05 November 2011

Survival, Part II

Back in the beginning of September, I posted an update on the chances of AYWR surviving the year. It was a rough estimate, but it's actually turned out to be pretty accurate. Above is the exact same chart, but with an arrow indicating where we are now.

As you can see, the odds get a lot worse pretty soon.

Victoria Westcott kind of already knew that, but it became more clear when she rode with me from Seattle to Los Angeles to appear on a couple of panels, which is where her idea of the "Save AYWR" Kickstarter campaign came from.

Look at that chart again. Without some intervention, we probably don't get to 10 months (Dec 18th) and almost definitely don't get to 11 months (Jan 18th). To be honest, I don't know how much farther past the end of the next project we get (Dec 1st). There's a reserve built in where I have just enough money to get back to a safe house if/when the money runs out, mostly so I don't get stranded in Iowa with $3 in my pocket. I can see that point. I can also see the finish line. And, really, the question is which one people want to see me hit first?

When I developed AYWR, I talked to a number of people who know a lot more than I do about getting corporate sponsorship. They all pretty much agreed that it was the sort of project companies would get behind. For whatever reason, they haven't, despite the best efforts of several talented individuals (not me). At first, it was kind of annoying. But then I realized that a project like this wasn't going to get anything handed to it. The original Kickstarter campaign, despite all of its acclaim, has never once been publicly mentioned by Kickstarter. The media doesn't give a fuck about us (outside of our own media, which has so completely embraced the project). And why should they? It's a project built for the independent film community, fueled by that same community, and starring the people that make independent film so exciting. Since when has independent film relied on the kindness of corporations for permission to do something?

Fuck them.

We have a film community that we built with blood, sweat, and gaff tape. No one's going to swoop in and save the day for us. We're going to build up this new model for indie film the same way we build our films, working together despite really fucking steep odds. And, really, I don't know that we'd have it any other way.

If AYWR is going to survive, then it's going to survive the same way it was born, with an outpouring of community support. There's films left to work on. There's festivals left to visit and still some filmmakers to get on camera. It can end in a couple of weeks, or it can end on February 18th, 2012. It's entirely up to us and no one else.

So what if the old guard doesn't pay attention? We don't need them. This is our community, our movement. No one else's. They'd probably just get in the way.

Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.