While Tellez enjoys the public exposure, it’s something that Larison said she’s not used to. "But it really made me think about how to present my work in an engaging way." To get people to care enough to contribute, Larison had to think about how to make her work meaningful to non-scientists.
UCLA graduate student and nature photographer Neil Losin.
That’s what biology graduate student and nature photographer
Neil Losin and his collaborators accomplished with their project, a photo-rich book on the colorful Wall Lizards of the Pityusic Archipelago, a winner on Kickstarter
. Having succeeded at surpassing their $15,000 goal and reaching $20,045, Losin is currently on the Spanish island of Formentera, one of the few places where the threatened species can be found.
Eyal Alony, director of the Professional Programs in Screenwriting and Producing at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, said the public process of being on Kickstarter
was vital in being able to raise $27,850 in one month to make "Silk
," a short film he and three other UCLA alumni are making about a Glendale woman who was a Yemeni child bride, given away by her family when she was 10. Alony and the film’s director, Catherine Dent, who was a regular on the FX drama, "The Shield," co-wrote the screenplay for the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women, and it’s now being shot in the Los Angeles area. Kickstarter donations have provided everything from portable toilets to a make-up trailer.
"With crowdfunding, we reached people who want to see us make the film that we told them we’d make. We reached those people quickly and on a mass scale," wrote Alony in an email. He is also co-producer on the film.
"Our goal is to make the movie we want to make, to tell the story we want to tell and to do it our way. It’s nice not to have venture capitalists to answer to," said Alony.
Director Catherine Dent (from the left) scouts a location for the film, "Silk,"with production designer Shamim Seifzadeh and producer Nikit Doshi.
"I think the primary reason people donate is that there is an understanding of how difficult it is to make a film," Alony said. There’s also a sense of empathy among artists who want to help other artists. "There are generous people who want to be part of the process of making a film, and there are family members who had no choice but to help us if they wanted to have a peaceful Thanksgiving this year."
Alony conceded that there are drawbacks to using crowdfunding, especially since no money will exchange hands if you don’t meet your goal. Also, transactions aren’t processed until you reach the funding deadline so donors have time to retract their pledges. "But that wasn’t our experience," he noted. "We have nearly 300 backers, and every one of them came through."
At the very least, crowdfunding is giving independent filmmakers a chance, Alony said. "If your film doesn’t target 14-year-old boys or isn’t based on an ’80s board game, it probably won’t get made in a risk-averse Hollywood system. … Crowdfunding gives filmmakers an opportunity to turn their passion into reality, to [have a] voice themselves, and to reach audiences with a story that might otherwise never be told."