This update is overdue, but I wanted to share some news with you. Some is sad, and some is really great.
Late last fall and in the early new year, I applied for several large grants to help fund what I envision producing for Kūpuna. After we met our goal on Kickstarter, I spent 6 weeks in La'ie working with photographer Jonathan Canlas to photograph the area, the kūpuna from La'ie, and lush landscape. Fellow filmmaker Jerry Thompson spent 2 weeks with me interviewing and filming whatever and whoever we could. We spent time in the archives, and interviewing and getting to better know the stewards of this fascinating small town, and the very real struggles this community face.
I spent a lot of time with the other producers on the project (who are long-time residents of La'ie), Phillip McArthur, Kali Fermantez, and Matt Kester, as we discussed complications and considerations moving forward.
You can see a fraction of the photos Jonathan took from his trip over on his blog, here: http://canlasphotography.blogspot.com/2013/06/ive-moved.html
When my time concluded, I knew I had some amazing material, but not enough to begin putting the experience together. I had pieces, but not nearly enough to make the whole. Part of this is just the documentary process, but the other part is the monumental task it is to document an entire place! I did as much thinking and planning on this trip as I did filming.
In April, my first feature film The Elders, premiered at the Independent Film Festival Boston and received a glowing review by Boston Globe and Chicago Sun Times film critic Peter Keough, where he also gave a great plug to Kupuna. The experience energized me about Kūpuna and I was enjoying promoting "my next project" with those interested at the festival. Things were looking up!
About two weeks ago, I received word from all the granting agencies I had applied to, that Kūpuna had not been selected for funding. I was gutted. I felt for sure we were a shoe-in on two of the grants (worth about $100k), but alas, it wasn't to be. After some pouting, I'm re-working our scope so that we can still deliver in spring 2014 without having to rely on the unpredictable and drawn-out grant cycle. Great progress is being made here, and I'm excited about where we're headed.
Meanwhile, I've been working closely with the development and design team for Kūpuna on a project we started in 2011, called Hollow, about community and the impact of population loss in rural West Virginia. The project has a lot in common with Kūpuna, and is directed by the talented Elaine McMillion, a West Virginia native. That project went live today, and was featured on the front page of the New York Times!
We also received an amazing review by the Huffington Post, which you can check out here, calling what we had developed "Magnificent" while other industry heavy-hitters said it was "game-changing." What's exciting, is that our entire team just scored an exciting win with that project, paving the way for what we'll be able to produce with Kūpuna. I would encourage you to check out that project, Hollow, and get a feel for what interactive documentaries can truly achieve. You'll need Google Chrome, and a decent internet connection.
As for some general housekeeping, some of the rewards will be going out later this summer: the photos, film downloads (The Elders), soundtrack (The Elders), postcards, archival prints, photo book, etc., and we'll be headed back to La'ie in July/August for more filming.
Thanks for your continued patience support as we bring this project to fruition, and I hope you enjoy Hollow as a primer of what's in store next year!
That was a very close horse race, no two ways about it. I'm still a little beside myself. In the last 72 hours we doubled our funds and doubled the number of backers on the project. I'm really excited that so many of you will be along for the journey throughout the next year.
I'll be sending a thank you note to each of you in the coming days, but know that I am sincerely grateful for everything you've contributed to make this happen.
Special thanks to members of the team that have been working behind the scenes to make this fundraiser possible: Michelle Larson, Rich Vial, Robert Hall, Kristal Williams, Jonathan Canlas, Elaine McMillion and many others who have put up with my emails, texts, and phone calls for ideas. And again, to each of you. Thank you so much!
Have a lovely holiday and then lets get to work!
Would you believe me if I told you we were close? Really close?
We are! I just wanted to keep you posted as we head into the final stretch. It's going to be a photo finish, I can tell. There's no guarantee however. Just two weeks ago a project on kickstarter missed their goal by $28. It was all over the tech news - and was a good reminder of the "all or nothing" stakes when using kickstarter to raise funds.
As of this writing, we are 86% funded with 3 hours to go.
Thanks to each of you for your generous contributions and for your support of this project. We're almost there!