Last Summer at Coney Island (documentary)
Help support a film about changing times in the birthplace of American popular culture. The project is approaching its final hurdles!
Coney Island, once called 'the world's playground,' has seen better days. Still, for the millions who continue to visit this barrier island at the outer edge of New York City, there's a certain charm in the faded beauty and tangible links to an age gone by. This monumental documentary focuses on the key characters involved in the biggest redevelopment plan ever to visit the area. Seaside salvation or Brooklyn boondoggle? History will decide but this film is the first draft.
Beginning in early Spring of 2007, I set out to capture Coney Island at a pivotal moment in its 125+ year history as an amusement destination. With City Hall and private developers laying out their competing plans for Coney Island's 21st century makeover, many of the local residents and business people felt trapped in the middle or left out in the surf. Much has happened since then, and while the area's uncertain future brought media attention from across the world, few stuck around long enough to get the full story.
Now, having edited a 100 minute rough cut from over 150 hours of footage, the end is in sight. But the end is the most expensive part! Independent filmmaking is a tricky business. Broadcasters and distributors rarely want to get involved before your project is completed and has premiered in a major film festival and yet getting to that point requires significant expenditures such as a sound mix, graphics, archival image licensing, music licensing and color processing (or what we call "color correction" in the video world.) And that short list doesn't include the costs of applying to festivals and marketing expenses once your film gets into the festivals.
"Last Summer at Coney Island" has been supported by grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council and the Puffin Foundation, but those funds have been long used up. That's why I'm partnering with Kickstarter and a wonderful non-profit organization called The City Reliquary to try and bring this film to greater awareness. Kickstarter works with a limited number of projects at a time to provide a platform through which artists can raise money while being completely accountable to their investors. The project artist sets the amount he or she would like to raise. Individuals like you pledge any amount you'd like and then, to assure that donors are not spending their money on a project that will never get finished, the transaction is only completed when the funding goal is met.
But wait, it gets better. Through the City Reliquary's tax exemption status, all donations can be used as a write off on your tax return. It's never too early to start thinking about your 2010 filings, my friends!
But for "Coney Island," time is running out. In order to raise enough money to finish the picture and get it into festivals while the story is still fresh in the media's limited imagination, I've got to reach my funding goal within 40 days. That may seem ambitious but it's the reason why I'm also only asking for $16,000. This amount will cover the costs of getting the original soundtrack recorded and licensed and doing the sound mix. But I'm hopeful that we can raise more than $15,000 and bring the project that much closer to completion. (And if all else fails, I just got an application in the mail for another credit card!) Either way, I'm confident that with your help, this film will get seen by loads of people and enter the public consciousness as a seminal record of this chapter in American cultural history.
And to sweeten the deal even more, every donation over $25 will get you a reserved copy of the inevitable "Last Summer at Coney Island" DVD. Donations of $250 or more will get you a free beach umbrella!
I really do regret having to ask others for financial support. I've never done it so broadly for my previous films but, as I think you'll notice from some of the footage and the story itself, this is arguably a much more ambitious project than I've taken on before. The stakes are higher, the costs are higher and, hopefully, the reward for everyone will be that much greater. Please invite others to view this project on Kickstarter and do what you can to help. You won't regret it.
I'll be uploading photos and videos from the project as well as more back story during the next 40 days as I try to reach (and exceed) the $16,000 goal. You can find that stuff under the UPDATES tab at the top of this page. I'd be thrilled to hear what you think of any or all of it. For now, I've posted a 6 minute preview that scratches the surface of this multi-faceted saga.
Thanks for getting involved!
- (38 days)