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A film about revered troubadour Guy Clark—The Dean of Texas Songwriters—The Dylan Thomas of American Music—Pancho to Van Zandt's Lefty.
A film about revered troubadour Guy Clark—The Dean of Texas Songwriters—The Dylan Thomas of American Music—Pancho to Van Zandt's Lefty.
1,879 backers pledged $182,294 to help bring this project to life.

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Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark traces the life of music pioneer Guy Clark, who, with his wife Susanna, shaped the contemporary folk and American roots music scene much like F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald fashioned the jazz age in Paris. 

I have spent the last seven years working with Guy on his definitive biography, a book that has taken both Guy and me on a journey we could not have imagined. I used to be Guy's publicist. I was working with him on his Workbench Songs record when he was diagnosed with Lymphoma. From my view, that's when things started changing with Guy, when he realized that it just might be important to leave his story behind. You know if you've seen Guy in concert a few times that he tends to tell the same stories from the stage. There's the one about the crazy landlord in Los Angeles who made his own bullets and cut down the grapefruit tree. Then there's the one about Richard Leigh going to boat building school in Maine, a present from his wife, who then divorced him. As Guy likes to say: "Richard has one hell of a boat, and Verlon and I got a good song out of it." And, of course, "Homegrown Tomatoes" is a love song. These are all stories we've heard time again and I always thought that was about as deep as Guy Clark was willing to go on telling intimate stories.

Guy and Rodney in the studio making the album "Better Days"
Guy and Rodney in the studio making the album "Better Days"
Boy, was I wrong. When I asked him about writing the book, I fully expected Guy to say no way. And if he did agree to do it, I didn't believe he would really be willing to go down the rabbit hole with me and get personal. It was the only way I was willing to commit to the long road of writing a biography, Guy had to not only agree to be open and honest, he had to prove it, and prove it in the first interview. Did he ever. I'll save that story for the book and the film. And there are many, many fantastic Guy Clark stories I can pretty much guarantee you haven't heard because Guy has told them to no one except me. This brings me to the film. I never intended to do a film on Guy, for all the reasons you might imagine. It's a hell of a lot of work. It's expensive! I mean, just the music licensing alone is a huge ticket item. Guy's health hasn't been good and I didn't think he'd be up to it. I've already put him through the wringer on the book and now I'm going to go back and make him do it again on camera? No way. Well, that's what I thought until last year about this time.

In April 2014, Guy's manager Keith Case and I talked and came to the conclusion that there needs to be a documentary about Guy. Guy said if anyone was going to produce a film about him, it should be me because we had spent all these years together on the book and that I know more than anyone else. And Guy trusts me. He knows I'll do right by him even when telling parts of the story that are painful because I love and respect Guy (and I think everyone who knows him does, too). Because Guy's health is precarious, we had to start filming right away.
Guy, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Tom Waits
Guy, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Tom Waits

You know how sometimes you'll get signs when things are meant to be? Well, as I was thinking about whether or not to take on this project, three big things happened. 1) My husband, Paul Whitfield, who is the co-producer and DP for the film, found out that his boss (The Boss) was going to go on hiatus from touring for awhile. That means Paul is free to do something else. My husband is talented. Talented enough that he's been working on the road for Springsteen for all these years so I'm not the only one that thinks so. 2) Some ultra-talented documentary film makers are in the middle of producing a documentary on country music. They've interviewed Guy and my client Kris Kristofferson for their film and in the course of this work, we've gotten to be friends. And they've been amazing friends and informal advisors to me on this Guy documentary—in the writing of the script, the technical details of using photos and other ancillary content—you name it, they've been there for me. 3) Connie Nelson came on board. I've known Connie for years through our mutual friends and when I saw her at an event last year, I asked her if she would have any interest in helping us. When she said yes, I knew it was time for me to say yes. And so here we are. Even more amazing, Guy gave me the exclusive rights to his story and I have those rights for 14 years.

Guy and Susanna
Guy and Susanna
The film will follow Guy’s journey as he moves from Texas to Los Angeles to Nashville to become one of the most revered songwriters in American music and an influential folk hero of the 20th century. The documentary opens as Guy and Susanna pull into Nashville on a rainy November night in 1971. The white Volkswagen bus is loaded with everything they own, including a scrap from a burger sack with a partial lyric: “If I could just get off of this L.A. Freeway without getting killed or caught.”

There is a new Music City brewing underground. Outlaw songwriters are bubbling up into the mainstream and Guy is about to become a lion in this modern breed of Nashville Cat. The film reveals Clark’s role in the rise of songwriters in Nashville and how that influence stretches back to his home state of Texas.

