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Why Make a Short? Why Run a Kickstarter Campaign So Early? The MANCHILD Q&A

In the comments section of my more-contentious-than-I-expected post about making a short that ties into my forthcoming feature MANCHILD, there were a lot of questions about my project, as well as the overall wisdom of making a short in order to fundraise for a feature. Reading through the comments, I realized I could’ve delved deeper into the timeline of what’s happened since my Kickstarter campaign. So, to answer some of the questions posed in the comments — as well as to generally shoot the shit about filmmaking — I sat down (virtually) with NFS editor Joe Marine for an wide-ranging video chat.

It’s over an hour long, so I would recommend moving the video to a corner of the screen and getting on with other tasks while it plays, or just treating it like an audio podcast (there’s an audio-only link below as well):

<embed src="http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=59466984" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="400" height="300"></embed>

I apologize for the audio quality on my end — we had some issues with the recording, and then I cleaned it up, but it sounds worse again after Vimeo compression. We’ll get this working better in the future. Here’s the sound-only version (which can also be downloaded):

Despite the 85-minute runtime, there were still plenty of questions that I didn’t answer, so… apologies for any we missed, but I hope the discussion was interesting and/or informative — and feel free to ask more questions in the comments here! Also, did you find this to be a valuable discussion? Would you want more of this podcast-type content on the site in the future?

COMMENT POLICY

We’re all here for the same reason: to better ourselves as writers, directors, cinematographers, producers, photographers... whatever our creative pursuit. Criticism is valuable as long as it is constructive, but personal attacks are grounds for deletion; you don't have to agree with us to learn something. We’re all here to help each other, so thank you for adding to the conversation!

Description image 73 COMMENTS

  • ThunderBolt on 02.12.13 @ 8:20AM

    Good stuff

  • Scott David Martin on 02.12.13 @ 10:02AM

    solid post.

  • Great post. Very interesting.

    Ryan – you seem to have something stuck in your collar.

  • Andreas Wappel on 02.12.13 @ 11:17AM

    well, you sure as hell bound me to the manchild-project on a personal level with your efforts:-)

    rock on

  • You actually might have been perfectly clear before and people STILL had reservations. I don’t think you considered or internalized any of the constructive criticism that was offered. It’s a let down that you took this opportunity to “educate” the people trying to help you. Hubris.

    • A bit confused by this comment, which seems to suggest artists are “obligated” to use all critiques of their work. If the artist doesn’t feel the critique is in sync with the values/tone/atmosphere of their work, they won’t use it. How is that hubris? No one is obligated to use criticism if it diminishes the intent or themes they’ve constructed.

      • Couldn’t have said it better myself Jarome. Sometimes some people… to be blunt, just don’t know enough about what they are critiquing. Or are missing the point. And I think that in filmmaking, choosing which critiques to take into consideration is part of the art, cause it will directly affect your vision.

  • Thanks for the audio link, Koo and Joe! It’s perfect for mobile.

  • I think your approach to the taxes was a good one. I don’t think you would want to try and think of it as income vs a gift. You’d want to think of it as income vs contribution to the capital of the business.

    I wrote a blog post about what I had done for my Kickstarter regarding the tax issue in case anyone is interested in reading it: http://4ofakindfilm.com/2012/06/22/kickstarter-tax-advice-for-filmmakers/

    • Thanks Jack. We talked about the contribution to capital angle (that’s part of a longer post, forthcoming). The calendar year thing is smart, and we talked about that too, but I’m well past 12 months now so in my case it’s a moot issue. I’ll definitely read your post as I put together ours!

    • Oh I know, i was just throwing it out others in case they were interested.

  • Ryan, any chance of a download link for an MP3 of the audio so I can whack it on my phone for listening on the go?

  • Interesting piece. Projects often run out of steam if funded too early. We’ve just launched a platform specifically for film and music projects at http://www.fundervine.com Check it out if you get the time.

  • You might decide that this is a facetious and unwelcomed jab, or maybe a moment of wisdom, but: There is a preciousness in our culture, now worse than ever, of coddling virginal artistic debuts. This cheat used to be tagged with “fairy tale,” while these days you see it oozing from reality television programs.

    Artistic credibility isn’t just slowly learned, it’s moreso earned, in volume. That is the critical flaw of hipster/liberal guilt Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns about niche topics that sell on the merits of how they make donors feel about themselves. Go look for yourself: you’ll find a stunning lack of linkage at any given campaign to readily available portfolios of work, demonstrating elbow grease.

    And here, Ryan Koo has been respectfully forthcoming about his lack of any body of work to show for. After all this debating, campaigning, pleading, and strategizing, there’s a classical (tested) course of action: elbow grease. Debuts with budgets well over $100k make for quaint stories, while yammering agents love the idea of “discovering talent,” but we seem to have lost one quotient of humility in the arts: Creativity grows in little increments. I think it’s awesome that Mr. Koo is putting himself out there and might create something incredible. But he might not. Then what?

    http://vimeo.com/channels/zen (not brilliant, but not hidden: I wouldn’t dare ask for a cent from anyone without a few pages of clips)

    • It’s an interesting discussion, certainly. But I do think a lot of campaigns reference previous work and other points of credibility (“we just got into this festival, we have this actor, we won these awards in the past, the screenplay has been selected for this”) to help backers believe in them. In fact the latter two points figure prominently into my campaign — “I’ve made this in the past, we won these awards, and the screenplay has been selected for these programs.” That’s a far cry from “lack of any body of work.” In fact my web series is available for anyone to watch immediately, unlike say a short that played a festival and isn’t out there.

