You may've seen this movie promoted in the sidebar ads. Because I was a (very minor) investor in the production of the film -- a true story about an effort by a Religious Right group to censor and intimidate -- I received a limited edition / collectible DVD. I had heard that pre-final-cut versions got a lot of buzz at a couple of film festivals, and I was really happy to see it in my mailbox.
(More after the jump...)
I'd traded a few emails in the past with the producer, Darlene Lieblich, and so when the DVD showed up, I dropped her a note to congratulate her. The film was produced, in large part, based on small investments from individuals, as well as money chipped in by various members of the production team. The terms of the investment were, roughly, that people would be paid back, with a fairly steep amount of interest, but they'd receive payment in the order their investments were received, and only after the film's expenses had been paid off. So I honestly figured my "investment" was probably going to be a donation, and I was OK with that.
Subject: I just received my Collector's Edition DVD...
...and I want to congratulate you guys on finishing it and getting it out. I'm one of the small investors that backed the production, and whether or not I ever see a cent of the money back, I'm greatly looking forward to seeing the film, and finding out what the money bought.
RM "Auros" Harman
I got back this reply:
Dear Mr. Harman,
There are no small investors. You took a big chance on someone you never knew and I appreciate you allowing me to make this movie. Also, I am now in a position to guarantee your payback in the next 6 months with full interest.
My Mother died two days after we finished shooting and her estate is do to settle in the near future. You will be paid from the estate funds or from the sale of the distribution rights, one or the other.
It is very important to me that we do everything we said we would do. You hear of so many horror stories from people getting ripped off by Hollywood types. Our goal was to make as good of movie as possible and treat the people right that trusted us with their money. I look forward to sending your check to you.
All my best,
Is that a class act, or what?
I've now had a chance to view the film, and I have to say, it's pretty darn good. The acting is first rate, and the production values are pretty high for an indie film. It feels a little didactic at times; but it never pretended not to have an agenda, and all things considered they did a good job letting the story speak for itself -- they managed to live by the maxim of "Show, don't tell!"
If you think it's the sort of thing you'd be into, I encourage you to pick up a copy. For one thing, brisk sales might help attract a distributor -- and hey, getting it into theaters would piss off folks like James Dobson. Surely that's a worthy cause!