OCTOBER 18 – 22, 2023

Dale Pict

Dale’s Corner: Orson Welles Meets Crowdfunding

45 years after the first scenes of an unfinished Orson Welles’ movie were shot, it is about to be brought to live through an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise $2 million to fund the editing, score and post-production. I, for one will be making a contribution! In my opinion, Orson Welles is one of the greatest storytellers of our time. He was also the first maverick American filmmaker in the US long before independent cinema found its roots here.

The two works I most remember him for are a CBS radio broadcast made on Halloween night October 30, 1938 called War of the Worlds. I wasn’t even born yet but this radio broadcast is what legends are made of. The broadcast led millions of Americans to believe that the world had just been invaded by Martians and it all took place in Grover’s Mill NJ. New Jersey is my home state and I remember my mother telling me about that broadcast growing up.

The second work he was well known for is the movie Citizen Kane 1941. (also produced before I was born too just so you know!) which is arguably one of the greatest movies ever made. It’s a brilliantly told story of the soul corrupting nature of power which was allegedly based on the life of William Randolph Hearst. Besides the brilliance of the storytelling, what makes him my hero is that Orson at the age of only 25 made what was and an unprecedented deal with Hollywood to Co-write, direct, and star in this move!! And it was his FIRST movie!!! Even in today’s world it is highly unlikely to talk a studio into that!!!

Crowdfunding has become an important source of funding for independent films

It’s ironic that a film he started shooting in 1941 is about to emerge with the help of both industry insiders and the help of crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding is yet another outcome of the internet age which is giving new meaning to the term “power to the people.” People are contributing $5 billion a year to projects they believe in.s From as little as $5.00 or less to the tune of thousands of dollars, not as a business investment but instead for the satisfaction of being part of something they believe in.

Supporting Independent Films supports Good StoryTelling

“Good storytelling” is what everyone means when they talk about a “good” movie. Independent filmmaking, as opposed to “studio” films, have become the incubators today of good storytelling. As an example, just look at the Oscar nominated films last year. Ninety percent of them were small or medium budget independent films: Whiplash, Selma, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Birdman, Boyhood, Imitation Game, Theory of Everything, and American Sniper. Other great examples are The Kings Speech, The Artist, The Help, Argo, Silver Linings Playbook and The Blind Side.

That is why supporting independent film is important; why crowdfunding is important to help them raise money for their projects; and why film festivals are important for them to find an audience.

The Role of Film Festivals in the support of Independent Film

Today, large studios are owned by big corporations and focused on creating returns for their investors. Nothing wrong with that of course but it translates into not taking risks. Therefore when they invest their capital it must equate to producing films that make huge amounts of money at the box office. Think Avengers, Fast and Furious or anything based on a popular comic action figure. But they are not the type of films that move and inspire us or make us feel alive and want to reach out to people and connect. Nor would we think of them as movies that enable us transport ourselves into other people’s worlds and change the way we see the world.This is increasingly the role of independent filmmakers and film festivals have become an important source for independent filmmakers to get their films out in the world. In so doing festivals actually enhance the culture by widening the scope of movies that are known and available to the world.

It is because of this contribution that film festivals are significant cultural resources which must be appreciated by anyone who appreciates “good stories” in the form of a movie. Festivals are where you can meet and talk to the filmmakers in person about their movies, learn more about movie making, while also mingling with movie stars and other entertainment luminaries at festival functions. Where you might meet the next Martin Scorsese, or Quentin Tarantino.

So I’ll leave you with a quote from Orson himself which I think lives in every independent filmmakers ear:

“I do not suppose I shall be remembered for anything. But I don’t think about my work in those terms. It is just as vulgar to work for the sake of posterity as it work for the sake of money.”
Learn more about Orson Welles here http://www.wellesnet.com/

— Dale R. Strack, Chairman, San Diego Film Festival