About this project
- Update #18 - ONE DAY left! Moondog is in Vanity Fair: We've received amazing coverage and have more to offer
Update #17 - 48 hours to go: Posters for the film + Special guests (They Might Be Giants, Cerys Matthews...) at our London/NYC screenings
Update #16 - 72 hours to reach our goal: How your shirts are being made + a new pledge level
- Update #15 - Moondog on the Radio: BBC Radio 6 show rallies around the project and we partner with another Kickstarter
Update #14 - New Moondog items for supporting the film: Back the film now for a Viking pin or VERY RARE Moondog poster
Update #13 - Moondog and Pop Culture: Watch and listen to a tour through Moondog's influence on films and music
Update #12 - Rare footage of Moondog!: Watch a rare clip of Moondog playing the Trimba
- Update #11 - Two new rare Moondog items: Pledge for a rare poster or "Moondog Yearbook 1"
Update #10 - New Moondog music discovered!: Watch a clip of our director and a braille transcriber show how newly discovered scores will be used/played in the film
Update #9 - Do you have Moondog's original 1969 vinyl?: Support the film by backing for a rare original Moondog vinyl
Update #8 - "Moondog was a very special person to me...": James Sclavunos of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds talks to us about meeting Moondog as a child
Update #7 - A peek at our never-before-seen Moondog images: We reveal new images for the film and a new pledge level!
Update #6 - Halfway through but not halfway there: A few words of thanks from the team plus new pledge levels!
Update #5 - Moondog and... Goldfrapp?: Photos of young Will Gregory performing on "Sax Pax for a Sax" plus a new pledge level!
- Update #4 - A few key members of "Moondog's World": Stories from Bob Dylan, David Bowie, Blondie, and Elvis Costello
- Update #3 - A word from Jarvis Cocker...: Video clip of Jarvis Cocker talking about the importance of the film and Moondog
- Update #2 - Moondog as a NYC icon: Photos of Moondog from tourist guidebooks
- Update #1 - What an amazing first day: New York Times and other press coverage of our launch!
Charlie Parker and Benny Goodman hung out with him. Philip Glass lived with him, Janis Joplin covered his music, Allen Ginsberg stuck it on his fridge, Diane Arbus took his picture and Andy Warhol’s mother designed one of his album covers. Merv Griffin interviewed him, Lenny Bruce shared the bill, Phillippe Starck named a building after him, Elvis Costello brought him to London and fashion designers have created entire collections around his look.
For over 30 years, one of the most sought out, recognizable figures in New York City was Louis Hardin, Jr., a towering Midwesterner, who stood day and night on the corner of Sixth Avenue and 54th Street, dressed in the early years like a monk, later as a Viking, selling poetry and playing homemade instruments. Blind and handsome, he called himself MOONDOG. Thousands bought his records, he appeared on the big and small screen and his picture was taken by countless tourists and famous photographers alike. But few have known his extraordinary, wild and surprising life story - until now!
THE VIKING OF SIXTH AVENUE is a feature-length documentary about the colorful life, times and music of a true original whose life and art were one and the same. With a wealth of never before seen archival film, home movies and rare audio recordings, the film is told largely from Moondog’s perspective and will feature unique interviews with Moondog’s friends, family, collaborators and musicians who cite him as an influence including Jarvis Cocker, John Zorn, Chris Stein and Debbie Harry, Damon Albarn, Philip Glass and many more.
Born and raised in the American Midwest, Louis Hardin lost his eyesight at sixteen and studied music at the Iowa School for the Blind. Arriving alone in New York City in 1943, over the next three decades Hardin reinvented himself as Moondog and perfected the striking Viking persona and unique musical style that would make him famous. Moondog’s remarkable life spans much of the 20th century and takes him from Black Foot ceremonies in Idaho to living homeless on the streets of New York to being honored by European royalty. His unique musical career has Moondog appearing with Salvador Dali, recording a children’s album with Julie Andrews, conducting Johnny Carson’s orchestra and performing across Europe with Goldfrapp's Will Gregory.
Opening with Moondog’s arrival in New York, THE VIKING OF 6TH AVENUE unravels with the drama of a fiction film. Visually rich, it weaves back and forth in time, mixing cinematic contemporary footage with a wealth of never-seen-before archival materials. With audio recordings from more than 20 hours of rare interviews, Moondog’s voice is the personal narrative backbone of the film. His wide range of music provides the soundtrack, using both original and new versions of his works, from orchestral pieces to pop songs.
With Moondog’s spellbinding story at its core, THE VIKING OF SIXTH AVENUE looks at what drew so many to Moondog, during his lifetime and to this day. It goes beyond the spectacle of Moondog as the Viking to uncover the motivations of a man determined not only to create original music but to live a truly original life.
We've been working on our feature length documentary THE VIKING OF 6TH AVENUE about Moondog and his amazing life and music for over two years, but now we need your help!
Join us and let's tell Moondog's incredible story for the first time on film!
Moondog, the original crowd-funded artist, relied on the generosity of strangers, people who saw him on the street and recognized that he was something special. Now we hope to do the same – we’re asking you to help make this film happen.
We’ve found support from international film funds and traditional backers and of course used our own money but we believe Moondog’s story deserves to be told in a way that does justice to his unique creativity and that means telling the story on a big scale. To do that we really need you!
