We’ve wanted to write this update for quite some time, but were just never sure when the time was right and then too much time passed. We feel like we keep saying, “Something’s happening!” or “Hey, here’s another b-s development to try to get excited about!” But then ultimately nothing went anywhere for us and we were left asking ourselves, “Now what do we do, and worse- what do we say to our backers?”
We’ve received several messages recently from vocal supporters of My Summer as a Goth wondering what the heck is going on with our little film and why we’ve been MIA the past year. The notes are becoming increasingly more pointed, to the general tune of “What the F did you with the $23k we gave you and why is there no movie yet?”
…So now seems as good a time as any to talk about life after Kickstarter.
Let us first say: we treasure our vocal supporters. They drive us to want to continue on this journey of now 7 years getting this dark and lovely film made. We definitely feel indebted to everyone who has kicked in time, money, and sweat equity into Goth (and there have been many of you). Keep at us! You may have not heard much this past year, but believe us when we say we have never stopped working to get MSAAG made.
We will say, however, that there’ve been hiccups. Big and small. And much-needed breaks after many false starts and little heartbreaks.
Kickstarter success is a double-edged sword. We made our initial goal, but then we had a much bigger financial goal: make the movie! When we went out to the public to raise development funds, we were very clear that the money was for DEVELOPMENT; meaning, we were using crowdsourced funds to raise more money for the actual making of the film. At the time, we were hoping to use your donations to raise a million dollars to make the film we wanted to make (obviously making a decent quality film for only $23k would have been next to impossible). We were overwhelmed by the love and support our project received.
To that end, your money helped defray travel expenses to and from LA for investor meetings, fund a promotional short film we made (cast and crew were compensated; we were not), cover mounting attorney bills, cover annual business filing fees and taxes, pay graphic designers for web and printed materials, editors, photographers, storyboard artists, costumes, and on. It went fast but it all went to the development of the film, every last cent.
And now the money is gone and all of these continuing expenses are coming directly out of our pocket—which slows down progress considerably. The old adage “you’ve gotta have money to make money” is never truer than in the film industry.
Unfortunately, raising a million dollars to make a film isn’t something you can do with the wrinkle of a nose, Bewitched-style. It is the definition of challenging. Investing in film is a risky proposition and raising funds is increasingly tougher in today’s independent film world. We’ve had and lost big financing deals. We’ve gone through two directors, both of whom are very talented individuals but were ultimately not right for the project. We’ve rewritten the script something like 25 times, and re-done our pitch deck, website and promotional materials dozens of times. It seems like the development process never ends. Hell, Brandon even tried working under a pseudonym for a while because he was concerned that with our ever-imminent film success his given name would be too ubiquitous (there are something like 27 Brandon Roberts’s on IMDB working in the film industry). ‘Brandt Dureau’ came and went; no film success materialized and working under a pen name always felt phony.
People constantly ask us “You still makin’ that movie?” Now instead of putting on a puppet show to try to convince everybody of the reality of the incredibly hard work it’s been getting this film off the ground, we grimly nod and grab each others’ hand, reassuring each other that this is real, that this work WILL pay off, that there will be a movie at the end of this rainbow. We already got the pot of Kickstarter gold; it was amazing but it wasn’t near enough to make a whole movie. Following rainbows can take much longer than you expect.
Feel free to keep asking us “You still makin’ that movie?” We continue to have the same answer we’ve had for the past 7 years: YES! We are still making My Summer as a Goth! To be clear, the money we received was for development only, our backers made donations, not investments. At no time could we ever guarantee the film’s completion (nor have we). We were always upfront about the terms, as raising real money to make a film is a complicated process with infinite elements totally out of our control. There are hundreds of independent films every year that fail to launch.
HOWEVER, My Summer as a Goth LIVES!! And…WE WILL HAVE EXCITING NEW DEVELOPMENTS TO SHARE WITH YOU SOON!
So fret not, baby bats—we got your message loud and clear and we’re glad you’re still out there rooting for us, even if it’s in that “I will cut you if you don’t make this film” kind of way. We take your comments as blessings, not curses, because we are a pair of optimistic, dauntless hard-asses with a lifelong friendship and a passion for storytelling and wearing lots of black.
More will be revealed!
Tara Johnson-Medinger and Brandon Lee Roberts