About this project
“In the same way that outdoorsy people experience feelings of calm and wholeness from spending time in nature, there are also those of us who discover a profound serenity in the man-made environment of yesterday. All of this is not simple nostalgia, not an escapist luddite rejection of forward movement into the future. But rather, an attempt at mindfulness — a way of staying connected to the importance of the physical world in which we live.” —script excerpt from The Royal Road
WE DID IT! We hit our $20,000 Kickstarter goal!
A huge THANK YOU to all of you who have contributed your money, time, energy and social media sharing. Your enthusiastic support has been absolutely inspiring. We (the royal We of Jenni and the whole The Royal Road team) are truly grateful. We’ve been working on this project for several years now and it’s absolutely wonderful to arrive at this point of having so much community support to bring it to the next level towards completion. Having this funding means we can finish shooting and do the voiceover recording. We will be raising additional funds towards editing and post-production costs as well. Which brings us to our announcement of our new STRETCH GOAL!
Can You Please Help Us Some More?
We’ve got three more days to go here on Kickstarter. In the spirit of tireless fundraising necessary to getting this film completed and out into the world — we’re requesting just a bit more of your money, time or energy to help us get to our Stretch Goal of an additional $5,000 here via Kickstarter and and additional $5,000 via our San Francisco Film Society tax-deductible link. Please keep contributing and sharing as much as you can.
I strive in my films to achieve a combination of essayistic personal reflection, romanticized fictional narrative, the sharing of lesser-known histories — all against a backdrop of carefully composed urban landscape images. In 2005, the San Francisco Film Critics Circle presented me with the Marlon Riggs Award “for courage and vision in Bay Area filmmaking” for my first experimental feature documentary, The Joy of Life. I strive to be worthy of this distinction in all my work, and my conception of The Royal Road is nothing if not courageous and visionary.
Please participate in helping me finish my new film! Just pick a level in the right hand column and click to donate — it only takes a minute.
What’s The Story? — Contemplative and gorgeous, The Royal Road is an innovative, cinematic feature shot on 16mm film. Deceptively simple California urban landscapes become the framework for the film’s lyrically written voiceover: an expression of yearning butch lesbian desire and candid self-reflection interspersed with a stream-of-consciousness array of non-fiction tangents including an exploration of El Camino Real (the original road connecting California’s Missions during the era of Spanish and Mexican rule), a reflection on the life story of Casanova, a capsule history of the Mexican-American War and a defense of nostalgia. The film’s centerpiece is a brilliant five-minute lecture on nostalgia and socialism by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner.
The Royal Road combines rigorous historical research with lyrically written personal monologue and relates these seemingly disparate stories from an intimate, colloquial perspective to tell a one-of-a-kind California tale. Shot on 16mm film and contemplatively crafted of long takes, the film is also suffused with a passionate philosophical belief in the significance of the analog (vs. the digital) image.
If you can spare 8-minutes, please watch the sample work trailer above to get an impression of the film.
Please Help: Make a Pledge Now! — This is a great opportunity to be part of an important new film. The Royal Road is a significant LGBT film, a cinematic work of art and a unique document of the California landscape. Every dollar pledged makes an impact. A pledge of any amount will make the difference in enabling us to complete this film. Please contribute now — even if you can only afford $10. Check out all the great incentives in the column to the right and give as generously as you can. Remember, this Kickstarter campaign is all or nothing: we need to hit our goal or we won’t get the money. Thank you for being part of this important project.
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Help Spread the Word — The success of our campaign depends on getting the word out as widely as possible. Even if you can’t make a pledge, please support us by sharing the link above with your friends via email, Facebook or Twitter. You can also LIKE us on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or sign up for our email newsletter to stay up to date on the film.
+++ Give $10 and get a beautiful hi-res digital production still from the film! +++
Why Kickstarter? — The films I’m driven to create are independent and non-commercial. It’s hard to get funding for unconventional films like this, even from independent film funders. That’s why I’m utilizing Kickstarter — because I know people want to see thoughtful, ambitious cinema that breaks out from the constraints of traditional genres. One of the most frequent viewer comments about my previous feature, The Joy of Life was: “I’ve never seen anything like it.”
A fiscally-sponsored project of the San Francisco Film Society, The Royal Road has received generous support from the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Herbert Family Filmmaking Grant, as well as many individual donors. The entire production team has also been working at reduced or deferred rates with considerable in-kind contributions.
The majority of the shooting is complete and the script is nearly ready for voiceover recording. We are currently seeking funding to do our final three days of shooting — in Southern and Central California; as well as voiceover recording which will be the next step in the process, followed by the picture and sound edit and the ultimate achievement of producing the final exhibition master.