      As far as “creativity grows in little increments,” I think with respect to filmmaking there are often so many obstacles to Getting It Made that creativity often grows behind-the-scenes, with, yes — elbow grease — that may not result in a body of work that’s out there for the world to see. I wrote several hundred pages of screenplay over the past few years and this is the one that will see the light of day, but certainly my creativity grew a lot while doing all of that other work. The idea is that you move forward by leaps and bounds, which because they are few and far between, are not seen by outsiders as gradual.

      But indeed I think and hope that’s what makes this site interesting — “then what?”. I could fail at various levels, of course. But if I do, I won’t be deterred from making another film and learning from this experience. That’s what all of us need — the ability to stick with it and “fail forward” — to have a career in this long-term. We’ll see!

  • I had similar feelings. There’s too much thought and analysis. Your biggest offense was the comment suggesting the quality level of first features. It would be very arrogant to think you could achieve a level of craft beyond your experience.

    Perhaps it’s cultural. Your generation has been told that everything they create has value.

    A comment suggested an offense to the echo chamber of your website. And then we have a literal echo chamber with your head writer?

    The title of your blog is NoFilmSchool. One assumes that the goal is to achieve a film without school. One of the benefits of film school are the constant projects with deadlines, the creation of work, the discussion and critique of work, the time invested in craft. I don’t mean to sound harsh but there seems to be a lack of this from both of you.

    • “It would be very arrogant to think you could achieve a level of craft beyond your experience.”

      Here are some quotes about my web series, which we made on zero budget and was our first production — i.e., it was “beyond our experience.”

      The Guardian: “This laconic urban western, made for less than US$1,000 but looking like a million bucks, will deservedly sweep up the best online drama series award at the Webbys.”

      Filmmaker Magazine: “The West Side is ingenious low-budget independent filmmaking that just happens to be viewable only on the Web… The West Side recently won a Webby Award for Best Drama Series of 2008 and seems poised to bring greater attention to its resourceful and talented creators.”

      NewTeeVee (now GigaOm): “Its careful cinematic plotting and respect for traditional filmmaking structures is unusual amongst online content, and the attention to detail on display is remarkable.”

      Was it arrogance that led us to try to “achieve a level of craft beyond [our] experience,” or was it ambition?

  • … You are damaging the donator/filmmaker relationship. Give all the excuses you want for not keeping your word? But if you weren’t ready shoot a film, you should have got your act together BEFORE taking peoples money.

    • Compared to all the scams on kickstarter? People knew what they were signing up for, making a feature isnt as easy as it may seem. I’d also like to think the backers are smarter and more patient, but then again there are those people who back projects for no real purpose. Atleast the project is being updated compared to others who literally just took the money and ran.

      Great info guys.

      • “Making a feature isn’t as easy as it may seem.” You aren’t telling me something I don’t already know. I’ve produced four in the last two years… all of them with budgets less then 10K. Our very first film went international in distribution with incredible critic reviews. The problem here is, Ryan talked a good game… made his followers believe he knew what he was doing.. I mean his entire blog is based on film making?

        You’d think he would have taken the time to research his quest before engaging in it. But according to his own response? He didn’t bother to make sure the money he was seeking would even cover the expenses? Any film maker with sense would have planned out the outcome of his/her venture. Especially one parading as an authority on how film making is done.

        Don’t get me wrong, producing your first film is a leap of faith.. I know we all want everything to be perfect. But guess what? It’s not going to happen no matter how much money you have. He can sit on those donations until 2025 and he’s still going to make mistakes. The only way you learn is to do… backers have no responsibility to be patient, but a filmmaker has a responsibility to stand by his word. IF they were investors? They would have pulled their cash out by now and I wouldn’t blame them.

        The real world of film making is ruthless and impatient, he better get used to that fast. You don’t need 100k to film an incredible project these days, you barely even need 50k. What you do need is the drive to stick your neck out, get the job done, and deal with the backlash of what you did wrong so you can fix it the next time around.

        I don’t think he’s scamming anyone… but I do think he’s scared to put himself out there. He has a change to fall on his face without much more then a bit of road rash, not many of us have that opportunity without massive repercussions. I don’t feel one bit sorry for him though? Hundreds of us would love to have 100K, and would probably make 5 movies with it before he gets one on the market, the difference between us and him though? We don’t need to talk about how we’re filmmakers… we just are.

