BIG NEWS !!! (10/11/2019)
Thank you all so much for contributing to the campaign and helping to spread the word over these past couple weeks. While this Kickstarter began as a last ditch effort to raise money, it’s actually managed to bring a great deal of new attention and excitement toward the film. This morning, we received private investment that will cover the music licensing costs and ensure that Dons of Disco gets a proper release.
TRANSLATION: We’re not taking your money!
Your show of support has meant a lot to me, so we’re going to include all of our contributors in the SPECIAL THANKS section of the film’s end credits (And get rid of everyone else… Just kidding!)
In the 1980s, Den Harrow dominated the European pop charts with hits like “Future Brain,” “Bad Boy,” and “Don’t Break My Heart.” Thirty years later, American photographer Tom Hooker made a startling revelation: he was “the secret voice” behind the project, and Italian Stefano Zandri had allegedly been lip-syncing for decades.
Hell hath no fury like a pop star scorned…
In the feature documentary, Dons of Disco, a 30-year-old secret, between two aging men, will ignite the most conceptual music rivalry of all time. Who is the “true” artist behind Den Harrow: the face or the voice?
Unlike most film projects on Kickstarter, Dons of Disco is already a completed documentary. We began the project in 2015, shot and edited for 3 years, World Premiered at the Rome Film Festival in 2018, and screened at 16 film festivals and counting, including Slamdance, Big Sky, Florida, Brooklyn, Hot Springs, Thin Line, SF DocFest, Helsinki, and Lighthouse (WINNER, Jury Special Mention).
Critical reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. GQ Magazine called the film “Perfectly crafted… Philosophical, but also really, really, really funny… About as good as feature documentaries get.” Deadline Hollywood asked whether Dons of Disco could be "the new Searching For Sugarman.” Ain’t It Cool proclaimed it “an Italo Disco inferno.... irony, synth-and-fog 80's culture, and ultimately, a glimpse of the human condition.” Rolling Stone Italia wrote that the film finally "tells the truth about one of Italo Disco's most iconic singers."
We’re thrilled with the response the film has gotten so far, and can’t wait to bring Dons of Disco to a worldwide audience!
One of the major challenges of producing a music documentary is the considerable cost of licensing the actual music. And Dons of Disco features several original Den Harrow and Tom Hooker songs written and recorded in the golden era of Italo Disco.
While we were able to procure relatively affordable “festival licenses” in order to screen the film thus far, we’ll need to put up significantly more denaro in order to attain the necessary licenses to publicly release the film on VOD and streaming platforms.
Up until now, Dons of Disco has been a self-financed labor of love. All the camera gear, plane tickets, cinematographer fees, editor fees, graphic designer fees, and festival expenses have come directly from the director's pocket. For the first time ever, we’re reaching out for assistance to get us past this final financial hurdle. Please help us meet our funding goal so that we can get this beloved documentary to audiences everywhere!
DEN HARROW (THE FACE)
Born and raised in Italy, the strikingly handsome Stefano Zandri never planned to become a pop star. He just happened to be in the right place - American Disaster, a popular Milan discotheque - at the right time - the early 1980s, when Italo Disco was just gaining steam.
Producers Miki Chieregato and Roberto Turatti approached Stefano and asked if he’d be willing to front a new pop project. Stefano said yes, and Den Harrow (a pun on the Italian word for money, "denaro") was born.
After cycling through a couple singers, the producers eventually settled on English-speaking expat Tom Hooker. With Tom’s unaccented voice, Stefano’s undeniable looks, and an unbelievable backstory that presented him as a native Bostonian, Den Harrow unleashed an unstoppable tidal wave of hard-hitting Italo Disco anthems throughout Europe, winning awards over the likes of Michael Jackson and Falco.
TOM HOOKER (THE VOICE)
Born in America and raised in Switzerland, Tom Hooker moved to Italy in the early 1980s to pursue a career in music. After singing and performing as Tom Hooker for a few years, he was asked by the independent Italian record label Baby Records to provide the English-language lyrics and vocals for a still relatively unknown Italo Disco artist, Den Harrow. The first song, "Future Brain," became a massive hit. Den Harrow was an overnight phenomenon.
As Tom continued to write and record songs for the Den Harrow project, he maintained his solo career, now also under Baby Records. A conflict of interest arose, as Tom would write songs for himself that would inevitably find their way onto Den Harrow's albums instead. Even worse, when Tom released his biggest hit, "Looking For Love," the label panicked, worrying that audiences might begin to notice that Tom Hooker and Den Harrow shared the same voice. The label decided to pull his promotion.
Decades later, Tom moved to Las Vegas and reinvented himself as a surrealist photographer named Thomas Barbèy. But the past can't stay buried forever...
