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Occupy Film: New Indie Funding Model or Gimmick? You Decide.

Photo of Paula Bernstein By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire October 10, 2013 at 12:40PM

"Scamdance," a film looking for funding on Kickstarter, is offering backers an unusual reward: experience in making a film, in this case, "Scamdance," a comedy about a fictional film festival. "It's like Project Greenlight," said the project's creator, the writer/director Sean Hanley.
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Still from the making of the "Scamdance" Kickstarter video

It's a film about a fictional film festival looking to scam indie filmmakers (a la "The Producers") -- and the real-life filmmakers have started a crowdfunding campaign for the film, which will be a collaborative effort. Got that?

"Scamdance," a film looking for funding on Kickstarter, is offering backers an unusual reward: experience in making a film, in this case, "Scamdance," a comedy about a fictional film festival. "It's like Project Greenlight," said the project's creator, the writer/director Sean Hanley.  "Only instead of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck calling the shots, our backers will be involved in all key movie-making decisions."

In exchange for funding the film, backers will be directly involved in everything from script rewrites to auditioning actors; scene edits and rough cuts will be voted on collectively, as will the composer's score and other music. Backers get experience working on a film and Hanley gets to fund his project and hopefully, spawn a new method of collaborative filmmaking. Hanley has dubbed the movement "Occupy Film," and plans to use "Scamdance" as its guinea pig. The idea is a virtual film studio in which all participants get a say throughout the process of development and production.

"I was writing the script for 'Scamdance' and also trying to think of ways to fund it creatively," Hanley told Indiewire. "Let's face it, I'm not Zach Braff or Spike Lee. I started thinking of this idea of putting together a collective studio where everyone who backed it was involved in the creative process. I figured I'd use my script as the beta test to create this Occupy Film collective."

But how would it work on a practical level? How would backers participate remotely and would everyone get an equal say?

Hanley explained that since it would be a virtual studio, "everything would be done online." He plans to use Adobe Story to share the script and get notes. "People would be able to chime in with script notes during pre-production," he said. Then, when it came time to cast, the casting director would prescreen candidates. "When it came down to choosing between a few actors, we'd put those videos online through Google Plus' video sharing ability," said Hanley. "Everyone would get to vote. We basically would have a focus group from the very beginning of the process."

Hanley, who formerly wrote for "The Nanny" also co-wrote, co-directed and co-produced "Half-Share," a short film which made the festival circuit in 2011. 

Per the Kickstarter page for "Scamdance: The Festival of Broken Dreams:"

Everyone who pledges $25 or more will have instant access to the entire script (check out the 30-page sample script) and rewriting will go into full swing. Casting will follow and everyone pledging $35 or higher will have access to auditions and help choose actors--perhaps we'll even cast one of our backers! Those of you at or above the $75 level will be able to watch scene assemblies as our Editor cuts the movie together. Backers pledging $250 or more will be able to watch rough cuts of the entire film! Depending on your pledge level, rewards will keep coming like an endless birthday until the movie gets released. At that point you'll receive the best reward of all: bragging rights!

Occupy Film has reached 18% of its $100,000 goal and the campaign runs through October 24. Hanley and the Occupy Film team shot their Kickstarter video for $150. "If we can raise $100,000, we can deliver a kickass film. I know it, but we can't do it alone." Find out more about the project here and check out the Kickstarter video for "Scamdance" below. Are you intrigued?


This article is related to: Filmmaker Toolkit: Crowdfunding, Kickstarter , Crowdfunding, Crowdsourcing , Independent Film Financing