The documentary chronicles how Guy’s early years in Monahans, Texas affected him as a storyteller. You'll meet Guy’s colorful and beloved grandmother, Rossie Clark, a divorced, amputee, former bootlegger who ran a hotel for oil drillers and bomber pilots. Rossie’s boyfriend Jack Prigg—a fascinating wildcatter who lived at the hotel—showed young Guy a world of pool halls and taverns and oil wells that gushed black gold.

Evening tour at the oil well
Evening tour at the oil well

Without Getting Killed or Caught includes exclusive interview footage with Clark and his friends and family. The film integrates audio and video footage from personal interviews, unique never-before-seen photos and images from Clark’s private collection, and unique historical footage. We reveal how Guy spent his formative years on the South Coast of Texas in the beach town of Rockport as captain of the football team and student body president. He learned to play guitar from his father’s law partner, worked for the shrimp boat builders in the harbor, read poetry, and was awarded a National Science Foundation grant for summer study at M.D. Anderson Hospital.

Guy working in the lab at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston 1960
Guy working in the lab at MD Anderson Hospital in Houston 1960
 
Houston is a big part of Guy’s story. In the early 1960s, after selecting out of the Peace Corps, Guy settled in the Montrose neighborhood, a center for the burgeoning counter culture movement. We spend ample time in the film discussing how the city and artists who lived there inspired Guy. Within the framework of the documentary we also detail how Guy’s best friend from Houston, Townes Van Zandt, came to be the third person in Guy and Susanna’s marriage. 

Pancho & Lefty: Guy Clark & Townes Van Zandt
Pancho & Lefty: Guy Clark & Townes Van Zandt
 

Guy released Old No. 1 in 1975, an album rooted in the culture of the West Texas desert. The documentary analyzes Guy’s struggle with the mainstream music business as Nashville tried to figure out how to fit him into commercial country music. The film explains how Guy finally took control of his own recordings with 1989’s Old Friends. It was a gutsy move at a time when the major label business was making money hand over fist. The film explores how Guy made an even a stronger commitment to his art as the next seven albums unfolded. After several GRAMMY nominations for Best Folk Album, Guy’s 2014 album My Favorite Picture of You finally prevailed in 2014. The title track is a profound, final tribute to Susanna, who died in 2012 after spiraling downhill following Townes’s death in 1997. 

Susanna Clark in 1973
Susanna Clark in 1973
 

The documentary closes with a scene from Guy’s 73rd birthday in 2014, an intimate in-the-round of stories and songs featuring Guy and his Texas compadres Terry Allen, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen and Jerry Jeff Walker. The troubadours lovingly recount their own stories of Guy and how he shaped each of them.

Old Friends Reunion Poster and Laminate VIP Pass
Old Friends Reunion Poster and Laminate VIP Pass

We have filmed Guy at his house on four different occasions. We produced the Old Friends Reunion (a piece of it is at the end of the promo video above) for Guy's 73rd birthday. Later this month we are doing on camera interviews with Guy's colleagues and friends. We'll do more of those in Texas in June and will also shoot in Guy's hometown of Rockport.

Paul and I have been bootstrapping this thing so far and the funds are running low. In order to make this film a reality, we need your help! As I mentioned, the music licensing alone is a considerable cost. I'm meeting with folks who may be interested in supporting this thing, and have found a little seed money that way, but we still have a long way to go to reach the goal. We're reaching out to you, Guy's biggest fans, because we know you get that this is an important story to tell. With $75,000, we can reach our goal of covering the music. Meanwhile, we'll continue to figure out creative ways to pay the other bills, including an auction (we are gathering items for that). Anything above our stated goal will help us with equipment rental, paying the crew, insurance, accounting, legal and everything else that comes along with a project of this magnitude. If anyone wants to see a detailed budget, I'm happy to share it.

Risks and challenges

Our biggest challenge is going to be to clear the music for the film. We can certainly clear it, but it is the biggest line item on the budget and because the music is extensive, we will need to hire a music supervisor to handle all of the paperwork. I've worked in the music business for more than 20 years and understand synch licensing and master licensing and all the stuff that comes with it. The sooner we can raise money, the sooner we can get someone working on that item. If we raise more than our goal, it will allow us to also license historical footage and photos. Meanwhile, we are negotiating the best rates we can on all of the above.