        • Well said Nicole. Well said. Part of the reality of being an “indie” filmmaker is that you have to be creative to figure out how to make the best film you can with however much of a budget you are lucky enough to have. Koo has more than enough money to make his film. Does he have enough to make it as absolutely huge as he likely wants? Probably not. Does he have enough to do a massive release and get it in 2000 theaters nationwide? No. But he does have a successful website to market it through, and a budget most of us would kill for. Excuses are just that. It’s time to stop making them and get out onto the court and put that brick through that hoop, or else issue refunds and find a new career, because Man Child absolutely can and should be made for what you said you could do it for Koo. Time to put on your Chucks.

          • Best comment ever.

          • Scott David Martin on 02.14.13 @ 12:27PM

            Nicole & Brent

            Not sure why you feel compelled to comment negatively on Koo’s process. Koo & Joe are very transparent about the creative process and I admire that.

            The tone of your comments speak directly to your own insecurities as an artist.

            Nicole – your four movies…never heard of them. The might be great, most likely not. Post some links or start a blog about your proven process and your comments might hold some weight.

            Koo & Joe. Keep doing what your doing. Been following you since the site started.

        • We’re always looking for distribution case study guest posts if you’d like to talk about your distribution experience.

          Feel free to reach out: editor@nofilmschool.com

        • Feel free to let us know what those four films were, Nicole.

          If I were scared of putting myself out there why would I be making a short to… put myself out there?

          • Doing a short to raise money is fine…if..if…you have a list of 10
            people willing to donate 50 or 100k based on it.
            If you don’t have such specific people to send it to.
            Why in the world make it…Well most likely money won’t happen.
            Just like what happened with The West Side.

            Besides The West Side already shows you can shoot
            fairly well on the cheap. Conceptually it has problems.
            You don’t need to sell people on directing you need to
            sell the story and the ideas…and all those should be in the script.

            And why do you keep trying to elevate your status beyond what it is ?
            It is poor form..arrogant…and completely crazy.
            Does any artist ever go around quoting critics about themselves ?
            It is Bizarre.
            And am sure it makes people wonder what the hell is going on.

            Face it if West Side was really great someone would have paid to
            finish it. But they didn’t so you abandoned it.
            Seems a history of projects going on “Hiatus”
            How long before the website goes on hiatus. Guess it already
            served it’s Promo purpose.

            People here were your strongest advocates.
            And so far the ONLY ones who have given money. This is bait and switch.
            Maybe thinking more money would follow kickstarter funds. But
            it didn’t and a short won’t help either….so now in never-never land or Hiatus.

            “It’s been six months since we posted Episode Four, and we’re well aware that Episode Five is long overdue. Unfortunately, we’re not posting here to release a new episode, but rather to announce The West Side is on hiatus.”
            http://thewestside.tv/blog/on-hiatus

        • Every short or feature film is different, you look at what you have and make the best you can, Im sure Ryan isnt afraid to put his work out there, He wanted the script to meet his expectation, that is the source of the story he needs to tell, then to actually do it is in itself is a different scenario. Of course you can make a film for less then the amount he has gotten but as he mentions in the video, he wants to achieve something special, his vision of the film. Anyone can crap out a short film, since the crop of the dslr movement we’ve been overwhelmed with sub par short films, thats not to say they didnt work hard on it, but you rarely glance or think about the subject matter of most shorts afterward. Why is that? Substance? Poor script? Experience? Its different from film to film.

          I’d give Ryan the benefit of the doubt, and his “followers” would rather see a film Ryan is satisfied with. Im sure you are a competent film maker, I’m not doubting your skill, because If I where to judge you merely on random speculation I would be in the wrong, but something in your eyes that may seem trivial may not be to another film maker. Shooting locations, actors, time frame, and many other expenses are variable.

          • Re:Scott David Martin’s comment. Scott, my tone speaks only to the absolutely unprofessional manner in which Koo has decided to go about this. Being open and up front, as many are pointing out, doesn’t forgive an act of fraud, no matter how great of a blog someone has. It has nothing to do with anyone’s insecurities, and everything to do with the fact that Koo misled people and is sitting on over $100k of other people’s hard earned monies. Those people gave those monies because they believed Koo could do what he said, and now he’s trying to compare an indie film project with a Hollywood film that has a $100m dollar budget!?! Of course he wants more money. Anyone who makes films wants more money for their project. That’s not the point. He said he could do something, people trusted that and gave him a ton of cash, and now he’s saying “we’ll actually…”, and that’s a load of BS. What that shows is that he was not ready for this venture. That he should have done what he’s claiming to do now in the first place in making a short. Then used that for his Kickstarter campaign and people could have actually seen what he is capable of on a minuscule budget, so that they would have absolute faith that he could deliver like he said he could. Backtracking a year later and saying he can’t actually do what he said he could is not only unprofessional as hell, but just plain bad form.

