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MANCHILD is an independent film that takes place in the surprisingly high-stakes world of youth basketball. I ran a Kickstarter campaign for the film and was truly inspired by all of the support for the project — we ending up making history (briefly), though it was not my intention to do so. I was contacted by a few folks who were not able to back the project before the deadline (and some others who could not get Amazon payments to work), so I created this Paypal widget at left. If you select a level here you will receive the same rewards as the original Kickstarter backers — with the exception of the unique frames of the film, as we’ve run out of those (unless the movie ends up being 4 hours long!):

Kickstarter reward levels (see them on the right-hand side)

Every dollar is going to go on screen regardless of whether it was pledged before or after the Kickstarter deadline, so thank you for so much (continued) support! It’s above and beyond anything I’d hoped for.

The original Kickstarter video is below, along with some more description of the project. If you have any questions you can reach me at koo@nofilmschool.com. And again, please refer to the Kickstarter page to pick a reward level. Thanks so much!

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MANCHILD is an independent fiction film (not a documentary) that takes place in the surprisingly high-stakes world of youth basketball. I hope to shoot it independently in North Carolina (where I grew up playing basketball) next summer. My entire life has been leading up to this point, and so I’m asking for your help!

In 2009, the NCAA lowered the age limit on who can be considered an official basketball “prospect” to include 7th graders. While there have been a number of basketball films made about high school, college, or pro athletes, today’s recruiting — legal and illegal — begins much earlier. It’s a fascinating and treacherous world which often leaves big decisions in the hands of little kids.

The film explores sports, education, religion, and sex in America through the eyes of a talented 13 year-old basketball player (sexuality, I should note, is not presented in any sort of exploitative manner, and factors organically into the “learning personal responsibility” storyline). While it is narrative fiction, it explores a very real world.

HERE’S A SYNOPSIS OF THE PLOT:

An amateur video of 13 year-old Terran “TJ” Jackson playing basketball hits the internet and turns his life upside down. TJ is soon nationally ranked among other 7th graders and declared to be “the next Dwayne Wade” despite being in middle school.

As a result of this exposure, free athletic gear and various hangers-on find their way to the doorstep of his small, predominantly-black Christian school. While TJ navigates the religious curriculum — and simultaneously a sexually active relationship with his girlfriend — he learns about the youth basketball world and the recruiting machine that powers it. With his newfound fame, he must choose between educational institutes, father figures, and belief systems.

A few years from now TJ could be a millionaire, but right now all he has is basketball. It’s a lot for anyone to handle — much less a 13 year-old.

Is it going to be any good?

It’s totally going to be good! I’m very happy to share that the script for MANCHILD was accepted to IFP’s Emerging Narrative Program, which provides mentorship and access to producers. Around 350 scripts applied and only 20 were accepted, so I would like to think this is a solid step toward Not Sucking (percentage wise, that’s harder than getting into Harvard. Just saying!). I’m also honored to have been selected as one of 25 filmmakers invited to participate in the inaugural Emerging Visions program at the Film Society of Lincoln Center — also because of this script.

For the IFP event, an oft-requested supplement is a “lookbook,” wherein writers pull still images from existing sources in order to convey what they want the movie to look like. Instead of using still images, however, I decided to make a multimedia look book: a collage of film and TV clips to demonstrate the aesthetic of MANCHILD. Because it’s intended for producers, it gets a bit technical, but I hope you’ll find it interesting. At the very least, I hope you like the 1970s basketball clip — short shorts are always funny:

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If this fundraising campaign is successful, with the help of the IFP and Lincoln Center programs I hope to be able to bring the right personnel on board to make this film as good as it can possibly be, and to reach a wide audience with the film as well.