September 8, 1935. Bullets ricochet through the marble corridors of the Louisiana State Capitol in Baton Rouge. When the shooting finally stops and the panicked screaming subsides, two men have been fatally wounded. The first: populist United States Senator Huey P. Long, the most powerful man in Louisiana, and one of the most prominent political figures in 1930s America. The second: Dr. Carl Weiss, a respected local physician, and Long’s presumed assailant. Weiss is riddled with sixty bullets, some of which have passed through his body and lodged in the alabaster walls. Blood soaks through his white linen suit and onto the ornate floor of the State Capitol. Huey Long, known as “The Kingfish,” is rushed to the hospital, but pronounced dead thirty hours later. Louisiana politics – and the lives of the two men’s families – will never be the same.
Why This Project?
We’re making 61 Bullets to shine a unique light on one of the biggest assassinations in US history, to tap the rich and colorful fabric of Louisiana before its inevitable homogenization, to explore latent themes of father-son relationships, justice, emotional closure and how history is formed and re-formed.
Through the debate over how Huey Long was killed, the film will explore a piece of history that is as contentious as the man himself. We watch two families grasp for closure in the wake of a tragedy with ongoing political and personal ramifications. We engage those who know the most (Long experts) and those who care the most (the families of Long and Weiss) in a juxtaposition of competing narratives of the biggest political killing between McKinley and Kennedy. As the Weisses seek to rewrite history and clear their family name, the Longs strive to defend the legacy of their patriarch and preserve his status as an iconic martyr.
Where Will Your Money Go?
61 Bullets initial work has been funded by generous grants from the Texas Filmmaker's Producer's Fund and The Virginia Wellington Cabot Foundation, via fiscal sponsor Louisiana Public Broadcasting. This project has very specific needs, which comprise our fundraising goal:
1. Wrapping Cinematography: While our shooting is about 85% complete, we have one or two shoots ahead of us to continue shooting with the Long family, interview two historians, and follow up with Carl Weiss Jr.'s son, Carl Weiss III. When we have edited together an assembly of the project, we'll have a clear sense of what we need to capture and we'll need the resources to support our phenomenal DPs, Deb Lewis and David Layton.
2. Creative Editorial: 12-16 weeks with a top-tier documentary film editor.
3. Original Score: While David's creative partner, David Rice, is on board to compose and produce the score, as he did for Crawford, we will have to pay arrangers and Austin- and Louisiana-based musicians to bring his vision to life. We may also seek to license a relevant song or two.
4. Archival Footage: Much of the footage that's key to telling the story -- especially of Huey Long and 1930s Louisiana -- needs to be pulled from archives at LSU and elsewhere for best quality, and in some cases licensed outright. We will also seek to license clips that show the Long story in the popular imagination -- like those from All The King's Men (both the original and the remake) and even The Simpsons' take on Huey Long.
5. Color Correction: For non-film folks, think of this as advanced photoshop for moving images. With the variety of footage -- archival, home video, SD, HDV, and HD -- we will work with a colorist to bring a unified look and feel to the film once it's cut.
5. Sound Design and Mix: The talented gents at Pony Sound are on board to work at a discounted rate, but this will be a complex project with sound from the field, a rich score, and a design that will blend old sounds with new.
6. Festival Entry and Initial Distribution Steps: The filmmakers have strong relationships with festivals around the world based on previous work, which will reduce the costs of submitting the film to festivals, but there will still be submission fees and costs for promotional materials surrounding festival screenings. There will also be travel costs for pitching the film to potential broadcast partners and/or distributors.
Will This Project Really Happen?
Our director, David Modigliani, has a strong track record in documentary film. Crawford was a spotlight premiere at SXSW in 2008 and became the first film to ever premiere on Hulu. It played at 33 film festivals around the world. Variety called Crawford "poingant," Premiere "richly compelling" and the NY Sun "revelatory." In 2010, Modigliani co-produced Trust Us, This Is All Made Up, which premiered at SXSW and in 2011 his company co-produced Building Hope which won the audience award for best documentary at the festival. Advance interest in 61 Bullets has been expressed by Tribeca and Munich, as well as Crawford distributor, Ro*Co Films, which has distributed 11 Oscar-nominated docs. Our producer, Yvonne Boudreaux is a perfectionist with an impeccable reputation in the film world for delivering in work for top tier directors like Robert Rodriguez. While documentary filmmaking is new to her, seeing a project to completion is second nature. With 85% of shooting complete and commitments of a great post-production team intact, we are set to tackle the final phase of the project.
What's In It For You?
In addition to helping to bring this story to life and publicly joining a team of collaborators and stakeholders from across the country, you've got some great rewards to pick up. From stylish, soft T-Shirts that you'll love and actually wear, to an engraved bullet, to your name on the film's poster, to a Co-Producer credit, we've got many ways to say thank you.
Share The Project!
Almost as valuable as a contribution is your willingness to share this Kickstarter project with friends and family. If you think this project is interesting, pass it along! Show people what you're backing! The more contributors we have, the more likely we are to reach our goal.
For Those Who Want To Know More...
61 Bullets is obviously more layered, more complex and more nuanced than the video teaser above. Huey Long's story is particularly hard to summarize in a meaningful way, as are the competing versions of "what actually happened." Please feel free to reach out to us directly for a treatment of the film; we'd love to share it with you.
Who Else Is Involved?
In addition to David and Yvonne, the project is proud to include Co-Producer Matt Naylor, Co-Producer and Composer David Rice, Producer Tanya Schurr, Cinematographers Deb Lewis, David Layton and Johnny Mars, Assistant Producer Laurie Ashbourne, and Co-Producer Andrew Meade McGee, among others.
Risks and challenges
Documentary films are notoriously challenging to complete because of their amorphous nature. Stories grow and shift even as the filmmakers are in the process of telling them, but thankfully the footage at the heart of 61 Bullets is already in the can. As evidenced above, the majority of our work is post-production. It's possible that the film could take on different formats -- anything from a TV half hour to a TV hour to a 75-minute feature -- and our backers should to be prepared for the final film to inhabit the format that will help it reach the most people and tell the story in the most compelling way possible.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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