            I know first hand how hard it is to make a feature film, and I know how hard it is to raise money for a feature. I’ve been working on raising the funds for my second feature for 14 months now, and we are just over halfway to our goal of $300k, with over 90% of our funds coming from private investors. That means we had to do our homework, including tons of market research, a thorough business plan, a proof of concept trailer and more. I have to give bi-weekly updates to our investors, letting them know where we are at and what’s coming up. My first feature was made for $3200 and grossed just over $68k, which definitely qualifies as a success. We are currently working on getting a distro deal that will include that film and our upcoming project, so that it would hopefully give us the rest of what we need to have our budget. And let me tell you, this stuff sucks. It’s a long, hard road, but it can also be incredibly rewarding. And if I had run a crowd funding campaign that was as successful as Koo’s, I sure as hell wouldn’t have the balls to tell everyone that I couldn’t actually deliver like I said I could. I would work my butt off, call in every favor I had, and make that film the best I could with what I was so generously given. And Koo should too.

          • @Xiong – I’m not disputing that. Having money for those things is essential for film making… I honestly don’t have a problem with him waiting to make sure he has his bases covered, I would too.. But what I DO have a problem with is selling the public on the idea that you knew what you were doing only to tell them after they gave you money that you didn’t. Like I said before? Any investor with two cents would have asked for his money back by now… this isn’t a great way to present your first project to the world.

            @Scott – “Not sure why you feel compelled to comment negatively” … I didn’t. I commented factual. I even said I didn’t believe him to be scamming. But what I did say are absolute truths. You need to have your ducks in a row, you need to stand by your word, and you need to be ready to fail. You just have to DO IT to get through doing it.

            “The tone of your comments speak directly to your own insecurities as an artist.” …No. I have no insecurities. I already know I’ll make 10 bad films before one has a chance at standing out. I’m okay with that and I learn with every shoot.

            “Your four movies…never heard of them.” …I didn’t tell you what they were, I’m not here to parade my self around town. I only mentioned it because Xiong tried to tell me, “how hard film making was”.

            “The might be great, most likely not.” … I had respect for you until… here.

            And finally…

            “Post some links or start a blog about your proven process and your comments might hold some weight.”

            Why? I don’t have any reason to tell people I’m a film maker. It’s a waste of time. I show people what I’m capable of, bragging about it, or using my success as a figurehead to act like the all authority is bullshit.

            • Here’s a direct quote from his Kickstarter campaign:

              as I say in the video, $115,000 qualifies this as a “microbudget” film. Movies are really expensive; Hollywood spends $100 million on making a single movie all the time. So believe me when I say it’s going to be a challenge to make this for “only” $115k! Especially because it’s a sports movie — it’s not one guy in a room talking, it’s a lot of people running through carefully choreographed actions in a gymnasium in front of a crowd of spectators. I drew up the budget below myself, but note that I am NOT a producer. Once there’s a producer attached, they will come up with their own budget, which will undoubtedly be higher than mine, and then we’ll have to raise more money or make tough decisions about what we WANT in the film versus what we absolutely NEED.

              This is independent film: when we do a proper breakdown of the script, I’ll be forced to make tough choices in terms of what we can spend money on and what we have to do without.

              Kickstarter is not investment. Kickstarter is a form of pre-sale. All that matters is that there is a completed film and the people receive whatever they asked for with their donation.

              I was a backer of this project long before I knew Ryan. I backed it not because I cared about the movie, but because I believed in Ryan, the person. Nothing he has done since completing the campaign has made me feel any differently about Ryan the person. The script went through a lengthy revision, as many scripts do.

              There is never a right time to start a Kickstarter campaign. Did he think the script was ready at the time? Absolutely, and based on being accepted into IFP and Lincoln center because of the script, they obviously thought he had something special. He also won a Tribeca grant because of the script, which came after additional rewrites. Each step of the way, other people, not Ryan, have validated his decisions about continuing to rewrite and revise the script.

              Ryan has attached a producer/line producer of Frozen River, Chip Hourihan. That didn’t come strictly because of the Kickstarter campaign, that came after his lengthy revisions and rewrites. Why wouldn’t you want someone like that on board? If that person didn’t come on right after the Kickstarter campaign, wouldn’t you say he made the right decision by waiting? No film will ever be perfect, of course, but he’s not waiting because he’s waiting for some magical time. All of his preparation and strategy has put him in a far better position than if he’d just gone and made the film with the original script.

              A serious independent producer doesn’t just come on board because you succeed in a Kickstarter campaign. It was only after the notes from producers, the rewrites/revisions, and the Tribeca grant that he has attached someone like Chip. These things don’t happen by accident, and it would have been impossible to predict anything that has happened since the end of the campaign. While his original plan has been slightly modified, every step of the way he has put himself in the best possible position to succeed. Isn’t that what every filmmaker does?

              The movie can only be made in the summer because of the kids involved (unless he got a lot more money and they can hire tutors). Thus Ryan deciding to make this short is not affecting the feature, it’s simply a part of the process that has a number of benefits. If he didn’t have some idea that the short would make a difference in the funding process, why else would he be doing it? He’s working with experienced people who are going along with these decisions.

              I think the biggest thing that is upsetting about all of this is that people just want him to go make the movie, and stop stalling or stop being scared to fail. In just a few days he’s making a short that he will then be posting online for the world to see.

