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"The Mishaps of Musty Suffer": 8 hilarious, bizarre and wacky silent films from 1916-17, with new piano scores by Ben Model. Read more

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Funded!

This project was successfully funded on August 11, 2013.

"The Mishaps of Musty Suffer": 8 hilarious, bizarre and wacky silent films from 1916-17, with new piano scores by Ben Model.

About this project

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100% funded in less than 2 weeks! Now what…?

There are a few more shorts that will not fit on the DVD!
Pledges can still be made to the "Musty Suffer" DVD project until the evening of August 10. Once the total pledge amount surpasses $4,500 these shorts will be transferred, scored and released…on YouTube.
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The "MISHAPS OF MUSTY SUFFER" DVD project

One of my favorite discoveries in silent comedy film over the last several years is a series released in 1916 and 1917 called “The Mishaps of Musty Suffer”.  These films star a comedian named Harry Watson, Jr., a Ziegfeld Follies headliner, and they were released every week like a serial or like a sitcom would be today, in three series of ten shorts.  These films are hilarious, bizarre and wacky, unlike anything you've seen in silent movies.  I want to produce and release a DVD of the best surviving episodes “The Mishaps of Musty Suffer” so that fans of classic and silent film, vaudeville and the circus can see these great, forgotten silent comedies.

I hope you'll make a pledge, and help me to bring these films that are in the hallowed halls of one of the USA's leading film archives to peoples' screens at home so they can been enjoyed and studied.  They've never been available on the 16mm market or on home video. With your help, these films that have been unavailable to enjoy and own for decades will been seen again.

Thanks!

A bit about me

I've been accompanying silent movies on piano and organ for 30 years; I play for silents at MoMA, at the Silent Clowns Film Series (which I also produce) in NYC, at the Library of Congress, and at festivals, historic theatres and at schools and universities throughout the US and abroad. I've scored dozens of silent films for DVD release for companies like Kino and Milestone and for air on TCM. My website is silentfilmmusic.com. You can read about my last Kickstarter-crowdfunded DVD "Accidentally Preserved" by clicking here.

A bit about Musty

From 1916 to 1917, "The Mishaps of Musty Suffer" were released on a weekly basis in 3 series of 10 films, each film referred to as a "whirl". The films were shot at studios in the Bronx, and the exteriors in nearby neighborhoods.  All the films are one reel long (about 12 mins) and have the same director and ensemble cast. The films were popular and well-received by critics, and yet are almost completely forgotten today.  They've begun to get a following in recent years, thanks to sporadic screenings at classic film conventions in the U.S.

The performers in the films, their screen characters, costuming and body language owe more to vaudeville and the circus than to the Keystone style influencing most comedies of the time.  There are several sequences where star Harry Watson is clearly re-purposing his vaudeville routines.The surreal gags and cartoon-like sets resemble European comedies made 5 years earlier. 

The bottom line here is that these films are outrageous, funny and unique – and deserve to be available to be enjoyed.

The "Mishaps of Musty Suffer" DVD

The  DVD will contain 8 Musty Suffer films, plus 2 Musty extras, selected from the 24 surviving "whirls" by me and by silent comedy film historian Steve Massa.  The films, which were preserved from original nitrate 35mm prints in 1959 by the Library of Congress, will have new HD transfers done by the LoC. I will create a brand new custom musical score for each film.  The DVDs will be professionally authored and they will be produced and made available for sale on Amazon.com via Amazon's CreateSpace service.  The box art will be created by professional graphic designer and silent era afficionado Marlene Weisman. Detailed notes on the films, Harry Watson Jr. and the rest of the cast and crew will be written by Steve Massa and posted online.

While there are 24 extant Musty Suffer shorts, 12 of them are real "winners".  A second volume, or expanding to a 2-disc set, would not be feasible; additionally, the logistics and costs of an additional DVD are prohibitive.  Funding that exceeds the goal will allow me to produce some or all of the best Musty shorts beyond the 8 on the DVD for release on YouTube. A YouTube presence for Musty will allow fans to discover him, and then buy the DVD that this project was set out to fund.

Release date (expected):

Based on my typical performance schedule for Oct-Dec, the time it takes for scoring and authoring, I expect to be able to have the DVD finished and available in February 2014.  It is entirely possible that the project will be finished sooner (end of 2013), but I learned from producing Accidentally Preserved that it's smart to allow a little extra time for technical issues, extra show commitments that come up, and any issues with the transfers.

Make a pledge

We've all heard of great silent films having been preserved at a film archive and thought, "wouldn't it be great if that got a DVD release?". Here's a chance for you to help make this happen! Make your pledge to "The Mishaps of Musty Suffer"…and participate in a unique silent film enterprise.

Risks and challenges

The "Mishaps of Musty Suffer" DVD is my second Kickstarter-crowdfunded project. The first, "Accidentally Preserved: Rare/Lost Silent Films From Vintage 16mm Print"s, went over its funding goal and was released on Amazon in June 2013. Not only has it been well-reviewed (NY Times, Film Threat, and classic film blogs), but royalties from sales have already funded a second volume of "Accidentally Preserved".

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. You can read all the updates from "Accidentally Preserved" on its Kickstarter page.

I have been the producer of The Silent Clowns Film Series since its inception in 1997 and have seen it through 16 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.

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Rewards

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    fridge-worthy "Mishaps of Musty Suffer" thank-you postcard

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    above, plus onscreen "special thanks" listing in DVD credits

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    same as above, and "Mishaps of Musty Suffer" DVD will be autographed to you

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    above, plus a private-issue collector's DVD of a feature-length silent film with a score by Ben Model.

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    above, plus Ben Model will turn your phone number into a melody that he will record and send you as an mp3

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    above, plus Ben will interpolate your phone melody into one of the film scores

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    above, plus Ben will also use your phone melody as music heard on the DVD menu

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Funding period

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