Something I touched on in my last blog that really needs to be hammered home is the necessity of crowdsourcing Stuck Outside of Phoenix the Movie.
In the eighties and nineties, bands often made their own LPs. It usually meant setting money aside from every gig, but having a record of your own was worth it. I've been in bands that put away twenty percent of all gig money until enough was saved to make a record. The Refreshments made a indie record in 1994 called Wheelie, recording it late at night at the Saltmine recording studio in Mesa. Wheelie cost about $1,000 to make. I was very proud of it then, and I still am.
When I became a novelist in 1997, I brought the DIY attitude of rock music with me. I never had a problem with the idea of self-publishing my work, but I had writer friends who couldn't fathom the idea. I thought they were crazy, and in 2003 I self-published my first novel Stuck Outside of Phoenix. At the time, print-on-demand publishing was revolutionizing the game, making it more affordable for authors to do it themselves. I self-published the first editon of Stuck for $450.
$1,000, $450. No small chunks of change but, thankfully, attainable.
Now let's talk about the movie producer. By contrast, movies are almost always very expensive to make. Most of the ones we watch cost millions. Still, there are many examples of great movies that were made for comparatively little. Swingers was made for a quarter of a million. The Blair Witch Project was made for something like $50,000. The all-time winner is Clerks, which was made for $7,500. Even at these less expensive levels, producers need lots of money to get a movie made, or at least a lot more than writers and musicians.
So, where does a movie producer get the dough? He could try to get it funded by a big studio, like the ones that bring us summer blockbusters. As you might guess, the odds are largely against this working out. Moreover, you can bet a big studio is going to have its hand in every creative decision: the script, the actors, the locations, the accompanying music. Nico Holthaus, the producer of Stuck Outside of Phoenix the Movie, told me that major studios read scripts while referring to a checklist of twenty-two attributes. If your script doesn't have at least seventeen of those attributes, then the studio won't make the movie. (Ever wonder why so many movies are so similar? There you go.) I don't know what those attributes are, but you can guess, can't you? Car chase, sex scene, happy ending, it doesn't take a genius.
When I wrote the novel Stuck Outside of Phoenix, and the script for Stuck Outside of Phoenix the Movie, my goal was to write about a kid struggling to get out of his hometown, with the early nineties Tempe music scene as a backdrop. I wasn't focused on car chases or sex scenes or happy endings. (That doesn't mean they aren't in the book, or won't be in the movie.) I was focused on fulfilling my vision, bringing forward this character and this world in a clear, resonate way.
It's fair to assume major studios would have no interest my script. Moreover, I'm not sure I'd want them messing with it. Can you imagine some movie exec demanding we take out a Dead Hot Workshop song during a scene and replace it with a Hootie and the Blowfish song? Did you just have a heart attack? So did I. The instant you sign these people on, it's not your movie anymore. They bought it from you. The folks working on Stuck want to make these decisions themselves because that way the movie will reflect the visions of the movie makers, not some shareholder somewhere who only cares about return on investment.
So, big studios are out. What other options are there to raise funds? Crowdsourcing!
If you step forward with a donation to Stuck Outside of Phoenix the Movie's Kickstarter campaign, you can help fulfill this vision. With your contribution, and hundreds of other folks doing the same, we can make a great movie about the Tempe music scene in the early nineties. Luckily, we don't need anywhere near a million bucks to get it done--not even close--but we do need a substantial sum. (It's an amount somewhere between Clerks and The Blair Witch Project.) Nico and I know the world of the struggling musician in Tempe in the nineties, and with your help--and the help and talents of hundreds of others--we can create something everyone can be proud of. You think this movie would ever get made if it were up to major studios? And how good could it be? They don't know this world. They're not us.
So please give to the Kickstarter campaign, and share the link at your blog, Facebook page, and anywhere else you think interested people might happen upon it. All the folks involved want to make a great movie, and with your help, we can.
Thanks for all you do.