              If the new script, which came after notes from many producers, and after a Tribeca grant, is now in such a form that a real producer has signed on, why would he cut it and make it worse just to satisfy the Kickstarter backers who want their movie right now, and not a second later? I was in pre-production on a documentary that fell apart because we couldn’t secure a producer like Chip. We had serious money on the table, but I and my partner were not considered experienced enough to handle it alone. If we’d gotten someone like Chip, would we have gotten the funding? Absolutely, but that’s how things work, and the movie couldn’t have been made for much less than we were asking for, and we didn’t think spending another year of our lives made any sense, so we moved on.

              The money part isn’t all that hard if you know where to look, and if my partner and I had wanted to spend more time we probably could have gotten less money and done it our way, but the movie would have suffered. It doesn’t make any sense to go out and make a worse movie just so you can say you made one. If it’s a reasonable amount of money there are plenty of investors out there. It’s not about the money, it’s about making the best movie with the resources you have – and since almost none of us have Academy Award Nominated and Sundance winning producers working for us, should we complain about that too? If he follows through on making the movie – and there is no evidence to suggest that he won’t follow through and make it – what’s the big deal? He’s not double-dipping into the Kickstarter well. Those people are going to get a better movie than the one they signed up for, a lot of that due to the fact that Ryan has gained more resources and connections by not making the movie immediately.

              I’m not saying this because I work for him, I’m saying this from experience. If you can make a better movie, you make that better movie. There is no reward for finishing first when it comes to movies. No one cares how hard it was or the story behind the movie. All they care about it what is on screen, and there is no doubt in my mind Manchild is that much better off because of the resources he now has.

          • Well said Joe, I couldnt have said it better myself. Since English isnt my first language and all haha

  • Thanks for taking the time to respond Ryan. Glad to see a few of my questions answered in there.

    There seems to be a common argument of “just do it”, versus “make the best film possible”. Interestingly, a short film I just co-directed and co-produced with a colleague came from two people from those two polarizing positions. I want to just make stuff, get the experience under my belt, and I’m happy to do so at the cost of doing more work myself and the quality suffering – but I’ve learned so much that way, it’s been invaluable. My co-director, this being her first short, was much more inclined to take her time, bring in a solid team, and do the job right. I was more than happy to take on this approach, and it’s honestly been the most invaluable experience I’ve had to date. Watching people do what they are very good at (and much better than you), is what will take a film to the next level. Learning to work within a team, and to take onboard communal decision making, is what will take the film to the next level.

    So whilst some might here your comments of “making the short film to get more funding is about making the best film possible” and think it’s just wank, or an excuse to delay, or whatever, I can say that I know first hand what you mean – and it was a lesson in humility and patience that has been well appreciated.

  • I guess I would side with Nicole on this one. I decided to just go ahead and start filming without any funds. Eventually I got a decent grant and put my own money into it. I had offers from companies for completion funds but would lose all my backend so just kept plowing ahead. I had the budget all worked out though and had a very good understanding on what amounts I would need to get what quality…I think that is where you dropped the ball Ryan. I never asked the community to invest but if I had I would have made sure I had the budget exactly worked out or at least best to my abilities. Anyhow by just forging ahead I recently got picked up for distribution and finishing funds and a very good deal for a first timer. I just have to be responsible and deliver what I promised to the company.
    BTW the name of my film is Insectula! and am looking at a Sept 2013 completion.

  • Did you really just spend another 90 minutes on this? You are too focused on your page views. It is an achievement to build a site that is well viewed but you are not creating original written content, you are repackaging others work and this has little to do with the skill of actually making a film.

    BTW, there’s nothing wrong with being bloggers but you are losing credibility by passing yourselves off as filmmakers without films. You’ve lost your way. Joe you bought a camera you admittedly can’t use yet, Ryan you are going round in circles [and valuable time] trying to justify not starting your film. We’ve all heard this tale a million times.

    Ryan you’ve never mentioned how you are contributing financially to the project or are you just using the funds we donated? Personally I’ve found your recent arrogance and snarkiness I real downer and not the best environment for collaboration.

  • I seriously cannot believe some of these responses. How on earth could any of you possibly argue AGAINST making the best possible film you can? That’s literally what this website is about; Being the best filmmakers we can possibly be. Do you, as backers, get any personal satisfaction from him finishing his film faster, and not creating a work on par with what he was capable of producing? No. He’s not even asking more from you, rather trying to supplement your funds with traditional funding (as he has said numerous times). If you have the lives you claim you do (creating exceptional films with rave reviews to boot), well then that sounds awesome…get on with them, maybe not worry so much in the meantime about what others are doing with their careers, and eventually, one day, you’ll be surprised to learn your investment has aided in the creation of an excellent, completed feature film.

    Listen, I understand where some of you might be coming from. Am I jealous? Hell yes. I would probably kill a (very) distant relative for 100k (93k to be exact) to fund my debut feature, but I will not for one second tell someone else that they HAVE to make that money work. It’s not your film. It’s not my film. It’s Koo’s film. He knows better than all of us what it’s going to take to make this thing awesome. He’s been very open about the fact that what started as a 70-something page script was then revised/added to/cut from/rewritten to a 90-something page script. Obviously, the budget is gonna fluctuate after such changes, it’s the nature of the business. In the end, we all win! He makes a better first feature, and we get to be entertained/moved/inspired by a better film. Cheer up, people! Spit out the Haterade!

