Sundance Blog Post
We were asked if we would write a blog about our new film, Gennadiy, and Kickstarter for Sundance. Click here to read the article on Sundance or read below.
Danny Yourd was a producer on the 2013 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winning documentary Blood Brother, and is collaborating once again with filmmaker Steve Hoover on their new film, Gennadiy. The team is using Kickstarter to help complete production of the film in Mariupal, Ukraine. Click here to support their campaign.
A friend recently said to me, "You just won Sundance - why Kickstarter?"
About 3 years ago we started to make plans to film our first feature documentary, Blood Brother. I don't really recall how I heard about Kickstarter in 2010, but it just made sense. We put up a small campaign together to raise enough money to cover costs of travel to and from India for a crew of 6 people. A month and a half later we had 83 backers supporting us with $9,110—this was our first step to creating the film. We were inspired by the fact that 83 people believed in the project before we even turned the cameras on.
Fast forward 3 years. Blood Brother won Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, we're lining up distribution plans, and we've learned a lot! In the midst of all of the business, we're starting our next feature doc, Gennadiy. We want to structure our efforts with Gennadiy a lot like Blood Brother, a self-funded film that allows us to maintain the creative freedom to tell a story with the practical ability to change the lives of it's subjects.
Steve Hoover, the director, has this to say. "When I learned about Gennadiy, the complexity of his character, the brutal intensity of his efforts and all the themes surrounding him, I felt compelled and inspired to tell his story. I'm very interested in drug and alcohol abuse, addiction and intervention. I'm sympathetic towards those suffering through these things, especially so with abandoned children. I've had friends and family die from drug and alcohol abuse, even recently. I've also tried to help addicts, without success. Gennadiy is effective where I and so many others fail. His methods are different, borderline questionable, but effective."
Early on we made the decision that all profit from Blood Brother would go towards Rocky's (the real-life protagonist in the film) efforts, the children, the orphanage and other HIV/AIDS initiatives. We were able to do this for a few reasons. Steve and I both work for a production company called Animal. They graciously agreed to support us and the film. This meant that any down time we had, we were working on the film, using their equipment, edit suites and personnel. They also allowed us to take time off of work for filming in India. The rest of the crew agreed to work for free for the time needed. Everyone from the editors, colorist, musicians, writers and so on. And to explain a little further, when we sell the film for distribution, we're not taking a cut – Blood Brother was not made for financial gain, but rather to tell a story in hopes that it could make a difference and raise support.
Similarly, with this film, we'll be creating a way to channel action, money and support to Gennadiy and the kids that he's fighting for. Kickstarter is the working model we need in order to make this happen. Without traditional investors taking large cuts on the back end, there's more money for the people that actually need it, especially considering that documentaries traditionally don't make very much money. It's practical and it makes sense.
We also value Kickstarter because it allows us to connect with people who believe in these efforts early on. It helps to facilitate unique relationships between us and the audiences. Audiences take the place of investors. And instead of feeling financially in debt and possibly frustrated by the investor, you feel grateful and connected to them. Steve and I have managed to do everything from maintain our social networks and answer every email that comes our way. We love this, even though sometimes it keeps us very busy! So partnering with Kickstarter and being able to fund a film, or part of it, with people who are just as excited about the story as we are is priceless.
And finally, we learned the power of generosity early on. Simply asking goes a long way. Please check out our Kickstarter campaign page and consider backing our project.