You’ve probably never heard of the film “Ingenious,” but it’s in an undeniably unique position for a low-budget indie looking for finishing funds on Kickstarter.
Shot in the Tucson area in 2008, the based-on-real-life story of a struggling inventor and his salesman friend who finally hit on a successful idea was directed by Jeff Balsmeyer and written by Mike Cram. It had its world premiere at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and played more than a dozen other third-tier fests throughout 2009, just as “The Hurt Locker” was working a similar circuit.
This is relevant because “Ingenious” stars Jeremy Renner.
We all know what happened from there. “Locker” won the big prize at the Academy Awards, while Renner was nominated for a pair of Oscars (“Locker” and “The Town”) and cast by every studio looking for the next big star. In the last 10 months alone, Renner has appeared in a trio of tentpoles for Universal, Disney/Marvel and Paramount that have grossed nearly $2.4 billion worldwide. Granted, that’s not just money in Renner’s pocket, but as a member of three giant studio franchises his CAA agents surely negotiated some healthy participation.
The “Ingenious” filmmakers and producers (Cram, Tim Flood, Brian Neufang) describe their film as “a story about perseverance and following your dreams,” which they note is a fitting characterization of their own efforts to get the film into theaters. Neufang of Arriba Films claims that the “Ingenious” team has turned down offers from U.S. distributors that didn’t provide for a wide release, insisting instead on trying to raise the money themselves for the opening they feel the film merits. (The movie also features Dallas Roberts from “The Grey” and Ayelet Zurer from “Munich.”)
That’s a big gamble, one most not-yet-established filmmakers would not have taken. But given how Renner’s status has soared during the three years the film has sat idle, it may turn out to be a great bet -- though only if they can put the movie in front of audiences and draw the attention of Renner’s fans (the ones who will watch him even if he’s not playing a superhero or super-human).
Which is where the Kickstarter campaign comes in. It’s focused on raising funds for music rights, prints and digital transfers, local advertising and marketing costs, and it has about 31 days left and $42,000 to go.
$42,000? For a Hollywood movie star, that's one night's bar tab.
Below is the film's Kickstarter intro video, which includes the trailer: