Actor Shemar Moore’s IndieGoGo campaign to fund his new film The Bounce Back ended this week with a final tally of $638,483 raised. Recall that Moore plans to executive produce and star in the romantic comedy about an author and relationship expert on a path to find love. Nadine Velazquez (Flight) is set to co-star.
After initially setting up a campaign on Kickstarter to raise $1.5 million for the project, Moore switched to IndieGoGo in June with a new goal of $500,000, which was reached well before the deadline. He made time to talk to S&A about his new movie and fundraising campaign.
SHADOW & ACT: Congratulations on making your fundraising goal.
SHEMAR MOORE: Yeah, it’s pretty cool. This whole process has been new to me, so I didn’t really know if we had a shot or how it worked. I’m not one to ask for money so that was a little foreign to me. But then I started to understand the concept, that this is the way Hollywood is now progressing, and I could take control of my own content and create stories that I want to tell. It’s kind of fun not to be a puppet anymore, where you take the strings off and you’re not saying someone else’s words. I can come up with the projects that Hollywood might not necessarily be making.
S&A: Tell me about the story. It sounds pretty similar to some of the romantic comedies that we’ve seen lately.
SM: Sex sells, drama sells, love stories sell. We never get enough of falling in love and believing in love. I did a movie called Diary of a Mad Black Woman which was about finding true love. So yeah it’s going to be similar, but not exactly the same. It’s more of a dramedy. This guy writes a book because he lost the love of his life in a car accident, so there’s going to be an element of drama and heartache. But then it’s about trying to find love and giving women the rules and tips to outthink a man and keep a man.
S&A: The idea sounds a lot like Think Like A Man and the wave of advice being given to women on how to get and stay in a relationship. Will your movie poke fun at that concept?
SM: Yeah, you’ve got to poke fun at it because this is what’s jumping off the shelves. This is what women and men are talking about, especially women. But there’s also a dramatic element to it that I think is really going to get people’s attention. We’re selling a very original story that everybody can relate to.
S&A: We hear a lot about the audience’s desire to see more black couples onscreen. Were you conflicted at all about your choice to cast a Latina actress as your love interest?
SM: Nadine Velazquez is just very talented and she showed support. She was a friend of a friend who said, “I like this story, I’d love to be a part of it.” She did me a favor and we were able to shoot a little teaser. It’s not to say that my love interest couldn’t be black. We haven’t shot the movie yet. I just know that Nadine is very passionate about it and I would love to have her in the movie. But I think love is blind. I’m half black, half white. So are we going to be mad at my mother and father for being together? I wouldn’t have life without it.
I don’t see myself as a “black actor,” I’m just Shemar Moore the actor. I’m very proud to be black but I’m just as much black as I am white. But I want tell stories that everybody can relate to, so I don’t care who’s opposite me. If Halle Berry or Jada Pinkett Smith called and said, “I want to do a movie with you,” I’d be right there because I believe in their talent.
S&A: Was marketing a consideration when it came to casting? It’s been said that interracial couples in films attract a wider audience than black couples, especially overseas.
SM: If every character in the movie is black, it’s going to be looked at as a black movie and that might alienate other people from going to see it. But we’re very sensitive to representing all demographics and it’s going to be a very mixed cast. Whoever fits the bill and can bring the noise.
S&A: What initially attracted you to crowdfunding? Have you tried traditional means to get this project made?
SM: You know how hard it is to get a script sold, and then once you get it to the studio and they pay for it there’s a lot of hands on it and it doesn’t always become the movie that you want it to be. So my team came to me and educated me on this whole new process to get projects funded. This just takes it out of the hands of the studio, and if they’re interested in the finished product we’ll get distribution and go from there.
S&A: Have you gotten any of the same pushback that Spike Lee is getting, saying that as a celebrity you have the money and influence to get your project made the traditional way?
SM: I’m in the upper tax bracket, but even if I went and funded this movie myself it doesn’t tell Hollywood that there’s a demand for it. The $500,000 that we asked for, none of that goes in my pocket at all. But it’s a statement to Hollywood that there’s a fan base, there’s a demand for content that they may not be thinking of. I’m proving that I’m marketable and people want to see me make this type of movie. I told the fans, a dollar goes a long way. If I have one million people following me on Facebook and everybody gives a dollar, that’s $1 million. And then all along the way, there were always incentives – set tours, I have a whole Baby Girl clothing line, photo shoots, all these things that keep it exciting for the fans. No matter what we raise, I’m going to dig in my own pockets and go to my own investors and get this thing made.
S&A: What about the idea that crowdfunding was intended as a tool for people who don’t have the ability to self-finance or seek money elsewhere? Do you see your campaign as having any effect on those filmmakers?
SM: Celebrities have more influence to be able to reach out to people, but people are becoming famous on Facebook and social media every day. Kim Kardashian is a major player coming off of a reality show and nobody can turn a blind eye to what she’s accomplished, no matter how you see her. But this is a new way to broaden the playing field, so if you can use social media, make enough noise, show that you’re authentic and show that it’s not a hustle, you can raise money. You can make a movie for $50,000 and be done.
S&A: Tell me about your choice to switch from Kickstarter to IndieGoGo. We know that with IndieGoGo you get to keep all the funds raised regardless of whether you make your goal.
SM: Exactly that. We had a longer period of time to raise a lower amount of money, and we’d be able to keep the funds.
S&A: Why not go with IndieGoGo from the beginning?
SM: For me, it was because I wasn’t aware. This was my first time doing it, and so my team had heard about Kristen Bell and other celebrities using Kickstarter and we just assumed that was the route. But once we got into it and had some sources come and educate us about IndieGoGo, we decided that was better for what we wanted. I’m brand new. I’ve only been on social media for nine months so once I started learning about Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, hashtag this and hashtag that, and when we saw the amount of access to the fan base, that we could use social media to make noise behind projects that I want to do, I said let’s go for it.
S&A: You lowered your fundraising goal when you moved to IndieGoGo. Does that mean that less of the budget will be covered by IndieGoGo, or that the budget of the film has grown smaller?
SM: $500,000 was the goal because we knew if we got it within five or six weeks, it would show there’s a demand and excitement behind me and my vision. But we want to make the movie for somewhere between $1.5 and $3 million. So if I have to use some of my own money I will, because I’m passionate about this. I will go out and I’ll get a line of credit, I’ll get private investors, I’ll do whatever I need to do.
S&A: Have you taken any lessons from this crash course in both social media and crowdfunding?
SM: It’s just a machine that we have to fuel. I do a lot of it myself and I think the success is from the accessibility that I’ve allowed with the fans, because it’s fun for me. I’m flirting, I’m interacting and doing live chats. They know I’m real and sense that I’m genuine. There’s such a big fan base from Criminal Minds and I’m broadening awareness of who I am, how I’m fighting for my mother with MS, that people are seeing the human quality behind my celebrity. And then my talent speaks for itself in that they’ve followed my career and believe in me, and they want to see me do more than just be Derek Morgan on Criminal Minds or Malcolm Winters on The Young & The Restless.
S&A: What kind of audience are you hoping the movie will connect with?
SM: My fan base is from 10-year-old youngsters to 85-year-old grandmas, so I’m hoping they will all come out and support. Obviously 10-year-olds don’t know about love, but certainly high schoolers with their first loves, getting their hearts broken, and the crazy ride of trying to find “the one.” I think a really broad group of people will relate to it. If you’re in high school or anything above that, you’ll have a good time.