JONATHAN SUTAK (PRODUCER/DIRECTOR/EDITOR)
Jonathan Sutak is a producer and director based in Los Angeles, California. His short documentary, The Foreigner (“a genuine triumph," Kill Screen), won Best Short Documentary at the 2015 Las Vegas Film Festival. His first feature documentary, Dons of Disco ("Perfectly crafted," GQ), has been accepted to 18 film festivals and nominated for multiple awards.
Jonathan also works in the industry as a film marketing creative. He’s edited trailers for many top-grossing and critically acclaimed films, including Logan, Bumblebee, Kingsman: The Secret Service, Transformers: The Last Knight, American Animals, and The Nightingale.
He studied art history at Bard College.
SEAN MCDANIEL (USA CINEMATOGRAPHER)
Sean McDaniel has been working as a cinematographer for over a decade on narrative, documentary and experimental films. Sean furthered his studies as a cinematographer while acquiring his MFA in Film Production at USC's School of Cinematic Arts.
His work has screened in numerous film festivals around the world including the Palm Springs Film Festival, Vancouver International Film Festival, and Slamdance Film Festival, among others. This includes his work as a cinematographer on the Sloan Grant recipient short film, Nzara '76, and the feature-length thriller Bullitt County.
MATT JACOBY (EUROPE CINEMATOGRAPHER)
Matt Jacoby is a Los Angeles-based filmmaker who focuses on telling intimate human stories.
JULIAN BRANCIFORTE (CO-PRODUCER)
Julian Branciforte is a director and writer, known for the feature comedy Don’t Worry Baby, which won the Audience Award at the 2016 Sun Valley Film Festival and was released theatrically by Gunpowder and Sky in 2016.
SILVIA NITTOLI (ASSOCIATE PRODUCER)
Silvia Nittoli is an Italian video journalist based in Los Angeles, CA. After working as a TV broadcast journalist and anchorwoman in Italy for six years, she moved to Los Angeles where she is currently a correspondent for LaRepubblica.it, Badtaste.it, L'Italo-Americano, Freeda Media, and the French magazine TéléStar. For the past three years she has also been a regular host for the Golden Globe ceremony. She has produced and shot mini docs for MSNBC, NBC, NBC OUT, The NY Post, Zinc, Littlethings and Nameless Network.
RENATA M. PERRETTI (INTERPRETER)
Renata M. Perretti is an Italian as a second language professor who works and lives in Florence, Italy. After her degree in Modern Languages and Cultures, she achieved a Masters Degree in the Teaching of Italian to foreigners. She has been teaching since 1997 at the U.S. Consulate, Eli Lilly Farmaceutical, General Electric, UNICEF, Novartis, Chevron, The International School of Florence among other international institutions and multinational companies. Renata has been working as a translator for articles, interviews, videos and she has translated the nonfiction book "The Egotist". Her book "A testa in giù" and two of her short stories have been published in Italy in 2006. She has been a regular contributor for local newspapers and for the on-line magazine "Clicmedicina" since 2005.
NOAH KISTLER (EDITOR)
Noah Kistler is a veteran editor who's worked on documentaries, commercials, music videos, and film trailers. He has an MFA from USC's School of Cinematic Arts and is based in Los Angeles.
DAN COLANDUNO (ADDITIONAL EDITING BY)
Dan is from Philadelphia. With a background in music, he’s toured in bands throughout the country. Aside from Dons of Disco, he has worked as an editor on music videos, short films, and web series.
DJ KAM (COMPOSER)
DJ Kam is a Los Angeles-based musician and sound designer. He previously collaborated with Jonathan Sutak on the short documentary, The Foreigner.
OGUZ AKIN (MOTION GRAPHICS DESIGNER)
Oğuz Akın is a graphic designer experienced in entertainment graphics, who holds a BA in Graphic Design and MFA on Digital Arts, Emerging Arts program at Pratt Institute. His main title design for 'Tarzan' (2016) was featured in the movie and his animated teaser for 'Hateful 8' received two different key art awards (Golden Trailer, Clio Key Art Awards) in 2015. Before all this, he studied Biology and although it didn't pan out, he continued to learn about nature and science through art and design. He likes synthesizers and hates shopping.
MICHELLE ROSE (CASTING)
Michelle Rose is a Brooklyn-based musician, writer, and cultural curator. Her music has been featured on Comedy Central's Broad City, Billboard, Kitsuné, Vice, and OUT. She has worked freelance on casting projects for branded content series.
Risks and challenges
Dons of Disco is a completed film, so risk is minimal. If we meet our funding goal, we will license the music and release the film.
Some of you have seen Dons of Disco at festivals. This is your chance to get it out there so your friends can see it too. And some of you are still waiting for a chance to see Dons of Disco for the first time. This is that chance.
We're incredibly grateful for your support!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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