The funding of this campaign is essential to enable us to finance the filming of important interviews with Moondog’s friends, family and collaborators in the US, UK and Germany; to shoot in the locations where Moondog lived and worked, and to license the beautiful archival footage and photographs that we have unearthed.
Our goal is the minimum we need to do this. If we surpass our target the extra funds will help us to complete the film to an even higher standard. Additional funding would allow us to go the extra-mile in post-production, with additional graphics and even more Moondog music, to make the finished film look and sound amazing.
We have found unpublished Moondog scores, still in their original Braille form and we would love to bring some of these to life. Help us bring this new music into the world!
Every little bit counts, so we really appreciate whatever you are able to pledge.
Holly Elson Director/Producer Hark Pictures. Selected as one of 25 breakout filmmakers for the Emerging Visions program (Film Society of Lincoln Center, IFP, New York Film Festival), Holly Elson is a UK based documentary director and producer working in film and transmedia with her company Hark Pictures. As a filmmaker she combines archive and contemporary observational documentary to tell unique personal stories. She has been working on broadcast, independent and commercial content in a variety of roles for over 10 years. She has directed and produced documentaries for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Discovery and UKTV History. Credits include The Tie That Binds (BBC Scotland, Scottish Documentary Institute); Pauline, Sheila and Joan, nominated for a Royal Television Society Award for best documentary; Recycled History of Recycling, supported by Britdoc. In 2013 she won the Pixel Lab prize for The Viking of 6th Avenue accompanying digital project.
Lori Cheatle Producer. Lori is the founder of Hard Working Movies, an independent production company in Brooklyn, NY, that makes films and creates media with a range of talented and award-winning directors. Her films have screened at top international film festivals, in theaters and on TV in over 60 countries. They include the feature documentaries 51 Birch Street (NYT 10 Best Films of the Year), The Kids Grow Up, The Edge of Dreaming,This Land is Your Land (Whitney Biennial) and many others. She recently produced Captivated: The Trials of Pamela Smart (dir. Jeremiah Zagar), which premiered at Sundance 2014 and 112 Weddings (dir. Doug Block) - both to be broadcast this year on HBO.
John Battsek, Nicole Stott, Passion Pictures – Executive Producers. Passion Pictures is one of the most prolific feature documentary production companies in the industry. From Academy Award-winning One Day in September in 1999, Passion has been involved in over thirty high profile documentaries, including: Searching for Sugar Man (Academy Award winner 2013); The Imposter (BAFTA winner 2013); Restrepo (Academy Award nominated 2011); Sergio (Academy Award shortlisted 2010) and The Tillman Story (Academy Award shortlisted 2011). In 2014, they had four films premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.
Quite simply, if we don't reach our goal, we don’t get any money at all. Your money is pledged but only taken if we reach our goal. That means all of the great rewards won’t be winging their way to you and we won’t be able to tell Moondog’s story to a global cinema audience. So please help us get there!
Do you or someone you know have any Moondog archive material - footage, audio or photographs? We are trying to source as much material as we can for the film and the digital project that goes beyond the movie. Anything you have could contribute to building the Moondog archive and furthering his legacy. You will be properly credited for any material that you submit. Please get in touch with us via our website thevikingof6thavenue.com.
Did you know Moondog? Did you meet him on the street in New York or in Germany? Did you see him perform? Do you remember the first time you heard his music? What are your memories or impressions of Moondog? We'd love to hear your Moondog stories! Over the last few years we've been gathering some brilliant Moondog stories. Share yours with us and other Moondog fans in comments here, on the My Moondog forum, Facebook & Twitter using #mymoondog or by contacting us.
Everyone who helped Moondog got something in return and somehow their lives were changed by the encounter. We hope to bring that spirit to this campaign and in addition to bringing you the film, we have a host of great rewards for you to choose from, such as a "Moondog playlist" for just $10 or the ONLY copy of a print of Moondog at our highest back level.
One of the best ways to help us is by posting a link to this Kickstarter page [link] on Facebook, Twitter and your favorite social networks and by emailing anyone you think might be interested in Moondog and this movie.
Please also share links to our
Facebook page facebook.com/thevikingof6thavenue
Twitter handle twitter.com/moondogmovie
as far and wide as you can! If you’re a fan of Moondog’s music please share it with someone else – tell them about him and introduce them to a new world of music.
If you’d like to help us in other ways we’d love to hear from you. Without a big publicity machine behind him and in a largely pre-internet age, Moondog’s fan base grew through word of mouth. Now we need your help to spread the word about Moondog, his music, this film and our Kickstarter campaign. Thank you.
Risks and challenges
We’re so grateful that you’ve taken an interest in helping us make this film and we’re excited to introduce those of you who don’t know him to the world of all things Moondog. People like Moondog don’t come along very often and we are determined to tell his story to the world in a way that does him justice.
When it comes to our remaining challenges, we are confident that this movie will be completed but there are a number of things that all documentary filmmakers face when finishing a project.
The most common challenge we might encounter is that additional funding is needed to complete the film. This can happen for a number of reasons, such as: high profile interviewees schedule’s change, unforseen events require additional filming, we discover new archival material that needs to be restored or editing takes longer than anticipated.There is still a good amount of filming still to be done. It's possible that could take longer than we expect, delaying the completion of the film.
However, there is an award-winning team behind this film with a long track record of delivering award-winning feature documentaries for international cinema and television and we won’t rest until it’s done ... and wins lots of awards. It’s going to be a great film and we can't wait for you to see it!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.
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