With fundraising platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter, which offer ways to plainly lay out pledge-reward investment structures, creating a plan for a crowd-funded film is easier than ever. But when you're fundraising through a website where anyone can – and will – post a trailer for their own film along with a description of why it deserves investors' money more than anyone else's, how do you make your film stand out in the crowd?
This being a slow period for big trailer releases, I decided to go questing for independent film trailers, which eventually led me to pages for crowd-funded films that were either in development, in pre-production, currently filming or currently in post-production – each trying desperately to raise enough money for the next stage. After scouting through hundreds of synopses and dozens of trailers, I found that a lot of them tended to fall into three categories: films that seemed to have good stories or original ideas, but which were let down by lack of technical knowledge; films that looked beautiful, but had premises that sounded paper-thin, dull or unimaginative; and post-apocalyptic thrillers.
I'm not kidding. The sheer volume of films set after the Apocalypse (nuclear, zombie, demonic or otherwise) was enough to paint a worrying picture of the current state of the human condition, or at least the condition of the collective indie filmmaker mindset.
Every once in a while, however, I'd come across a film that seemed to strike the right balance between the first and second categories, and so here are four fundraising trailers for films that not only have a chance to reach their goal, but probably deserve to as well.
Strongly influenced by the works of Ray Harryhausen and Willis O'Brien, Mad God is the brainchild of Star Wars stop motion effects artist Phil Tippett and first began gestating way back in 1990 as several minutes of stop motion animation created before Tippett's studio became swept up in the emergence of CGI that reshaped animation in the early 90s. Twenty years later, the project has finally been resurrected and Tippett, along with co-creator Chris Morley, has begun incorporating the old footage with brand new creatures and effects, and the results are already pretty amazing. This 12-minute chapter set in "a Miltonesque world of monsters, mad scientists, and war pigs" is, as Tippett says, an attempt to "break a lot of the rules that we're not allowed to in our day jobs as filmmakers." This fundraising trailer is definitely worth a watch for any fans of visual effects and old-school animation.
Project status: Filming
Video Games: The Movie
This is one project that will almost definitely need to find a more enthralling title before it's released, but personally I find this fundraising trailer for Video Games: The Movie extremely compelling. Director Jeremy Snead may not be the first documentary filmmaker to attempt to capture the heart and history of video games, and he'll unlikely be the last, but with industry great Warren Spector (Deus Ex, System Shock) already in the rushes, video game historian Rusel DeMaria advising, and a further seven months of interviews and filming planned, Snead's film looks promisingly in-depth. The critical and cult success of Seth Gordon's The King of Kong proved that documentaries about video games can appeal to a wider audience than just gamers, if done correctly.
Project status: Filming
Or Crocodil3, if this early poster is to be believed. When I read the synopsis about a highly addictive drug that eats away at the user's skin, it seemed like a fairly interesting piece of symbolism. A look closer, however, revealed that the gruesomely-named 'krokodil' is a very real, very unpleasant moonshine drug eating its way through the lives of Russian drug addicts in need of an inexpensive alternative to heroin. Krokodil is so called because of the grey, scaly quality that addicts' skin takes on … right before it rots straight off their bodies.
Described as a drama/horror, Crocodile is the story of three Russian krokodil addicts reaching the dangerous end of their one year life expectancy. There are plenty of potential pitfalls for this project – anything from becoming too "after-school special" to the challenges of selling British locations and actors as authentically Russian – but writer-director Thomas Cheater has a few projects under his belt already and this fundraising trailer is pretty convincing. The horror potential is what seals the deal for me; if Trainspotting, Requiem For A Dream, and Yellow Submarine taught us anything, it's that drugs are bloody scary.
Project status: In development
This cerebral horror flick made it onto the list for one simple reason: a well-edited and genuinely creepy trailer. The fundraising trailer features some lovely cinematography that breaks from the dark-and-gloomy tones that you'd expect from the genre, but it also gives glimpses of some of the monsters that emerge from the mind of young protagonist Bashia after she visits an overzealous hypnotist. The feature is halfway in the can already, with 15 days of filming left, and apparently there are already plans for a cinema release.
Project status: Filming
I'd also like to give an honourable mention to Dick, a documentary film in which Craigslist users stood naked in front of a camera and talked about how their penises have affected their lives. I don't know if this is the best idea in the world or the worst but … Well, I thought it was worth mentioning.