MAY 5th UPDATE: see video below for final stretch goal!
The Alice Howell DVD Project
This Kickstarter will fund a project that brings 11 extremely rare Alice Howell silent comedy shorts to DVD, made from 1915-1925, selected by me (Ben Model) and by silent comedy film historian Steve Massa. The films that will be on the DVD will be seen in new digital scans of archival 35mm and 16mm materials preserved by the Library of Congress, and will be scanned by the Library of Congress' lab. I will create a brand new custom musical score for each film.
All of the films will require exposure adjustments and some may need new intertitles or main titles.
The DVD box art will be created by professional graphic designer and silent era aficionado Marlene Weisman. The DVDs will be professionally authored and they will be made available for sale on Amazon.com, as I have been doing using successfully for 18 of my DVD releases, and will be publicized. The DVD will be NTSC format, and will be region “0” (region-free).
This Kickstarter covers all costs for the DVD's production and release, as well as of the making of and shipping of backer DVDs.
Films scheduled to be on the DVD (subject to change):
- How Stars are Made (1916)
- In Dutch (1918)
- A Convict's Happy Bride (1920)
- His Wooden Legacy (1920)
- Distilled Love (1920)
- Under a Spell (1925)
**Just added to the project**
- Shot In The Excitement (1914)
- Under New Management (1915)
- Her Lucky Day (1920)
- Neptune's Naughty Daughter (1917)
Father Was a Loafer (1915)
There are twice as many films available for inclusion on this DVD as there is room for them on the disc. If the funding goal goes over and surpasses $9,000 the project will be expanded to a 2-disc set. Depending on how far over $9,000 the pledges are, digital clean-up and stabilization can be considered.
Release date (expected):
Based on my current performance schedule for summer 2018 and the time it takes for scoring and authoring, I expect to be able to have the DVD finished for you by the end of November 2018, and for a February 2019 release. I already have the logistics for the film transfers lined up and ready to go with the Library of Congress. One additional short is being scanned for the project from 35mm nitrate by the EYE Filmmusueum in the Netherlands.
We've all heard of great silent films having been preserved at a film archive and thought, "wouldn't it be great if somebody put that out on DVD?". Here's a chance for you to be part of that "somebody"! Make your pledge to "The Alice Howell DVD Project"…and participate in a unique silent film enterprise.
A bit about Alice Howell
Alice Howell was a silent comedy star. After appearing in supporting roles at Keystone, she moved over to L-KO in 1915 in support of Billie Ritchie but soon began starring in her own films. The different series of Alice Howell comedies were made for L-KO, Century, Reelcraft and Universal. Like Mabel Normand, she was also known as "the Female Chaplin." Her daughter Yvonne also appeared in comedy shorts, and married cameraman-turned-director George Stevens (Swing Time, Gunga Din, Giant). There's more about Alice in Steve Massa's books Lame Brains and Lunatics and Slapstick Divas.
A bit about me
I've been accompanying silent movies on piano and organ for 35 years; I play for silents at MoMA, at the Library of Congress, at the Silent Clowns Film Series (which I also produce) in NYC, and at festivals, historic theatres and at schools and universities throughout the US and internationally. I've scored dozens of silent films for DVD release for companies like Kino and Milestone and for air on TCM.
Over the last 5 years, I've produced and distributed 18 DVDs of rare silent films – great silent films you've never heard of…but should – fan-funded via Kickstarter. The films have been sourced either from collectors or from the Library of Congress, whom I have a co-branding arrangement with.
A bit about Steve Massa…
Steve Massa is the author of Slapstick Divas: The Women of Silent Comedy, Lame Brains and Lunatics: The Good, the Bad, and the Forgotten of Silent Comedy, and Marcel Perez: The International Mirth-Maker. He has organized and curated comedy film programs for the Museum of Modern Art, Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Pordenone Silent Film Festival. In addition to consulting with EYE Filmmuseum, Netherlands, the Cineteca di Bologna, the Royal Belgian Cinematheque, and other archives, he contributes notes to the National Film Registry and the National Film Preservation Foundation. Massa has also provided essays and commentary tracks to many comedy DVD and Blu-Ray collections such as The Forgotten Films of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, Harry Langdon: Lost and Found, Becoming Charley Chase, Kino Video’s Buster Keaton: The Short Film Collection, and The Mack Sennett Collection, Vol 1, as well as co-curated Undercrank Productions’ The Mishaps of Musty Suffer, Volumes 1 & 2, and the award-winning Marcel Perez Collection, Volumes 1 & 2..
My other Kickstarter campaigns:
Read about my previous 6 successful Kickstarter-crowdfunded DVDs at:
Risks and challenges
"The Alice Howell DVD Project" is my SEVENTH Kickstarter-crowdfunded project, and all previous projects were successfully completed, and were done so on time or rather close to the expected date, and each went about $1,000 over the funding goal. Those DVD projects – "Accidentally Preserved: volume 1 & 2", "The Mishaps of Musty Suffer", "The Marcel Perez Collection", "Accidentally Preserved: volume 3", "When Knighthood Was In Flower" and "The Marcel Perez Collection: Volume 2" – have been well-reviewed in publications such as the NY Times, Film Threat, the Examiner, DVDTalk and classic film blogs, and by dozens of Amazon customers.
There is always the chance that a scheduling or tech issue, or a hiccup in the life/schedule of a someone on the production team may arise during the production of any DVD project, and when that's happened previously it has only delayed the release by a month or two. The one exception was on "When Knighthood" when, just as things were wrapping up on production, a reel of nitrate 35mm containing 6 mins of lost footage turned up; it was worth spending the extra few months getting that print to the Library of Congress for preservation and scanning in order to complete the film.
I'll keep you updated weekly with my progress, and if there are any unforeseen delays you'll find out as soon as I know. For background, you can read all the updates from "Accidentally Preserved", "Musty Suffer" and "Marcel Perez vol1" and "When Knighthood Was in Flower" on their respective Kickstarter pages. You'll find I've kept backers up-to-date on each DVD's progress on a regular basis, and am still sending news and updates to backers several months after the project was completed.
I have been the producer of The Silent Clowns Film Series since its inception in 1997 and have seen it through 20 successful years of year-round shows of classic silent films in NYC as well as a number of partnerships with different venues, and its becoming a not-for-profit.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (17 days)