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Milestone Films presents NOTFILM, a feature-length exploration of FILM—a 1965 short written by Samuel Beckett & starring Buster Keaton
Milestone Films presents NOTFILM, a feature-length exploration of FILM—a 1965 short written by Samuel Beckett & starring Buster Keaton
335 backers pledged $34,144 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$34,144

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While the creation of most motion pictures requires an army of professionals, Notfilm is largely the brainchild of one remarkable filmmaker, Ross Lipman. But even auteurs need assistance and we have been thrilled to help Ross make this beautiful and challenging new documentary. Now with support from our friend Jonathan Marlow and his incredible team at Fandor (one of our favorite streaming sites for great cinema) and with your generosity, Ross will be able to complete Notfilm and we will get it out into the world!” — Dennis Doros and Amy Heller, Milestone Films

From Ross Lipman:

My new film, Notfilm, is a documentary about the embattled collaboration between Nobel Prize-winning playwright Samuel Beckett and silent-era genius Buster Keaton. Beckett’s only work for cinema, aptly called Film, is in essence a chase film: the craziest ever committed to celluloid.

I first read Beckett’s script for Film in my late teens, long before seeing the movie. It immediately grabbed hold of me as one of cinema’s greatest curiosities, and hasn’t left me since.

Director Ross Lipman
Director Ross Lipman

When my friend Andrew Lampert at Anthology Film Archives told me he thought I was the one who should preserve Film, I jumped at the chance. In New York, I met with its producer, Barney Rosset, the legendary founder of Grove Press. Rosset soon deposited Film with the UCLA Film & Television Archive where I was working, and with generous funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation and The Film Foundation and top notch work from my colleagues at the labs, we were able to restore Beckett’s original vision in a new edition.

But Film still wouldn’t leave me alone. During my many visits with Rosset, he often lamented the loss of a key scene. The sequence comprised a legendary long-lost prologue. Upon my gentle prodding, he revealed that he did have a few rolls of film under his kitchen sink, but he was sure they were just scrap. 

You can guess the rest. 

The footage was from the missing prologue—which I’ve now reconstructed in strict accordance with Beckett’s original notes. And that was just the beginning. Looking at other outtakes, I found myself immersed in a dream world of what might have been and what really occurred as film stock ran through cinematographer Boris Kaufman’s camera in 1964.

Buster Keaton
Buster Keaton

Notfilm is the result of those daydreams. Over the past seven years I’ve traveled across the world interviewing Beckett’s friends and collaborators. I’ve also had the great fortune to work with composer Mihály Víg, who has created a score for Notfilm every bit as stunning as his music for the films of Béla Tarr.

Notfilm asks, as Beckett did, what cinema can tell us about the human experience. Now, with help from Milestone and our good friends at Fandor, we are launching this last crowdfunding push to bring the project to completion. We turn to you—cinephiles, historians, silent film fans, theater buffs, Beckett scholars, and interested human beings—to help us bring this exploration of Beckett’s unique vision and its legacy into the world.

Thank you for taking the time to check out our campaign. If you find our project interesting, we would be grateful if you could share it with others.

Yours, 

Ross Lipman, director

We are thrilled to be able to share the brand-new trailer for NOTFILM created by talented artist and editor Adrian Rothschild:

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Early critical praise for Notfilm:

“Ambitious, thrilling and illuminating… Notfilm represents an invaluable addition to Beckett scholarship. Superb.” — James Knowlson, OBE (Beckett’s biographer and founder of the Samuel Beckett Archive)

“A two-hour documentary film about a half-hour film sounds ridiculous, but not if the film is Samuel Beckett’s Film. The confluence of Beckett, Buster Keaton and Alan Schneider is joined by Ross Lipman, who functions here as a cultural archaeologist of the highest order. Notfilm joins the very short list of great movies about the movies.” — Scott Eyman (film historian and author of John Wayne: The Life and Legend)

(Beckett photo by Frank Serjack)

Risks and challenges

We know that Kickstarter contributors want to feel confident that their money is being used wisely and that their project will be completed. For Notfilm, we are delighted to be able to say that this project is in the home stretch and will definitely cross that finish line!

Between director Ross Lipman and co-producers Dennis Doros and Amy Heller, the filmmaking team behind Notfilm has almost a century of cinema experience. Heller and Doros’s company Milestone Films is celebrating its 25th anniversary and has released more than 200 titles. Milestone’s 2012 Kickstarter campaign to restore Shirley Clarke’s Portrait of Jason came in on time and on budget!