I expect to have a film ready to pitch to film festivals by the middle of 2016 but not ready for the public to purchase until late 2017 (if we roll it out for film festival season in early 2017). That is a long time to wait for fulfillment for our Kickstarter backers but I hope everyone will be patient with us and understand that it is important to do this film right. I think some of our other items are cool enough that it will make the film worth waiting for.

I promise that whatever setbacks we encounter, we will handle them as professionals and we will always stay in touch and keep everyone posted on what is happening. One of the greatest joys of working on the Guy Clark book and film has been meeting the community of people who love Guy as much as we do.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    This is close to my heart. I want to be able to show Guy a list of people that not only supported the film for larger rewards, but who gave "Just $5" because they have been touched by a Guy Clark song, bought an album, attended a concert, shook his hand, shared a smoke or a joke or a drink, wrote a song, sat in his workshop, or just appreciates the grand poet that he is. If you can do it, please give "Just $5" or add an additional $5 on to the reward you are selecting. With your help, we can get this film made and do Guy Clark proud. Thank you so much for coming on this journey with us.

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    Thank you for your help! Every little bit brings us closer to our goal. This reward is a PDF Beginners Guide to Guy Clark. If you want to know where to start your education, this PDF will give you ideas for songs to download, YouTube videos you must see, a list of some cool covers by other artists and more.

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    Thank you for coming along on this ride. Every garden needs homegrown tomatoes, right? For your donation we'll send you a a packet of customized Guy Clark Homegrown Tomato seeds for your 2016 garden.

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    NEW REWARD - This reward just added after we met our goal. We will design super cool limited edition bumper stickers especially for this Kickstarter campaign. You can pledge $15 for one now and if you have already pledged at the $20 level or higher, we will automatically include a bumper sticker with your reward. It's a win-win!

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    Thank you for supporting our film! Every donation helps. We have very cool laminate VIP passes from Old Friends Reunion film shoot, listing Guy Clark, Terry Allen, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, and Jerry Jeff Walker. You can see a photo of the pass in the story section.

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    Thank you for your kind donation! For this level reward we'll send backers 2 tribute CDs produced by Tamara (18 tracks each!) The CDs are: "The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson," a gift to Kris for his 70th birthday. Features Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Todd Snider, Shooter Jennings, Patti Griffin, Russell Crowe, Jessi Colter, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, Shawn Camp and more. The second CD is 2004 Grammy-winning Best Traditional Folk Album, "Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster." Includes tracks by John Prine, Raul Malo, Alison Krauss, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Mavis Staples, Roger McGuinn, Ron Sexsmith and more.

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    Thank you for supporting this film. We're happy to send you a digital copy of the completed film "Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark." Will not ship until all film festival and theater showings are completed, sometime in late 2017. This is a personal copy for you, not to be shared. Let's give the film a chance to make it. Thank you!

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    Thank you for your support! This reward is a limited edition, super-cool, specially designed "Without Getting Killed or Caught" t-shirt. Will only be available from this Kickstarter campaign.

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    Thank you for your generous gift. In return, we'll send you an autographed hardcover copy of Tamara's upcoming biography on Guy Clark. Scheduled to be published in November 2016 by Texas A&M University Press.

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    Thank you for coming along on this ride with us. This reward is a Digital "Director's Cut" edition of the film. Will include scenes that otherwise end up on the cutting room floor, extra interviews with the cast and crew, a PDF of the script and whatever other cool stuff we can think of to include.

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    Thank you for supporting this film. We're happy to send you a digital copy of the completed film "Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark and an autographed copy of Tamara's first book, "The Most Beautiful Girl." Film will not ship until all film festival and theater showings are completed, sometime in late 2017. This is a personal copy for you, not to be shared. Let's give the film a chance to make it. Book will ship Jan 2016. Thank you!

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    Pledge $55 or more About $55

    Thank you for your kind donation! For this level reward you get a digital copy of the film and 2 tribute CDs produced by Tamara (18 tracks each!) The CDs are: "The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson," a gift to Kris for his 70th birthday. Features Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Todd Snider, Shooter Jennings, Patti Griffin, Russell Crowe, Jessi Colter, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, Shawn Camp and more. The second CD is 2004 Grammy-winning Best Traditional Folk Album, "Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster." Includes tracks by John Prine, Raul Malo, Alison Krauss, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Mavis Staples, Roger McGuinn, Ron Sexsmith and more.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    Thank you for supporting this film. We're happy to send you a digital copy of the completed film "Without Getting Killed or Caught: The Life and Music of Guy Clark" and a super-groovy t-shirt designed only for this Kickstarter campaign. T-shirt ships Jan 2016. Film will not ship until all film festival and theater showings are completed, sometime in late 2017. This is a personal copy for you, not to be shared. Let's give the film a chance to make it. Thank you!

