Yes, we've met our goal and yes, we've already signed an exhibition agreement with what we hope will be just the first of many theatres; but still we hope that after reading all this you will decide to join us in expanding the theatrical roadshow, while making the DVD release and a first-class screening event at an historic movie palace a reality. Either way, we thank you for your time and consideration of this project.
PLEASE NOTE: Other than the copies of the film we're sending to the backers, DVDs will be offered for sale ONLY at screening events until the roadshow is over! After all, no theatre will want to present a film to audiences if potential moviegoers can just go get a copy at their local Wal-mart! If you want a DVD, THIS is your last chance to get one until sometime in 2014 (or later).
*************************************************************************************************************We realize that considering whether to pledge to a project is no small thing. So before we get to the "Where You Come In" section at the bottom of this page, we'd like to tell you some details about the film itself--how it came to be, how audiences reacted to it, and how the filmmakers anxiously sat through an award ceremony to see whether GHOSTS OF THE WEST would be honored with a BEST DOCUMENTARY award.
And now, back to our story...
A SET AS BIG AS ALL OUTDOORS
Lost mines, abandoned diggings, ghost towns...
The very words conjure enigmatic images of the Old West, of the stampede following the discovery of gold in California and the thousands of towns and mining camps that boomed during that brief time when men scrambled through unexplored territory searching for the next big strike.
Though the gold rush era lasted little more than a generation, the stories that followed in its wake captured the imagination of the world. One need only visit any of the near-forgotten sites that hide, isolated, out in the mountains and deserts of the American West to be filled with a sense of wonder.
My fascination with the subject began at the age of nine, when in a classroom 1,700 miles from the distant Continental Divide I happened upon an adolescent mystery tale about a ghost town and lost mine. Still it was not until as an adult, when I hiked into a silver camp in the Elk Mountains, that the seed planted in my childhood sprouted and grew. Standing before the weathered facade of an 1880s hotel, I could not help but feel that the old building somehow stared back at me; and I wondered what those vacant windows had seen in the days when the long abandoned town bustled with life and the mere rumor of a strike could send men stampeding into trackless wilderness.
Principal photography on what would become GHOSTS OF THE WEST began in the mountains of Colorado on July 6, 2002 and wrapped in the Black Hills of South Dakota on September 6, 2010.
Extensive research and planning was conducted from late fall to early spring. Once the snow packs in the high country started to melt, the road trips began; and each year's shooting season from late spring to early fall contained as many as 30 production days.
All locations were shot using Kodak motion picture film (both 16mm and Super 8).
THE FIRST-LOOK TEASER
Two weeks after location work ended, the Estes Park Film Festival screened a four-minute sneak preview of the film, entitled GHOSTS OF THE WEST RAG. Billed as an armchair tour of selected towns in the Four Corners states, it featured a sample of the footage accompanied by the film's theme song, and coincidentally aligned with the original vision of the ghost town project (i.e., a short observational-style film accompanied only by music).
Programmed as the Opening Short, ‘THE RAG’ screened between the opening night party and a Hollywood movie in pre-release. The moments between the start of the end credits and the audience reaction were unbearable for the filmmakers. But the roar of applause, shouting and whistling quickly turned that anxiety into affirmation; and post-production on GHOSTS OF THE WEST began in earnest.
As post-production progressed and the pain of cutting out stories and sequences from the film was endured, an official trailer helped keep interest high. (The additional opening titles seen in this version were added in late 2012 to reference the results of the test screenings for other potential exhibitors.)
THE TEST SCREENINGS
Two years later, the filmmakers again returned to Estes Park with the finished film in hand.
Saturday, September 29, 2012 was a perfect early autumn day. Elkfest was in full swing and apparently Rocky Mountain National Park was handing out free passes. Against those odds, an audience remarkable for its size of 75 paying patrons joined the cast and crew of GHOSTS OF THE WEST for a matinee test screening. Nothing however prepared the filmmakers for the evening performance, which until 48 hours earlier they had seriously considered canceling due to discouraging advance sales.