Please help us make Notfilm a reality! Here is what your contribution will allow us to do:

• License archival footage
• Clear underlying rights
• Improve previously unknown sound recordings of Beckett and others
• Add titles and subtitles throughout the film
• Create digital media and DCPs to play in theaters around the world
• Enter Notfilm into film festivals and competitions
• Craft DVD and Blu-Ray releases with a plethora of bonus features

And if we are lucky enough to receive contributions above our goal, we have great plans to make the DVD and Blu-ray releases of Notfilm even more comprehensive and illuminating. Here are some extra bonus features we would love to be able to offer:

• Buster Keaton and Film: A Conversation with James Karen
• Memories of Samuel Beckett: A Conversation with James Knowlson
• Memories of Alan Schneider: A Conversation with Jean Schneider
• Memories of Grove Press: A Conversation with Jeannette Seaver
• Photographing Samuel Beckett: A Conversation with Steve Schapiro
• A Meeting With Samuel Beckett: A Conversation with Kevin Brownlow
• A comprehensive website that will serve as a vital resource, portal, and entry point for research, including a wide range of additional audio and visual media

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Friend:
    For your friendship and support, you will receive a personal “Thank You!” email from producers Amy Heller and Dennis Doros

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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Ally:
    To thank you for your solidarity, you will get access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 3-month free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Moviegoer:
    • Your choice of one Blu-ray (available only on starred* titles) or DVD of any Milestone title restored by Ross Lipman (The Connection*, The Exiles, Killer of Sheep, Ornette: Made in America*, or Word is Out)

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 3-month free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Viewer:
    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film)

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 3-month free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    Film Fanatic:
    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film)

    • Your choice of one Blu-ray (available only on starred* titles) or DVD of any Milestone title restored by Ross Lipman (The Connection*, The Exiles, Killer of Sheep, Ornette: Made in America*, or Word is Out)

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 3-month free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Backer:
    • Your name listed in the credits of the DVD and Blu-ray release of Notfilm as an official “Backer”

    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film) signed by filmmaker Ross Lipman

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 3-month free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

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    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    Cinephile:
    • One copy of The Tender Hour of Twilight, a memoir by Richard Seaver (friend and colleague of both Samuel Beckett and publisher Barney Rosset), signed by his widow and editor, Jeanette Seaver

    • Your name listed in the credits of the DVD and Blu-ray release of Notfilm as an official “Backer”

    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film) signed by filmmaker Ross Lipman

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 3-month free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

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    Pledge $200 or more About $200

    Contributor:
    • One limited-edition (of 200) poster of Film, created for Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse

    • Your name listed in the credits of the DVD and Blu-ray release of Notfilm as an official “Backer”

    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film) signed by filmmaker Ross Lipman

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 3-month free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Collector:
    • All five of the Milestone titles restored by Ross Lipman on Blu-ray (available only on starred* titles) or DVD (The Connection*, The Exiles, Killer of Sheep, Ornette: Made in America*, and Word is Out)

    • Your name listed in the credits of the DVD and Blu-ray release of Notfilm as an official “Backer”

    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film) signed by filmmaker Ross Lipman

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 3-month free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

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    Pledge $300 or more About $300

    Funder:
    • One poster for Notfilm, signed by the designer

    • Your name listed in the credits of the DVD and Blu-ray release of Notfilm as an official “Backer”

    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film) signed by filmmaker Ross Lipman

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 3-month free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    Supporter:
    • Your name listed in the credits of the theatrical and DVD/Blu-ray releases of Notfilm as an official “Supporter”

    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film) signed by filmmaker Ross Lipman

    • One poster for Notfilm, signed by the designer

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 1-year free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

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

    Donor:
    • Your name listed in the credits of the theatrical and DVD/Blu-ray releases of Notfilm as an official “Supporter”

    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film) signed by filmmaker Ross Lipman

    • Your choice of any five DVD or Blu-rays from Milestone Films’ collection of more than 150 award-winning titles

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 1-year free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

    • A personal video call with Notfilm producers Dennis Doros and Amy Heller

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

    Partner:
    • A custom-made, limited-edition collage portrait of Samuel Beckett signed by artist Derek Boshier and printed and signed by artist Katy Martin

    • Your name listed in the credits of the theatrical and DVD/Blu-ray releases of Notfilm as an official “Supporter”

    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film) signed by filmmaker Ross Lipman

    • Your choice of any five DVD or Blu-rays from Milestone Films’ collection of more than 150 award-winning titles

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 1-year free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

    • A personal video call with Notfilm producers Dennis Doros and Amy Heller

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    Pledge $5,000 or more About $5,000

    Benefactor:
    • Your name highlighted in the credits of the theatrical and DVD/Blu-ray releases of Notfilm as an official “Benefactor”

    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film) signed by filmmaker Ross Lipman

    • Your choice of any ten DVD or Blu-rays from Milestone Films’ collection of more than 150 award-winning titles

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 1-year free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

    • Dinner in New York City (travel not included) and/or a personal video call with Notfilm producers Dennis Doros and Amy Heller

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    Patron:
    • Your name featured prominently in the credits of the theatrical and DVD/Blu-ray releases of Notfilm as an official “Patron”

    • Your choice of DVD or Blu-ray of Notfilm (including the newly-restored Film) signed by filmmaker Ross Lipman

    • Your choice of any ten DVD or Blu-rays from Milestone Films’ collection of more than 150 award-winning titles

    • Access to stream Notfilm and Film as part of your 1-year free subscription to Fandor, the cinephile’s online source for great movies

    • Dinner in New York City (travel not included) and/or a personal video call with Notfilm producers Dennis Doros and Amy Heller

    • Framed Notfilm poster signed with personalized thanks from the designer, filmmaker and producers

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Funding period

- (30 days)