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    Thank you for supporting this film! At this level we are offering a digital copy of the film plus MP3 audio interviews with Guy Clark. These are interviews I've conducted with Guy over the last seven years for the biography. They will be sent to you via email through WeTransfer and not available until the book is published in late 2016. I can't possibly put everything Guy has ever told me in the book so these interviews are gold.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Thank you for supporting us! You get a digital copy of the film plus a special poster from a one-of-a-kind event, the Old Friends Reunion film shoot November 6, 2014 (Guy's 73rd birthday) The poster lists the cast from that day: Guy Clark, Terry Allen, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, and Jerry Jeff Walker. I posted a picture of the poster in the story so you can see what it looks like. This one is not autographed but if you look further down in the rewards, we are offering a limited number of signed posters. Poster Jan 2016. Film end of 2017.

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Thank you for your support! This bundle includes a digital copy of the film, limited edition shirt, homegrown tomato seeds and the Beginner's Guide to Guy Clark. Everything but the film ships January 2016. Film end of 2017.

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    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    Thank you for your generous gift. In return, we'll send you a digital copy of the film and an autographed hardcover copy of Tamara's upcoming biography on Guy Clark. Scheduled to be published in November 2016 by Texas A&M University Press. Book December 2016. Film end of 2017.

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  18. Select this reward

    Pledge $85 or more About $85

    Thank you for your kind donation! For this level reward you get a digital copy of the film, super cool specialty t-shirt, and 2 tribute CDs produced by Tamara (18 tracks each!) The CDs are: "The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson," a gift to Kris for his 70th birthday. Features Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash, Todd Snider, Shooter Jennings, Patti Griffin, Russell Crowe, Jessi Colter, Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis, Shawn Camp and more. The second CD is 2004 Grammy-winning Best Traditional Folk Album, "Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster." Includes tracks by John Prine, Raul Malo, Alison Krauss, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Mavis Staples, Roger McGuinn, Ron Sexsmith and more.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Thank you for your generous donation. This limited quantity reward is a ten pack of CDs: Guy Clark's "Workbench Songs," "Somedays The Song Writes You," "Songs and Stories," & "My Favorite Picture of You"; "This One's For Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark," "Beautiful Dreamer: The Songs of Stephen Foster," "The Pilgrim: A Celebration of Kris Kristofferson," "Looking Into You: A Tribute to Jackson Browne," and two surprise CDs, hand picked from our closet. And we'll throw in some tomato seeds and the Beginner's Guide to Guy Clark.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Thank you for your generous support! This reward is the "Things that Inspired Guy Clark" package, a curated kit of books, music and other items that inspired Guy throughout his life and career. Guy will have a hand in curating these packages.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Thank you for joining us! This reward is a digital copy of the Director's cut of the film and a curated high-res digital photo from Guy Clark's personal collection, suitable for you to have printed, and curated MP3 interview with Guy. Photo ships Jan 2016. Film at the end of 2017.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Thank you! This reward is a digital Director's Cut of the Film and an autographed copy of the Guy Clark biography. Book ships Dec 2016. Film end of 2017.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Thank you! Want to see the film in both configurations? This reward is a digital Director's Cut of the Film and a digital copy of the film as it will be shown in theaters.

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    NEW REWARD BY REQUEST: Thank you for joining us! This reward is a digital copy of the Director's cut of the film and curated MP3 interviews with Guy. Interviews ship Dec 2016. Film at the end of 2017.

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    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    Thank you! This reward is a digital Director's Cut of the Film, an autographed copy of the Guy Clark biography, and an autographed copy of Tamara's first book. Books ship Dec 2016. Film end of 2017.

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    Pledge $130 or more About $130

    Thank you for joining us on this adventure. This reward is a digital copy of the film PLUS a "Texas Essentials" package. We'll curate and collect a customized box of cool stuff from the great state of Texas including music, swag, specialty items and more. Of course, we'll ask Guy for ideas on his favorite things from Texas. Essentials package January 2016. Film at the end of 2017.

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    Pledge $130 or more About $130

    Thank you! This reward is a digital Director's Cut of the Film, an autographed copy of the Guy Clark biography and a super cool T-shirt. Book and shirt ships Dec 2016. Film end of 2017.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Thank you for your generosity! This reward is a special Director's Cut of the film and an "Inspired by Guy Clark" package, a curated kit of books, music and other items that have inspired Guy. He will have a hand in curating the kits. Package Jan 2016. Film end of 2017.