We have a total of $50,000 remaining to raise to complete The Royal Road. We’re looking to bring in $20,000 (and hopefully more) of this via Kickstarter and are pursuing grants and other funding sources in order to finish the film in 2014. With your support of this campaign we will be able to complete production and post-production of the film and release it widely across the film festival circuit (with DVD, video on demand and educational distribution to follow). My previous films have played at such prestigious world-class festivals as Sundance, Berlin and Toronto and hundreds of other film festivals, museums, classrooms and cinematheques. My films have been acquired for distribution by Strand Releasing, Frameline Distribution, New American Vision, Picture This! Entertainment and Cinenova and have earned awards and acclaim for their unique cinematic style. I’m optimistic that The Royal Road will achieve even greater success and be widely seen around the world.
We can succeed with your support — My previous feature, The Joy of Life earned awards from Newfest and Outfest, as well as being recognized by the San Francisco Film Critic’s Circle. The film was distributed by Frameline and released on DVD by Strand Releasing and on digital by Cinetic Media making it widely available at video stores and places like Netflix, iTunes, Amazon (and Amazon Instant Video). I anticipate a similarly expansive exhibition pattern for The Royal Road and look forward to connecting with supporters and audience members as the film travels the world. Thank you so much for your support and assistance.
Please Note: If you want your donation to be tax-deductible you can also contribute online or by check via our fiscal sponsor, the San Francisco Film Society, a 501(c)(3) organization. Please contact us directly at royalroad [AT] comcast [DOT] net if you have any questions about this or are interested in making contributions at any of the producer levels.
About Jenni Olson — Writer-director-producer Jenni Olson has been programming, researching, collecting, creating, and writing about lesbian, gay, bi and transgender (LGBT) film since 1986 and is one of the world's leading experts on LGBT cinema history. Her debut feature film, The Joy of Life is an experimental documentary that explores butch identity and the history of suicide and the Golden Gate Bridge. The film had its world premiere at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and went on to play a pivotal role in renewing debate about the need for a suicide barrier on the Golden Gate Bridge, as well as garnering praise from critics and audiences around the globe for its unique storytelling style. As a film collector and archivist Jenni’s historical movie trailer programs have been shown at film festivals around the world, as have her many short films and videos — including her short cinematic elegy to Harvey Milk, 575 Castro St. which was commissioned by FilmInFocus.com for the release of Gus Van Sant’s Milk and premiered at Sundance and Berlin in 2009. The film can be seen in a permanent installation at the HRC Action Center & Store (at 575 Castro St. in San Francisco) as well as online at the official Milk website and on the Sundance YouTube Screening Room page. In addition to working on her own creative endeavors, she continues to serve as an advisor to many other filmmakers on a variety of projects.
Our enormously talented production team also includes:
Please click thru to the official Royal Road website to see even more information and biographies of the rest of our amazing team.
Artist’s Statement from filmmaker Jenni Olson —I have always found it challenging to adequately characterize in words the complex nature of my filmmaking. I can describe the ostensible topics (in this case an array of historical interests ranging from the Mexican American War to the life story of Casanova) but of equal, if not greater, importance is the style and cinematic strategy of the storytelling. My simple photographic compositions and the lengthy duration of my shots are crucial components of this creative vision (in my favorite review of The Joy of Life, The Village Voice called the film: “thrillingly minimalist.”)
My dedication to the analog medium of 16mm film is a significant aspect of my creative aesthetic in achieving the experience I seek to create for my audiences. Through mostly wide and very static long takes, my films preserve a record of California’s rapidly changing urban landscape. I focus my lens primarily on simple scenes of everyday life in the city. With great affection, and an understated sense of civic pride, I aspire to make the mundane heroic and to give viewers a way of seeing that they can take out into the world when they leave the theater.
Links to our collaborators and supporters (THANK YOU!)
- Bi-Rite Market
- Cole Hardware
- Dolores Park Cafe
- The Fizzary
- Louie’s Barber Shop
- San Francisco Arts Commission
- San Francisco Film Society
- Strand Releasing
- Wolfe Video
Stay tuned for additional supporter links coming soon! And please let us know if you have an in-kind contribution you think we might need so we can add you to this list.
Risks and challenges
We’re nearly done with our filming (shooting on gorgeous 16mm film) and we’re almost ready to record the voiceover. Then our remaining tasks include the creation of some graphics, and the completion of picture and sound editing and the post-production process. We are determined that the film will be finished and playing in a film festival near you within the next two years. That said, this timeline depends on how swiftly we can raise completion funds. In addition to our Kickstarter campaign, we are continuing to solicit funds from foundations and individual donors.
Please note that your Kickstarter rewards will be fulfilled as swiftly as is humanly possible. If you have any questions please be sure to contact us via this Kickstarter page or at royalroad [AT] comcast [DOT] net. Thank you for your support!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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