But on the day before the screenings, tickets for the evening show began selling like a Powerball lottery. Ticket holders began lining up outside the theatre an hour before showtime. Theatre employees even had to guard the one-sheets and flyers against theft. Within ten minutes of opening the doors, the souvenir programs had run out. And by the time the house lights dimmed, one of the best crowds of the summer season (according to the theatre owners) filled the auditorium.
After each screening, audience members completed survey cards, on which they gave the film an average score of 4.5 (on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “hated it” and 5 being “loved it”), and provided the following comments:
"Loved the narration" • "The score is magnificent" • "Outstanding research and script" • "Attention to detail was impeccable" • "Loved the cinematography" • "The film shots were awesome!" • "Amazing blending of historic and contemporary photographs" • "This is something that begs to be viewed more than once" • "Could be an American Experience series!" • "I want more!" • "Great job! Publish a book!" • "The film touched my heart" • "Haunting" • "Awesome!" • "Perfect"
On February 16, 2013, even though it was shot throughout the western states, a panel of TV and motion picture industry executives, film critics, and academics honored GHOSTS OF THE WEST with the BEST DOCUMENTARY AWARD at the annual Filmed in Utah Award ceremony.
Executive Producer Todd P. Prescott and Writer-Director E. S. Knightchilde were in attendance for the black-tie televised event. As the other three nominees had shown theatrically and/or had successful (and award-winning) film festival runs, the director was so convinced that GHOSTS OF THE WEST would NOT win that he did not even prepare an acceptance speech. Fortunately, the executive producer convinced him to have three or so people in mind to thank so he wouldn't look foolish in front of the cameras.
AND NOW, WHERE YOU COME IN...
Now the reason why we're here:
After 8 years of shooting, 2 years of post-production, setting up the test screenings, and paying for submissions to film festivals, we need YOU for what we hope is the final hurdle: obtaining commercial "usage rights" for certain historical photos used in the film, getting DVDs made (which are planned to include about 15 minutes of deleted scenes), and covering the costs related to booking screenings at theatres, as well as putting on a first-class screening with the cast and crew at one of the best remaining movie palaces in Denver, Colorado: The (Fox) Mayan Theatre, currently operated by Landmark Theatres.
This kickstarter project will allow us to accomplish all of that and share the end results with you. To learn more about the production, watch the trailer, peruse production stills and more, visit www.ghostsofthewestmovie.com --we're also on IMDB at www.imdb.com/title/tt1924274/
Risks and challenges
This is actually a very low-risk project! Remember--GHOSTS OF THE WEST IS DONE--IN THE CAN--PAID FOR! The kickstarter project has three big components: the usage rights for certain historical photos, the DVD pressing, and booking theaters for screenings.
First, the usage rights will be obtained from a very old and well-established public archive. Even though photos may be out of copyright, USAGE rights still need to be paid (the archive has costs associated with digitizing and maintaining the archive--usage rights help defray that cost). This organization is NOT going out of business anytime soon. We have been in constant contact with them since before we even selected the photos used in the film and know exactly how much the rights will cost. In fact, we have the cost IN WRITING! No danger here that we can see. (In short, we have the photos, but need to pay for the right to use them theatrically and on the DVD.)
Second, our preferred vendor for the DVDs has already pressed the CD soundtrack for us. Those discs are flawless, so there is no question on quality in our minds. If the cost of DVD pressing increases significantly or the printer goes out of business, we will either reduce the size of the print run or select a new vendor from the billion or so businesses out there that offer DVD printing.
Third, we are already in negotiation with theatres! And we REALLY want to have our "official" premiere event at the historic Mayan Theatre. Right now, that theatre is operated by Landmark Theatres. It's unlikely they are going anywhere anytime soon. Sure, something dreadfully corporate could happen to them or to the physical structure of the theatre. But they aren't the ONLY theatre out there. If something unfortunate happens to the theatre or the corporate policy that governs its use, we'll find another great venue (though at that point, it could be anywhere in the country). Either way, those contributing at a level that would get them VIP seating will STILL get that VIP seating at the new venue if it comes to that.
In the happy event of exceeding our goal, additional funds will go towards putting on additional screenings--and we'd look closely at bringing the film to the area where the most pledges come from!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)