My name is Brent Simonds and I am a Professor and the Mass Media Coordinator in the School of Communication at Illinois State University. I teach Documentary Storytelling and other film/video related courses.
I first met Verlon Thompson in 2012 when he attended an acoustic jam that my friend Jack Secord hosts at Lake Bloomington in central Illinois each year. Jack became friends with Verlon when he was a student in a songwriting class that Verlon & Guy Clark taught at Jorma Kaukonen's Fur Peace Ranch in southeast Ohio. The awesome tune "The Guitar" was born in that class. (video courtesy Genuine Human Productions)
I made a short film about the the 2011 acoustic jam that Jack had shared with Verlon. Verlon was very complimentary of the film and we really hit it off. I have always been extremely interested in music and the fact that Verlon was a successful songwriter in Nashville made him very intriguing. Also, it probably helped that we are both from Oklahoma and we both had relatives in each others' hometowns. (You can see the acoustic jam film here)
Birth of Sweet Dreams
Fast forward to 2014 when I learned that Verlon was coming back to Bloomington for a concert. While listening to his "Live at the Ivey's" CD it occurred to me: Verlon had already written the script for a biographical music film. If I could capture some of his performances, interview the people close to him, and visit the places he vividly describes, I could create an interesting blend of concert film & biography.
So, three years later with Verlon's full participation, more than 8000 miles traveled, and hundreds of hours shooting/editing, the film is virtually complete (running time a little over 91 minutes). I am excited for all of Verlon's fans to see this film and I am anxious to introduce others to this extraordinary musician and even better man.
I have hired a music supervisor in Nashville to negotiate and clear all of the music in the film, and I have retained an entertainment attorney in Chicago to make sure I haven't infringed on anyone's copyrights. So far, I have self-funded these services and the production of the film, but I can't proceed without your help.
Now, the music licenses must be ordered and the publishers paid. Music licensing is a big ticket item in a music-dominated documentary, and I will not be able to share this film with you and the rest of the world until I have met this legal obligation. The total for licensing is $17,279.26.
Kickstarter charges a 5% fee with an additional 3-5% payment processing fee. That brings the total into the $19,000 range. I will also need to print posters, DVDs, and Blu-Rays and pay shipping to fulfill those requests. It's hard to predict just how many fans will opt for that, but I am going to low-ball it and budget $1000 bringing my total to $20,000. Please know that Kickstarter is all or nothing - if I do not hit my goal you will not be charged for your pledge.
Should I have distribution opportunities arise, I need to consider Errors & Omission Insurance. I've been told that it will likely be around $4000 but I'm not including that in this campaign. I'll take care of that later.
I hope to enter the film into a few film festivals this fall for presentation in the spring and early summer and then release it to you and the public at large late next summer (most film festivals will not accept films that are already commercially available).
Of course, I can't predict the future but my present plans for distribution include:
- Video on Demand (VOD) rentals on Vimeo
- Amazon Prime
My distribution plan is conjecture at this point, but I can tell you that the terms of my music licensing allow for up to three streaming services and up to 500 DVDs/Blu-Rays. It will be a worldwide five year license. Licensing rates will need to re-negotiated if I need/want to exceed these allowances.
I am very proud of this film. Getting to know Verlon and his family, friends, and musical peers has been one of the great honors of my life. I had a really great time telling his story and I want you to see it!
Here's a five-minute excerpt from the film to whet your appetite for the full documentary! Meet Verlon's parents and brother.
Risks and challenges
The film is virtually complete. I have a few titles that need to be created near the beginning of the film and to finish the credits. I have done my due diligence regarding music licensing and copyrights. As soon as I can pay the music publishers, I can move forward to the film festival phase. Remember, Verlon and any of his co-writers will be paid according to the deals they have with their publishers.
After the film has a chance to gain an audience at festivals, I can release the documentary to you late next summer (if you opted for video rental or DVD/Blu-Ray).
If I can get your help - it's a done deal!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (26 days)