2014 marks the 20th anniversary of Derek Jarman’s death. In my opinion, Jarman is one of the finest British film-makers ever; one of the finest film-makers full-stop – up there with Chaplin, Cocteau, Fellini, Keaton, Pasolini, Powell, Truffaut (you can fill in your own list). His work comes straight from his own life experiences, is filtered through the most amazing imagination and shot through with a real passion and desire to create and communicate and pass-on his world-vision. I have made radio and TV documentaries about a number of film-related subjects, so naturally I wanted to do something to commemorate and celebrate Derek Jarman the film-maker in time for 2014.
I made a documentary on Jarman back in 2004 – Derek Jaraman: Life As Art. It was a conventional, linear, narrative-based piece exploring the life and films of Derek and running at 60 mins. I shot 14 interviews and hours and hours of footage for this, so I had tons of unused material I could re-work. I just needed a couple of new interviews, with cameramen who had worked with Derek, so that this time I could make the ’10 commandments according to St Derek’ on independent, low-budget film-making (‘St Derek’ because Pasolini’s The Gospel According to St Matthewwas a particular favourite of Derek’s and he was, indeed, canonized by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence in the early 1990s). It’s a documentary essay-cum-celebration of Derek’s inspirational way of working. It is quite literally his ’10 commandments’, as taken from his written work, and also, as I see it, a rallying call to all low-budget film-makers.
There was just one obvious problem: I simply didn’t have the money to complete the project. I’ve been able to slowly work on the offline edit at home on FCP. I have clearance for all the material I’m using. But, with offers of screenings at Kings College, Exeter University and the Dean Clough Gallery, in Halifax, I need to be able to properly online (conform, add captions and graphics and a grade) and sound mix the documentary. This costs money – money I don’t have, even though it’s possible to get some great deals. So, I’ve turned to Crowdfunder, which I had been hearing so much about over the past year or so. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.
The way Crowdfunder (or Kickstarter, which is the same thing, but based in the USA) works is like this: IT provides an online platform, closely relying on interaction with all the social media out there, for people to raise money for their great ideas; YOU have to read through what’s required of you thoroughly; you need to write about your project; you need to provide a short 2-3 mins video pitching your project; and, you need to offer rewards for those donating, or pledging, to your project. It sounds simple, and it is. But it just takes a bit time and careful preparation – and if you have any problems, the people at Crowdfunder are only a phone-call away and very helpful.
Once you’ve got your Crowdfunder project up and running, you need to email people, go on Facebook, tweet about your project and generally promote, promote, promote as much as you can.
I’ve found at first it paid to contact close family and friends, to get the campaign off to a good start. Now (during the second stage of the campaign), it’s about contacting everyone I know to see if they can help, and getting everyone I can to tweet about my project, or give it mention on Facebook, etc. etc. The third stage is looming large for me where I need to attract people I don’t know, but who might be interested in a project about Derek Jarman and, therefore, happy to support it. Fingers crossed then, as I’m about to embark on this part of the Crowdfunder journey.
So far, Crowdfunder is a real ray of hope for me in terms of completing my new Derek Jarman documentary. So, would I recommend it (or, Kickstarter) to others in the same position, or even starting out at the beginning of a film project? You bet. Quite simply, Crowdfunder, and Kickstarter, mean that there are now new options out there for independent, low-budget film-makers to realize their goals and that can only be a good thing.
If you want to make a pledge to my Crowdfunder campaign for a new Derek Jarman documentary please visit my Crowdfunder campaign page for more information.