    If all filmmakers were even half as transparent as Koo has been, the world would be a better place.

    • When I take money from a film company I have an obligation to produce what I promised, I can’t go back to them and say I’m doing a short now instead. I may run over budget, but if it is because I changed the script and added a bunch of stuff I would imagine they might be a little perturbed. Because this is money form a larger group of people how is this any different? If I ask for a number from someone and get it, it is my obligation to do what I said I would do or I have violated the deal. It’s really that simple. Do these people not deserve the same courtesy?

      • He IS producing what he promised. There was no exact date he said he’d have a finished film by. He’s doing exactly what he set out to do. If he said “okay, I’ve decided to not make the feature anymore”, then your statement might hold a little more weight. Like he said, he hasn’t touched the money yet. He’s saving it for the exact thing backers backed him for. And, again, he’s not asking those backers for any more money. They’re getting what they paid for: a feature film, finished sometime in the near future. Not to mention, if you’re not working with a studio, it’s next to impossible to give people a solid timeframe in which your film will be completed.

        • We’ll see. My advice would be to get the budget in order, attach a seasoned Executive Producer and start forging ahead. It will be much easier to pick up financing when you have decent material to show and then let your EP work for you.

          • Ryan is currently working with Chip Hourihan, who was a producer/line producer on the Sundance-winning and Academy Award-Nominated Frozen River, as was stated in the previous post. Here’s his IMDb:

            http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1165220/

          • I agree. Except my advice would be to hire someone who can fill all key positions i.e., writer, producer, director and editor whether he has to fill them or not. That way you can keep your production costs down and not hire all these pricey personnel. Robert Rodriquez made El Mariarchi for $7,000. Some of the money he got donating blood. You can do it for less these days with the advent of HD video. He shot on super 16. Find you a Robert Rodriquez and make the best movie with what you have. That’s what Robert said in his book Rebel Without A Crew.

        • These are very tight times for the movie industry. With the recession and the ground taking a major shift away from DVD’s there is not a lot of money floating around until the process settles some more. Could be a while before that happens and he’s got enough to get the wheels moving. Someone sees excellent material 50% completed they are much more apt to roll the dice than someone who just has a short. Also if you can demonstrate that you get excellent bang-for-buck it really helps.

  • Thank you Ryan and Joe! I like your idea of video podcast/chat and look forward to see more valuable conversations to come. It makes the communication among your audience and other independent filmmakers transparent and personal enough to establish the trust. It helped me to understand some of the hidden details about budgeting/ writing/distributing the future movie that difficult to find anywhere else. Are you planning to make more posts about new methods of distribution in the nearest future?

  • I have followed your campaign with great interest for the last couple years. I was actually in development on mine roughy around the same time, and our stories are not dissimilar (mine is a coming of age story about a mixed race teen baseball ball player in Miami that has a Bar Mitzvah). So it was great to see someone kind of running parallel to mine with a project that I found very interesting. So first off, I just want to say it’s a real shame to hear of these road blocks you are experiencing. I do think you have run a tremendous campaign, and have drawn a great deal of interest to your project, and that is an awesome start. But I do agree with a lot of the people on here, in the sense that it is about taking that leap of faith, and using what you got to make it. I had all sorts of producers and so on telling me what sort of budget I should shoot mine on. They basically just throw phone numbers at you, the numbers are so big. Hell, perhaps some of these producers you are talking to are the same ones I talked to. And they would tell me I was nuts to want to do it for less than 500K, less than a million, etc etc. But deep down I knew I would never get that money. Why? Because I was unproven. No matter how many shorts you make, it’s a different kettle of fish than a feature. I know that now more than ever having shot a feature. And with that knowledge now, I personally, wouldn’t invest in someone that hasn’t shot a feature. So I went out and I shot it for what I had. Everyone thought I was nuts. But I said to hell with it. I wanted to get a feature under my belt. So I tailored my script so that it could fit the budget I had. I shot it in 18 days, 17 locations, 6 pages per day, no more than 4 set-ups per scene, no more than 3 takes per set-up. And this was with a 14 year old actor as the lead. 25 man crew, in the sweltering heat of Miami.It can be done. You said with kids there are more variables in terms of takes, etc. You’re in New York man, that places is loaded with great acting talent, kids too. We flew ours in from LA because my piece is very character driven, and we needed great actors. Find a way. Audition, search. Also, you’re a cinematographer, shoot it man. And if you have to do Canon 5d, go for it. I think the frustration people are expressing, is that you have a solid amount of money. You most definitely can make a film on that budget, a very good film. It may not look, and sound, like the film you have in your head. But that’s low budget filmmaking. And it takes a long time, and a lot of money, and a hell of a track record, to reach the stage where you can make a film that matches the images you have in your imagination. You can probably name on both hands the amount of directors that can be able to do that. The rest of us have to be creative. I say go for it. Making my feature was absolutely the biggest teacher I have ever had as a filmmaker. And on the back of that I have experienced new doors open, and my film hasn’t even premiered yet. It will be next month at the Miami International Film Festival. So if anyone is in Miami please come through, details here: http://miami.festivalgenius.com/2013/films/callousedhands_jessequiones_miami2013

