I first met Alan 3 years ago at a fundraiser night for his Star Wars-spinoff feature film – ‘I Have a Bad Feeling About This’. Alan and his team (Haphazard Productions) where just about to launch a crowdfunding campaign online to acquire their films budget.
$16K was the overall budget raised from the crowdfunding platform Indiegogo:
ALAN: It looked good until we converted it to pounds (£10K). That was bad for us, it looked like it was a lot more in dollars. We done three campaigns in total. Our first one failed we only raised $7K, we knew it would be a waste of people’s money if we only got £5K, I didn’t want to make a short I wanted to make a feature. So we made it a deadline campaign.
Online Crowdfunding sites have the option for you to have a deadline campaign- and only get hold of the raised money if you make it to your total desired budget.
ALAN: The great thing was that during our second campaign Indiegogo raised the deadline days – they extended the deadline possible from 30 days to 60 days. Everyone who donated for the first campaign, donated for the second one too.
On the films promotion to raise the funding:
AlAN: We did an event night in a local bar – at Mello Mello ‘rest in peace’ then we did a lot of online promotion also The Echo , Northwest tonight, radio Merseyside (local news and TV shows) they were the three that really helped us, and we went to bloggers – Nerdist podcaster – Mindy Holahan. Off the back her – she tweeted us and Mindy put us in touch with many twitter users.
A friend of ours militant about twittering every single day – she got Mark Hamill to tweet about us and Mark Miller (writer of Kick Ass) and also we got a tweet from Russell Crowe it says ‘Good Luck Guys!’ – he WAS the real Russell Crowe too – he had the little tick next to his name and everything.
I’ve always liked Russell Crowe so I was made up!
The Star Wars thing behind us helped us with the impact too. In fact we probably would have had a better job of it now, because at the time they weren’t going to make anymore Star Wars movies, so we were a year out with that.
The Campaign was 3 years ago. What I think happened was we got in just in the nick of time. Kickstarter was not available in the UK at the time. I did a talk with a guy closer to the time and this guy was talking about how it was the future – user generated content which at the time I think he was right. But now you have people like the Veronica Mars franchise.
Think of it like a trampoline and all of these big fat heavy weights get on the trampoline and eventually the bounce goes out and it’s just the same as if you were pitching scripts to the big studios again.
Of course it still more accessible, we wouldn’t have stood a chance to make our film otherwise.
The idea behind the movie:
ALAN: The story of the film basically is this – I made it as a student film, when I was 20 and its me and my friends, I am acting in it, its 7-8mins long, it’s a film with so many plot points, its like a condensed feature. I made that and I got a good response from it, it was a cool little idea even if the execution of it was not great. I left uni, I got some jobs and then I hit rock bottom.
I did all of these runner jobs, I really liked them but knew it was not for me.
So I had these crappy runner jobs, and I was out of work, on the dole, and so was my friend Jamie and so we wrote scripts together and I was watching Clerks one night and im thinking Kevin Smith then it clicked, technically its not that good a movie but it works. lots of movies inspired me and weirdly ET made me call Jamie at 2am in the morning and say ‘we should do this ‘ tears down my face and everything (id just finished ET) ‘We should just make a movie!’
We would go to each others houses twice a week and write the script. We made a trailer of the film and saved up £300 ourselves to make it.
We had a series of videos leading up the campaign online and I think if anyone wants to campaign that’s the key – people aren’t going to read pages of info – they want to know what they are backing straight away so our cool little trailer was it. I think the trailer was a lot of it, and backing from friends and family, we got lots of donations from being promoted on Northwest tonight (local news).
In 2011 we started writing the script and in 2012 we shot it.
On making the film:
ALAN:It was a month of principle photography and 2 weeks the following year of pick ups.
I let everyone know what we were in for, we simply couldn’t raise any more money than this. Most of the crew where friends and people I went to college with. Everyone was covered for expenses, nobody went out of pocket.
We struggled with the post production most of all- we had a catastrophe with the sound edit, we knew it would be bad because of the guerrilla style locations, we knew there would be some a degree of ADR. However somewhere during logging from camera to sound we lost 4 days worth of audio at various points within the film. We had two issues that put us behind 2 years – the edit and the ADR.
Bare in mind it cost us a lot of money to get our cast and ADR team together to pay for them to come over – we done the ADR in my loft. So when it rained we had to stop recording.
And then there was a moment when I thought ‘I don’t know how I’m going to finish this film’ and I put an ad up on Mandy.com looking for a sound designer and we found a guy John, he done it all for us, the entire mix of the film and he has been the white knight of the movie and he came in for me at the lowest point of the movie and he saved the day.
On crowdfunding online:
ALAN: I think it’s harder to do it now. I personally would not do it again, I want to use this project to show what we made in movie terms for 10 pence. I’m writing a script at the moment, I’m starting to get the will power back -getting myself ready to do it all over again.
On writing a screenplay:
ALAN: I’m the type of person – even though we done 12 drafts – I thought hey it’s done now by the first. But luckily I had a co-writer Jamie and he was like – what if we done it this way and that way – and that was great to have. I’m too rigid and he’s too loose, together make a good balanced writing team.
A script editor is a great idea, someone who is not that close to the script to come and rip it shreds for a bit and bruise the old ego. Which is something you need to write with.
I stop thinking as a director when I’m writing. Every now and then I put my producer head on and I would go – ‘No we can’t afford that’ ‘we can’t put that in its too controversial’ – we’ve taken out some drug references in the final film. And it is a mature film, there is swearing but the storyline itself is quite child friendly.
On what’s next for the film:
ALAN: It’s not for profit, it was never to make money – it’s a calling card not just for me but for everyone who worked on it.
There is definitely a plan for me and Laura our producer to go to festivals – I had a crazy idea to put it out for free on YouTube but everyone said I’m crazy, that’s crazy, – I’m thinking for after the festivals though. My plan was to use it as a showcase. I think we need to go viral, and find an audience online because its pulp, I wanted to make a big silly film. I definitely will make another film.
And I definitely want to be in it, I grew up watching Woody Allen, he’s an idol to me and he’s in his films and he writes them too. I look at him and go well- I might end up directing, writing, producing and acting in my next film all over again, – I haven’t learnt my lesson have I!
Yes we made it for only £10K and I say it looks more like £50K and part of that’s down to the technology now, the camera we shot on (Canon C300), and we got the lights luckily from our old university. I think I would like a bigger budget next time, I can make a film for 50K with ease but 100K is better you can pay everyone – then it would be a proper job wouldn’t it.
For anyone who wants to go out and do it – I would say just go out and do it – it’s stressful but just make it about a guy in a room – its all about dialogue, dialogue is free, write good dialogue…