“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.
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.
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.
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:
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
- (30 days)