    and here is my film’s website http://www.callousedhandsmovie.com

    good luck

  • Koo, if you ever need help editing, let me know. I am one of the fastest editors online today, with a creative vision in the web space of film, making quality choices. This is the case even though I have a fulltime job not in the arts. lol. With the success of my award-winning web series “Day Zero” (10 episodes at about 22+ minutes average each for season 1, so about 220 minutes in total — that’s like 2 feature films in less than a year!), I am proven to put out final cuts in record time. A short film I did (about 14 minutes long), “In Your Prayers”, where I was D.P./camera, producer and editor, took me just 2 days to put out the first draft. I’m debating entering the 48 hour film fest to challenge myself even further…

    Thanks! Lemme know. Of course, I expect to be paid by your Kickstarter funds ;-)

  • Mark Hickton on 02.15.13 @ 5:13AM

    Most people only dream or talk about making a movie. What could be worse than having the cash and not the confidence to move forward with the project? Scripts are appraised in a similar fashion as real estate. You find what is known as comparables and assuming you get your project finished in a respectable fashion, it is safe to assume you stand a chance at obtaining similar results. In my oppinion, the story makes the star 0 not the other way around. That being said, with the right story finding a quality actor looking for a break out role should be easy. In the past I have worked on projects where you wondered how they got funded. Writers, like kareoke singers are dellussional. It takes no less effort to make a bad movie as it does to create a masterpiece. Pick your project wisely. Funding for your next film will rely on the success of your last one. Just my two cents worth.

  • @mikeymike Jesse and Nicole: as this is a open forum for budding filmmakers, your ‘stories’ and attitudes very much reflect my own and I’d like to open a private dialogue (private as this website is not mine to initiate new discussion or topics unrelated to the editors posts). Of course, anyone else is welcome to join in too, this isn’t a secret club or anything, Haha.

    I hope this (proposing direct communication to fellow members) isn’t frowned upon. I’ve always seen this site as a community of filmmakers anyway. I’m not sure how to orchestrate this without divulging personal email addresses to the public.

    @ Ryan and joe, as soon as I pass it through my producers and distro , I’d love to share my experiences on producing and eventually finding distribution on my film. You mentioned this would be of interest for a guest post? Of course this is contingent on the discretion of my higher ups and how much I can publicly release. Simple film etiquette, per usual. Let me know!

  • Wow, there’s a lot of comments here, and I’m not going to be able to read it all. Most of it seems to be on the content of the podcast, which is surprising to me, because the quality of this podcast seems unlistenable! Maybe it’s just my specific headphones? It sounds like QksheeewweeshhseewwsshheewwsssHIQkshew!

    C’mon, I know you two both own very nice cameras, and I’m guessing you both have a ZoomH2 or something like that. Even just set a nice shot up with your phones! How much work would that take? I know that it didn’t go well when you recorded it, but why not just take a do-over? I’m not even asking for tv quality, just like early youtube quality. Koo sounds like he’s in 1994!
    -Olaf
    Oh, and I support your efforts and your openness with regards to Manchild. Keep going, and don’t let the haters get you down. Haters gonna hate.

  • Wolfman Dracula on 02.16.13 @ 1:13AM

    Dude… I think what’s bothering the bothered people on here (myself included) is that we look at this site as being about DIY. I made a small donation to your campaign because I have gleamed a lot of great information from your site for free. The information I have found the most valuable is the DIY stuff. And yeah, in most people’s eyes you have already raised a gazillion dollars. If that’s not enough, then make a different movie. If you wait for things to be perfect then you will find yourself waiting forever. Money does not equal talent. It never ever will. If you can’t make an amazing teen basketball movie for $100,000 then you can’t make an amazing teen basketball movie ever. Aside from that, I’ve been hearing about this ‘short’ for a while now. You could probably shut up all of your critics by just making it already. You obviously have the funds, so what’s the holdup? This post sounds like two guys that went to film school…

  • Joe., I don’t see that quote on the page. Can you point me to it? It appears that the campaign page can change at any time. So if it wasn’t there all the time it might be an issue from backers. As you, I supported because of the site and the info it provided and wanted to give back not knowing much about the film. What I never did see was that there were going to be re-writes for a year. I appreciate trying to get it right, but sometimes you just gotta DO IT. A script has to be written or re-worked for a short as well and how much will that cost?

    I did see some advice about getting started and raising funds show what you have. I like that route. Too bad all this time has to be spent doing damage control instead of making a film. If I had 125k to make my film I would not know what to do with it all besides pay more for actors and hire more crew. This film can be made. People do it all the time. It could be a bitch, but make it happen. Ryan has ambition and he can put it to work and get this sucker done. At this point I don’t even care about my donation. pledge or whatever. It’s the principle. I also understand the great pressure that Ryan might be under because of the publicity and success of this campaign and if it doesn’t work out he may feel like his chances of being a filmmaker are over. I know it might be scary. I’d be concerned, but you never fail if you never quit.

