The following is a guest post by Koo.
I’m currently crowdfunding my first feature film, and rather than pitch it to you, I’ll first share this “multimedia lookbook” that I put together. My project, a youth basketball feature entitled Man-child, is participating at Independent Film Week in New York this week and I assembled this clip to help producers understand what I’m going for aesthetically with the film. It’s just a combination of clips from other films paired with a voiceover, but it should give you some idea of what I’ll be going for:
Okay, so how did I arrive at this point and why am I making this movie?
After co-directing the “urban western” web series The West Side with Zack Lieberman, we got an agent in LA and attempted to get a larger interactive project made in Hollywood. One lesson we learned in this process: you can spend a lot of time knocking on doors, taking meetings, and putting together pitches and assorted documents. When you set out to be a filmmaker and tell stories that you’re passionate about, however, these aren’t the activities to which you aspire. You’re not getting better as a storyteller because you’re not telling stories.
I knew coming out of that experience that I wanted to tell a story I was personally passionate about, and so I set about researching and writingthe script forMan-child.And if you’re going to crowdfund a film, it has to be a project in which you’re personally invested. Great example: Zak Forsman’s campaign to make a feature about his father. I grew up playing basketball in North Carolina and so the story of Man-childis definitely personal to me.
Why this is a story worth telling
Man-child takes place in the surprisingly high-stakes world of youth basketball. Sometimes referred to as grassroots basketball, the fascinating world (largely unseen by the general public) has been getting younger and younger in its corporatization. Middle schoolers are now nationally ranked and shoe companies sponsor teams and tournaments in an effort to be the first to discover the next Michael Jordan (and sign him to an unwritten contract).
In response to this, in 2009 the NCAA lowered the age limit on who can be considered an official basketball prospect to include 7th graders. They did this in an effort to protect kids from unregulated recruiting.
This world is compelling to me for a number of reasons. We’re talking about kids for whom the sky is the limit, but more often than not they have very little in their lives right now. Thus they (and their families) are more easily won over with offers of money, free shoes, and the other benefits that street agents, coaches, and other hangers-on offer them.
The fact is that the vast majority of talented teenagers will never make it as professional athletes, but it’s more than just a matter of athleticism: it comes down to the decisions they make. These are decisions that few of us have ever had to face, much less at such a young age. This is why I find the world of youth basketball to be so interesting from a dramatist’s perspective: big decisions for little kids.
Why I’m crowdfunding the film
First off, that part about knocking on doors — there’s nothing wrong with trying to get your film funded in a traditional manner. But as someone who’s spent 18 months sharing everything I possibly can about filmmaking on my website NoFilmSchool, I felt if I could get my readers behind the project that it could be a film that’s enabled by a community that actually wants to see the film, as opposed to an executive that thinks the film will be profitable. I want to make a basketball movie about real-world, quiet moments as opposed to big melodramatic set-pieces, and I didn’t feel the Powers That Be would be interested in making the film that I want to see.
Will we make it? I don’t know. The goal is an ambitious $115,000 — sports movies are logistically complex and expensive to make, unfortunately — and there are only a few short days left. Check out my campaign video if you’re interested and good luck with your own personal passion projects!
Koo co-wrote, directed, shot, and edited the “urban western” web series The West Side, which won the Webby Award for Best Drama Series. He is one of Filmmaker Magazine’s 25 New Faces of Film and runs the website NoFilmSchool, which focuses on DIY filmmaking and independent creativity; Man-child will be his first feature.
Posted in audience crowdfunding