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Thank you! This reward is a digital special Director's Cut of the Film, the digital film as it will be shown in theaters, an autographed copy of the Guy Clark biography, and a super-cool T-shirt. Book and shirt ship Dec 2016. Film end of 2017.

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    NEW REWARD BY REQUEST: Thank you! This reward is a digital special Director's Cut of the Film, curated MP3 audio interviews with Guy, a super-cool T-shirt, tomato seeds, bumper sticker. T-shirt, seeds and sticker ship in Jan 2016. MP3s at the end of 2016 and film in Nov 2017.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Well hello and thank you! You're going to love this and we only have a few of them! It's autographed posters from Old Friends Reunion film shoot, signed by Guy Clark, Terry Allen, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, and Jerry Jeff Walker. This was a one-of-a-kind event and we had the gang sign only 10 posters. 7 of them are available here.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    This is a special item! It's an autographed cast script from Old Friends Reunion, signed by Guy Clark, Terry Allen, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker and scriptwriter Tamara Saviano. We put it in a pretty binding and there are only 10 of these in existence. 7 of them available here.

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  33. Select this reward

    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    A digital copy of the film and a limited Edition, one-of-a-kind print of the cast members from the Old Friends Reunion shoot. Group photo of Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Terry Allen and Joe Ely. Photo taken by longtime Guy Clark friend and noted photographer Senor McGuire.

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Thank you for your support! Two tickets to a film premiere and party in either Austin or Nashville, plus a digital copy of the Director's Cut finished film. Travel expenses not included.

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  35. Select this reward

    Pledge $550 or more About $550

    Thank you for your generous donation which nets you a digital copy of the film, an autographed copy of the Guy Clark biography, and a private lunch (in Nashville or Austin only) with Tamara to ask any questions about Guy and the book and film process. Lunch can be booked anytime from Jan 2016 through 2017. Film delivered Nov 2017.

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  36. Select this reward

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

    Thank you! See your name on the big screen! We'll give you special thanks in the film credits, plus a digital copy of the Director's Cut finished film, a PDF of the script, a t-shirt, poster, tomato seeds, and Beginners Guide to Guy Clark.

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  37. Select this reward

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

    Thank you for your generous donation. This reward gives you special thanks in the film credits, a digital copy of the Director's Cut, an autographed hardcover of the biography, a limited edition print of the group photo from the Old Friends reunion, limited edition t-shirt, tomato seeds, Texas Essentials package, Inspired by Guy package, curated MP3s and photos and two tickets to the film premiere and party in Austin or Nashville. Travel expenses not included. Items except film and book ship in January 2016. Book in Dec 2016. Film premiere spring 2017. Director's Cut November 2017.

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  38. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $7,500 or more About $7,500

    LIMITED TIME - This is an offer for you to come hang with us on the set in Austin, Texas June 7-10, 2015 and have dinner one night with Tamara and some of the crew. Of course, you'll also get special thanks in the credits, a Director's cut of the film, a signed copy of the biography, T-shirt, sticker, tomato seeds and the two tribute CDs to Kristofferson and Stephen Foster. Travel expenses not included.

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  39. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Thank you for supporting us. This is one of a kind autographed acoustic guitar from the Old Friends Reunion. It is signed by Guy Clark, Rodney Crowell, Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle, Jerry Jeff Walker, Terry Allen, Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Joe Ely. Plus, we'll premiere the film at your house for you and your friends, give you special thanks in the film credits, and a Director's Cut digital copy of the film.
    Premiere party and film not available until 2017. Limited to US only and must be able to get to your home via Southwest Airlines or within a maximum 4 hour drive from Nashville or Austin.

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  40. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Thank you for supporting us. This is one of a kind autographed Texas flag acoustic guitar signed by Guy Clark, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard. Plus, we'll premiere the film at your house for you and your friends, give you special thanks in the film credits, and a Director's Cut digital copy of the film.
    Premiere party and film not available until 2017. Limited to US only and must be able to get to your home via Southwest Airlines or within a maximum 4 hour drive from Nashville or Austin.

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    Reward no longer available 1 backer
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  41. Reward no longer available

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Thank you for supporting us! This reward includes a guitar signed by Guy Clark and a bunch of his friends, special thanks in the film credits, the Director's cut, and we'll premiere the film at your house for you and your friends. Premiere party and film not available until 2017. Limited to US only and must be able to get to your home via Southwest Airlines or within a maximum 4 hour drive from Nashville or Austin. Travel expenses not included for film premiere.

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Funding period

- (33 days)