    • That quote was there from the beginning:

      http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/ryanbkoo/man-child-feature-film#ShowMeExacHowYourGoinToSpen

      He hasn’t spent the whole time doing damage control, he’s spent it making his script better, finding a producer, and will now be finding more financing after he films the short – which is currently happening as we speak. The short script happened well before he announced he was doing it, and he’s been living in that world for so long now that it was far easier to jump right into it.

      This is kind of the thing that doesn’t make any sense to me. Why does any movie cost what it costs? Why did Beasts of the Southern Wild cost over $1 million? Most of the cast were non-actors. A lot of the visual effects were donated by students. Sure they shot on Super 16mm, but it doesn’t cost that much for film stock. It won Sundance, is nominated for 4 Academy Awards, and has grossed $12 million so far at the box office.

      Could they have made that movie for $50,000 and shot on digital? Of course. Would it have been the same movie? Obviously not, or they wouldn’t have sought the amount of funding they did, and it certainly would not have been honored with the same sort of accolades.

      Were people telling Benh Zeitlin to take whatever money he could get and just go make the movie even after his successful short? I’m sure they were, and it was probably a struggle until they got the Cinereach grant.

      I’m not so sure why people feel betrayed, or why they think Ryan doesn’t have a plan in place, or why they think the film should be made right now and not any later. That he’s just wasting his time, or that he lied to everyone because his plan adjusted based on the advice of the people he met after the campaign ended and the work that needed to be done on the script.

      The average independent film takes around 5 years from inception to distribution. If we’re still talking about this 10 years from now, yeah, sure, there might be a problem, but Ryan has done anything but sit around and do nothing. If he can’t make the movie for the amount of money he has, he either has to cut it or find more money, and he’s doing the latter. If everything failed and there is no more money, and he has to cut the script, and he makes it with Kickstarter funds anyway, what are people so worried about? By taking as much time as he has it will still be a far better movie than if he’d made it right away – and I’ll say again – aren’t we all trying to make the best movie possible?

      There is no prize for finishing first, only for finishing best.

      • Joe, I get what you are saying. By saying “all this time” I did not mean the last year. I am speaking about all the hours spent recently. Seriously, Im just airing some thoughts and I don’t think it was ever in the plan to make a short. Truth is that Ryan is going to do whatever he is going to do and I do hope he succeeds. I have no reason to be against his success. You seem to be taking this personally and I understand that. I am not attacking anyone and I don’t feel betrayed. This is simply not the direction I or many others thought this would take especially after the script being re-written for a year which was unexpected as well. Do you see where I am coming from? I see what Ryan is trying to say that he wants to make the best film possible.

        This makes something I heard Trey Parker say in their doc about South Park. “We make an episode in 7 days. We woek best on deadlines and if we took three weeks I think it would only make the ep 10% better”. Don’t get me wrong, in a feature, that 10% can mean a lot, but how long does it take to achieve it. I know I work best on deadlines. Doesn’t work for everyone, but then again do they finish? Let’s not leave a bad taste about crowdfunding. It hurts everyone.

        Again, I hope for the success of this film, but you and Ryan must see and understand the concerns of people who put their cash and hearts into helping make something happen that doesn’t seem to be happening.. I, for one, want the independent spirit to succeed and thrive.

  • A year of rewrites is a year well spent in my opinion.

    Trying to make a good quality feature film is a monumental undertaking as I’m sure we can all appreciate. What’s the point in spending all that time and energy on a story that you know needs work.

    Maybe folk should spend less time kicking up a fuss about this and more time rewriting their own scripts : P

  • Well said Nicole!

    BTW, She’s not ‘negative’. We’re talking about people donate for a certain project and nothing happens with THAT project. I like Koo and Joe, they’re OK, but this call not to shoot was a bad call. Like some others commented, you WILL make mistakes and there is nothing you can do about it… no matter how much money you have for a project.

    I saw gorgeous feature for 50K with a rented RED.
    BTW, I did not donate anything Koo, sorry dude but that story did nothing for me. I donate regularly to good projects if I see one. Yours just wasn’t for me.

    I really like NFS and you guys are the BEST :)

  • I’m one of the many “Smallest of the Small” investors in your Film. Koo ,I do believe it is getting close to the time that you oughta go ahead with the making of your Film. I don’t know any of the inner workings of your world, But I can see what is happening here.
    The wave is starting to build and crest. It’s getting time – you better be Jumping on your Board pretty soon. You put yourself out there for all to see , and its getting Rough. But you don’t wanna miss it. This particular Lightning is not striking again.

  • I’ve produced a short to shore up interest so I can raise money for my feature titled “If”. But you already have the money. Its sounds like you should just do the movie. It sounds like you are letting fear stop you. Just do it. Check my short which was shot in one 8 hour day for less than $400.00. http://youtu.be/G6sKUgfDlCE