoop via this half hour Skype call with the filmmakers. Plus you'll get both the HD digital downloads!

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    Pledge $400 or more About $400

    HAVE A CHINA PERFECT SCRIPT? Our producer will read your feature screenplay or treatment and give you a half hour Skype consult on the script's marketability and producibility in China. Plus all the HD digital downloads to boot!

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    Pledge $450 or more About $450

    BONUS REWARD: APPEAR IN THE FILM WITHOUT LEAVING YOUR HOUSE. Send us your photograph and our art department will draw your face into the artwork of a bootleg DVD cover or movie poster featured in close-up in KING OF PEKING! Our artist’s drawing of your face will be seen by audiences around the world! Plus all the HD digital downloads!

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    LET'S HAVE HOT POT! Based in Beijing or Shanghai? You and a friend will have an exclusive dinner with the filmmakers at our favorite hot pot restaurant in either Beijing or Shanghai (travel and accommodation not included). Plus the HD digital downloads!

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

    YOUR COMPANY NAME AT THE CHINA PREMIERE! Director Sam Voutas or producer Melanie Ansley will wear your company's T-shirt at the China premiere of KING OF PEKING (shirt must meet team approval). And your company logo in the end credits, plus all the HD digital downloads!

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

    FINAL BONUS REWARD: CONSULTING PRODUCER CREDIT. Get an advisory credit on a film that will be seen around the world! You will be credited along with our two consulting producers in China in the end credits of KING OF PEKING as well as IMDB and other press kit materials. Plus all the digital downloads!

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    Pledge $2,000 or more About $2,000

    BONUS REWARD: ASSOCIATE PRODUCER CREDIT. The highest badge of support. You’ll not only be listed as an associate producer in the film’s end credits, but also on IMDB and all our press kits. Did we mention our last film was seen by over 10 million people, and played at over 20 film festivals? And of course all the HD digital downloads.

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

    FINAL BONUS REWARD: EXECUTIVE PRODUCER CREDIT. Says it all! Only one available. Be listed as “Executive Producer” in the KING OF PEKING end credits, IMDB and other press kit materials.You will share this credit with our two executive producers in China. Plus all the digital downloads!

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    Pledge US$ 6,000 or more About US$ 6,000

    BONUS REWARD: VIP CORPORATE SPONSOR. Have your company be the film’s elite backer. This means your company logo in the film’s closing credits under the words "VIP Corporate Sponsor". Logo will receive preferential sizing and 1st priority placement ahead of other corporate sponsors, will feature on all press kits, all email newsletters going out to fans (lasting a period of roughly 2 years), PLUS on all T-shirts made for the film (logo will be placed on sleeve). Your company will also have the opportunity to distribute promotional items of your choice (pens, T-shirts, hats etc) at select “King of Peking” screenings in China. AND two tickets to the film’s WORLD PREMIERE (travel and accommodation not included), where you will have an exclusive dinner with the filmmakers.

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Funding period

- (30 days)