Some of you have been wondering why, at this stage, we need to raise funding for GIRLFRIEND...
This may give you some indication: Kevin Smith revealed at Sundance last week that, due to the costs of marketing and publicity, it took 7 years for his first film (CLERKS) to get out of the red and into profit. That film cost, in total, $27,575.00. Think about that. A film which cost under thirty thousand dollars took SEVEN YEARS to turn a profit.
I bring up profit for only one reason: Because the costs of setting bookings, getting prints made, placing ads in local newspapers, buying ad time on tv, cutting a new trailer and making new versions of the poster... are in many cases more expensive than making the actual film.
Those of us who make indie films are used to the numbers that Kevin Smith spoke about. DAKOTA SKYE is not in profit yet. Hell, Paramount would have you believe they only recently broke into profit on TITANIC – a film which grossed over a billion dollars worldwide!
Profits, obviously, are what repay the costs I mentioned earlier. But, if you can’t get into enough theaters and DVD ends up your only option, the idea of repaying those costs virtually disintegrates.
So we had to think very carefully about what to do next.
We could have sat back and hoped that, in our initial playdates and cities, we'd make enough of a splash to prove that there is an audience for this film – an eager fanbase hungry for a story that is not a sequel or a set-up for a franchise; That there is still an interest in indie art-films, Jackson Rathbone’s career or even a film which offers a role to someone with a developmental disability in which he isn't playing just a character with a single line, but is, in fact, the star. We could've done that… waited patiently, holding our breath… but we didn't. We couldn't.
We want to share the film with you, the audience, and allow as many people to see it on a big screen as possible – to hold off the inevitable journey to DVD so that the film can be experienced, the way it was meant to be – in a darkened theater with a bucket of popcorn.
So wait, what does this mean? Basically, it means that your donation allows us to immediately confront the costs involved with marketing, publicity and preparing the film for release.
In the last few years, the film markets (like others) have turned, and getting your film out into the world got a lot more difficult. The model for how to do it has changed – but there isn’t really a new model to follow. It’s just kind of like, “hey, kid, figure out what you think works best for your film.”
Kevin Smith (who I mentioned earlier) is distributing his own film, charging $68.25 for nosebleed seats and up to $142.70 for a screening of RED STATE at Radio City Music Hall… and he’s not doing any publicity beyond Twitter - that's how much prints, marketing and publicity costs! To recoup the budget of his film (a little under $4 million), plus prints and a road trip, he needs to charge those prices for a venue with 5,931 seats (according to Wikipedia).
Our method, after a lot of thought and discussion was to come to you, our supporters – people who have been contacting us constantly to ask when and where they can see the film.
You are, arguably, a smaller group than, say, Kevin Smith’s View Askew fanbase, but no less mobilized. And so we have now partnered with IndieGoGo, one of the premiere crowd-sourcing sites on the web.
Believe me, I can see how this may have seemed odd to you at first, but with Sundance recently announcing a strategic partnership with Kickstarter and crowd-sourcing quickly becoming a great avenue for financing projects, we felt like there was no longer a stigma attached.
So there you have it. If you want to see the film, and you believe in what you’ve heard and seen in the trailer and online reviews… if you want to support as a fan of the various cast, or you just believe that Justin Lerner may be a filmmaker to keep your eye on… then do what feels right. If you’re flat broke, don’t feel bad. We understand… we’re indie filmmakers, remember?
Even if you can’t support the film monetarily, you can still help by spreading the word. If you send enough people this link, IndieGoGo or you paste the widget from the site into your email and your friends or family each make a small contribution, the movie may just come to your town anyway! And, in case you’ve forgotten, once we reach our goal, we hope to make a shared contribution to NDSS (National Down Syndrome Society) and NDSC (National Down Syndrome Congress).
In closing I’ll just say thank you again… for your support and your belief in us and the film. The film is for you. We can't wait for you to see it.