Kickstarter and Indiegogo as mechanisms to fund creative enterprises via crowdsourcing has been hard to miss. If you're not familiar the approach is pretty straightforward. Those looking for funding from the universe document their idea, what the money will be used for and specify some thank-you perks (think public television donation gifts). It's an increasingly important way for artists to connect with fans and let the audience vote with their dollars. I haven't been super active in the process - with the notable exception of supporting My Sucky Teen Romance last year. There it was simple self-interest. I wanted to increase the chances I could view the final version at SXSW last year.
The other day I got a note from Cassidy Dimon the producer of a local documentary that's working through the Kickstarter process. I gave a few bucks and decided to post the details here. Truth be told I know little about those involved beyond the nice overview on their Kickstarter page. Except perhaps for a bit of additional detail shared by Cassidy when I asked about the folks behind the film (and featured in the video) who form 2/3 of the Common Language Project. After watching the overview of the story they're interested in telling (in which they still lthankfully left a lot to the imagination) I was intrigued enough to say to myself "I think I'd like to see that story told onscreen." Which is to me the whole point of these Kickstarter efforts - to connect to a potential audience and enlist them in the effort. Only time will tell if the bet paid off. But if you value interesting documentaries and a DYI spirit it's worth checking out their page to see if it appeals to you. At least half of a great documentary is unique access to an interesting subject. My bet is that Barzan has that - here's hoping the team can deliver the full package with a little bit of help.
A more detailed press release follows the video after the jump.
Independent documentary investigates controversial deportation of Iraqi man accused of terrorism.
Seattle-based media makers seeking funding for their feature film, “Barzan,” a documentary about a Iraqi-American refugee accused of assisting an Al-Qaeda terror plot in the US. They have launched an online Kickstarter.com campaign and have until March 2nd to reach their goal of $8,400
February 13, 2012
SEATTLE—Sam “Barzan” Malkandi, an Iraqi immigrant to the US and beloved family man, was working toward his piece of the American Dream in a Seattle suburb. But a footnote in the 9/11 Commission Report, connecting him to a high-level Al-Qaeda operative through his childhood nickname, changed everything. Five years of detention and multiple appeals later, Malkandi was deported back to Iraq--leaving behind a wife and two children.
Seattle-based journalists and filmmakers have teamed up to tell Malkandi’s story in a feature film titled Barzan. The team has turned to Kickstarter.com to help raise the post-production funds needed to complete their film.
Last year Barzan Director Alex Stonehill and Producer Sarah Stuteville traveled to Iraq and conducted a series of interviews with Malkandi. About his time in Iraq Stonehill says, “We met [Malkandi’s] family and roamed the city of his childhood. But there were so many questions that went unanswered, with each day that passed the story got deeper.”
Upon returning to Seattle, Stuteville and Stonehill, co-founders of the multimedia journalism nonprofit the Common Language Project, joined forces with the Last Quest, a local production company, to turn their reporting into a feature length documentary.
Barzan explores the controversial issues of immigration, xenophobia and the price of security in the 21st century. This film is an epic geopolitical journey from the front lines of the Iran-Iraq War to the refugee camps of Pakistan and finally into the opaque government agencies charged with keeping us safe, even at the cost of freedom.
Kickstarter.com, an online community funding platform, has emerged as the go-to source for filmmakers seeking resources for projects large and small. In a recent article, The New York Times reported that Kickstarter campaigns have financed almost $50 million in films (the largest category on the site) in the last three years.
Kickstarter projects must reach their fundraising goals or lose all pledges. The Barzan Kickstarter campaign has until March 2nd to raise $9,500 to fund the post-production of the film.
“The media landscape has shifted and independent producers now have alternate funding models like Kickstarter to help support their work,” says Stuteville, “Documentaries are no longer only the purview of big production companies--they are a community collaboration.”
To learn more about the project and to find out how reader’s can help fund the project please visit: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cassidyd/barzan-the-movie
About the Common Language Project
The Common Language Project is an award winning, nonprofit, multimedia journalism organization housed in the University of Washington’s Department of Communications. The CLP’s mission is to tell underreported local and international stories and to “Connect Stories Around the World.”
About the Last Quest
The Last Quest is a Seattle based media production company specializing in non-fiction storytelling and webseries’ for non-profits, small businesses and independent projects. The Last Quest’s short film work has screened nation-wide and received numerous awards.