Earlier this summer, filmmakers Mark and Jay Duplass, alongside Seed&Spark, the film-focused crowdfunding platform with built-in distribution, announced a brand new initiative designed to find and bolster new filmmaking talent all over the country. Their Hometown Heroes partnership was designed to challenge “filmmakers from all over the country to tell stories that have never been told from wherever they are,” including a large-scale call for crowdfunding campaigns for narrative feature films on the Seed&Spark platform.
Submissions opened for the initiative in August and the rally launched on September 12, when the 73 participating films began their crowdfunding campaigns. All campaigns closed on October 13. More than $860,000 was raised across all rally projects, who also amassed a total of 63,000 followers in the 30-day period.
Up to five winning projects were eligible to be picked from those that applied, with the Duplass brothers on deck to provide each project with funding out of $25,000 total, while also joining each winner as executive producers. Now, Mark Duplass and Seed&Spark founder and CEO Emily Best have picked their winners, with Duplass Brothers Productions coming on board to executive produce two locally based features as the winners of the Hometown Heroes Crowdfunding Rally.
Those winners include “The MisEducation of Bindu” (from Indianapolis, IN) and “Drought” (from Wilmington, NC). “The Miseducation of Bindu” also received a a 10TB hard drive from G-Technology. “Drought” also received a $25,000 no-interest loan from Duplass Brothers Productions and a camera rental package valued at $10,000 from Abelcine.
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“We saw your desire to represent the unrepresented, your ingenuity, your beautiful sweet spirit, and we want to help as much as possible,” Duplass said about the grand prize winners.
Director Prarthana Mohan’s “The Miseducation of Bindu” is billed as “A coming of age comedy about bright and awkward Bindu, a 14-year-old Indian American girl who’s not only caught between girlhood and womanhood, but also with a foot in India’s traditional past and the promise of global future. Hannah Black and Megan Petersen’s “Drought” is “the story of recent high school graduate Sam, living in a small southern town with her younger brother Carl, who has Autism, during 1993 and the worst drought in history.
Duplass also announced the brand new Duplass Brothers Oh Shit grant, awarding $1,000 to cover unforeseen expenses for each of the following projects:
“A Room Full of Nothing” (Austin, TX)
“Bring Me An Avocado” (San Francisco, CA)
“D.I.Y.” (Philadelphia, PA)
“Lost Bayou” (Lafayette, LA)
“Miles Underwater” (San Antonio, TX)
Additional prizes from local partners were awarded to:
“A Room Full of Nothing” from Duncan Coe and team, receives a free screening at the Austin Film Society
“Epiphany” from Koula Kazista and Katina Sossiadis, receives a 10% marketing grant from the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Film Commission
“I’ll Be Around” from Michael Cuenca and his LA team, receives a in-person, day-long custom consultation or training on the topic or gear of their choosing from AbelCine
“Little Evil Bookshop” by the Emerald City Arts team, receives a free screening at Northwest Film Forum in Seattle
“Miles Underwater” from Jen Prince and her San Antonio team, receives a free screening at the Texas Theatre
“Mini Lights” from brothers Johnny and Paul Vitale, receives a 10% marketing grant from the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Film Commission
The initiative doesn’t just encourage fresh talents, but furthers the idea that indie filmmaking can happen anywhere.
“Hometown Heroes is a part of Seed&Spark mission to create sustainable filmmaking anywhere and everywhere,” Seed&Spark founder Emily Best previously told IndieWire. “It’s a chance for filmmakers everywhere to get a shot at a Hollywood opportunity – not by moving away from home, but rather by investing in their hometown community – using their local resources and talent. It’s a chance for communities to come together to recognize and support the talent right there.”
“I was very moved by watching all these videos, because it reminded me of me and Jay,” Duplass told the participants. “You’ve already done something incredible. You are ready to go out into the world and make your movie, and we are immensely proud of you.”